Breaking Bad: ABQ

"Lies on top of lies on top of lies."

What an outstanding, moving finale.

During that scene when the OMI people were putting Jane in a body bag, Donald was just stunned. He looked like the world had come to an end, and for him, it had. His only child was carted away like refuse, like the stuffed animal in Walt's swimming pool. The reveal, when we found out that Donald was an air traffic controller, was such an omigod moment. It all made sense.

We finally got the payoff for the entire season's in media res scenes that included the pool, the body bags, and the burned stuffed animal -- it was the debris from a mid-air plane crash that occurred directly above the White's house, a crash that was the indirect result of the actions Walt took during the entire second season. The expression on Jane's face as they put her in the body bag reminded me of that pink stuffed animal. Baby Holly wore pink. So did Walt in that final scene, when he was standing right behind the stuffed animal when it landed in the pool. (I was even thinking, why on earth is Walt wearing such a ridiculous color? And voila. Of course.)

Poor Jesse. The opening shot of the bouncing bedsprings that cut to Jesse trying desperately to resuscitate Jane reminded me of the disturbing bouncing car springs in "Grilled." The scene where Walt found Jesse in that drug den and Jesse cried like a child in Walt's arms totally got to me. Walt didn't deserve to have Jesse treat him like a father. I have to believe Walt does care about Jesse. Whether he was motivated by love, guilt, or a combination of both, he got Jesse out of that horrible place and into some sort of spa or rehab or whatever. Will Jesse ever find out that Walt let Jane die? It seems unlikely. Walt would never be stupid enough to tell him.

Walt didn't deserve what Junior (okay, Flynn) did for him, either. Despite accepting that money laundering was necessary, Walt was so obviously miserable about the web site, the interviews, and Flynn's praise for his courage and determination to "do the right thing," which we as viewers know isn't the truth at all. Walt is so out of tune with his family that he was surprised when Skyler threw him out of the house. For one horrible moment, I thought Skyler and the baby were getting on the plane that was going to crash. Instead, it was Walt's home life that crashed and burned, and all the terrible things he did have now landed in his back yard.

(Skyler waited seven weeks to throw him out. Seven weeks. Who does that? I mean, I know why she did it, he was incapacitated by the surgery, she was waiting until he could handle it, but still -- she sat on her anger for seven weeks. I couldn't have done that.)

Clever Gus Fring (he has a last name now) took the "blue sky" right out of New Mexico. That scene in the DEA's office where Gus noticed the contribution jar for Walt was really interesting, mostly for what it didn't tell us. As in, how on earth will Gus take this revelation? He must certainly realize that if Walt were undercover in any way, it would be all over by now. But it has to bother him that Walt's brother-in-law is the enemy. It'll be interesting to see where they go with this.

Bits:

-- All of Jane's clothes were black. For her funeral, Donald chose something blue, with long sleeves and no cleavage. It was like he was making her what she wasn't and having the last word, and I don't mean that in a nasty way because it didn't seem like a conscious choice on his part. But Jane should have been buried in a sassy black dress.

-- Blue dress for blue meth, of course. Blue seems to be all Skyler wears lately. When she's not wearing black.

-- The people in the drug den looked and acted like zombies.

-- Because we can never have too much symbolism, Walt is now keeping his secret cell phone in the toilet tank.

And pieces:

-- This episode featured veteran actor Jonathan Banks as the fixer who cleaned up Jesse's apartment and told him what to say.

-- We finally saw Jane's apartment, with an amazing narcissistic wall mural over the bed.

-- We finally learned the late Combo's real name: Christian Ortega.

-- Walt has new hair on his face. Yuck.

-- Junior: "He's just... decent. He always does the right thing." That made me cringe.

Four out of four pink sweaters,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

7 comments:

Josie Kafka said...

Congratulations on completing another season, Billie!

Jess Lynde said...

Yes, congrats! I remember being really unsatisfied with the reveal about the "in media res" openings. I had been building it up in my mind as something horrible happening to Skylar or Holly, so when it was instead wreckage from an airline crash, it felt like it came out of left field. I guess I was expecting something far more personal, and this just felt really impersonal. Even though it was pretty much directly linked to Walt's actions in the previous episode. I think retroactively it doesn't bother me as much as it did on first viewing, but I definitely felt underwhelmed and a bit "ripped off" the first time through.

Interesting observation about Skylar wearing blue. I haven't been re-watching as you've been reviewing, and I always think of her color as green. I forgot that it was blue for so long. This must be around the time it changes. Because of her change in perspective. I love that they change up the colors and certain wardrobe pieces based on where a character's head space is at.

J.D. Balthazar said...

I also thought the in media res thing was going to be something horrible involving the house or the baby. But I think that in a way it was far more personal to have the plane explode. Although that probably needs a bit of an explanation =-D

These two men have stepped outside the lines of normal society and have caused damage to that society. Walt especially has caused some far reaching havoc. He has killed a number of people and been responsible for a few more, he has torn families apart, spread poison to multiple states, and it to top it off we have the utter devastation of one poor man's life. A man whose actions have the most serious of consequences. I think the plane explosion is just a further symbol of how everything is escalating.

The sick irony is that Walt can't see anything outside his own insulated little world. He is so obsessed with his own survival, that he can't see the greater damage he has done and continues to do to those around him. This show is about breaking bad, or literally becoming evil. Whether or not he feels sorry for the plane crash is irrelevant. Whether he was trying to save Jesse in his own twisted way is irrelevant. Killing Jane, even though she wasn't entirely innocent and might have died anyway, was the next step in his every widening downward spiral. I guess for me, it was brilliant in its complexity and subtlety.
Jess, I never noticed the clothes and color thing before, I'm gonna watch out for it as I re-watch the series.

Anonymous said...

Of all the episodes of Breaking Bad, no episode broke my heart like ABQ. Jesse and Donald's scenes of grief were so profoundly sad and felt so real. And the scene where Jesse breaks down in Walt's arms while they are surrounded by people destroyed by drugs says so much about how their partnership is so toxic on so many levels.

Josie Kafka said...

I really liked the reveal of the plane crash for all of the reasons JD mentioned, although I don't think I would have liked it much as a final shot if we hadn't gotten the opening hints all season long.

That would have felt like a weird gotcha Mad Men moment. But since we knew something was coming but didn't know what, making it a plane crash indirectly caused by Walt's actions makes it all the more resonant.

In a show where one of the main characters can spout off about chemistry whenever he feels like it, I'm surprised that we didn't get a speech about chain reactions somewhere in the middle of the season, since that's really what this season was all about: how one bad choice ("let's make meth!") leads to a series of ever-more-deadly consequences. I hope we get one in an upcoming season.

I love the fact that Gus Fring is on some sort of Fun Run civic committee.

Minor quibble: "east of Scottsdale" (says Hank). East of Scottsdale is the reservation. So no one would describe it as "east of Scottsdale." They'd describe it as the reservation.

Billie, I'm glad you encouraged me to stick with this show.

Docnaz said...

Love your blog, Billie. I love this episode. This is the episode ( in my mind , at least) that shows how much Walt cares for Jessie. I disagree with you about Jane's dress for the funeral, though. Jane did not pre plan a wake. If she had, a sassy black dress would be appropriate. Instead, this is a grieving father planning the funeral of his little girl. The person on the other end of the phone ( mother, stepmother , grandmother...hard to tell) and he are trying to wipe out the darkness and show her in light. Long sleeves to hide the ugliness, the track marks with the long sleeves. No cleavage to show her purity. Dressing her in a sassy black dress would just be weird.

sunbunny said...

Wow is this Jason/Amy from True Blood.

Donald watching Jane's body get carried out really got to me, even though I really do dislike Krysten Ritter.

I'm not in the Walter White fan club, but I really felt bad for him that all his hard work goes unnoticed. He did his whole meth thing to save his pride and pay for his expenses himself, but everyone thinks the first half was paid for by rich friends and the second my charitable strangers.

Watching Walt try to wake up Jesse in the crack house place reminded me of my mom trying to get me up for school in high school. Not that I was on heroin, I'm just an impossibly heavy sleeper.

Again with Marie overdressing in a non-subtle attempt to pull focus.

I'm sort of back on Team Skyler.

If I die young, I request burial in a sassy black dress.