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Breaking Bad: Phoenix

"Meet your daughter."

Walt's daughter Holly was born. Donald's daughter Jane died. There was something deeply upsetting about Walt just standing there while Jane choked to death. This was another Breaking Bad episode that just stayed with me.

Walt's first impulse was to save Jane, but he stopped and reconsidered because he is now accustomed to thinking about his choices in a different way. I like to think that he let Jane die simply from an impulse to protect Jesse, to get him free of a bad influence. What would I have done if I were in Walt's situation and it was my son lying next to Jane? I hope I would have saved her, but honestly, I'm not sure. I could be giving Walt too much credit, though. Maybe he let her die because she was blackmailing him. Maybe he was thinking about half a million bucks of "his" money going up her arm, too.

Of course, it was the height of absurd, tragic coincidence that Walt and Donald wound up in a bar together talking about their daughters, and that it was talking with Donald that made Walt go back to Jesse, which resulted in Jane's death. And it was just excellent writing, how they set it up. Walt told Marie to put the baby on her side and bolster her with a rolled up towel so that she wouldn't choke if she spit up. Jane told Jesse to sleep on his side for the same reason. Jane was sleeping on her side when Walt broke into Jesse's bedroom. When Walt tried to shake Jesse awake, he jostled Jane and she ended up on her back. And choked on her own spit-up. We can't even say that Jane would have died anyway if Walt hadn't been there, because she probably wouldn't have. Yes, Jane was on the fast road to self-destruction, but she had also been sober for eighteen months. The "what ifs" are pretty thick on the ground, aren't they?

Because of his deal with Gus, Walt missed the birth of his daughter. (Skyler delivered a baby while Walt was delivering 38 pounds of meth.) Of course, Ted was there to hold Skyler's hand, and he even hung around to make sure Walt knew it, too. (I don't like Walt, but Ted is a total jerk.) And the way Walt is deceiving his family is getting so complicated. Skyler not only thinks she has to go back to work almost immediately, but that Junior needs to work, too.

Unless Saul and Junior in unknowing combination have indeed hit upon a way to electronically launder money that Walt will allow. What choice does he have?


-- The first shot in this episode was of a sign that said, "Do Not Disturb." It certainly applies to what happened to Jane, doesn't it?

-- Jesse threw a glass beaker at Walt and it broke. Glass, meth, yeah I got it.

-- There was a documentary on television about elephants and their babies.

-- In the bar, Walt and Donald saw a news report that the Phoenix lander found water on Mars. I could assign all sorts of symbolism to that one.

And pieces:

-- How come Walt was so late that Junior had had a chance to change a diaper, but Ted hadn't left yet and Marie had been and gone? Did Skyler and Holly go home the next morning, already? The timing of events seemed a bit off.

-- The NA meetings were a father/daughter activity. Was Jane's father just there to support her, or is he an addict, too? Maybe an alcoholic? He was drinking when Walt came into the bar. Did he fall off the wagon, like Jane?

-- Now that the baby's room is occupied, Walt is hiding his money in the garage. Hank joked that Walt had a printing press in the garage.

-- Apparently, Jesse thinks that because there were castles in Lord of the Rings, and the movies were filmed in New Zealand, there are lots of castles in New Zealand.

-- Junior's web site, http://www.savewalterwhite.com/, is right there on the web just as it appeared in the show.

-- Gold acting stars for Bryan Cranston as well as Krysten Ritter, who made Jane memorable. I certainly remembered her.

-- Saul: "I guess that's why gangsters have molls." Saul would be perfectly happy if Walt left his family and took up with a bimbo. Unfortunately for Skyler, I doubt that's an option.

Exceptional episode. Four out of four castles in New Zealand,

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


  1. This one really stayed with me, too. I'd been horrified and disturbed by this show before, but not quite as a deeply as I was by Walt just standing there while Jane died. I felt utterly sick when the episode ended, and I remember sitting on my couch in stunned horror for a good while after it was done. A very physically horrified reaction. I love that this show can take it's audience to those kinds of places.

    There's really no coming back for Walt now. He may try to convince himself that he let Jane die to protect Jesse, but that's bull. I firmly believe Walt did it because she presented a threat to him. He was covering his tracks and saving his own skin.

    I know that Jesse and Jane were on a bad path, but Jesse loved Jane and there was some shred of hope that maybe they could be pulled back from the edge. But Walt destroyed everything. That's what he does now. I already thought Walt was pretty terrible going into this episode, but this was the point where he became an unforgivable monster to me.

  2. Wait, so there aren't really any castles in New Zealand? My entire world is shattered ;)

    I had the exact same reaction as Jess when I watched this episode. I couldn't believe that Walt let Jane die and am convinced he did it for himself, not Jesse. Poor Jesse. I really want him to get out of Albuquerque, away and the drug business and, most of all, far away from Walter White.

  3. My reaction was pretty much the same in that I thought Walt stood by and watched Jane die for his own purposes. He seems very able to do that now, and I wonder if maybe he always has been able to put himself and his needs first. The more we get to know him, the more self-centered he seems. The episode was shocking, yet great television.

    I saw a disturbing parallel between Jesse and Jane's decent into addiction and the ATM episode. In that episode, the couple and their toddler lived in absolute squalor. It was obvious they didn't care about anything except the drug. Jesse and Jane were quickly heading in that direction as was visually represented in the way his once pristine apartment was turning into a trash can. They could have easily become that couple.

  4. People may have noticed this already and thought not to comment on it but I kind of expected this to be in your 'Bits:' or 'And pieces:' section....
    Right at the beginning of this episode, just after the 'Do not disturb' sign, it cuts to a shot of the surrounding truck stop and you can see a pink item that looks very much like the pink teddy bear in the pool from the black and white flash-forward scenes in previous episodes. Hmmm, did anyone else notive this?? I may be mistaken but I think this is the first time you see this object in 'real time' and not in a flash-forward? Also, the telephone on the ground that gets hit by the spare tyre that Walt throws...probably more symbolism of what has already happened and what's to come? With every episode I find myself looking for more and more symbolism and think to myself that almost every shot has a significant part to play in what lies ahead....effective and very clever stuff indeed.

  5. I remember noticing that teddy bear, too. Since we'd been seeing it in the black and white teaser all season, that brief glimpse of it really caught my attention. I haven't actually seen this episode for two years, but as soon you as you mentioned it, I thought, "Yeah! I noticed the bear in that shot, too!"

  6. Honestly, the scene of Walt letting Jane die, just after Walt met her father by coincidence in a bar, was too cheap... it reminded me soup operas!!! My first dissapointment with Breaking Bad and hope the last!!!

  7. I understand the writers are trying to make Walt out to be the bad guy, but I start to think that Walt really did let Jane to die to protect Jessie.

    He was going to let Jessie and this girl just run off and do whatever they wanted with that money. He said he was getting clean, but Walter didn't know that. He was going to essentially give up on him.

    In the bar Jane's father told him to never give up on family, no matter what you go through, you can't ever give up. I think this was Walter's way of not giving up on Jessie, keeping him close and not letting him have a bad influence in his life.

    Ironically, this means that Jane's father said the words that would kill his daughter. By the sheer coincidence of the world, met the man that could save his daughter and told him what he needed to hear to go to Jessie's house, turn her over, and let her choke to death.

  8. Yay. I hated Jane. Of course, it would've been better if Jesse had got out from under her influence in another way, but this works too. She's fictional, don't judge me.

    So if you're on heroin, you spontaneously vomit in your sleep? Wow. That sounds fun. Sign me up for that.

  9. Too sad. I liked Jane as a character. She was sober for more than a year and being a responsible adult by working in housing with her father. Jesse on the other hand doesn't seem to ever have been clean pretty much since his early teenage years. And yes, she was the one who started him on heroin, but he was weak minded too.

    And by talking to Jane's father about Jesse, mentioning him as his nephew, the writers make Walt sound like he does think of Jesse as family, even though he's been too harsh to him ever since he's had him as a student.

  10. When Jesse first got the bed, I remember thinking that the sheets were way too bright for him to have picked out. While Jesse and Jane were happy the sheets were bright and clean (as well as the rest of the house). When Walt broke into the house the sheets looked dingy and stained.

    After Jane died, her mother (I assume that is who her father was talking to) wanted her to be buried in a yellow dress.


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