Breaking Bad: One Minute

"Family is all."

Poor sarcastic, blustering Hank. Forced to accept that he had blown it and lost his temper. Reduced to turning in his badge and gun. Looking like the world had come to an end. And then it did.

In just one minute, 3:07 to 3:08, everything changed for Hank. That final scene in the parking lot was just exceptional. I actually felt the impact as he was shot repeatedly, but continued to fight for his life. The tension was overwhelming as Hank, on his back and bleeding, fumbled with bloodstained fingers to get that one lucky bullet into the chamber as the second twin was coming at him with an axe. The first time I saw this episode, I just sat there at the end, stunned. This time, I cried through it.

Dean Norris deserves gold acting stars for the entire episode. I believed every moment: when he completely lost it and beat the crap out of poor Jesse; the courage and character he showed when he honestly admitted to his superiors what he had done and accepted that his career was over; the way he sat in the car, panicked and unable to decide what to do, after getting that anonymous phone call. I particularly loved the elevator scene: Hank and Marie side by side and expressionless in the very blue elevator — the doors close and Hank and Marie clutch each other and sob — the doors open to Hank and Marie side by side and expressionless. It said a lot about the strength and depth of their relationship, which often looks shallow and silly from the outside. Marie was there for him, supporting him and loving him completely, and I liked her for it.

Did the anonymous phone call come from Gus? It must have. No one else knew. No one else would have had the nerve.

Hard to believe, but those identical vicious killers were little boys once. The opener showed us a flashback to the two of them as children fighting over an action figure, and learning a horrible lesson about death and family from their Tio, who was so cruel that he held a little boy's head under ice water in order to teach them both a lesson. (Dirty water imagery again.) I wonder if that was for just one minute, too? I also wonder if it was the same brother under water who got crushed between the cars in the parking lot.

Hank acknowledged that since he shot Tuco, everything had gone wrong for him. (The exploding turtle certainly didn't help.) Jesse said the same thing, only about meeting Walt. It was Saul's idea to call Hank and say that Marie had had an accident, but it was Jesse who paid for it. If Jesse had followed through with his decision to press charges against Hank, as well as his decision to buy another RV and start cooking again, things could have gotten bad. The jovial Saul hinted strongly to Walt that it was time to have Jesse killed.

Which left Walt with a decision to make. The best way Walt could see to protect Hank and keep Jesse off the law enforcement radar was to take Jesse back on as a partner in his new job for Gus. And in order to do that, Walt had to get rid of Gale.

The heartless, relentless way that Walt deep-sixed the unfortunate Gale was something to behold. Everything Gale did in the previous episode was perfect; everything he did in this episode was wrong. (I had a boss who did a 180 on me like that once.) Walt deliberately sabotaged an entire batch in order to blame Gale for it. Poor Gale was initially thinking that his relationship with Walt was the beginning of a beautiful friendship a la Casablanca, and now, he's in deep shit. All I could think of was that if Gus believes Walt and fires Gale, will Gus have Gale killed?

If Walt had done it just to protect Jesse and Hank, I could almost like him for it. It was impossible to tell how much of what Walt did was spurred by self-preservation, though. At least he didn't opt to have Jesse killed. He's not completely evil. Yet.

Bits:

-- Skyler, in another vivid green shirt, tracked down Walt in his new model apartment to plead for Hank. She told him, "Hank is your family." (Walt's response was, "Not currently.")

-- When Hank was dressed up, I thought at first he was wearing green. It was just khaki, though.

-- There was blue tape holding on the windshield of Walt's car.

-- Since I'm recording what our major characters are driving, Hank drives a huge blue SUV which is now full of bullet holes. And broken glass, of course.

-- Aaron Paul (Jesse) also had a lot of heavy scenes, and his despair got to me. That moment when he stared at the pain chart said it all.

And pieces:

-- The gun salesman talked so much and at such a high pitch that I couldn't follow what he said (something about peeing on a hooker?). I was sure the twins were gonna kill him. He lucked out. And so did Hank, since the "black death" bullet that saved Hank was the one the gun salesman gave to the twins as a free sample.

-- Tio (who was seated during nearly all of his scene, which was some neat foreshadowing) talked disdainfully on the phone about "the chicken man". I assumed he was talking about Gus.

-- I am assuming Hank is still alive. He was still alive at the end of the episode. Since lack of adequate health insurance was an important motivator for Walt to break bad, I'm wondering about Hank's insurance situation. He was suspended without pay. Does he still have health insurance?

Quotes:

Saul: (to Jesse) "Yo, Adrian. Rocky called. He wants his face back."

Saul: "Believe me, there's no honor among thieves. (pause) Except for us, of course."

Skyler: "I guess crime *does* pay."
Walt: "I don't suppose you just came by to insult me?"

Shows that feature extreme violence in every episode don't have as strong an impact when we get episodes like this one. "One Minute" blew me away because the build-up with Hank and the Twins had been going on so long, and I had grown to care about Hank as a character. This is how it's done, people.

Four out of four broken action figures, and wow, I just realized how appropriate a broken action figure is in regard to this episode,

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

5 comments:

Jess Lynde said...

Fantastic episode, and great review, Billie. This is one of my absolute favorite episodes this season. It felt like an emotional roller coaster, except that the bulk of it was going up that first big hill and then that final sequence was careening down the other side.

Dean Norris was fantastic in this episode. Simply wonderful. I was completely invested in Hank's journey, and as each step brought him closer to letting his feelings out and accepting responsibility for the things he'd done, I was more and more convinced he was about to die. When he bought the flowers and seemed at peace heading to his car I was on the verge of tears because it seemed like everything was about to end.

And then things went crazy! Wonderful final sequence. And I truly loved the parallel with the "one minute" from the opening sequence and the final sequence. I'm pretty sure Tio said something like "How long do you think he can stay under? One minute?" Or the second brother said it. One minute until death.

And such great stuff with Jesse and Walt, too. Jesse calling Walt out for making his life a living hell was really powerful.

Such a great episode! I feel spent just remembering it!

Mark Greig said...

Season three has been great so far but this episode, especially that final scene, was just exceptional. Why did I wait so long to finally get into this show?

Tim said...

Like Mark I'm also watching BB for the first time, and it just gets better and better.

The scene with Hank and Marie in the lift was amazing. Hank letting his defences down at last was touching and cathartic.

Billie & Jess's comments about being invested in Hank and genuinely fearing for him are bang on. A tribute to the quality writing on the show.

I've got no idea whats going to happen from this point forward, but the fact that I feel that pretty much anything can happen means I can't wait to find out.

Tim

Tim said...

Like Mark I'm also watching BB for the first time, and it just gets better and better.

The scene with Hank and Marie in the lift was amazing. Hank letting his defences down at last was touching and cathartic.

Billie & Jess's comments about being invested in Hank and genuinely fearing for him are bang on. A tribute to the quality writing on the show.

I've got no idea whats going to happen from this point forward, but the fact that I feel that pretty much anything can happen means I can't wait to find out.

Tim

Damien Bradley said...

This is the kind of episode that makes the comparatively slow development from previous episodes completely worth it. Walt and Skyler take a back seat to Hank, and to a lesser extent, Jesse. My reaction to the last scene was visceral, maybe the most powerful in the series so far. I honestly did not expect the Cousins to die. I didn't think Hank would die either, so what would happen was completely up in the air for me.

Who called Hank on the phone? Gustavo? Gustavo's henchman? Even then, how did the caller know the exact minute it would happen? Did he have someone tail the Cousins?

Character development for Hank was wonderful. I consider Hank to be a morally grounded character, behind the joking/tough guy facade. That's why it was so disturbing to see him beat up Jesse. The long monologue where he lets it all out to Marie was wonderful. Did you notice that throughout that entire shot, Hank was out of focus and Marie was in focus? I wonder what you think that means.

So much plot and character development in this episode. (Also another great expository flashback in the teaser.)