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Breaking Bad: Crawl Space

Jesse: "Let Mr. White go. Pay him off, fire him, don't kill him."

There's been a lot of death this season, and a lot of stupid moves on Walt's part.

And now they're just hitting us over the head with symbolism. That empty, dirty crawl space under the house. A battered Walt in that space crying, then laughing, then silent as he realized he was completely boxed in by circumstances. The camera rising, looking down at Walt framed by that tiny, square opening in the floor that by the way, he created himself when he installed the new water heater.

Gus told Walt, "I will kill your wife. I will kill your son. I will kill your infant daughter." Gus killed all of Tio Salamanca's family and friends (all the males, anyway), so you know Gus won't hesitate to do the same to Walt. Gus took a tied-up and hooded Walt out in the desert and made a believer out of him. (Loved how the cloud passed over during that scene.) Gus now values Jesse and his 96% pure product so much that he is ready to let Walt go for Jesse's sake — but only at the cost of Hank's life.

And whose fault is that? If Walt had kept his mouth shut, if he hadn't succumbed to pride, Hank would have dropped his quest for Heisenberg. At least, to his credit, Walt couldn't just let Hank die. But that was when he thought he had flight options and over half a million bucks hidden under his house.

It appears that Walt's only remaining option, the only way to keep his family alive, is to go to the DEA and give up Gus. But if he does, Skyler, Junior and Holly will have nothing. All that work, all that pain, all of those moral sacrifices, and Walt will have nothing to show for it. Walt started cooking in the first place so that his family would have something when he was gone. But what else can he do? He tried to kill Gus before, several times, and he failed. Of course, Mike was the main reason he failed, and Mike is incapacitated in an illicit hospital bed in Mexico right now, but Gus is ruthless. And there's silent, nasty Tyrus and his handy taser.

That secret miniature hospital inside the filthy hangar-like building was sort of fascinating. Of course Gus would think that far ahead in his violent and dangerous line of work, but bags of cross-matched blood for Mike and Jesse, too? Gus was also tough enough, after surviving poison, to walk six miles in the sun to the Texas border. As the Cartel has discovered, you don't screw with Gus. Is Tio Salamanca the only living remnant of the Cartel now?

The scene in the nursing home with Gus and "Tio" Hector Salamanca was sort of amazing. Gus brought Don Eladio's eye necklace to taunt Tio with, and gave him a full list of names of the people he'd killed, including Tio's grandson Joaquin, the last of the Salamanca name. Tio was stunned and overcome with grief, but he was determined not to cry in front of Gus, the man who had caused it all. His face was contorted with emotional agony. He didn't even hit his bell. It was amazing what Mark Margolis did with that scene without gestures or words.

And finally, we have reached the comic relief portion of this review. It shouldn't have surprised me that Ted would resort to mild-mannered blackmail; at first I thought he was just wearing a wire to incriminate Skyler. So Skyler went to Saul, and Saul sent his two goons over to force Ted to pay the IRS. What an absolutely hilariously wonderful death for Ted -- it was like he was a panicked horse running into a brick wall. It made me think of the Darwin Awards.

Bits:

-- When Gus came in, Tio was watching Bridge on the River Kwai, a classic World War II movie about prisoners of war who are forced to build a bridge for the enemy.

-- Walt destroyed his ugly hybrid car by deliberately causing an accident to keep Hank away from the superlab. Walt keeps getting more and more battered, probably to signify that he's losing control of the situation. Which he is.

-- When Ted ran to his hilarious death, he knocked over a bowl of oranges.

And pieces:

-- The cinematography in this series constantly blows me away. The scenes in the desert are always amazing.

-- Tyrus caught Walt lying about the weight of the meth. Was Walt trying to get Tyrus into trouble? That was probably why Tyrus enjoyed tasing Walt so much that he did it repeatedly.

-- Mike's real name is Michael Ehrmantraut. Great name.

-- Saul's two goons were the enormous Huell and the same redheaded guy who played the fake EPA inspector at the car wash in an earlier episode.

Quotes:

Jesse: (indicating Mike) "This man needs help!"
Doctor: (indicating Gus) "This man pays my salary."

Hank: "If you're in over your head on something, don't you think I might be the guy to come to?"
That was nice of Hank. Who has no idea what Walt is in over his head about.

Three out of four oranges,

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

7 comments:

  1. The last scene of this episode was beyond chilling. Those Emmy voters had better recognize Esposito this year. I hated that scumbag Ted, and I'm glad he died in a funny, but clever way. Four oranges for me.

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  2. The "scoring" in that last scene made it even more chilling! The way the shrill tone kept pitching up and up as the camera pulled away from Walt in the very coffin-like crawl space was absolutely nerve-wracking. I remember being so keyed up after this episode ended that I couldn't get to sleep for a good hour or so. And that doesn't even account for all the other mind-blowing stuff that happened!

    I so wish that there were extra Emmy categories to cover all the Breaking Bad players. They could almost fill the entire supporting actor category with just this show! But who do you root for? Aaron Paul is so, so amazing, and I would give him a second Emmy for the 'Problem Dog' speech alone. But then there's Giancarlo Esposito threatening Walt's family. Just the way he said "I will kill your infant daughter" was unbelievably terrifying! And Dean Norris is so, so good, too. And Mark Margolis is amazing! As Billie notes, he's just incredible in that scene with Gus. I'm consistently amazed that I can simultaneously feel sympathy for and still be horrified by these terrible, terrible men.

    Great review, Billie. Two more to go!

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  3. Yes this episode wins the closing scene cotest by a mile. Just like 2x02 did with the opening scene. :)

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  4. I was soo mad at Walter for speaking up when it WAS the exit strategy that he really wanted (for the time being anyway). It's like I wanted Gus to tell him he would kill his entire family - duh - what answer did he expect with such snotty question. Be happy you are not getting killed. But no Walter. I just hate Walter.

    And you know what - I don't know where to insert this sentiment but this place seems good enough: I somehow really like Gus. He is pretty decent if you will as far as drug moguls are concerned. Kills when needed but really would like to motivate people to do a good job first. I admire that in employers. And he wanted to make Walter disposable - because really - who in their right mind want to deal with someone like Walter (except not everyone would go as far as killing him)- and Gus was smart and understood that about Walter. Walter seems to think only at what is good for him even in not letting Jessie
    Walter is sooo waaaay worse than Gus. Guss at this point is very likable to me - well as likable and sympathetic as a drug dealer like him can be.

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  5. I know what you mean about Gus, Banastal. If only he hadn't done that box cutter thing, huh? :)

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  6. The sense of sky in New Mexico is so amazing - it sometimes takes up fully half of the screen.

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  7. Ted was the most idiotic man ever in TV history. He could have really brought Skyler down with him.

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