Treading lightly on Breaking Bad, Season 5, Ep. 9, “Blood Money”
Step inside the garage for a few quick words on this week’s “Breaking Bad,” three good elements and three not-quite-as-good (boron, we’re looking at you). Spoilers abound, so make sure you’ve watched the damn episode first:
Hello, Carol: “Lost” both pioneered the flash-forward in this current age of television and turned it into an instant cliche. But this ep reclaimed it. Putting aside the obvious question of what the hell happened to Walter White between the rest of this episode and the moment when the world’s most literate graffiti artist properly spelled “HEISENBERG” on his vertical blinds, this short sequence was flat-out perfect. I thought the best touch was Walter going to replace the socket cover after grabbing the ricin — why bother? — and then, his pitch-perfect two words: “Hello, Carol.” That’s not at all the tone of voice of a man who’s broken and defeated. This isn’t the end of Walter White.
Hank: The way that Hank reacted to the knowledge of Walt that he gained on the throne was perfect; no dramatic last-stand statement, but more of a weak, almost pathetic vomiting from the weight of awareness. But then his investigative instincts kicked in, and suddenly all the pieces fit (to coin a phrase). We got a quick tour through the entire history of the show through evidence photographs. Of course, it would’ve been a lot easier for Hank to just watch the first four seasons on DVD. What, they don’t have those out in Albuquerque?
The garage scene: This is going to go down as one of the finest scenes in TV drama history, hands down. Watching Walt transition from fear to indecision to awareness to mastery in the course of half a dozen lines was flawless. And “tread lightly” joins the “Oh, indeed” pantheon of hipster badass shorthand.
And a couple bits that didn’t quite work:
Jesse’s perpetual downfall: “Deja vu,” Walter says as he walks in on a despondent, slouchy Jesse yet again, and yes, there was the feel that we’ve seen this all before. Throwing the millions out the window was new, though.
The critical overflow: Every TV critic and plenty of amateur yahoos (/tips cap) is weighing in on the metaphorical significance of every element of the show, and it’s almost too much. I find myself overanalyzing every element of the show (“Chekov was the one Enterprise crew member to win the pie contest in Badger’s story, and the writer Chekov had that line about a shotgun over the fireplace in the first act needing to be fired by the third … also, pie is like Pi, which is 3.14, which … isn’t that Walter’s license plate?”) Anyway, the show needs to breathe.
The weeklong wait: I caught up with the show before season 4 started. Now, having to wait a week between episodes is like getting fed a meal one bite at a time. Which kind of sucks.