Season 5 Episode 3: Cooking Under the Big Top
Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 3 recap
A suit walks into a jailhouse to see his client, with Mike posing as his paralegal (that’s a pretty brilliant ruse). The client is Dennis, one of 11 from Lydia’s list. Dennis swears he won’t flip, but there are 9 people left (Chow and his killer were crossed off last week) and if he doesn’t someone else will. Because the Cayman Island accounts have been seized by the DEA, everyone is out their “hazard pay,” a loyalty reward Gus had promised them in case things went awry.
This is why Mike needs to go into business with Walt and Jesse, so he can issue hazard pay to keep everyone quiet and not kill them. There’s a lot of talk of making the 9 “whole,” ironic considering Gus’s demise left him, um, half.
On his way out, Mike screams at the closed circuit camera in jail. Not like him at all –the stress of the situation is taking its toll.
Can I just say I do not love this team of 11 storyline? I’ve seen enough mob movies to know exactly what happens to the remaining crew – they end up a bump in the desert. Nine is a big number to contain when the money is gone and the boss is dead. Without fear of reprisal from Gus, do they have any reason not to save themselves? Mike not immediately opting to kill everyone tells me two thing: 1) even though he’s adept at it, Mike doesn’t take murder lightly and 2) he’s still loyal to Gus’s team and business, and still smarting over his boss being taken out by Walter White.
Walt is at home, unpacking a few things in the bedroom. Skyler walks in, and is timid and nervous. They briefly discuss his decision to move back in. “Do you really think that’s a good idea? “ she says. “Yes” he says. And that’s the extent of the conversation. Walt isn’t trying to work on his marriage; he feels entitled to it, just like he does everything else.
Saul is upset about the inclusion of Mike and utterly offended that the Three Amigos are adding a fourth. Saul is doing it under duress; he’s scared because Mike threatened him. Walt astutely points out that Mike threatens everyone.
Ground rules: Mike handles the business side of the operation; Walt and Jesse are responsible for cooking. Mike tries to make it very clear to Walt that he will run the business with zero input from them. Jesse hasn’t spoken yet, which is obviously highly upsetting to me personally.
The four go scouting for cook locations and it has a Goldilocks feel to it: this one is too close to the cop shop, this one is too humid. They can’t find one that’s just right. Inspiration strikes Walt, and he comes up with an idea of using houses that are due for extermination. One of Saul’s clients, an extermination company with a B&E operation on the side, is willing to partner. It is the perfect ruse: houses are completely covered in those loud, striped tents and no one can enter for fear of poisoning. Just like Gus, Walt aims to hide in plain sight.
Badger and Skinny Pete help secure some equipment, but with one withering look Mike makes it clear to Jesse that they are not welcome back. Mike is like the stern dad that Jesse needs to keep him out of trouble.
LANDRY is part of the extermination crew!!!!
Jesse is focused and thoughtful in his meeting with Walt, acting more like a junior accountant than a meth cooker. Andrea and Brock interrupt (she has her own key, of course) and for a moment Walt looks very nervous to be meeting little Brock, but there’s no way to tell if Brock recognized him. Walt stays for dinner, but here’s a thought: go home and have dinner with your own kids, Walt.
First house and already the owner is suspicious about all the equipment. Not a great sign. Landry tips them off to a nanny cam (ok his name on this show is technically Todd). They set up a small but high-tech lab – it’s a mix between the Winnebago and the superlab. It’s all given a kind of old-fashion, dreamy, detached cinematography and score as the blue liquid gold drips and transforms into meth.
Waiting for the batch to finish, Walt and Jesse have a conversation about Jesse’s relationship with Andrea. Walt is gently goading Jesse to tell her, saying that if she loves him she will understand and that they can’t have a relationship built on secrets. Walt is acting like a concerned uncle, telling Jesse he’s earned enough trust and respect to choose to tell her if he sees it necessary. What is Walt playing at? Andrea and Brock are already collateral that Walt has used. It’s something more – Walt wants to isolate Jesse and keep him lonely. Financially, Jesse is far ahead of Walt. It’s Jesse’s emotional need to please Walt and earn his approval that keeps him coming back. A stable family relationship could fulfill that need and Walt can’t have that.
Hey look it’s Marie, making her first appearance of the season. High-strung as usual, stressing about streaks from her (probably free) car wash. Marie is talking about Hank’s progress and work resurgence, and brings up Walt’s birthday, noting it’s been a year since his diagnosis. Skyler is so sad and anxiety-ridden, it’s a wonder that no one sees her pain. Skyler lights up a cigarette and Marie starts harping on her about it; Skyler erupts into a “shut-up” tangent and breaks down into sobs. Has she finally cracked?
Marie is at the White house, and tells Walt that Skyler had a breakdown. Her smoking comes up again – damn can this woman have a cigarette in peace! Marie left 5 messages and now Walt needs a quick excuse: he tells Marie that Skyler had an affair with Ted. He goes into Ted’s accident (he is quite severely injured, may never walk again). Walt plays the “Oh I thought you knew” card. It’s a jerk move but dammit if it’s not a good cover for Skyler’s erratic outburst. Marie gives Walt a sympathy hug. What makes Walt so brilliant is not just his scientific knowledge, but also his emotional intelligence. In that moment he artfully played himself off as the concerned, forgiving husband and caring brother-in-law.
Jesse’s videogame night with the family is not going great. He’s distant and nursing a beer (why is he drinking beer in so many scenes?), another well that Walt has poisoned.
Meanwhile, Walt, Walt Jr and baby Holly are watching Scarface. Considering Walt’s hubris, it’s an apt reference to a drug lord who collapses under the weight of his own arrogance, paranoia and greed (and mounds of cocaine). Skyler is mortified to see Walt and Jr watching the comical but violent “Say hello to my little friend” scene, but doesn’t speak. She hardly ever speaks at home anymore; she has literally been silenced. Just a year ago Walt was a gentle schoolteacher who never have let his son watch that movie.
The cash from the first batch has been collected. Almost immediately, Walt and Mike squabble over the mule surcharge - it clearly stings Walt’s ego that Gus didn’t have these types of charges because of the 20-year empire he had built. Jesse is getting annoyed with the arguing over expenditures and offers to give up more of his share. Pinkman is pretty flush with cash right now.
Mike brings up a Legacy Cost, which goes to the 9 for hazard pay. Walt refuses to pay for Gus’s former employees. With $20K here, $40K there, the pile is quickly dwindling. Walt says he’s not paying to be blackmailed but Mike says it’s necessary to keep them happy and quiet. For someone aiming to be a major drug operator, Walt has no idea of the size, scope, cost and danger that go into distribution. He’s like a guy at a group dinner who says he only had one glass of wine so doesn’t want to split the bottle. But Mike cuts Walt down to size: “Just because you shot Jesse James, don’t make you Jesse James.” That must bother Walt – no matter what he does, he will always be in the long shadow of Gustavo.
Jesse tells Walt he broke up with Andrea; Walt doesn’t give a f-ck and just wants to know what Jesse thinks of the money situation. Jesse says he is fine with it because even after distribution costs they are still getting a bigger piece of the pie. Walt brings up Victor, the henchman whose throat was cut in the superlab. Walt tells Jesse that he now thinks Gus may have killed Victor because he “flew too close the sun.” He tried to do his own cook and took too many liberties. Walt isn’t just musing about Mike, he’s issuing an across the board warning: Walt is the boss and insubordination will not be tolerated.
Attached - Breaking Bad at the TCA this weekend.