Episode 7: Bald is Beautiful
Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 7 recap
Is anyone cheering for Walt anymore? I can’t remember the last time I wanted something to go right for him. It seems the Walt worth cheering for hasn’t appeared, for me at least, since about the time he gave up the second cell phone. I don’t know if I want Walt to die, but I want him to suffer. Suffer not just for Jesse (because even though I have serious love for Pinkman, he’s a big boy who now has money and the means to disappear if he wanted to), but I want to see some karmic retribution. For Jane, for the plane crash, for the dirt biker, for Jesse’s broken heart, and for Gus’s half face. I want Holly and Walt Jr to know that whatever came of their dad had nothing to do with them. Because I think that’s the most deplorable guise of all – Walt hiding as the dotting father and husband.
But nothing would hurt Walt more than being pushed out of another empire.
Last week I wondered if Walt was a loser in the meth game. But in terms of character, Walt-to-Heisenberg has happened in a “real life” year. A year is a very short amount of time to go from a terminally ill, downtrodden teacher to a megalomaniac meth kingpin. Walt has been on an extreme journey, which a traumatic life event can bring on. But he can’t go on like this forever. If he pretends to be “normal” for long enough, will he go back to normal? Or, as a viewer, am I simply projecting years of ingrained “happy endings” onto a character that neither deserves nor wants a peaceful conclusion? At every turn, Walter White seems intent on the most extreme course of action, fully aware that he’s summoning the most extreme consequences.
Episode 7, let’s do this b-tch! (© Jesse Pinkman)
Walt, Jesse and Mike head to a meeting in the desert, and in the car Walt ominously strokes his burnt wrist. Mike lets Walt lead the meeting; I’m sure he’s thinking, “give him enough rope…” Walt doesn’t wear his black Heisenberg hat for this important meet-up – Heisenberg no longer requires a costume, he just is. Funny how Walt compares his meth to two quintessentially American brands: the Yankees and Classic Coke. Walt also makes a crack about the watered down blue meth knock-off, which brings to mind the 1980s Coca-Cola Classic/New Coke recipe disaster, which led to customer outrage and a demand for a return to the original recipe. Walt’s proposal is bold: Jesse and Walt cook, Mike gets his $5 million retirement money and the new team comes in as distributors. Walt splays his feathers like a peacock, asking the new distributors to say his name (seeing as Skyler isn’t saying it anymore – Hey-o!) and boasts about killing Gus. The guy does say his name, and I can’t be sure but let’s assume Walt came in his pants.
Mike gets sent on his merry $5 million way (will Walt let him off that easy?) and he and Jesse have a heavy goodbye as Walt watches from the window.
Skyler is alone in the empty car wash (holy sh-t who knew a closed car wash could be so creepy). That’s where the methylamine was being kept, which seems so obviously brilliant now. Jesse says hello to Mrs. White – I want these two to have many more scenes together because Aaron Paul playing awkward is gold. Jesse quietly watches Walt and Skyler have a tense conversation, and through Walt’s interaction with his wife Jesse sees another side of the man he thought was in it for family: he’s a bastard of a husband. So if he would treat his wife this way, what will become of his meth-cooking partner? Jesse always held onto Walt being the “good guy” because he had cancer and a family, thus he was the “bad guy” because he was single and an addict.
Next scene starts with a generic guy delivering some banana bacon cookies to a bank worker. Someone get on that recipe. He fills up safety deposit boxes with cash for legacy payments. The last one had a note to Mike’s granddaughter, with a huge pile of cash for her 18th birthday.
Mike is listening to Hank on the bug, and it sounds so hollow and stiff, and I can’t tell if it’s because of the bug or if Hank is faking it. Mike throws his old life down a pit (literally) and goes back to his apartment, where the police are quick to show up with a warrant. Mike watches an old movie while they search his house, reminiscent of the GoodFellas scene with Lorraine Bracco watching TV while the FBI searched her house.
Jesse and Walt finally have The Conversation – it’s the end of another partnership for Walt, and again he is trying to hang-on with intimidation, emotional blackmail and self-serving promises. He implores Jesse to live up to his potential and even pokes at his loneliness and addiction. (Reminder: Jesse is alone because Walt manipulated him into breaking up with Andrea.) Walt says they are going to hell anyway, so why stop now? Walt is using the same tactic he did on Skyler: keep the conversation going, ask for details on how they are going to beat Walt, plus he adds a huge layer of guilt, telling Jesse that he shouldn’t accept the blood money. Jesse acquiesces and leaves, sending Walt into a rage. The person who always fell for Walt’s tricks just got a little smarter.
Hank is in a bureaucratic meeting but distracted by photos from Mike’s surveillance. Hank is reminded that he’s not knocking on doors anymore and he needs to file his paperwork on time and let the Fring case go. Mike was saved by the bell – Hank is ordered not to spend any more budget on Mike, so he orders a tail for the lawyer who filled the safety deposit boxes. Gotta give it to Hank, he’s too legit to quit.
Walt suits up for a cook with his new trainee, Todd (who didn’t even take chemistry in high school you guys!). Walt gives him the listen-and-apply-yourself teacher talk, and off they go. On their break, Walt watches infomercials while Todd looks over notes. A studious boy, indeed. Walt always wanted to be Jesse to be more like Todd – obedient, eager, deferential – so why is he so eager to keep Jesse on? For the same reason he won’t divorce Skyler: never say die.
Walt and Skyler sit down to a microwave dinner – she really hates him. Remember in season one, before Walt had cancer, how she cooked turkey bacon and was worried about his cholesterol?
Walt goes crying to Hank – hey if the trick worked once, it will work again. Walt removes the bug with such flare, you would think he was tap-dancing for an audience. There was a weird camera angle that was worked in -- was that a camera in Hank’s office, or just some trickery? Walt overhears Gomez tell Hank that the lawyer flipped on Mike. Ugh, why didn’t he kill the 9? No half measures, Mike!
Walt makes a frantic phone call to warn Mike and Mike has no choice but to leave his granddaughter at the park alone. With what we know of Mike, that must have killed him. Saul is obviously outraged at Mike’s disloyalty in the lawyer department and his drawer of cell phones deserves its own Twitter account.
Walt is annoyed at Jesse’s insistence on helping (and Mike’s insistence on keeping him out of it) so he volunteers to bring the “go bag” to Mike. I have a sick feeling about this. If it was too dangerous for Jesse, why is it OK for Walt? Is Mike hoping for a final showdown with Heisenberg?
Walt asks for the names of the 9 and Mike grabs the bag. Walt screams “you’re welcome” and off they go, Walt’s second blowout of the episode. Mike calls Walt on his bullsh-t like neither Jesse nor Skyler can, telling him his pride and ego ruined it for everyone, and if he had known his place everything would be fine. In a fit of rage, Walt shoots Mike through the window, but Mike drives a few feet and escapes. By the time Walt reaches Mike, he is sitting on a rock, gun in hand, bullet wound in his stomach. He’s alive and Walt looks rattled. Walt tries to apologize and Mike tells him to shut the f-ck up and let him die in peace. I hope he does. RIP you awesome dude.
I think out of all the deaths, Mike’s will affect Walt the most because Mike was everything Walt wasn’t: connected in the drug trade, emotionally invested in his family and ethical in his own salt-of-the-earth way. They hated each other, and Walt killed him over 9 lousy names he could have gotten from Lydia. But that’s not really why Walt killed him (a brilliant man wouldn’t forget that someone else had those names): Walt killed him because Mike had his number, he always knew exactly who Walt was - probably even before Walt fully knew. And Walt can’t stand having anyone smarter than him in his world; that’s why he left Gray Matter, that’s why he married Skyler, that’s why he’s trying to keep Jesse and that’s why he killed Mike. But for all his instinct and experience, Mike didn’t pull the trigger on Walt. That was always a kill-or-be-killed relationship; unfortunately for Mike, Walt fired first. Mike died the bigger man, and Walt knows it.
(Lainey: I’m not sad about this upcoming break especially after these episodes. Who can handle all this… STRESS! In a tv show! All at once! It’s too much. Also can they move Breaking Bad to during the week? Because every f-cking Sunday I go to bed anxious now.)
Photos courtesy AMC