The Cabin in the Woods
Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 15 recap
I feel like this is the week after a storyline binge – Hank is dead, Jesse is being held hostage, Walt is finally on the run. Now it’s time for consequences.
The Vacuum Man who makes people disappear into a new life actually owns a vacuum cleaner shop – how convenient. Saul is opting out of his old life too; obviously his association with Heisenberg has made him a target of the police. I’ll miss Huell and the rest of Team Better Call Saul. Saul is none-to-pleased to be heading to Nebraska, and he’s bunking with a very agitated Walter White.
Marie is being driven around by DEA agents, who swear they will find Walt; Marie seems to know better. They pass by Marie and Hank’s, where there was obviously a break-in. Marie is whisked away, and the white supremacists have trashed the house looking for the tape.
Cut to the Aryan compound, where they are all laughing and watching Jesse’s confession tape. Kenny is concerned about Jesse talking about Todd murdering Drew Sharp. Todd smirks through the whole thing, even as Jesse calls him an Opie dead-eyed piece of sh-t. Uncle Jack goes out to kill Jesse once and for all, and Todd asks for him to keep him alive to help cook. At this point, even Jack wants to get out of the meth business (considering their windfall) and figures out that Todd has a crush on Lydia, and that’s what’s driving him to keep cooking.
But it’s more than that, isn’t it? Sure Todd and Lydia would be spectacularly awful together, but Todd also revered Heisenberg. Todd sees his uncle and the Aryans as muscle, not partners. He wants to be the next Heisenberg, and they will be his crew, but he needs to get to the top, and everyone has to fall under his spell, even his uncle.
Meanwhile, Jesse works on getting out of his cuffs with a paper clip. Can someone come help this kid!
In the bunker, Walt is putting together a plan and mercenary team to take out Jack. Saul is done with his old life – really done – and wants Walt to let it go. Saul is the voice of reason, telling Walt that the money is no longer in play and will never reach his family. And Saul is also the only one to tell Walt that he is leaving Skyler high and dry, and that they will go after Skyler, the house, the condo, the car wash – there is no getting money to her. Saul uses Mike as an example, a guy who did nefarious work and tried to get his earnings to his granddaughter. They never reached her – and Mike was much more careful than Walt. Saul is telling him to take the hit, go into jail a John Dillinger hero and try to get some of that money to his family. Walt won’t hear it.
Walt tries to take Saul on the road with him and when Saul pleads that he is destined to be a Cinnabon manager, Walt tries to be menacing and recycle his old threat, but has a coughing fit half way through. Saul finishes it for him with “It’s over.” At least Saul knows how to fold ‘em.
Skyler is being strong-armed by the police and says she knows she is doomed, but she has nothing to give them. She is facing Walt’s consequences and they are coming at her from every direction.
Back at home, two agents watch her house while she sits inside and smokes. Holly stirs, so she goes to check on her and ahhhh the masked Aryans are in the room. And are scary as f-ck. They are wearing masks, but of course creepy Todd does the talking, and it’s about wretched Lydia. They need to make sure Skyler and Lydia’s car wash run-in is not revealed to the police. The scary part about Todd is that he doesn’t blindly take orders, he actively wants to decide who lives and who dies.
He reports back to Lydia – I hope she chokes on her stevia - but of course Lydia wants Skyler killed. Because sparing Lydia, Mike’s half measure, was a huge mistake. He spared her, and now she spares no one. Lydia and Todd have a You’ve Got Mail style rom-com back-to-back conversation in the coffee shop, and Lydia tries to break up with the Aryan operation. But of course when Todd says it’s 92%, Lydia’s greedy ears perk up and she isn’t fazed at all when they mention they have Pinkman. (I had a brief hope that Lydia would save Jesse, but clearly she is a useless cow.)
Todd then puts his creepy moves on Lydia, picking lint off her jacket and telling her how good they are together. If these two spawned the baby would come out with horns and a pitchfork.
Walt, now Mr. Lambert, is in New Hampshire. The cabin is bare bones (no TV, phone or internet) as this isn’t meant to be a new life for Walt, but rather a hideout. Saul will be integrated back into society with his new identify, but Walt can’t leave his property. He has millions and has to cook his beans on a wood stove. But, as Vacuum Man says, the entire country is looking for him. Two copies of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emprioum and monthly supply runs is how Walt will live now.
Eight miles down the road is a small town, and Vacuum Man says there’s nothing stopping Walt from leaving. But once he leaves, Vacuum Man will cease all contact.
Walt stuffs his pockets with money and pulls out his old porkpie hat – the little bit left he has of Heisenberg. That hat is Walt’s bravado, but even it has lost its charm. He gets to the road, coughs a few times, and decides to tackle it tomorrow. Walt isn’t ready for walking down the road, and he certainly isn’t ready for the Aryans. Yet.
The hat is hung on a deer head, like a souvenir.
Jesse is trying his best to escape, and is almost caught by Todd bringing him ice cream. Todd tries to chat with Jesse a bit and I know Todd does this to mess with his head, but I also think Todd has a pathological need to be liked by people. And some part of him must recognize that Jesse is his moral opposite – he must be a tiny bit curious about a real person with human emotions. Or at least he wants to study how to imitate a real person.
Jesse escapes from his underground cell and is caught in like 10 seconds. Come on! Give the guy a fighting chance. He asks to be killed, instead they tie him and drive to Andrea’s. Todd knocks on her front door and lures her outside. She is trying to peer into a truck to see Jesse, and with a simple, “Just so you know it’s nothing personal” Todd shoots her in the head. What the f-ck Todd?!!!! Why did you shoot her in the head?! Wasn’t the threat enough? Of course it was, but Todd just had to prove his point.
Where are they going with Jesse? How much can one character take? I mean at this point, why wouldn’t he blow up the meth lab or kill himself? Death would be a relief for him and escaping would be pointless – he’d be arrested, he has no money and he’d be hunted by the Aryans. That’s the last we see of Jesse this episode, meaning there’s just a few scenes left to finish his story. Will it involve Walt? And will it provide enough closure for the moral centre of the show?
Time is passing at the cabin, Walt’s beard has grown in, and he waits eagerly for Vacuum Man. There’s a month of papers from Albuquerque, new glasses, Ensure (to help him gain weight) and even a round of chemo in the package. Walt gets an update on Skyler -- there’s no court date but she’s working part time at taxi dispatch. The house is fenced up and being auctioned off.
And isn’t this what Walt was worried about? That he would die and the family would be left destitute? Well they are in a far worse spot now than they would be if he had died after his initial diagnosis. Not only is she broke, but she’s in danger and branded a criminal.
Vacuum Man tries to cut out, and with tears in his eyes, Walt pays him 10K to stay an extra hour. As they set up a card game, Walt asks the man if he will hand over his barrel of money to his family and Vacuum Man wonders if Walt would believe him if he said yes.
The grizzly old guy with a heart of gold (we don’t know if that’s how this guy is yet, but he’s certainly set up to be through his continued relationship with Walt) is now Walt’s lifeline. But he already had this in Mike: someone who could fix his problems and used empathy and street smarts in his decisions. Walt loathed Mike because just like Todd/Jesse, Mike was Walt’s moral yang.
Walt is so thin his wedding ring has fallen off, so he ties it around his neck. He then comes up with a brilliant idea – to stuff a box of Ensure with money and send it to his family. That box of money finally gives Walt the motivation to take the 8 mile walk to town. He goes into a bar, convinces someone to pretend to be Aunt Marie, and gets Walt Jr. on the phone.
He prepares the package, goes into town and calls Walt Jr. at school (!!) – hey there’s the principal Walt put the moves on. I’d be curious to hear her thoughts on the debacle.
Walt is an emotional wreck and he wants to send money to Walt Jr.’s friend. He haltingly tries to justify his terrible mistakes and he can’t even get his thoughts out. He’s pleading and weepy, but Walt Jr. doesn’t want the money. He’s insulted by it. Unlike his dad, money is not a enticing to Walt Jr. In his eyes. His father killed Hank and destroyed his mother, and he doesn’t want his money or his phone call and wishes him dead.
Walt’s next call is to the DEA, where he says he is Walter White. He leaves the phone off the hook and goes to order a drink at the bar.
As he sits down for his last drink, Gretchen and Elliott Schwartz show up on a talk show. It is unbelievable, but believable, you know? They’ve donated a big chunk of change to negate the publicity they received from their connection to Walt. Elliott dismisses Walt’s contribution completely and says he had nothing to do with the start of the company or the growth of it. Elliott and Gretchen straight out says Walt’s contribution begins and ends with the name, Gray Matter Technologies. That is untrue: Walt made a terrible business decision selling his shares, but it was his research that is the basis of Gray’s success. Gretchen goes on to describe the Walt she knew as, “sweet, kind and brilliant” and I think that is what finally pushes Walt over the edge. Gretchen always treated him with a touch of condescension and pity and now to watch them say the company he helped found and never profited from had zero to do with him is an instant trigger for his inner Heisenberg. His meth empire was supposed to make up for all of that Gray Matter failure and humiliation, but instead, a few hillbillies made away with his fortune. He lost the first empire long ago, but the second one is still somewhat tangible. I wonder if Gretchen and Elliott have any idea of how much they have fueled Walt through all this. And I wonder… is the ricin for them?
The sheriff shows up, but Walt is gone. The end is in motion – just 75 minutes left for the big gun, the ricin, and the retribution. Will Skyler spend her life in prison for the sins of her husband? Will Jesse live- does he even want to? And will someone kill Lydia already, please?
Attached – Aaron Paul at the Emmys last night.
Frazer Harrison/ Jason Merritt/ Getty