Breaking Bad Season 5 preview: Season 3 review
“I saved your life, Jesse. Are you gonna save mine?” -WW
This is the season of close calls for Walt and Jesse. Almost retired, almost murdered, almost caught.
Los Pollos Hermanos owner Gustavo Fring reveals a superlab and wants to hire Walt as a master cook. Gus is on a level of production and distribution that Walt didn’t even know existed.
Out of rehab, Jesse tells Walt, “I’m the bad guy.” Wouldn’t it be easy if that were true for Jesse? He’s adrift and feels he has nothing to lose and that makes him a danger to himself and Walt. Jesse’s crawling out of his skin, taking stupid risks. Mired in grief and defeat, he also briefly contemplates cooking solo and says he will turn Walt in if it suits him. At one point, he begs Walt to go into DEA witness protection. Jesse needs some kind of relief from his conscience and sadness. But that’s the thing about true bad guys: they don’t really have to try to be bad. And Jesse tries so hard.
Walt makes a half-hearted attempt to quit the business but Gus easily appeals to Walt’s ego by hiring Jesse, telling Walt that a real man provides for his family and saving Walt from a cartel hit. Transparent but effective. The buckets of money help, too. Walt fires his eager lab assistant, Gale, because Walt doesn’t want to be around his intellectual equal at work or at home. Gale’s enthusiasm chafed Walt because he needs to be the smartest guy in the room; without that superiority he feels off balance. Instead of a working with a proper scientist, he’d rather work with a sullen and petulant Jesse.
In a rare flashback scene, Walt and Skyler are shown buying their first home (the house they still live in) and Walt is working in a prestigious lab. He thinks they are settling for too little with the house and Skyler of course thinks it’s too much. She dreams small. When Walt refuses to divorce Skyler, she f-cks Ted (her words exactly). And it’s great to see Skyler exact revenge on Walt, even if it is with limp Ted Beneke. Skyler takes to Ted’s pampering but then quickly grows weary of the upper middle class trappings (heated floors! Who doesn’t like heated floors?). Skyler’s a martyr, so even when she has the option of cutting ties with Walt (he eventually signs the divorce papers) and moving in with Ted, she doesn’t do it.
Walt Jr is pissed about his parents getting divorced and pissed about his uncle Hank’s reaction to being in a wheelchair. He’s all about his dad and blames his mom for the separation. Torn between fear and self-preservation, Skyler throws herself into the business, arranging to buy the carwash and launder the money herself. She’s removed enough from the danger to think this could all really work out.
Fear and instinct keep Hank in Albuquerque, but his mind and body are wrecked. He’s suspended for beating the crap out of Jesse, and he’s left paralyzed by the Cousins. Heisenberg still rings in his mind and his instinct is so right but his methods so wrong. He knows Jesse is a huge piece of the puzzle, but can’t see past his own nose.
Walt has a minor existential crisis, lamenting that life is too long and he could have died happily after a perfect moment with his daughter. Instead of more moments, Walt wants less time. Walt isn’t grateful for beating cancer, he acts like surviving it is an affront to his intelligence. But when he’s about to be killed by Mike (via Gus), Walt begs for his life. He’s not as ambivalent about death as he pretends to be.
The Cousins and the cartel are an omnipresent threat to everyone this season, and it brings the danger of the drug trade home (literally, right into Walt’s home). Their singular goal – vengeance – is ravenous. By offering Hank up as a sacrificial lamb, but saving him at the last moment, Gus really shows how cunning he can be. He could have let Hank die but chose to save him because when you have real power, that’s a decision you can make for others. Gus’s motivations are multi-faceted, with one phone call he can save a life, corner the market and get the cartel off his back. The man exemplifies discipline and power.
Gus may be incredibly perceptive but he makes one crucial error: he underestimates the depth of Jesse and Walt’s relationship. He only sees Jesse’s addiction and Walt’s greed, but there is an inexplicable bond that keeps them connected. And Walt is surprisingly adept at keeping splintered relationships from breaking.
In Jesse’s quest to be the bad guy, he attends NA meets to sell meth to recovering addicts. Of course the first person he tries to sell to is vulnerable single mother Andrea. He immediately takes on a surrogate family and when her brother is murdered in a convoluted storyline that leads back to Gus, Jesse goes ballistic and vows revenge. Walt does everything he can to help and protect Jesse, going so far as to kill two people and plead Jesse’s case with Gus. Jesse is all Walt has, and he’s hanging onto him with both hands. In Jesse he knows he has pliable loyalty.
Walt helping Jesse comes with a cost, of course. Walt expects him to kill the sweet and innocent Gale to save them both: without Gale, there’s no competition and Gus will need them to cook. Jesse begs Walt to reconsider, and Walt decides to do it himself but circumstances make that impossible. As Walt’s about to be killed, Jesse races to Gale’s and with a tear in his eye (and meth up his nose), shoots him in the face. Poor Gale. He was a pawn in a game he didn’t even know was being played.
Gus’s all-knowing right hand man, Mike, sums up the problem Walt and Jesse have always had: half measures. Half measures have yielded them half results. Their reactive, panicked operation is completely at odds with Gus’s organized and high-yield business. When the RV is destroyed, it’s the end of amateur hour.
A new trailer has been released for the new season.