AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 1, Episode 2: “Cat’s in the Bag…”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Vince Gilligan
* For a review of the Pilot – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “…And the Bag’s in the River” – click here
Beginning right after the events of the pilot, “Cat’s in the Bag” starts with Skyler (Anna Gunn) and Walter (Bryan Cranston) making intense, sweaty love. He staggers into the bathroom afterwards.
Cut back to 12 hours ago, in the desert after things with Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) went wrong, and Krazy-8 (Max Arciniega) got involved. Walter manages to get the Winnebago out of its predicament. But inside are still the two bodies. And Walt’s determined to part ways with his new partner, which stands vice versa, as Jesse wants nothing to do with it all either. Only they forgot a gas mask in the desert. Plus, Krazy-8 isn’t a corpse: he’s still alive.
Waking up on the bathroom floor, Walt starts his day on uncertain terms. Naturally, Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) knows something’s up, but it’s Skyler whose scepticism shows. Her worry, too.
Then Jesse calls, first pretending to be an AT&T salesman. This of course causes Skyler to wonder even further. Already there’s an imbalance to their relationship, especially once she calls back the number on the phone getting Pinkman’s ridiculous answering machine message. It’s easy to see how torn Walt and Skyler will eventually become, even within the first couple episodes.
In his chemistry class, Walt talks about a two-sided compound. Such as thalidomide, which has two very different effects. We almost get a parallel of the “mirrored images” in Walt himself – the good, the bad. He can see this on his own. Especially when he hears a student wrong, asking if this will “be on the murder“; except he actually says “midterm“. The guilt in Walter is already rearing its ugly yet rightful head. Afterwards, he picks up some acid from the chemistry department’s stockroom. Oh my.
Over at the Pinkman place things aren’t going so smooth. Jesse hears a bunch of noise from the Winnebago outside, finding a commotion inside where there is no body. Only duct tape, bonds untied and dropped on the ground. Then when Walt heads back with the acid ready, he finds Krazy-8 stumbling down the middle of the road. A bit wild, no?
Skyler is busy trying to track down who called earlier for Walt. She ends up tracking down Jesse’s number, ending up a terribly dated website full of surprises: “Milfs?” she wonders to herself, “What‘s a milf?”
The first of many heated arguments between Jesse and Walt begin. Certainly, Mr. White is unimpressed with his former student and the lack of attention he gave to Krazy-8 in the Winnebago. Jesse describes how Krazy-8 is “a distributor“, as Walt puts it. The older of the two wants to find more out about the guy, he wants to get hold of the situation. For now they don’t need to worry much about their captive. He was messed up fairly bad in the rolling meth lab. They now have to figure out something to do with him, whatever that may end up being. Walt and Jesse fight a little before they can manage to come to any sort of conclusions. As for the other body, the plan is to dissolve it in acid. Things have clearly spiraled out of control since the beginning of this decision to cook drugs. From drug suppliers to murderers to full-on career criminals in the span of a couple days. Walt determines they each should take a task – one on the body and acid, the other taking care of Krazy-8. A coin toss puts Walt with Krazy-8, unfortunately for him.
It might’ve been a good idea for Walt to deal with the acid. For one, Jesse ends up really making a bad move on his own. Then there’s the fact Walt can’t work himself up to dispatching Krazy-8. It’s got to be tough, regardless of how mathematical and scientific Walt can break down the situation. Walt is becoming someone he likely never imagined becoming, and in a terrifying sense. He mulls over various weapons, trying to figure out some quick, painless – for him – way to do the job. The guns in the plastic bag are one option, but loud. Suffocation also crosses his mind. There’s an unsettling part to watching Walt descend into the world of criminality. Yes, there’s a thrilling aspect. But morality has to kick in, we have to realize this is no longer about providing for his family. This life is grasping on and transforming Walt into a monster. As of now, he’s fighting back against that tide.
We get an excellent in-between-scene here, as Walt finds a pile of weed on Jesse’s counter and tries rolling a joint. Y’know, to calm his nerves. Hilarious lighthearted moment to crossover here until Jesse arrives home, ready to get the acid and bodies together. When he comes in Walt is kicked back smoking his joint. What a scene. “Make yourself at home, why don‘t you?” says Jesse.
With Skyler finding out more and more about Jesse, asking why he’s calling, Walt is backed further into a corner. She has a ton of questions, especially after he spent an entire night on the bathroom floor. He gives up the goods: “He sells me pot.” An obvious lie, but a decent one. For now. She scolds him for smoking weed, reminding him that Hank (Dean Norris), his brother-in-law, is a DEA Agent. Walt tries his best to talk her down a bit. After all, he’s the one with cancer. All the while he’s doing nefarious things.
Walt: “Right now, what I need, is for you to climb down out of my ass. Can you do that? Will you do that for me honey? Will you please, just once, get off my ass? You know I‘d appreciate it. I really would.”
Both Walt and Jesse are feeling the strain. Each in their own way. Walt mumbles to himself during class. Jesse smokes a bowl full of meth.
Deciding it’s time to dispose of the dead body in the R.V., Jesse starts to haul it into the driveway. At the perfect time, Skyler shows up. She scolds him now, too. Asking for him to stop selling her husband marijuana. At least that’s the story Walt told her, if not I can imagine Hank would be busting the door in fairly quick. Also, she lets that slip. Makes things awkward between Jesse and Walt, their drug dealing and all.
But back to Jesse and the body. He decides, without consulting Mr. White, the body should go in the upstairs bathtub with a couple bottles of the acid. Except that acid is tricky. This hydrofluoric stuff won’t eat through particular plastics and other substances. It, however, eat through ceramic, like a tub. After a few minutes when Walt shows up the acid eats through the tub and crashes through the second floor, down to the first floor. Whoopsy daisy, Jesse. A fine mess for them to clean up.
The final scene sees a couple kids playing in the New Mexico desert. They come across the gas mask, which Walt and Jesse accidentally left behind while out on their fatal run.
Next episode, “And the Bag’s in the River”, will show us how Walt cleans up the mess with Krazy-8. And Skyler starts moving closer to figuring out the truth about Walt’s new self.