AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 3: “Bit by a Dead Bee”
Directed by Terry McDonough
Written by Peter Gould
* For a review of the previous episode, “Grilled” – click here
* For a review of the following episode, “Down” – click here
Headed away from where they last saw Tuco get gunned down by Hank (Dean Norris), Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) bury the gun the latter used in a hole. Then they’re faced with a long, sweaty journey back towards civilization. And that brings us to another point: how do they explain their disappearance? In particular, how does Walt explain that to Skyler (Anna Gunn) after so quickly having to take off after finding Jesse at gunpoint with Tuco in his backseat? Well, we’re about to find out.
For the most part the plan’s kind of genius. At the same time, it’s insulting. To his family, to Skylar most of all, and also to the people suffering from cancer that might actually go through an episode like that. Whereas he’s using it for a drug cover, essentially. This is one of the first times I stopped feeling bad for Walt. I mean, yes, he’s done bad shit before. But I feel like this is the first real break from his old self, even above the killing of Krazy-8 and all that wild shit. This lie, coupled with the fact of the two cellphone debacle, is a beginning of a multi-headed beast of Walter’s creation; a single event that has large, wide repercussions heading forward.
For the time being, Walter Jr (RJ Mitte) and Skyler find him at the hospital, after he wandered into a supermarket then stripped to his bare naked ass and balls. “I feel like myself, really,” Walt tells them ironically. Simultaneously, Hank is being brief on his shooting, as Marie (Betsy Brandt) waits on impatiently. Now the wide breadth of Walt’s lie becomes part of the official word on Hank’s killing of “Mr. Salamanca” – you can almost feel Hank burn each time he has to officially refer to Tuco in this way, love it. Dean Norris doesn’t get enough credit, never did even during the run of the series. He is fantastic as Hank and brings a completely unique quality to the role that I’m unsure anyone else could offer.
Poor Jesse has cops sitting on his house. So he and Badger (Matt Jones) head inside to gather up a load of meth making equipment. Badger’s not much help, fiending for more of the blue stuff. However, Jesse tries to make clear things are more serious than he seems to comprehend. At least Badger has a relative that’s able to tow away the Winnebago for now, get it out of Jesse’s hair. Only no cash. So Jesse puts it all down on his word; something that’ll spark an interesting situation soon enough.
Sketchy Walter White is giving the doctors, and his wife, a hard – though subtle – sell. He manages to convince them all that his supposed episode was on the level. The scariest part is how easily Walt can turn on the dishonesty. We see all sides of his character, as the omnipotent observers, the audience to his transformation. And this scene is one of the more evident moments in which Walt proves he is, at heart, a bad man. He is the ultimate snake in the grass, the great manipulator. He doesn’t even have to work to get Skyler on his side, willingly offering up her own excuses alongside his own.
Meanwhile, Jesse holes up in a motel with the cracked out prostitute Wendy (Julia Minesci). He’s setting up his own version of events to explain his whereabouts, how his car wound up in the same place as Tuco Salamanca, so on. The SWAT team descends upon the motel to take him in for a nice little chat with Mr. Schrader.
Absolutely love the first moment Jesse is in the room with Hank; his excessive hand drumming is such a piss in the eye of law enforcement, it also shows Jesse’s immaturity in a world he really does not fully grasp. The conversation goes along with Jesse playing a fairly good role for Hank and Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada). Only problem is when Hank breaks out the money they found, something Jesse would absolutely love to keep his hands on. The two partners taunt him a bit, but for his part Pinkman stays strong mostly. Luckily, Wendy also stays strong for what it’s worth.
Later on, Walt sort of comes clean. Sort of. In the sense he tells another lie that undoes the lie he already told. But in the confidence of a doctor Walter reveals certain parts of his own fears, the innermost troubles which stab at his gut. He claims the whole episode was a matter of gaining some control, doing something he wanted, getting away from home, from the cancer, from everything. So even through his lie there’s a sense Walt has confessed, relieved part of his burden. Except it’s never that easy. Certainly not for Walt.
Walt: “My wife is seven months pregnant with a baby we didn‘t intend. My fifteen–year–old son has cerebral palsy. I am an extremely overqualified high school chemistry teacher. When I can work, I make $43,700 per year. I have watched all of my colleagues and friends surpass me in every way imaginable. And within eighteen months, I will be dead. And you ask why I ran?”
At the DEA office, something extraordinary happens: Hank brings in Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis). Is this the end of Jesse’s cover story? Ringing his bell, Hector lets Gomez and Hank know his answers to their questions; he even seems to be working at full mental capacity, despite Jesse objecting to his being there. Instead of giving anything up, Hector opts to take a big diarrhea shit in his pants for the DEA to signify there’s no chance he’ll help them out.
So Jesse walks free. For now. He gets in contact with Walt via payphone, touching base on how things are going. Only there’s always a divide between the two, usually involving cash, the ever horrible economic Satan. Walt’s more concerned about his safety and cooking more meth than about Jesse losing all his money. It’s actually scary how much Walt can only think of dollars.
But wait – maybe a good thing, as well. He suddenly remembers about the money at home, left out of its hiding spot from last when he’d been there. Before his supposed episode. And with that he’s off. Sneaking inside, he finds the gun and the money right where he left it. Sneakily, Walt gets it all situated, nearly being found out. Yet soon enough he’s snug as a bug back in the hospital bed. No one’s the wiser.
The P2P method of cooking is keeping Hank hot on the blue meth trail. He knows Krazy-8, Tuco, all that is connected. However, at the moment Steve and the DEA office have got Hank a cake and throw him a little party for bringing down Tuco. They even gave him a sort of odd present. “You sick, sick puppies,” Hank says to his friends and co-workers after opening up the little gift.
When he goes to see Walt in hospital, we finally see what it is: an encased souvenir of Tuco’s silver grill. Definitely a bit of a sick object. Juxtaposing this gift with Walt looking on with an almost look of horror is a perfect shot and moment to have included. Really poignant.
At home, things aren’t quite as cheery as Walt expected. He tries lightening the mood, but it just doesn’t work so well. Skyler is still fixated on the second cellphone, as one would if they were in her situation. It sticks with her, and the fact she knows Walt and can tell he’s being less than truthful only makes their situation more complicated.
Solid dramatic episode that needed no action to move it forward. This one was excellent all around, setting up many things to come. Next up is “Down”, so stay with me and I’ll have another recap/review.