AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 2: “Caballo sin Nombre”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Peter Gould
* For a review of the Season 3 premiere, “No Más” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “I.F.T” – click here
America’s “Horse With No Name” plays as Walter (Bryan Cranston) drives out along the highway in the desert. He sings with the tunes and has a great time. Until a cop flicks on their lights, pulling him over. Immediately his guilty conscience starts to play on him. He imagines the worst. It’s only about the cracked windshield from the plane crashes, not as if the cop cares. Hey, at least he’s not getting pinched for distributing and cooking up meth, right? You’d think Walt wouldn’t be so pushy about getting a citation.
He pushes too far and gets pepper sprayed after getting out of his car. Wow, Walt. You are a god damn genius. He pays the price, too. Pepper spray is no joke.
Hank (Dean Norris) is busy with the Salamanca brothers’ murders, the fire. Of course they have no idea who it was. For his part Hank believes it’s cartel. So him, Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) and the rest of the team are going hard at their leads. That’s when Hank gets a call – he’s got a buddy to pick up from jail.
Then there’s Jesse (Aaron Paul). With a sort of new lease on life, albeit a negative one, he ends up over at the old house where he lived. It’s being renovated and revamped, as his father and mother are taking care of things. He and his dad end up chatting, which naturally results in Jesse finding himself insulted and rejected.
More and more Walt feels his ego being wounded. Hank essentially talks him out of some charges by pleading with a cop friend of his, mentioning Walt’s cancer diagnosis, and so on. Well they get a little apology out of him for the officer and on he goes. Lucky to have Hank, if not things might have ended up a ton worse. Hank’s the Tim Allen sort of classic male who doesn’t much want to talk, though Walt brings up Skyler (Anna Gunn) doesn’t want him around the kids and that sort of throws him for a loop. Oh, Hank – if ye only knew the dark depths of Mr. White!
Finally, a bit more Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). He and Walt meet to talk about his new situation. Saul spins things nicely for him. Mentioning going to the police wouldn’t benefit her at all: “blowback,” he says. Hank would get screwed over for not having noticed. All the assets gone, family on the streets. It’s quite possible, yes. Regardless, Walt is just concerned about losing her and the family. He still has a soul. Even if it’s itty bitty.
Saul also suggests Walt gets back to cooking meth. “I can‘t be the bad guy,” says Walt with so much irony you could nearly choke.
Even better, more Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). We see he’s got a little granddaughter whom he loves very much. Love the juxtaposition of him with his family and him with his business. This leads to one of my favourite scenes of the entire series a little later.
Right now, we check back with Skyler. More importantly we see Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) is taking things quite hard. No wonder. It’s hard for anybody to adjust. Sad, though, that he sees his mother as a villain in the situation when he knows nothing about his father. At dinner with Hank and Marie (Betsy Brandt), Junior flips out and even calls his mother a bitch. Feisty, man. Hank really didn’t like hearing that, either. He pokes his head in a little too much before Skyler shuts him down. Still, Hank privately with Marie believes Walt’s been having an affair. Although Marie thinks it’s “something more.” God, is she so right.
Most interesting is Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis). He’s visited by the two Salamanca brothers, most likely his sons. They break out a Ouija Board for him to spell out the name of Heisenberg: Walter (motherfuckin’) White. Now the brothers are even closer.
Other trouble is on the horizon: Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) cooking the books at his company is going to play into the White family issues, sooner or later. But Skyler asks about his kids, what if they knew he was doing something illegal. There’s a part of her, deep down, that wants to rationalize what Walt has done. Just a tiny part. Then when she gets a call from it turns out Junior has taken off to his father’s place.
This leads us up to an amazing scene. When Walt brings his son back home, he uses it as an opportunity to have dinner together, get some chemistry and conversation going again. He brings a pizza with him. Well Skyler refuses and won’t let him in. And in what’s now known to be a one-take shot, Walter tosses the pizza in frustration and it lands on the roof. A-ma-zing. Every time I watch it I laugh harder.
At the same time, Saul finagles a deal for the old house Jesse lived in. He uses the old history of meth cooking against Jesse’s parents and their lawyer. What a twist. Dig it. Because Jesse has tried to turn a new leaf, yet nobody cares to give him the benefit of the doubt. And that’s one reason why many addicts dive back in after getting clean, when loved ones and friends treat them like they’ll never be any different. So fuck his parents. He’s got the house now, at a huge discount.
Walter goes on a bad binge and wakes up face down on the floor. He gets a shitty message from Skyler, even bangs his head on the table getting up. Nothing’s working for him. A laugh out loud moment comes when Walt hears her talk about a restraining order on the message, so he grabs his crotch and screams: “Restrain this!” I mean, I almost died laughing.
The new owner of the Pinkman house strolls up and heads inside. Jesse’s parents are shocked to see it’s him. A slap in their stupid faces.
But my favourite scene of the series (almost) comes now with Skyler and Junior out of the house. Mike heads on up, accompanied by Timber Timbre’s “Magic Arrow”, and goes about bugging the house for Saul. At the very same time Walt is back trying to move himself into the house, unbeknownst to Skyler, obviously. So there’s this hilariously juxtaposed scene with Mike out back tapping the lines and setting things up, while Walt finds the locks changed and has to get inside another way. Also shows how damn sneaky Mike can get. And I guess Walt, as well.
Then another angle: the Salamanca brothers. They come wielding axes, shiny ones. Mike sees it and alerts the appropriate parties – a.k.a Victor over at Los Pollos, who in turn tells Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Uh oh. Inside the White home, the brothers sit waiting for Heisenberg. He’s now on the verge of being annihilated once and for all. One of the most intense sequences yet, the tension is unbelievably thick, as Walt sings in the shower. So vulnerable and oblivious.
The Salamancas get a text, which quickly takes them out of there. Is this Fring intervening? The text reads: POLLOS. Walter gets out of the shower and finds the teddy bear eyeball from the pool in a different place than where he remembers it. Though, he has no idea of how close death came. Past his doorstep, right into his bedroom.
The next episode, “I.F.T”, promises more developments in the personal and professional lives of Walter White, as well as the intermittent danger Walt brings into the lives of those around him.