AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 5, Episode 3: “Hazard Pay”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Peter Gould
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Madrigal” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Fifty-One” – click here
We see Mike (Jonathan Banks) posing as a paralegal, going to prison with a lawyer to visit clients. They meet Dennis, the laundromat’s manager. As the lawyer listens to tunes, Mike discusses what’s been happening, and makes sure Dennis sticks to the plan. The manager says he’s “no rat.” But there are issues with the “hazard pay” taken away by the feds. This means someone’s going to flip if the pressure comes down harder. All this is one of the reasons Mike needs to go back into business working with Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul).
At home, Walt’s moving back in despite the fact Skyler (Anna Gunn) is terrified of him. She’s not overly excited to see him bringing his things back and settling into the place. Later, Walt, Jesse, and Mike are over at the offices of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) trying to pull things together. Mike lays out their “ground rules,” dividing the labour clearly and making sure everybody knows their place.
They’ve got to begin the search for a new cook location. One place after another, there’s always some kind of problem, whether heat, smell, “unannounced government inspections.” At a pest control shop’s garage, Walt gets an idea— cook in different houses using the pest control as a cover, there’s already poison chemicals inside and nobody wants to go near a tented house. The company guys are “B&E artists,” already using their business to make illegal money on the side.
Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) are put to use, too. They go out pretending to look for musical instruments, purchasing several large containers that’ll transport meth lab equipment. All covered under the guise of Vamonos Pest. Even chemical barrels are hidden with stickers to make them appear as pesticides. The pest guys are told how things are going to go by Mike, particularly there’s no more stealing. They’ll be compensated now, no need for thieving.
Things are better between Walt and Jesse. They spend time working on the new lab equipment and how to fit everything in the cases. Andrea (Emily Rios) gets home with Brock in the middle of their planning. Scary watching Walt interact with the kid, being the one who put him in the hospital. One of those dark ironies of Breaking Bad we’ve come to expect.
One of the pest guys, Todd (Jesse Plemons), lets the cooks know he disabled a nanny cam inside before they get going on their first batch. Walt and Jesse suit up, then they setup their mobile lab inside a smaller tent within the larger tented house. It’s ingenious, really. Everything goes well leaving the partners optimistic. Their relationship, strangely, feels at its best. They’ve never been so content in each other’s company. Yet that feeling’s built on lies. Hilarious that Walt feels he can give advice about how “secrets create barriers between people” while he’s talking about the woman whose child he poisoned. He’s more evil as the days pass.
The cracks in Skyler (Anna Gunn) are so evident. Although Marie (Betsy Brandt) just nags rather than notice what’s going on with her sister. It’s clear Skyler’s having a mental breakdown, losing it at her sister in the car wash and falling to pieces in front of her. Now Marie notices. She’s there at the house when Walt gets home. She doesn’t want to leave without knowing what’s wrong. This forces Walt to improvise, so he lets his sister-in-law know about the whole Ted affair and his accident. He uses this as an excuse for his wife’s breakdown.
He doesn’t even go see Skyler once Marie leaves, he takes a bite of an apple. This is the epitome of Walt: he almost doesn’t even care about the family anymore, he cares about his control of the family and the pride he feels from being the patriarch. Later that evening, Skyler wakes to find Walt, the baby, and Jr. (RJ Mitte) watching Scarface. Hits too close to home. Walt’s life isn’t so far off from the Al Pacino film these days. He sits with his children, watching murder, and on the streets he’s committed it himself. Chilling moment.
When the first load of cash comes in, Walt’s unhappy. He doesn’t like how much money goes to the people underneath him. He’s got his “green eye shade” on, and he already feels he’s the kingpin Gus was, which doesn’t sit well with Mike, who wants to make sure Mr. White isn’t getting too big for his britches. Jesse gets paid back, then the Vamonos Pest owner and his guys get their pay, Saul’s money is covered, and Mike has to take care of his guys from before. After this, the three partners get their cut. But Walt’s totally oblivious to how things need to work and it’s driving a wedge between him and Mike further. Not a perfect work environment. And Walt’s just getting worse, more devious, more nasty.
“Just because you shot Jesse James, don’t make you Jesse James.”
The closer we get to the end, the better Breaking Bad seems to get, and it’s like there’s always gas left in the tank for the show’s storytelling. Can’t wait to watch everything play out from here on in, there’s lots of interesting things about to go down.
“Fifty-One” is next.