Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 8: “I See You”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 8: “I See You”
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Written by Gennifer Hutchison

* For a review of the previous episode, “One Minute” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Kafkaesque” – click here
IMG_0221In the hospital, Jesse (Aaron Paul) gets ready to go home, still bruised and in terrible shape after the beating he was given at the hands of Hank (Dean Norris).
But Hank has bigger problems, nearly gunned to death by the Salamanca brothers. He’s brought into the ER while Pinkman sits outside for a smoke. Such a weird, ironic moment. No telling yet if the big guy’s going to pull through, either. He’s near death.
And much as I feel for Jesse he shows he hasn’t changed in the slightest. He wishes death on the man who beat him, without actually saying the words. Not saying Hank doesn’t deserve a beating in return. Doesn’t deserve this, though.
IMG_0222Suddenly, Gale (David Costabile) finds out that Walt (Bryan Cranston) doesn’t want to work with him anymore, having made a deal to bring his old partner into the operation overseen by Mr. Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). The master chemist compares them as “classical” and “jazz” music, incompatible in the lab ultimately. The salt rubs deepest into the wound when Gale actually meets Jesse, his use of “the bomb” and his beat up face and the “Sup?” which follows. Oh, man. But them’s the breaks when you’re working in the meth industry. All that matters is the bottom line: 200 lbs per week. Rain or shine, Gale or Jesse; does not matter.
Then Mr. White finds out about what happened to Hank, his close to fatal condition. He rushes to the hospital, to Marie (Betsy Brandt), Skyler (Anna Gunn), and Walt Jr (RJ Mitte). They’re all, justifiably, terrified. Not easy to see anyone shot. Seeing Hank like that, an outwardly powerful and tough man incapacitated, it’s shocking. Especially for someone like Jr, who reveres his uncle in that old school tough cop way.
Walt susses out a bit of information from ASAC George Merkert (Michael Shamus Wiles) concerning the cartel, before Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) lets slip that his partner didn’t have his gun when the Salamancas came for him. This sends Marie into a fucking fury, and I know it’s protocol, yadda yadda… but seriously, you’d be tripping, too.
Biggest irony is she blames Walt’s supposed bout with marijuana leading her husband to Pinkman. Skyler actually picks up for her husband, not knowing the full repercussions of her own husband’s involvement.
Marie: “The DEA is not welcome here
IMG_0223Seeing Jesse in a more professional lab is so strange. Like a kid in a candy shop. He’s also calling up Walt at the hospital about their “responsibilities.” Says he’ll cook a batch by himself. As if he can do that in the superlab, not knowing any of the equipment. At the same time Walt’s juggling his bullshit and real life.
Gus gets a call from Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda), angry about the DEA agent being shot. He knows the Salamancas acted out of order. He just doesn’t know, for sure, that Gus had anything to do with it. The slithering chicken man is a slippery bastard.
Walt gets a look at the remaining Salamanca – Leonel (Daniel Moncada) – barely hanging on. When the brother gets a look at him, he recognises Heisenberg. Crawling out of bed at him. To others, just a bit of insanity. To Walt it’s much more sinister. The chemistry teacher has other issues, dealing with his partner back at the lab, too. And he’s piecing together the fact the Salamancas were coming for him, not Hank. Back with Jr, there’s an excellent moment with him reading about Pablo Escobar, sitting next to someone, his father, much the same.
Worse is dealing with Gus. Instead of telling the truth, Walt lies about what’s going on in his personal life and making excuses for them not meeting the quota on time. This isn’t something he should be doing, it’ll easily come back to bite him in the ass. Sooner than later. There’s only so much juggling the man can do. He’s slipping.
IMG_0225At the hospital, Walt sees part of the bite back already happening. Gus Fring shows up to feed the DEA with Los Pollos Hermanos. Moreover, he’s personally offering a $10K reward for any information pertaining to what happened to Hank. Christ! It’s more than tense seeing them in a room together, Walt’s family there, Merkert. Gus even reveals, in front of them all – directed at Walt – that he met Hank awhile back, the collection jar for Walt’s illness. Such a superbly written scene, it’s full of suspense.
Walt rushes to speak with Gus before he leaves, knowing now the boss man knew about Hank. This brings new worries to light, that this was a possible by-product and that Gus is sending a message. He wants an assurance of his family’s safety, receiving nothing concrete until everyone rushes to see Leonel dying in his bed. Later, Hank’s confirmed to be pulling through. Except our meth extraordinaire knows he’s responsible for so much more destruction than ever before.
Gus: “I hide in plain sight, just like you.”
Juan’s figuring things out, as well. He knows Gus is behind the whole mess, federales staking him out after the death of the remaining Salamanca. And the chicken man sits comfortably, knowing he can’t be tied to anything, as Juan is killed in his home to tie the last bit off. Cold as ice.
IMG_0227This is a favourite episode of mine. There’s a lot of wild things happening in such a subdued way. Progression of characters to boot, like Jesse, Walt, and the beginning of the Gale situation which extends far beyond his firing from the lab.
“Kafkaesque” is next and it’s another fantastic chapter in Season 3, with a damn fine title.

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Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 9: “Fall”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 9: “Fall”
Directed by Minkie Spiro
Written by Gordon Smith

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Slip” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 finale, “Lantern” – click here
Pic 1Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) is one slick fella. He buys packaged cookies, then wraps them up like he made them himself. Over to see a few people at Sandpiper Crossing, mainly the “class representative” for the case, Irene. He’s digging around for information about the case, any settlements. He winds up going through a box of an old lady’s things, looking at papers. Trying to influence her decisions. There’s an offer for settlement on the table, he pushes her to take the deal. Although she’d rather listen to the lawyers.
The guy is strapped for cash, not being in business is a kick in the ass. I’m just wondering where this line of thinking, this desperation, the scheming is going to head in the long run. Well, we know already: nowhere nice.
Pic 2 (1)Back with Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), he’s meeting with a familiar face from Breaking Bad over at Madrigal: Lydia Rodarte-Quayle (Laura Fraser). This is the deal with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). He’s a “logistics consultant” at the company, on paper. But we absolutely understand what he’ll be doing for Fring, it isn’t consulting on anything. All a way to launder a bit of money, making things look legitimate. Mike’s smart, though. He covers all bases before moving ahead. On anything.
Note: What we get to see here is the beginning of the network which causes trouble for Mike and Lydia and Walter White in the late stages of Breaking Bad after Mr. Fring is murdered.
Trouble with the insurance over at Hamlin, Hamlin, & McGill. The stuff Jimmy started previously. Poor Chuck (Michael McKean) isn’t happy with what’s going on now, as the insurance company makes clear that coverage for him after his recent court appearance has become a problem. He threatens litigation, then the brokers leave displeased. Howard (Patrick Fabian) is trying to fix the situation, asking Chuck to “hang up [his] spurs.” And he isn’t suggesting, he’s telling his old friend this is how it must be.
And Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is off working on more business, as usual. She’s working with Mr. Gatwood (Chris Mulkey), looking into problems with the border on the land where he’s drilling. When she goes to leave she ends up stuck in the dirt, so she finds a piece of board for traction. She gets the car out and nearly puts it into some railing, but manages to stop. She doesn’t need anybody’s help, she’s great on her own. In many ways.
Pic 2 (2)In a parking garage, Jimmy meets with Howard. He wants to talk about Sandpiper. All he gets is humiliation. Howard calls him down to the dirt for being phoney, only wanting a nice payday and not actually caring about clients as he claims. Ouch. True, though.
Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) and Gus Fring meet, accompanied by the usual crowd such as Nacho (Michael Mando). They’re having a phone conference with another business partner. Seems that things aren’t going the way Don Hector would have preferred. Los Pollos Hermanos has the safest route, which does not please him. Then an attack starts hitting him. He reaches for his pills, swallowing some; the fake ones Nacho slipped. How long until this puts him in that wheelchair?
Mall-walking, Jimmy purposefully runs into Irene and her old lady friends. Here, we’re privy to how horrible Jimmy is, truly. He’s digging deep now and doing some of his worst moral work. He plies her with new sneakers, hoping she’ll sway on the settlement. Perfectly fitting that The Night of the Hunter plays in the background while Jimmy goes further, talking to the other old ladies from Sandpiper. He plays them against one another. Using the shoes against her now. Such a bad man. Totally morally bankrupt. He’s perfect for the criminal life.
Nacho talks with his father about Don Hector’s plans, bending him to work for the cartel. It’s a difficult conversation, one he’d hoped they wouldn’t need to have – the coming of Don Hector. All pressured further by the deal recently struck in favour of Fring. There’s nothing they can do, so Nacho advises they go along to get along. Then his father kicks him out.
Pic 3Things spiral out of control with Chuck and Howard, when the former decides on suing the firm. He won’t be kicked out, or else he’ll get paid for his share of the legacy: “Imagine me as your enemy.” Man, oh, man. I don’t see this all ending well for Chuck, though I’m not entirely sure how it’s all going to happen. He’s clearly still having trouble with the electricity issues, coaching himself through using anything with power running through it. There’s got to be a breaking point, unfortunately.
More scheming – Jimmy’s doctoring himself a bunch of numbered balls, maybe a bit of Bingo for the crowd at Sandpiper? You got it.
He’s rigging the game for his own purposes, something further to turn the ladies on one another. Irene gets a cold shoulder from every one of them. So sad! Breaks my heart. And he’s playing with these lives all for his own gain. He passes out new cards, handing one specifically to Irene, and then the grift begins. She gets BINGO pretty quick, which pisses off the other women. Tsk, tsk, James.
Jimmy: “B9. Lets hope that biopsy comes back be-nign.”
When nobody claps for Irene it embarrasses her in front of the crowd, she rushes out crying. Jimmy heads out to talk with her. She’s feeling the effects of all the cruelty, then he reels out the story he’s concocted with all his fuckery. SUCH A TERRIBLE MAN. Lord, is he ever a shitheel. Scamming old people to this extent is downright nasty.
Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 1.41.08 AMAfterwards, Jimmy shows up to see Kim – with a bottle of that fictional Zafiro Añejo tequila from Breaking Bad – raving about the settlement at Sandpiper. She’s too busy to celebrate. He’s so focused on his deviousness he keeps forgetting about real life happening all around him.
Kim ends up falling asleep briefly at the wheel, putting herself off the road. Files everywhere, her fast is beaten up and bloody. Overworked to the worst extent. She’s not gravely injured; injured nonetheless. This is symptom of her relationship with Jimmy, he’s paying attention to all the wrong things while she’s faced with taking on all responsibility. All alone on the road of life. She could’ve died – maybe another symptom of being involved with him too long is death, far enough down the line. I keep waiting for the day she realises how destructive their relationship has become.
Screen Shot 2017-06-13 at 1.54.32 AMJimmy somehow escapes all these situations intact. While everyone around him suffers, whether it’s Chuck, Kim, the people at Sandpiper; nobody truly matters to him, ultimately. Much as I pull for him, this episode is one of the worst depths to which he’s sunk. Even if we consider his later trajectory in the original series run of Breaking Bad. This episode’s shown us a lot more of that reptilian side in his personality than ever before.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 7: “One Minute”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 7: “One Minute”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Thomas Schnauz

* For a review of the previous episode, “Sunset” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “I See You” – click here
IMG_0059We get a flashback of the Salamanca brothers as boys, their Uncle Hector (Mark Margolis) sitting in a lawn chair outside while they play. He talks on the phone, definitely about Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). When the boys get into a fight over a toy, uncle decides to teach them a lesson. When one of them grabs a beer from the cooler for him he holds his head under the water. Teaching a lesson on death, life, all the important things, before one brother saves the other.
And now, they’re nasty psychopaths, headed directly for DEA Agent Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), inadvertently due to Walter White (Bryan Cranston). Ah, the random, absurd chaos of the world.
Hector: “Family is all
IMG_0060Jesse (Aaron Paul) heads home after all the shit he and his old partner have been through. Not long after Hank shows up, angry beyond belief. He beats the young man within an inch of his life for the call made about Marie (Betsy Brandt); yet another inadvertent casualty of Walt’s criminal life. Instantly realising what he’s done Hank stops, knowing this could cost him his job. An ambulance is called and his career’s now on the line. Between this an El Paso, his boss George Merkert (Michael Shamus Wiles) isn’t sure what is going on anymore.
But Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) paints a great picture: “Best thing for you.” He tells Jesse that he’s home free now, after this beating. At the hospital, Walt sneaks in to see his former partner, who isn’t particularly thrilled to see the Paul to his Ringo, as their lawyer puts it. Walt isn’t King Midas, nor is he King Midas in reverse. He’s King Shit; everything he touches turns to absolute diarrhoea. Then there’s Jesse, keeping his eye on the prize: ruining Hank’s life. And cooking meth again. If anything goes wrong? He gives up Walt, even if the older of the two thinks he won’t go that far.
Hank is taken through the legal process, giving his statement to Merkert and other law enforcement. He explains the call about Marie, his bad judgement in going to Pinkman’s place. Furthermore, there are charges being pressed and Jesse looks squeaky clean, no drugs in his piss, not even taking pain meds at the hospital. Looking worse for ole Agent Schrader. When Marie comes to meet her husband he lets out a quick, rare fleet of tears. Just long enough for the elevator ride.


When Walt sees Skyler (Anna Gunn) again she asks if there’s anything he can do for Hank. She doesn’t realise how touchy the whole thing is, nor does she know the extent to which Walt is involved, either. How deep his finger is pressed on the pulse of it all. If the guy didn’t have cancer before this whole thing would give it to him.
At work things are well. Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) has coffee ready, he’s dressed professionally and has everything prepared for the cook. He isn’t so used to the help. Yet something about it pisses him off.
On the road the Salamancas meet a man with wares to sell. He has bullets, guns, bulletproof vests, explosives. They want vests, but need to test them. So they put a bullet in the seller who’s wearing one. Oh yeah – they work! The boys are gearing up for something nasty.
Walt nitpicks the temperature settings Gale used on their latest batch. He claims a different reading than what Gale wrote down. He acts very sour, shutting down production to start over. What is it bugging him so bad? Is there a purpose to the way he’s acting? Might be.
And today, Hank must face the music. His wife would rather him lie. He can’t do that, though. He made a mistake, and as an honourable man he’s got to own up to that. No matter how much it hurts. He admits that since the shootout with Tuco, he’s changed, and may be finished with law enforcement.
Hank: “It wasnt one mistakeIve been unravellingyknow?”
IMG_0065So now we know, Walt feels Gale isn’t working out. He wants to bring Jesse into the fold. Ahh, it makes sense! Bring him in on the operation, pay him, he keeps quiet on Hank’s assault. Walt argues for him best he can, that they have a “shorthand” way of working. He pleads with Gus without seeming TOO desperate. For the time being his request is granted. We’ll see how the whole thing works out. Isn’t always so easy. He presents it to Jesse, 50/50 split on the cash. Except the young man’s finished with Walt. He’s lost everything in his life that’s good, because of their relationship. After all this he’s discovered that Mr. White only cares about himself. As always, using a slithery way of speaking, the former chemistry teacher convinces him to come back to work.
Jesse: “Ive never been more alone, I have nothing, no one.”
With all the information at hand, Hank’s statement official statement given at full risk of the consequences, the DEA suspends Agent Schrader; no pay. He hands over his gun, then prepares to go on a forced vacation, of sorts. He heads down to the parking lot with one good bit of news: no charges being laid from Pinkman. One bit of hope.
On the way to his car he receives a call. Someone tells him there are men coming to kill him in one minute. He looks around, knowing he’s without a gun. In the distance come the Salamancas. They fire on him. He squashes one between his trunk and another vehicle. The other fires again, he takes a bullet in the lower back. With one of their guns in hand, Hank hides from the other brother still able to walk. Hank takes another two bullets. Instead of shooting him, the remaining Salamanca goes for his axe. Hank manages to chamber one last bullet and blows the back out of the guy’s skull, before passing out from blood loss.
IMG_0066CHRIST! One of the more intense episodes of the whole series. Can’t wait to review the next one titled “I See You” and there’s so much about to happen, between the fallout of this latest event with Hank and Gus Fring + Walter’s relationship changing fast.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 6: “Sunset”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 6: “Sunset”
Directed & Written
by John Shiban

* For a review of the previous episode, “Más” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “One Minute” – click here
IMG_0039Near the border a police officer checks on a family’s property. Inside is a shrine, the statue with a skull face and holding a scythe. At its base is a drawn picture of Heisenberg’s face. Outside are suits hanging on the line. Very suspicious, indeed. And when the officer heads out back he finds the fly ridden corpse to complete the scene. Inside is one of the Salamanca brothers. The other sinks an axe into the officer from behind.
No one is safe. Least of which is Walter White (Bryan Cranston).
IMG_0041He’s busy working over the divorce with Skyler (Anna Gunn), deciding on what to do with Walt Jr (RJ Mitte), explaining it to him and justifying everything so that they don’t have to tell him dad cooks meth. At the same time our anti-hero’s hubris is off the charts, bleeding from his professional life right into the personal.
Those Salamancas! They show up at Los Pollos Hermanos to see Gus. They sit in terrifying silence in the midst of the restaurant.
Over at the Pinkman residence, Jesse (Aaron Paul) shows off his Jolly Rancher-sized crystals to Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), who get high on the product while he watches on. Surrounded by addicts he’s only being given their junkie opinion. He doesn’t realise it isn’t as perfect as Walt’s, which isn’t REALLY that big of a deal. But in his own way a hubris develops. Now, even after the death of Combo, he wants to put his friends back out on the street, in the line of fire.
The whole time Hank (Dean Norris) watches from down the street, his eyes on the house after tracking down Combo’s mom and the RV. Uh oh. And Walt is going about his business as usual, getting into more of it with Gus and the super lab. He has no idea how close his own brother-in-law is to figuring out his drug dealing identity. They’re so near in that criminal v. cop parallel, in so many ways, it’s an exercise in brutal tension at times.


One of the other perks of the lab is having an assistant, a proper one with chemistry experience and training. Walt now has Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) at his side; an enthusiastic soul who’s prepared to learn from his journeyman chemist. Even brought a resume. Has an MA and specialised in “xray crystallography” and he makes a sweet cup of coffee with his elaborately refined method. They get to cooking, like a match made in heaven. They have fun, they play chess between processes. Very different in comparison to Walt and Jesse, in every way imaginable from the lab itself to how they work together. Gale genuinely cares about the chemistry.
So, in a sense, we’re seeing Walt’s genuine love for the chemistry behind the drug dealing, for the first REAL time. Also, it’s nice to see someone like Gale admittedly talking about how he got into that shady business. Basically he’s “definitely a Libertarian,” with an intent on giving people a clean product. They talk a bit more, of chemistry and Walt Whitman; this wonderful poet will come back into play later in the series, take note!
Hank sits waiting for Jesse to do something stupid, to lead him to the RV and break the case wide open. He’s been sitting in his car for what seems like days, fast food wrappers and containers and cups piled in the passenger side. Things work out for Walt, though. He gets a call from Hank wanting to know if he knows anything about Jesse’s RV, setting off alarm bells and whistles like FUCKING CRAZY. The game is on. Walt’s got to do something about their “rolling lab” before his brother-in-law actually finds the damn thing. He calls Jesse and they’ve got to start figuring out their problems.
IMG_0044Saul suggests getting rid of the RV altogether. The boys have no plan. It’s back to Badger and his cousin who owns the junkyard. They’ve got work to do. When Walt doesn’t include Jesse in the mix Badger calls him up. Ah, so many things happening.
The shittiest? Jesse’s leading Hank right to the RV.
Saul: “The Starship Enterprise had a selfdestruct button, Im just sayin‘!”
Preparing to get rid of the vehicle Walt has a walk down memory lane. So weird. Then Jesse shows up, pissed. With Hank on his tail. This is it: either he finds them, together, in that RV, or they manage to get themselves out of hot water.
When the chips are down, Walt gets Saul in the mix to pull them out of the boil. He has a call made saying Marie is in the hospital after a horrible car crash. Hank rushes off immediately, leaving the boys free to get out of there. After his wife calls he figures out the whole thing was a ruse it’s too late because the RV is destroyed.
At sunset Gus meets the Salamancas in the desert. He says Walter will not be killed. He says that if they must kill someone for what happened to Tuco, then they can have Agent Schrader. Whoa.
IMG_0046The green light is lit.
Next is “One Minute” and there are many things about to change. Very quickly.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 5: “Más”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 5: “Más”
Directed by Johan Renck
Written by Moira Walley-Beckett

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Green Light” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sunset” – click here
IMG_0030We start on a flashback to Walt (Bryan Cranston) when he gave Jesse (Aaron Paul) the money to buy an RV for them to cook. So, Jesse does the smart thing: he takes Combo (Rodney Rush) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) out to the strip club, for lap dances and “Don Perignom,” as he calls the champagne.
After the night’s over Jesse feels a bit shitty. Well Combo has the fix. His mom owns an RV. He takes the rest of Mr. Pinkman’s cash, after the funds were drained the night prior down to $1,400, and lets him take the RV off their hands. Without permission, naturally.
Ah, even the trusty meth lab has its backstory!
IMG_0031Skyler (Anna Gunn) still enjoys her getaways with Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) at his place. He has money, he doesn’t cook meth. What we see though isn’t all rosy. I don’t think that Skyler is as bad as most make her out. However, she’s still cheating on Walt. And her husband’s a bag of shit in his own way, he isn’t such a righteous guy. Remember that Mr. White could’ve swallowed his pride over Gretchen, he didn’t have to make meth. He chose this, and unfortunately cheating on him was the only way to truly get back at Walt right now.
Then there’s the situation with Jesse and Walt, the halved money for the recent deal. Saul (Bob Odenkirk) tries keeping the peace, stuck in the middle, as Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) plays a game pitting the two former partners against one another.
If the boys aren’t careful, they’ve got other problems, as well. Hank (Dean Norris) and Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) are scoping out RVs, narrowing down a list of vehicles. They mostly run in to people who aren’t, at all, cooking meth. Making things less and less credible all the time for poor Hank. Worst part is that we the audience know better, so it’s really agonising (in the right ways). At home, Marie (Betsy Brandt) can’t get anything out of her husband, either. Makes theirs a strained relationship, as he’s bottled up tighter than a pressed Mason jar.


Walt finally gets talking with Gus about his “ploy” to get him back cooking. But the thing which is clear is the fact Walt can’t let go of the business. He can’t help ragging on Jesse, for not cooking the product as good as himself. What Gus does is use the man’s hubris against him. Smart as he is, Walt is so full of it that he can’t resist falling into the trap. Because what’s waiting for him is the opportunity of a lifetime.
He’s taken to an industrial laundromat Gus owns. There, behind a piece of machinery, they go downstairs to a lab that’s been setup, top of the line and state of the art equipment. Like Christmas for the chemistry nerd. Walt gets an instant science-erection. Not just the lab. There’s no way to trace the chemicals, as they’re ordered in for the laundry service, employees are trustworthy and trained, chemicals are filtered out with the laundromat steam.
Walt still refuses. What will make him break?
At home things aren’t as bad, though not good. Love the imagery in one shot at the dinner table: Walt on one end of the table and Skyler at the other, a wall between them literally dividing them as is the wall of their own choices, their mistakes, so on. One great thing about Breaking Bad is the use of visuals, in many forms. This being one fine example. Something so simple becomes powerfully resonant in terms of themes.
IMG_0035At the office Steve’s being celebrated as he prepares to take the place of Hank in El Paso. Poor Agent Schrader. He looks crazy to others, and in some ways weak. I can’t blame him not wanting to go back after seeing what he saw, a head on a tortoise exploding and maiming, killing people? That’s fucked up. All the same law enforcement is what he chose, DEA at that. Furthermore, Hank’s inability to deal with his problems and talk, to anybody let alone a doctor of any kind makes it the hardest. Although he’s validated when getting himself closer to that RV. Baby steps.
In other news, Walt is granting Skyler the divorce for which she asked. But does she still want it?
Back to Jesse and Saul, who’ve got a meeting on the books with Mr. White. They have to talk about the halved cash and what’s to be done. No love between the two former partners, that’s a definite. Rather than comply with any of what Jesse wants, Walt has decided otherwise. He gives back the half of the money and he’s going back in business with Gus. $3 million dollars for three months of work with only 5% going to Saul.
Walt (to Jesse): “Im in, youre out.”
When Hank goes to see a Mrs. Ortega about her RV, we see it’s the same place where Combo took the one he gave to Jesse. From his dear ole mama. Closer and closer we see our man Hank getting nearer to Jesse. In turn, he gets closer to Heisenberg, his own brother-in-law.
IMG_0037Another damn good episode. Lots of tension building between Jesse and Walt, which isn’t anything new. The steam is getting ready to release, and things will implode eventually. One way or another.
Next episode is “Sunset” and we’re also getting closer to another implosion, or explosion, in Hank Schrader.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 4: “Sabrosito”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 4: “Sabrosito”
Directed by Thomas Schnauz
Written by Jonathan Glatzer

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Sunk Costs” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Chicanery” – click here
Pic 1We get a glimpse of Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) visiting the big boss man of the cartel, Don Eladio; you know the guy. We’ve been here before, those of us who so loved Breaking Bad. Hector’s there with a man named Ximenez (Manuel Uriza), who chose not to run away with money and did the right thing for his boss(es). They also bring news of an ice cream shop, The Winking Greek, named for him. Bolsa turns up, too. He has a Los Pollos Hermanos shirt, and the Don enjoys it. Although Hector says they ought to be called the “Butt Brothers” which suggests more about Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Long have we believed him to be gay, which is fine! But these old school gangsters obviously feel different, at least some of them. He certainly makes big, big money for Don Eladio, who’s happy to humiliate Hector in front of everyone while comparing his meagre pile of money to that of the Los Pollos Hermanos delivery.
I love that this series is providing us a better look at many characters, not only Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk). Because this world is populated with a lot of different people, many of whom were already worthy of more interest on Breaking Bad.
Pic 1AAfter a look into Hector’s past, we see the present. Where Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) sits in his car watching the groceteria from which Salamanca and his crew work.  He also gets an update on his granddaughter and her mom, that they’re settled in at their new place doing well. This is where we also see the start of Mike’s other life bumping up against the one he loves so much, his family; or what’s left. He chooses the right thing, for now. But the interesting thing about this compelling prequel is knowing where the characters are headed, watching that fate spell out in front of us/them.
Finally, we see Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) again. He and Hector roll into Los Pollos Hermanos to see the old man’s old pal. Only Gus isn’t around, so things get kind of tense. The whole place is on edge, especially with sketchy Arturo (Vincent Fuentes) and Nacho mean mugging on the perimeter of the store. Hector walks in behind the counter, nobody stopping him. Displaying a scary level of authority in front of everyone.
Meanwhile, upstanding citizen Gustavo Fring, local business owner, is over at the fire department delivering chicken and a kind word. Before he has to take an urgent call, alerted to the situation in his restaurant. When he returns his staff is waiting, under watch. Gus lets his employees go, full pay for the day and back to work tomorrow. Then he heads back to his office to chat with Don Hector. The old man says Gus will be his “mule” to bring product north, as well as uses a pen to clean his shoes on the desk like a rotten bastard. A nasty power play. We know how it all comes out in the end, but the trick is there’s a long, hard road to go before getting there. As always, Mr. Fring has a way of doing things. And I can’t wait to see how Hector ends up how he is in Breaking Bad, barely a shell of a man.
Pic 2Victor tries to drop off a package of money to Mike at his toll booth. Only the old fella won’t take it, refusing all that cash. Then off Victor goes again. Right now, Mike’s still resisting the temptation of a wholly criminal life, if only for the sake of his family.
In the meantime, Gus also has to explain the previous day to his staff; they’re all, naturally, very concerned. He apologises, offering them counselling, extra pay. One of the employees asks who the men were, so their boss says he once paid them money for protection, back when he first opened a restaurant. We see, more than ever, the act that this man puts on in his daily life. It was only just touched upon during the original series. Better Call Saul allows us a look at the deception in a much deeper sense, as well as the additional back story we receive makes for some of the best character development on television.
Gus: “This is America. Here, the righteous have no reason to fear.”
Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is calling around to find out about any appointments Chuck (Michael McKean) has made for repairs. She discovers the place, after many calls, then cancels it. At the same time, Jimmy’s doing work on his case to make everything in court go smooth as possible.
Then over at Chuck’s, instead of a repair guy Mike shows up with his toolbox; ahhh, tricky, tricky! He drives the older McGill away with the use of power tools, so much so Chuck has to go upstairs. One of my favourite scenes this season. Our sly handyman runs the drill then takes snaps of the house from all angles. He brings the pictures and other tidbits to Jimmy for leverage. This won’t be the last time they meet, though. Just a seeya later for now.
Jimmy: “You, my friend, are the Ansel Adams of covert photography.”


That night, Gus goes to see Mike about Hector’s driver(s), the money he wouldn’t take. He makes an offer, to work for him. That’s a choice Mike isn’t willing to make blindly: “Thatd depend on the work,” he tells him. What follows is Gus making clear the reason he wants Hector alive, for now, is that a “bullet to the head would be far too humane.” What I can’t wait to see more of is how Mike slips further into deciding to work for the man.
On to a meeting with Chuck, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), and Kim and Jimmy, in the dark of course. Everyone is so concerned about the oldest McGill, his electrical sensitivity. Poor guy. The agreement for Jimmy’s confession is community service, et cetera, then Howard and Chuck nitpick the language on paper to their liking. Then the prosecutor wants an apology, one of a sincere nature. So the younger brother lays bare his regret. He also owes restitution; a little over $300, down to cents for the cassette tape. Yes, Chuck is cheap. In every way.
Kim knows there must be a duplicate of the tape; Chuck reveals it was the duplicate his brother smashed. He also tries to intimidate, but she is not one to back down. Not to mention the fact she and Jimmy are always hunting.
When Kim meets him downstairs, all she says is: “Bingo
Pic 4Yeah, baby! Love Kim. Need more of her, all the time. This was a solid episode, and next week is “Chicanery” which I know will be an exciting one again. Dig the flashback to Don Eladio and Hector, as well as more Hector in general. He is a wild old dude. Can’t wait to see what’ll happen next in all the different plots running through this series.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 2: “Witness”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 2: “Witness”
Directed by Vince Gilligan
Written by Thomas Schnauz

* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “Mabel” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sunk Costs” – click here
Pic 1Chuck (Michael McKean) is locking up for the night, having a cup of tea before bed. Diligently making sure the doors are locked, peeking through the windows. He has someone watching out at night, sitting in the dark at all hours. He’s waiting for something to happen. Anything.
Pic 1AA couple guys are waiting with a tracker. From a distance Mike (Jonathan Banks) watches them with his own tracker. He’s getting closer to figuring out who has a beat on him, his comings and goings. Could this all be a test? Is someone recruiting him to test out his skills? Or just somebody keeping tabs on a crafty guy like himself? Hmm. Whatever it is, Mike’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
And then he follows a guy, in the night, into morning… all the way to, you guessed it: LOS POLLOS HERMANOS! God damn.
Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) is meeting with a woman named Francesca Liddy (Tina Parker) applying for a job in the office. She meets with Kim (Rhea Seehorn), too. They check out her resume, her experience, so on. They need somebody organised, to keep the place afloat. Kim isn’t sold, but Jimmy wants to hire her. Something like this is going to play directly into the plot, at some point in Season 3. When, exactly? Francesca will play a big role, in some way, shape, or form. Maybe she’ll wind up seeing Jimmy do something shitty, or she’ll flip on him for some reason, or who knows.
Mike calls Jimmy at the office: he wants him to go into Los Pollos Hermanos, to keep an eye on things, the guy with the bag whom Mike previously followed. Ah, the beginning of how Mike and Jimmy come into contact with Mr. Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Jimmy has breakfast starting out his spy duties. Soon the man with the bag arrives and our hapless lawyer tries to keep him in his sight.
FINALLY, our first look at Gus in a couple years! He sweeps up around where Jimmy sits, and the man with the bag, too (does he sweep something up from the guy? Is that their sneaky system?). Mike gets no information that helps from Jimmy, walking away empty handed. For the time being.


Mike keeps on Los Pollos Hermanos, determined that he’ll find out what’s been going on. It’s a tiring job, one he no doubt was prepared for all those years as a cop. Soon, a black SUV pulls into the restaurant rather suddenly, backing into the rear out of sight. Then it’s gone again in a rush. Who’s driving? Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui), our old pal from Breaking Bad. Another lead to follow.
At the McGill/Wexler offices, Ernesto (Brandon K. Hampton) can’t go in, so he phones Kim. She goes out to meet him and he’s so obviously stressed, with the information he knows from hearing Chuck’s clandestine tape. He wants to tell Jimmy about it, but doesn’t want to get in trouble because of helping his friend. So, he opts for Kim, whose view of Jimmy has once again shifted.
Gimme a dollar,” she tells him – the same he did with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman when they had him in the desert, hood over his head. They’ve now got attorney-client privilege. He spills the beans, involving his emotions over Chuck, wanting to cut him some slack mentally. Only the tape exists now. Note: when Kim’s talking to him, and he’s peeling tape off the newly painted wall, at first (before he gets frustrated) he uses the technique his big brother Chuck taught him last episode; he can never escape him, even when Chuck is screwing him over, eternally.


Still following that tracker, Mike is out in the middle of nowhere. He’s lead to a gas cap in the road, a cellphone waiting on top. And surely when it rings, on the other end are instructions for where to go.
In other news, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) is sneaking around in the neighbourhood near Chuck’s place trying to remain unseen. They have a little secret meet. Howard’s getting impatient with all the nonsense, all the money spent on private investigators, et cetera. All in the name of trying to snag Jimmy for his crime. He wants to get on with “alternate strategies” and finish with Chuck’s paranoia.
No sooner do they finish their conversation does the younger brother show up, pissed off and ready to beat down the door. Which he does. He flies into a rage and calls out Chuck over his betrayal. He breaks open the desk to find the tape, then cracks it into pieces. Could likely mean only more trouble for Jimmy, as there are witnesses to his frustrated outburst.


Man, oh, man! What’s next for the Brothers McGill? Nothing good.
Coming up is “Sunk Costs” and I’m so intrigued to see more of Gus + Mike, as well as what Jimmy must deal with in the fallout of his actions here in this episode.

Breaking Bad – Season 2, Episode 13: “ABQ”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 13: “ABQ”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Vince Gilligan

* For a review of the previous episode, “Phoenix” – click here
* For a review of the Season 3 premier, “No Más” – click here
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Again, the black-and-white, the eyeball, the pink teddy bear in the pool missing one eye. The ominous openings will give us their meaning here in the Season 2 finale. The familiar images work towards colour, now we see helicopters in the air, police everywhere. Smoke and fire in the distance.
What’s gone on around the White residence?
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Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) wakes to find Jane (Krysten Ritter) dead in bed next to him. Frantically he pumps her chest to try and revive her. But no such luck. Heartbreaking to watch this scene. Now, he’s got to figure out what to do next. You know who he calls: Walter White (Bryan Cranston). As one young girl dies, he cradles his newborn daughter. Jesse frantically tells Walt what’s gone on, as if the latter didn’t already know. So they set about cleaning things up. Walt says he knows who to call.
At Jesse’s place, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) arrives on request of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). He’s a fixer. Inside, he starts getting things organized. All the drugs and the paraphernalia get tossed in a bag. Mike is clearly an ex-cop, he knows all the rights things to do. Or a career criminal. We’ll figure that out as things go on. Either way, he irons Pinkman’s house out. He also tells Jesse only to say a couple brief things. He sets the story straight.
Living a supposedly normal life, Walt, Skyler (Anna Gunn) and Junior (RJ Mitte) – I mean, Flynn – sit and eat breakfast together. Like a happy family. However, the obvious strain of letting someone’s daughter die is wearing on him. The SaveWalterWhite.com funds are rolling in now. It doesn’t do much to assuage Walter’s feelings of emptying manhood, unable to be given credit for his money, the funds he raised illegally to support his own cancer treatment. Instead the cash and his fate are seemingly attributed to the kindness of strangers. Does not sit well with Walt, amongst all the other things that don’t sit right in his gut.
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Worst of all, Donald Margolis (John de Lancie) shows up to find Jane dead. This is so unbelievably devastating. He doesn’t even have to go inside. He knows what’s happened. And this is an event that will have further reaching consequences than anybody could ever imagine.
At the DEA office, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) puts out a collection jar for his brother-in-law. Meanwhile, he’s on the case of Combo being murdered. This leads into the Heisenberg meth, though – “blue sky,” Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) calls it. Of course Hank doesn’t buy Jimmy being pinched as being Heisenberg. He thinks the man himself is actually upping his distribution. The blue stuff’s been moving outside of New Mexico, everywhere around it specifically. So now Hank thinks there’s a bigger operation happening behind the scenes. And boy is he right, just nobody else knows it yet.
Mike has tracked down Jesse after Walt’s been looking for him. He finds the poor young dude in a drug house in a rough neighbourhood. So Walt has Mike bring him down there, he wants to go inside and find his partner. He is responsible for it all, not helping Jane as she choked on her vomit. Now this is part of his delusional redemption, in his eyes anyway. Going in Walt finds all kinds of characters skulking in the shadowy, run down corners of the building. He tracks Jesse down and eventually manages to pull him out of that hideous place. After Jesse weeps in his arms a moment. It’s more tragic for the fact of Walt having stood by and watched Jane die, especially since Jesse weeps: “I killed her.”
In this scene, Aaron Paul broke my heart to pieces. I genuinely cried a bit. Some detractors have said he isn’t as good as people say. To me, that’s bullshit. In this and his latest series, The Path, Paul proves his chops for dramatic roles. He’s got raw, emotional talent.
Sadder still is when father Donald has to pick out the clothes for his dead daughter, which is impressively juxtaposed with a follow-up cut to Walter, changing his newborn daughter’s diaper. This is a wonderful moment of editing and writing together, which shows off Vince Gilligan and his abilities. Subtle, brief moment that means so much.


I love that Hank still has the little statuette on his desk that he was given while on the Juarez task force. It was something he almost mocked when first seeing it there. But most importantly at the DEA arrive a few businessmen who raise funds for community programs, et cetera. One of whom is Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Ironic, funny moment when Hank mentions the scourge of meth, which Fring says is “terrible” while shaking his head. Most intense is when Gus notices the donation jar for Walter White. Now he knows the relation between Hank and Walt, as well as Walt’s cancerous affliction. This could mean a number of awful things. Let’s watch this unfold dramatically, shall we?
At the same time, Walt is dropping Jesse off at a very beautiful, New Age-looking spa where the younger of the two will receive rehab treatments. Poor Jesse, even physically he looks depressed and drained of any proper emotion. “I deserve this,” he repeats to Walt; the same thing Walt said in the desert. Yet really, Walt did deserve that, or more. Jesse deserves none of this. He deserves someone better than Walt.
Back at his place Walt finds the camera crew from a local news station there to do a story on his philanthropic son raising money for his treatment. Joy and splendour! Mr. White is non too pleased, though he placates his wife and son by going along. You can just see his pride and ego being battered by the second, merely from the look on his face. Worst of all his son is praising him as being an amazing person, a “good man” and everything. Deep down, Walt knows the difference. All too well.


Walt Jr (re: his father): “And he always does the right thing
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As Walt prepares now to go under the knife for surgery, something happens he didn’t expect. The drugs he’s given loosen him up. Too much. After Skyler asks about his cellphone, he druggily replies: “Which one?” And in that moment, she realizes his lies never end. What a potent moment of writing again, Mr. Gilligan. Love how these little plot pieces come apart and come together and fit into puzzle pieces. Testament to the quality of this series.
When Walt comes out, he’s doing well. Except for his relationship with his wife. That may be fractured completely. She and the baby are going to Hank and Marie’s for the weekend, after which she expects Walt to move. They’re separating. To Walt and his oblivious surprise. She tells him about the loopy, drugged confession, and now things are about to get very messy. Turns out Skyler also talked with Gretchen, and she found out there’s been no money coming from them at all. Uh oh, Walter. Things are falling apart QUITE fast. Skyler also figured out Walt never went to see his mother. So where did he go? Man. It all unravelled in one hard tug.
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Donald Margolis isn’t doing so well. He’s back at work, but life is not the same that his daughter is gone. He prefers to get back into the routine again. However, that might be a little too early. His job as an air traffic controller is stressful. Finally the black-and-white flashes at the beginning of several episodes this season begin making sense. The grief and horror of losing his daughter has melted into the exterior world, affecting all kinds of horror on two planes that crash into one another mid-air.
Sitting alone at home in his backyard, Walter wears a shirt the same colour as the pink teddy bear from those flash forwards. In the sky, the planes crash and explode, debris falling to the ground all around Walt’s neighbourhood. This is the symbolic destruction of Walt and his actions. They have far reaching consequences, which spread out and infect everything and everyone around him. This is the metaphorical chaos he exerts over the lives of others.
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An amazing, terrifying finale that has a ton of development. I loved Season 2, perhaps one of my favourites in a series that’s marked by high quality. Continue on with me soon as I dive deep into Season 3 for another watch.

Breaking Bad – Season 2, Episode 12: “Phoenix”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 12: “Phoenix”
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Written by John Shiban

* For a review of the previous episode, “Mandala” – click here
* For a review of the finale, “ABQ” – click here
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With Skyler (Anna Gunn) in labour, Walt (Bryan Cranston) found himself saddled with making a big deal with the new prospective distributor, the low key Mr. Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Only problem was Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Jane (Krysten Ritter) shot up heroin, so Walt was left holding the bag for getting everything together.
Now, he’s missed the birth of his daughter. Too busy dropping of 38 pounds of meth at a drop spot. But then off he rushes to be with his wife and newborn daughter. Luckily, Skyler is fine, so is the baby. So she isn’t worried. Of course Walt is a little surprised, and unhappy, that Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) got to be there while he did not. The only thing is that while Skyler isn’t mad at Walt, there’s just the fact Walt is pissed at Jesse for having facilitated his missing the birth via the irresponsibility of shooting up heroin.
However, can we really blame Jesse?
While it’s a bonehead thing, to get on heroin, I don’t think it’s a fair thing for Walt to hold that against him. Not as if he knew there was a big deal going down. Walt went out and did all that himself, never once consulting Jesse afterwards. No way he could’ve imagined they’d need to make a massive drop like that for Fring. Still, there’s no stopping Walt. Even if he’s got a massive satchel of cash, a healthy baby girl and a wife that for once is not raging with him (for good reason), he can never pass up an opportunity to lecture Jesse.
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And then there’s Jane whose own problems are big enough. She and her father Donald (John de Lancie) attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings together. While she’s high on heroin, he calls up to go to one. She lies and then prepares to leave. Before freaking Jesse out about a break-in. This sends him into a spin, not knowing Walt collected their meth. So now he believes they’ve lost every last bit of their product.
When Jane and her father hit their meeting, he can clearly tell there’s something off about her. She looks sickly, fumbling her 18 Month chip nervously. It’s so obvious, and Donald isn’t stupid either. I have to mention – John de Lancie is a fantastic actor and I’m thrilled he was given this part, I fondly know him from his brief yet thoroughly memorable part as Q in Star Trek: The Next Generation, so to see him here is a lot of fun in a beefier, highly emotional role that only gets more important in the coming episodes.
At home, Walt gets a call from Jesse about the missing meth. He only hangs up on his partner. Later, a remarkable moment during dinner – Hank brings over some Los Pollos Hermanos, and Walt is struck by the whole dirty irony of it all. But further we see the emptying manhood Walt perceives in himself, as Skyler wants to jet back to work so they have money when he gets his surgery, even Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) is thinking of getting a job to pitch in. The look on Walt Sr’s face says it all.
So later, he takes the only person in his life that won’t say a word about his business in to see all the money he’s made: little baby Holly. This is such a perfect writing moment. I absolutely adore this, even if it’s sort of twisted. Yet Walt beams when he tells Holly: “Thats right. Daddy did that. Daddy did that for you.”

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Jesse goes to Walt in his classroom, confronting him after figuring out he took the meth. Either way, Walt is pissed, but I can’t help there’s also disappointment in there. He sometimes treats his partner like he’s still a student in his class, often like a son whom he’s way too hard on. Now it gets worse: Walt refuses to give Jesse his money, assuming he’ll shoot it up his arm with his new found predilections. Except Jesse says he’s not into heroin, he didn’t like it. But Mr. White is not so keen. He wants a drug test. Well, this is beginning to drive a huge wedge between the two partners. One that’s going to have far reaching repercussions.
Now that emptying manhood over which Walt is obsessing starts to empty quicker. In his wonderful goodness, Walt Jr set up what essentially now would be a GoFundMe page: SaveWalterWhite.com, all in order to help solicit donations to help with Walt’s cancer treatments. That’s a beautiful thing for his son to do. The pride of the father is bursting through. At the same time, I kind of understand. Though I despise Walt on a certain level for his behaviour, he’s putting himself on the line cooking and selling meth while not getting any credit. As if credit is deserved. But it’s just the fact he’s risking his life, his freedom, and getting no reward whatsoever. So he goes to Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), the man who always has the plan. And he doesn’t disappoint – they’ll have Walt’s money shovelled into Junior’s website via “zombies” that are essentially fake donors giving real cash from all over the world.
And as it turns out, Jesse ain’t done with the skag. He and Jane are shooting up once more. She figures out how much money her new boyfriend is worth, then it’s clear she’s very interested in this new situation. Meanwhile, at the next NA meeting, Donald finds his little girl nowhere to be found. He discovers that Jesse is a bad influence in her life, he goes on inside to find needles on the bedside table and so on. Jane’s father wants her back in rehab, so she spins a great big story about her and Jesse discussing rehab every single night, yadda yadda yadda. The loving dad in Donald breaks down and agrees to let her go for rehab in the morning. Perhaps a bad move to skimp on the tough love here. In reality, Jane is only concerned with the $480K Jesse is owed. Again, Jesse is being manipulated. Just by someone new this time.


Then comes the blackmail. Jane calls Walt, with Jesse nervous in the background, and starts demanding the cash. Or else. “Do right by Jesse tonight – or I will burn you to the ground,” Jane tells him. We can see Jesse isn’t happy about this, or at least he isn’t comfortable. They’re still partners. Despite being angry at one another, Jesse doesn’t want to cause all this trouble. But Jane is planting herself firmly in his life, however she sees fit. To get whatever she can.
When Walt needs to go on a diaper run he takes the cash with him for Jesse. He takes the cash over there. Then things turn dark, as Jane basically wants to start spending that cash immediately. They talk of travel, of going places and doing all types of things. But first, before getting clean, they’ve got to get themselves nice and fucking high.
At a nearby bar, Walt ends up sitting next to none other than Donald Margolis. They have a chat about children, so on. Vaguely, Walt talks about Jesse, as Donald relates his own troubles with his daughter’s troubles. Love this because we’re seeing another side of things, as we’re already privy to the other. Just another example of wonderful writing.


One of the most devastating moments in Breaking Bad comes after Walt goes back to Jesse’s place. Inside, he finds him and Jane in bed together, strung out on heroin. Then Jane begins to overdose. And standing there over them Walt simply watches on while she chokes on her own vomit. This is one of the second (or third) moments in the series where I truly felt Walt has lost his humanity. Despite not wanting to get on the cops’ radar or have Jesse end up in custody, Walt has let a human being die terribly and did nothing in the way of helping. Stone cold heart. He feels the guilt and horror of his decision, but it’s contained. In a vacuum. Walt will go on, and it isn’t until the very last season he ever reveals any of this to anybody.
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The next episode, “ABQ”, is the Season 2 finale.
It has much to give us.

Breaking Bad – Season 2, Episode 11: “Mandala”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 11: “Mandala”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by George Mastras

* For a review of the previous episode, “Over” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Phoenix” – click here
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Combo (Rodney Rush) is out on the streets getting mad dogged by a couple dudes in a car nearby. They look sketchy as hell, not looking to buy any meth. Doesn’t look good. When they stay on him he decides to call up Skinny Pete (Charles Baker). A little kid rides his bike around Combo constantly.
Then he hears the guys in the car honk followed by a click behind him. The boy shoots him down in the street. Hardcore. That is vicious.
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Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Skyler White (Anna Gunn) are at the doctor hearing what a surgeon has to say. Appears surgery is now on the table for Walt due to the reduction in size in his tumour. The married couple are reluctant to go ahead at first, at least Skyler is in her position. The surgeon sells a good game about going for it to prevent any further spreading. Cost is always on the table: from $170-200K. Yowzahs, that is one big price tag. Not to mention death is possible. Walt doesn’t feel like talking, he opts to go for the surgery without consulting Skyler immediately. A couple weeks and the whole thing is a go. Of course working around Skyler’s pregnancy.
Jesse (Aaron Paul) has news for Walter about Combo. Although, Mr. White isn’t exactly a peach about that. Nearly soulless. At the same time, Skinny Pete and Jesse are talking everything over, the former not happy about them encroaching on other territories without the muscle to back it. The meth enterprise of Pinkman-White is falling apart, bit by bit. ‘Cause Pete is out, too. Not to mention Jesse’s street cred is gone after Spooge’s woman confessed to the murder.
Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) is doing his thing to help his newest clients. Walt brings the distribution issue in the fallout from Combo’s violent death to their lawyer. And the shady Saul’s got just the sort of guy that might be good for them to meet. Naturally, they don’t want to deal with anybody like Tuco, or even a Krazy-8. This time around Saul has somebody rock solid in mind. Very “low profile“, secretive type.
In the meantime, Jesse is crumbling to pieces. He needs Jane (Krysten Ritter) to leave him alone for a while. So he can smoke away the pain of Combo getting brutally gunned down. He feels all the guilt, heavily. She prefers to stay, maybe she can help.
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Here’s our first introduction to Los Pollas Hermanos. Manager Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) runs things, as the day goes by hectic. People are eating, drinking their sodas. Walt waits, looking around for the guy they’re supposed to be meeting. As usual, Jesse arrives late. High as fuck. Eventually he leaves, unimpressed with the entire deal. But Walt waits. And waits. And continues to wait. Nobody ever comes.
This makes him late for an ultrasound with Skyler (Anna Gunn). Good one, Walt. Anyway, Skyler has to rush off back to the office because there’s a birthday party for Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins). Creepiest is when they throw the little shindig with a cake, he request that Skyler sing him a Marilyn Monroe-esque Happy Birthday. It’s just awkwardly sexual and especially because of the fact she’s currently pregnant.
When Jesse gets home he finds the place in disarray how he left it, as well as a sleeping Jane in bed. His bad influence perpetuates itself and now has threatened her sobriety. He’s only becoming more of what he hates, dragging other people into his web. First Combo, now Jane. It only gets worse from here.
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So it seems as if Saul’s connection doesn’t want to do business with Walt. Finito. Done. There is only the “one shot” according to Goodman. However, Walt is not satisfied with this result. He goes back to Los Pollos Hermanos intent on figuring out some way forward. Soon, he figures out that it’s manager Gustavo Fring behind the secretive business dealing. The two men sit down for a chat together. Things slowly come out after Walt pushes a bit. Fring is keen on being careful. Though he makes clear: “I dont think were alike at all, Mr. White. You are not a cautious man at all. Your partner was late, and he was high.” So already, Gus has Jesse figured out. He also has Walt figured out, as well. Because let’s face it – Walt does suffer from poor judgement, no matter how book smart he happens to be. But Walt manages to plead Jesse’s case, saying he can essentially control him. Gus happens to disagree. A deal may go ahead all the same.
In other business, Skyler is bringing some accounting problems to Ted about the account she’d previously mentioned in an earlier episode. She’s turning up under reported revenue, also a bit of fudging numbers and such. Tsk, tsk, Ted. Not good, buddy. Also this foreshadows a bit of trouble down the road with Skyler working with Beneke.


Jesse is consistently falling apart. Combo’s funeral went by without him there, even Badger (Matt Jones) came in from out of state. Jesse and Jane have become one of those junkie couples that just get high together and burn out. Worse, Jane’s gotten back to old habits: heroin. They’ve really become junkies with this move. She shoots him up and it’s as if heaven comes down to touch Jesse. He spins out in bed after a good hit, then falls in a deep stupor. “Ill meet you there,” Jane tells him.
Well things start to get tense this time around. Worst time for Jesse to be in a heroin induced trance. Walt hears his cellphone vibrating in the ceiling of his classroom, obviously making his students wonder what’s going on. Afterwards, he checks it only to realize the deal is set with Gus. A guy named Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui) tells him he has to get the required 38 pounds of meth, in one hour, to the appropriate location. If he doesn’t make it apparently that’s it. Never again.
And at the very same time, Skyler goes into labour at the office. Man, the utterly awful fate of Breaking Bad showers down on Walt at the craziest times. Now with Jesse on heroin and the Gus deal going down, Walt is faced with missing the birth of his daughter. That is one whopper of a fucking disappointment. All because of meth.
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Let’s see what happens in the penultimate Season 2 episode “Phoenix” up next with a recap and review soon.