AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 5: “Breakage”
Directed by Johan Renck
Written by Moira Walley-Beckett
* For a review of the previous episode, “Down” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Peekaboo” – click here
We start on a couple men obviously crossing from Mexico over the U.S. border. They swim to shore, their boots around their necks and other belongings in knapsacks. On their way along shore one of them stumbles over something in the mud: Hank’s (Dean Norris) souvenir of the grill from Tuco. Hmm, strange no?
Walter (Bryan Cranston) is in the throes of chemotherapy now. The show does a real fascinating job at times of getting psychological, as we’re almost put right in his head; everything goes by with a strange quickness, at the same time it’s dreamy and stagnant, and even when Walt is back in his doctor’s office, he still seems in another world. Like the drugs pumping in his veins, the episode takes us into how it might feel for someone to sit in that chair and let the chemo run through them. In other news, Skyler (Anna Gunn) isn’t with him, which speaks volumes considering it’s not simply a doctor’s appointment. He’s got fucking cancer. So now, if it wasn’t already clear, their marriage is deteriorating at an exponential rate lately. But also, Walt is feeling the financial strain even more now with the therapy. His bill is staggering, and we don’t even see it for ourselves. Just Cranston’s acting takes us there.
At home Skyler is just as stressed. On the phone she bitches someone out with a smile over hospital charges. It’s staggering to me as a Canadian to hear three days in the hospital cost Walt $13,000+ alone. That is mind boggling. Nevertheless, here he is, and you know what all this means, right? Meth will be cooked. A lot of it. All the while Walt is feeling the horrible effects of chemotherapy, spending lots of time praying to the porcelain god.
Over at his office, Hank is catching his boss up on things concerning Heisenberg, a supposedly secretive cook making the “big blue” in New Mexico. Yowzahs, that’s getting close to home.
Then ASAC George Merkert (Michael Shamus Wiles) reveals he’s being promoted to a big time task force taking the cartel on. While he acts excited outwardly, in private Hank finds himself breaking apart at the seams. In an elevator he almost has a full-blown panic attack. Of course he pulls himself together, but now we’re given a look behind the curtain of his tough guy exterior. There’s something happening underneath that thick skin. Be interesting to see how that plays into things further down the line.
Finally, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) makes good on his word as bond. He heads back to see Clovis, who isn’t happy to see him. Obviously. Jesse pays up, even for the damaged gate and the port-a-potty. Then they strike a deal for Jesse to park the Winnebago there, y’know, for a bit of cover. Even better, Jesse buys up an unsuspecting car to drive around, so that he doesn’t look suspicious; a little red beater. Plus, he’s found himself a possible place to live. He meets a woman named Jane Margolis (Krysten Ritter) renting an apartment owned by her father that she manages. Through it all, he ends up convincing her to take cash instead of all the usual bureaucracy. This is the beginning of a troubled relationship between landlord and tenant.
At home Hank is bottling some home brewed beer. Marie (Betsy Brandt) isn’t exactly pleased to see him home after just receiving a big promotion the day before and all. She believes he’s playing “Oktoberfest in [his] mancave“, though he plays it off as taking a well deserved day off. However, we know the difference. That tough exterior is there, but slips more and more. The pressure literally gets to Hank after he busts open a bottle while trying to put the cap on, busting open his hand while he’s at it.
In the desert, Jesse drives the Winnebago to meet Walt. It’s cook time. Furthermore, Walt’s got big plans for their little enterprise. He wants to take the business out on their own: he’ll cook, Jesse distributes on the street. Pinkman isn’t at all interested in “exposing” himself to the risk involved after his run-in with the DEA. Nor is Walt eager to “jump into bed with another Tuco.” They’ve both got nothing to their name after all the madness they’ve landed themselves in. Jesse offers to create their own distribution network, using friends of his to help sell it on the streets, but Walt is afraid of branching out. He wants his cake and to eat it, too. He doesn’t like “unknown entities” becoming a part of their partnership. Only Jesse doesn’t like the “division of labour“, so things are about to go his way for once. He gives his older counterpart an ultimatum: “You need me more than I need you, Walt.”
The whole Scooby gang gets together at Jesse’s new spot – Combo (Rodney Rush), Badger (Matt Jones), and the one, the only Skinny Pete (Charles Baker). They’ve got business to discuss. Well they’re a bit sceptical of Jesse and his pricing. At least until they understand how good the product is, coupled with the streets coming up a bit dry as of late. The rules are strict for the “big opportunity” Jesse lays out for them, but either way the gang is in.
What’s most interesting here is seeing how Jesse gleans much of his personality from others. He recycles lines and words from Walt, we’ve seen that already. Now, he applies the “DBAA” rule from Jane (Don’t Be An Asshole) to his own buddies in their new distribution project. It’s funny, yet sad all the same. Jesse still hasn’t figured himself out after all these years.
The Whites and the Schraders are having dinner together. Skyler eventually can’t listen to her sister blab on any longer about nothing endlessly. She wants an apology for the whole tiara debacle. Still no movement on that front, and Skyler’s sick and tired of everyone around her lying. She knows Walt is up to something, now on top of it all her own sister can’t even give her a sincere apology to mend their relationship. But Marie isn’t all bad and she eventually shows her humanity instead of being a stone cold bitch.
Jesse and the crew are out slangin’. This sequence is so awesome, it is frenetic and full of energy with a slow change in style that gets darker and darker, slightly more sketchy just like the meth scene. They move the product quick to all the hungry customers on the street. Only some of them are shadier than you’re already expecting. Skinny Pete winds up selling to a meth head who tricks him into running from police, supposedly. He’s ran into a hallway where the meth head and her man rob him at knife point. This is actually a creepy scene. So creepy. The ever wonderful Dale Dickey plays the lady meth freak, and normally she can be scary as is, but they’ve truly made her look awful, scabs on her face. She also does this laugh that’s completely unnerving when Pete is at the end of a knife.
So now this causes issues with Jesse and Walt. The money bag is light. And the naivety of Walt is incredible. He basically goads his younger partner into doing something dumb. Saying that this whole situation makes Jesse look weak because “Jesse Pinkman – druglord – can be robbed with impunity.” Such an awful thing for Walt to do. He’s so removed from the violence that he is willing to say anything. Yet we know he’s also capable of violence when put into the corner, no other way out. It’s simply a malicious thing to treat Jesse how he does here.
Hank thinks he hears gunshots outside. He rushes downstairs with his own gun drawn. Except in his garage he finds it’s just some beer bottles popping. However, the look in Hank’s eyes is clear. There is something happening to him after shooting Tuco, it isn’t good for him. This throws his new promotion slightly into question.
Later in the night, Walt goes over to see Jesse at his new digs. He’s brought a request for his younger partner: “I want you to handle it,” Walt says after laying a gun on the counter. Wow. Walter White – piece of shit of the year. Because no longer is he simply doing this to make some cash, get out, provide for his family. Walt is loving being a meth cook and distributor. He is getting a sick thrill out of it.
At the end of the episode, we watch Hank toss Tuco’s memorialised grill into the river. Trying his best to get rid of the memories associated with the token.
Another great, well written episode that drives forward so much character and plot at once. Love Krysten Ritter, so glad she’s in this season. She brings lots to the cast, in terms of acting and just the fact her character opens up so much. Stay with me for a review of “Peekaboo” coming shortly.