AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 2, Episode 2: “Grilled”
Directed by Charles Haid
Written by George Mastras
* For a review of the Season 2 premiere, “Seven Thirty-Seven” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Bit by a Dead Bee” – click here
Open on the car Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) was driving at the end of the premiere. There are gun casings, shells laying everywhere. Glass. The hydraulics of the car are bouncing. Everything is desolate.
Cut to Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) explaining to the DEA office that Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz) is the new head honcho of the meth business in the ABQ. He took over from Krazy-8. But also, they discovered the two dead men at the scrapyard are involved with Tuco. PLUS – a fingerprint belonging to the man himself. So, perfect timing? I think so. Now that Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is along for a ride with Tuco, Jesse in tow. Perfect timing for the story. Terrible for Walt. Even further, Skyler (Anna Gunn) called Hank saying she hasn’t seen her husband since the night before; he left out of nowhere and never came back, still missing. A real situation is brewing for ole Walt. If he makes it out unscathed, how will he explain the disappearance? Cops are called. Hank is poking around. There are so many ways this entire thing could go wrong.
The key – Walt receiving a text on his phone before leaving. Skyler mentions it to the cop working on finding him. Remember, Walt has two cell phones. Will this come back to cause him grief, either personally or legally? It’s just the beginning.
In the desert, Tuco gets rid of all the cell phones around him, tossing them into the weeds. He has Walt and Jesse holed up a little cabin. Or, he does after letting them free of the trunk.
At the same time, Skyler is out putting up MISSING posters with Walt’s face on them. Nobody has any idea where he could’ve gone, least of all her. If only they knew it was all a result of cooking meth. Would his wife still be out there hoping to find him? Then there’s all the cash sitting in a box of diapers, just feet from Walt Jr (RJ Mitte) who prints of more posters with his father’s face on them, teary eyed.
Over in the small cabin in the desert, Tuco’s ill uncle Hecter ‘Tio’ Salamanca (Mark Margolis) sits in a wheelchair, only able to communicate with the ringing of a bell set at his fingertip. Tuco goes about intimidating Walt and Jesse more, looking through wallets, discovering more about the Heisenberg he supposedly knew. A sad juxtaposition: Walter’s wallet holds family pictures, identification cards and more, as Jesse only has a condom in his, sort of a statement of their two lives. Regardless, the worry for these two is real now that Tuco has them stashed away out there. The DEA is after Tuco, and he’s a little suspicious about his new business partners. He plans to take Walt and Jesse with him – across the border.
Back over at the White place, Skylar finally finds out about a second cellphone. Marie (Betsy Brandt) sort of forces Hank’s hand, but out it comes. He’s further forced to hypothesize about Walt possibly having a “secret.” But nobody, and I mean NOBODY in that family has any inkling what Walt’s been up to. Not even close in the same league or ballpark or even state. Then out Hank looking for Walt, ending up at Jesse’s parents place. Naturally this eventually sparks the suspicious curiosity about why Hank, a DEA agent, might be inquiring about her son. Never have the cooking duo found themselves so close to the brink of law crashing down around them. Certainly getting risky for ole Walter.
In the desert he and Jesse are stressing out. Worst of all, Hector’s beginning to get suspicious, too. About the two men Tuco has with him. And while the crazy gangster cooks them up some food, the dynamic duo argues over how to proceed with their new plan, after Jesse fucked up their poison plans with his “chili powder” scheme. What’s most interesting is seeing how Walter, because of his own bad choices, finds himself further whipped into a downward whirling pool of even worse forced choices. Here, his mind is being further bent into criminality. Just as he gets some of the poison into a tortilla Tuco will be eating, crafty Hector sees what’s happening. He warns with his bell, though it only pisses his nephew off. Until they swap food, then Walt and Jesse get quite nervous.
This entire set of scenes in the desert is wildly tense. The suspense is amazing, made tighter by the fact Hector can only communicate via his annoying little bell. Solid writing, as usual with this series. Then, once Tuco starts to ask the right questions, at least for a moment, the pulse starts pounding. Jesse comes up with a nice little story. Just not nice enough.
When Tuco finally flips he takes Jesse and Walt outside into the desert. It’s only when Walt is confronted with either confessing or seeing Jesse die does he tell Tuco the truth. Before the duo fights against the gangster for their lives.
Tuco: “Tell me what you did!”
Walt: “We tried to poison you. We tried to poison you because you are an insane, degenerate piece of filth and you deserve to die.”
Fate has a strange way of weaving through the writing of Breaking Bad; or y’know, they could just be solid writers. Because first Tuco keeps coming even after taking a bullet, then the unimaginable happens: Hank shows up. He’s tracked down Pinkman’s vehicle. Just never thought he’d encounter Tuco Salamanca in all his savage glory. What follows is a brief gunfight between DEA Agent Schrader and Tuco, ending in the insane meth head going down for the count with an impressive shot from Hank. Wilder still is when Walt sees his brother-in-law there.
This is an intense ending to a great episode. Next up is “Bit by a Dead Bee”, another quality chapter in the start of Season 2.