“Breaking Bad” Episode 10 Roundtable: We’re Talking Meth Damon

breaking bad episode 10: were talking meth damon
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Dr. Brainwash, Lebs and SeriouslyRidic traded emails on this past Sunday’s episode, talking about call backs, whether Jesse will talk and Hank’s fate.

Dr. Brainwash: What did you think about this Sunday’s episode, especially after sites like Vulture and Wired combed through Reddit, finding the best theories and summarizing them for us average Joes?

For one thing, I’m not shocked things moved so fast this episode, with Hank and Marie putting so much pressure on Skyler immediately after last week’s reveal. I was shocked though that Declan (is that even his name? The Arizona meth guy) was removed from the equation so quickly. Are the big guns in Walt’s trunk meant for Lydia and the Friday Night Lights Neo Nazi all stars? Certainly seems that way, the only question is why. Is Walt going to save a hostage? Is Walt going to avenge a family member? Walt does mention Hank is family a few times and Reddit is already all over the potential plot line of Walt seeking revenge for Hank’s death by the hands of cutely polite Todd. That possibility excites me to no end, since it wouldn’t just be revenge for a fallen friend and family member, but also revenge for defeating Heisenberg’s arch nemesis before he can.

There were some truly great call backs tonight to previous seasons and episodes, from Walt being comforted by Skyler after his fall, which I believe he had lied to someone about happening in the past, to Marie wanting to take care of Holly if things went south to Walt burying the cash at one of the (original?) cook sites and I’m sure many more that I missed. I’m really looking forward to seeing more of this as the season comes to a close.

Finally, that cliff hanger was brutal and fantastic. Aaron Paul didn’t have a line tonight, but I’m sure he will have plenty to say to Hank next week. How do you see that conversation going?

Lebs: All the cards seem to be in place for Jesse to talk to Hank.  In the past, he was far too loyal to Walt and far too concerned with his own behind. Now he seemingly cares about neither. In the same way, Hank has always known that Jesse was up to no good, but he previously had no leverage and wasn’t nearly as desperate to speak to him. That’s changed as well. Circular peg into his brother round hole, right? I don’t know. If Jesse wanted to talk, if that was the tonic to the self-loathing that cripples him, if spilling beans was the salvation he seeks, then he could have gone to Hank or the DEA on his own, right? While he’s definitely not team Walt right now, he doesn’t exactly have a healthy history with Hank either. Plus, if Jesse spills, we have the battle lines kind of neatly drawn: Walt and Skyler versus Hank, Marie and Jesse. Not only does that just look and feel wrong to me, but battle lines are never drawn in the ways we expect. Especially with said neo-Nazi all stars in the mix.

Two things of note about the episode:

1) Take the idea of Hank the hero and throw it out the window.  All the measured, deliberate police action we’ve seen from the man in the past couple of seasons was replaced by a terrified, obsessive and erratic version. His meeting with Skyler was poorly executed and unfair (not in the grand scheme of things, but in view of the fact that he doesn’t know about the extent of her wrong doing). Bringing Marie into the mix only worsened things – now she’s both complicit in his withholding of information and her life is at greater risk. What other terrified baldy is propelled by his own pigheaded pride and fear? Starts with H, ends in berg. Unless Hank takes a 180 (or Jesse throws him a very sizeable bone), this episode significantly ratchets up his death odds, in my mind.

2) Walt seems kind of human this season. I’m working on a piece that looks at the inverse relationship between Walt’s disease and the percentage of Walt as Heisenberg, and that dynamic was never more at play than in the bathroom scene between Skyler and Walt. Heck, I even truly believed him when he made clear that he was not taking on the costs of a one way ticket to Belize for Hanky Panky. If that’s in fact the case, if the cancer is at once both killing him and cleansing his soul, is this season, as Brainwash has suggested to me previously, a tale of redemption rather than one of an utter, irredeemable transformation into Scarface?

SeriouslyRidic: No way Jesse rats. No way. He doesn’t hate Walt right now, he hates himself. If he squawks, it will be about himself – his role in the crime. Hell, he may even tell Hank he is Heisenberg (or allow Hank to make that inference). Wouldn’t that be interesting? It would give Walt a reason to be jealous. That said, Walt will be fuming once he discovers what Jesse has done. He is going to have to die, by Walt’s hand or his own; it is hard to see how Jesse survives.

One critique though: I am not sold on Jesse’s turn into a despondent Robin Hood. He wasn’t quite as depressed at the end of S5 part 1, and right after Drew was killed would be logically be his rock bottom. This is a month or so later and only now the demons are eating at him? I don’t quite buy it. Aaron Paul is so good that most of this is overlooked, but it is a writing error worth acknowledging in a show with very few.

Todd is back. Let’s not forget that. I was sad to see Declan go, but interesting they took him off the board when he was the next logical (and probably too obvious) super villain. I suppose that role will now fall to Lydia. Mike will prove to be prescient about her.

Finally, I agree, some great call backs. One I particularly liked was the radio controlled car in front of Hank’s house. I believe it was Season Two when Marie sped off and ran over the neighbor’s toy. Hank gave the kid a couple bucks for his trouble and it looks like he has nicely upgraded.

Dr. Brainwash: I don’t necessarily think that Hank’s desire to take down Walt is as dark as you’ve made it sound, Lebs. I see the pride and I see the obsession and I get how those are traits that we see in Walter, but I disagree with the pigheadedness. He goes to Skyler for information sure, but prior to learning about Pinkman being held, doesn’t Hank tell Gomez to put a conference call together so that Hank can shed light on the subject to other officers? I thought that was explicitly done to show that Hank still is on lighter side of the Heisenberg spectrum. I’m with you though on Hank’s death odds creeping higher, but that has more to do with the return of the ever polite and hardworking Meth Damon and his band of Nazis.

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If this season is a season to establish Walt’s redemption, I wonder who it’s going to be that’s going to need saving. If it is Hank or Marie, it’ll be an emotional victory, but one that will surely land him in prison afterwards. If it’s Jesse, it would be the first time since Walt ran over those two dealers and blew their heads off to save Jesse at the end of S3 that Walt treated Jesse as a person he cares for and not a pawn in his larger wars. Hell, even that was self-serving to a degree. Either way, I would really not prefer for Walt to be on a mission to send Jesse on a one way trip to Belize. Speaking of which, Cranston’s exasperated Dad delivery of “Send him to Belize? I’ll send you to Belize.” was second only to Huel’s Scrooge McDuck impersonation as best moment of the week.

Lebs: Brainy, I feel like you really love the well-mannered, deviously intentioned former FNL murderer. I do think he poses the greater risk to Hank’s personal safety, but it’s Hank’s state of mind and refusal to take advantage of the DEA machinery at his disposal to bring Heisenberg to justice (understandably so, but so nevertheless), that makes me believe he will bite the bullet. Are we going to see six more episodes of sweating, eye darting Hank? No, unless Pinkman calms his aching heart with some sweet Heisenberg nothings, I think the very traits that are/will be Walt’s undoing – ego, competitiveness and the need
for self-preservation – will be Hank’s undoing as well. And by the way, you’re right, I forgot about the conference call. But, that presented Hank with a choice between what is right and what is expedient and he chose, same as most of the show’s heroes often do, poorly.

Ridic, If Jesse doesn’t hate Walt (and I think he does), he is at the very least keenly aware of the kind of monster he is. He doesn’t know the cancer is back and I think he would be very willing to try to get the Heisen-monster off of the streets, saving lives in the process, if the right opportunity presents itself. I don’t think Hank is that right opportunity. His taking the blame for everything is an interesting idea. It serves dual narrative and dramatic purposes: absolving Jesse of some guilt while simultaneously giving Walt a reason to get those old Heisenberg gears cooking. I like it.

Speaking of turning H-berg on and off, are there parallels to be drawn to “The Incredible Hulk” if Walt ultimately uses that big ass gun for good instead of evil?

“What’s your secret?”

“I’m always prideful.”