Review: Breaking Bad – Series 5, Episode 10

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Why I am constantly surprised at the combustibility of each Breaking Bad episode? Somehow I convince myself, in the interim between each episode, that that there has to be some kind of release. This week’s episode gave us no such thing, with Walt having to make a hasty contingency plan, as the fruits of his labour fall into jeopardy.

The episode began with the fallout from Jesse’s escapade of hurling bundles of money out of the window of his car, as he drove around the city. The episode waited until the very end to return to him: Hank ominously entering the interview room to have what I’m sure will be a pleasant catch-up with Jesse. It seems increasingly likely that the disaffected Jesse will be White’s downfall, as opposed to anything his brother-in-law can manage, unaided.

From the dawdling pre-title scene the episode amped straight up to eleven, as Walt faced the sickening realisation that Hank had burst out of the gate (or garage door) faster than him. With Hank having gotten a hold of Skyler, Walt immediately assumed his life-long partner was compromised and no longer trustworthy; so far away from the man that committed a felony for his family. Walt then set about ensuring the security of his wealth, leading to some trademark humour derived from some preposterous, yet entirely believable, exchanges: Walt’s conversation with Saul regarding his brother-in-law’s fate and the “Scrooge McDuck” moment shared between Saul’s lackeys were particularly humorous.

With Walt caught in frenzy, the fate of the White drug empire rested greatly on Skyler, as she attempted fend off Hank and Marie. Whist she despatched the hopelessly trusting Hank with ease, Marie cut through to her sister and was left with a bitter desire for retribution. Recently one of the show’s main themes has been present in Skyler more so than any other character: this is the notion that people’s identities are not fixed, rather they are dictated by context. It wasn’t so long ago that Skyler was attempting to give up her children, for fear of their safety (their loss of innocence, even), now she’s doing everything in her power to preserve her family’s unity and her and Walt’s crimes. Against all reasonable thought, she battled and successfully staved off Marie’s attempts to take Holly.

One of the running themes of the episode itself was the fragility of masculinity: the lame and naked Walt collapsed onto his bathroom floor, imploring Skyler, “Don’t let this all be for nothing.” Maybe not so far from ‘Season One’ Walter White after all. There was also a resigned and unshaven Hank coming to terms with the fact that his entire livelihood and identity was shortly to be reduced to nil, knowing that the day he can turn Walt in will be the day he has to hand in his badge.

If there’s one reservation I’ve had for these last two episodes, it’s the lack of real-time that characters have had to process the truths coming to light. One of the show’s strengths is it’s ability to stretch diegetic time out over an episode. Having said that, this is clearly the end of days: everything’s unravelling without a care for any of the characters. There’s no going back for Walt, Skyler, Marie and Hank; things will fall apart.

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