Breaking Bad, “Mas”: What did we say about escalating?

Walt really gave it the old novel try. He told Gus during tonight’s Breaking Bad that it wasn’t an “overweening sense of pride” causing him to object to Jesse cooking on his own, it was his respect for the chemistry, because the chemistry MUST be respected. Gus apologized for being so transparent, then showed Walt the Batcave he had built for him to cook in 24/7. It took Gus a little more cajoling, but in the end he got his and Walt came back into the fold. Some people may think that the lesson to be taken away from all of this is that every man has his price. But from what we’ve seen this season, and from this episode specifically, I think it runs deeper than that.

There are a lot of comparisons to be made between Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, and the one here is that Walt doesn’t do what he does for his own personal gain — well, at least not yet and at least not completely. His career as a drug manufacturer was born out of a genuine desire to help his family and not to buy himself a bigger house and a better car. Earlier in the series, when Walt listed out the expenses he would need to cover, I thought the list was actually pretty modest. So while Walt is still in denial about exactly how bad the things he’s done are, I think there are still some principles there at the center of it.

We see a little more of this later in the episode when Skyler is on the phone with Marie. After Marie tells her how different Hank has been ever since he came back from El Paso, she says she has no idea how much someone might change when faced with their own death. Whatever else may be going on inside her head, it looks like that finally gave Skyler some perspective on what Walt’s been going through. It’s obvious from her conversation with her lawyer that she’s having second thought about throwing Walt out of her life flat out, even if she’s not running out to spend his stashed drug money. But even though Walt isn’t exactly Tony Soprano, I still think there’s a little Carmella inside Skyler. You could see how much she enjoyed Ted’s home (even if Ted himself is beginning to grow a little stale). In company, I think Skyler may be quick to condemn Walt’s action in front of company, but the allure of all that money and what it could mean for her, not the mention the family, may be too much for her to resist.

Walt’s meeting with Gus gave us a much better look at the kind of operation Gus is running and at the same time showed us how ruthless a person he is. He needed Walt working for him and did exactly what he had to do to make sure it happened. At first he gave him his half of the cash from the deal with Jesse, and when the money wasn’t enough, he gave Walt his own personal meth lab. Pay attention to what he said, Walt would be free to come and go as he please as long as he met his quota. This is in no way a partnership. Walt is working for Gus, and if he ever comes up short in any way, there’s going to be a price to pay. Never mind the fact that Gus is planning on throwing Walt to the Cousins as soon as the three months is up.

Hank’s come that much closer to finding Jesse and the RV. In a nice little piece of exposition, we found that the RV actually came from Combo, who stole it from his mom. And speaking of that opening bit, the show has come up with a really great way of handling its teasers. Almost like they’re their own, self-contained stories. Anyway, for someone who seems to be getting his life together, so to speak, things are beginning to fray at the edges for Jesse. He’s got the D.E.A. looking for him, and he really got served by Walt at their little sit-down with Saul. I like Jesse as much as the next guy, but watching him get his ass handed to him like that was fantastic.

TV critic for the Pacific Northwest Inlander Daniel Walters mentioned tonight on Twitter that he felt a prevailing theme on the show this season was loneliness. I would be hard-pressed to disagree, and am waiting to see how the show brings its characters back together again.

Stuff I liked:

  • Gomez’s going-away cake.
  • Saul’s Vietnamese chiropractor. “She adjusts you to completion,” and is every bit as delicious as she sounds.
  • But really, that thing is the Batcave.

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