Tag Archives: Breaking Bad

The Year End Review: TV

It’s that time of year again. And I mean, it’s really that time of year. Any more time and it’d be next year. Speaking of which, how many of you are absolutely sick of the fact that I can’t get my s**t together and update this thing more regularly? Well, too bad! I’m pretty set in my ways, and if I wouldn’t change for any of my three wives, I probably won’t change for you. Anyway, it was a pretty good year for TV, and for those of you who care, these are my top 10 picks. If I had more time on my hands, this list might look somewhat different**, but I can’t watch everything. So, in no particular order…

Lost. I’d be remiss (what does that mean?) if I didn’t mention one of the greatest TV shows in the history of TV (and shows). ‘Lost’ earns its place on the list more in recognition of the entire series than the sixth season, which most people will admit had its problems. But for all of the questions that were left unanswered and weird, glowy caves that had holes in the middle that needed to be plugged up or else the world would explode — I mean, seriously, what was that? — the show delivered a finale that was as emotionally satisfying as I could have hoped for. And before the numbers, polar bears and four-toed statues, it was the characters that made the show what it was. And that damn dog gets me every time.

Treme. For a little while, ‘Treme’ felt like the kid who was a little too cool for school. It didn’t really invite us into its world, but kept us at arm’s length, telling us that we just didn’t get it. But slowly, as if in the arms of a generous lover, it opened up to us. And once the characters started doing a little more than hang out, drink and play music it turned into appointment television. And the fact that it comes from David Simon and could probably go on for six or seven seasons without building toward any clear ending makes it one of the best character studies in recent memory.

Louie. Hands down, the best comedy of the year. FX told Louie CK that, even though they couldn’t pay him as much as other networks, they would give him complete creative control over his own show, and the opportunity was not wasted. I hate to sound trite (no I don’t), but he’s really reinvented the sitcom, with each episode taking the form of a mostly-self-contained short film. And not only is it hilarious, but introspective and thoughtful. Not to mention gorgeously shot. If you haven’t caught this one yet, you can stream it on Netflix. I really can’t recommend it enough.

Archer. ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Boardwalk Empire’ are all good and well, but man cannot live on live-action drama alone. Solid animated fare is important, and unfortunately ‘American Dad’ can’t carry the load all by itself. ‘Archer’ comes from the fine folks who brought us ‘Frisky Dingo,’ which for two short years carried the mantle ‘Arrested Development’ left behind after it was canceled. The show takes the world’s most self-absorbed incompetent, gives him a double-0 rating and sets him loose on the world. Hilarity ensues. And when I say hilarity ensues, I mean it. Did you read what I said about ‘Frisky Dingo’? The show comes back for another season in January, so check it out.

Breaking Bad. Suck it, ‘Supernatural’ fans. In its third season, ‘Breaking Bad’ made the jump from engrossing (and high-grossing!), to the best show on TV. And the season before was already pretty great. Watching the lengths Walter White is willing to go to, at first to provide for his family, but then to satisfy his own ego is completely devastating. Walter shooting that drug dealer in the head at the end of “Half Measures” had me screaming at my TV, and if the season finale is any indication (it is), things are only going to get darker going forward. Unfortunately, AMC’s schedule is all jacked up, so the show won’t be back until July. The curse of cable television!

Mad Men. This is another show that doesn’t really have any sort of clear end in sight. And because it’s AMC’s darling, they’re probably going to try and keep it around for as long as they can. The trick then becomes how to keep it feeling fresh and not like it’s spinning its wheels. Season 4 did that. Don has his own agency, and now that he’s divorced he’s back out on the prowl. Although I guess that was the case even when he was married. Anyway, the season featured some of the series’ best work. “The Suitcase” and the showdown between Don and Peggy being only one example. Expect that one to be showered with Emmys at next year’s ceremony. For my money, the show came in just a hair behind ‘Breaking Bad’ this year, but…it was a very fine hair.

Fringe. I don’t think anyone really gives a s**t if a show comes “from the mind of J.J. Abrams” anymore. And if you ask me that’s only worked in ‘Fringe’s’ favor. When it wasn’t the hit some expected it to be, it kind of dropped off the radar. That really gave it carte blanche to go balls to wall and make a show for the people who were watching it, the people who were carrying it into second and third season renewals. This season’s proved that like no other, and really shows what risks the showrunners were willing to take with things. Thankfully they all paid off. I’m feeling a little better about the show’s move to Friday now than I was when I first heard about it, so hopefully its audience will move with it and it’ll be back for a fourth season.

Boardwalk Empire. AMC winning all those Emmys must have really pissed HBO off, because they’re coming back in a big way. It took ‘Boardwalk Empire’ about four episodes to find its footing, but after that it was strong all the way to the finish. It’s always good to see such a big show get things right, and that was before we saw exactly how big a freak Agent Van Alden was, and met Richard Harrow (who’s thankfully been promoted to a series regular in season two). What the show lacks in ‘Sopranos’ it makes up for in ‘Deadwood,’ which sucks me in every single time. Can we lay down some cash that season two will open with a montage of all the characters getting dressed in the morning?

30 Rock. Oh ’30 Rock,’ it’s so good to have you back. After a lackluster fourth season, the show’s really amped things up this year, delivering several episodes that are as good as anything they’ve done in the past. I mean, you’ve got Matt Damon! Paul Giamatti! Liz’s Julia Roberts laugh! John Effing Slattery! I cower before the brilliance of his performance. Now, if the show could just find more excuses to bring Jon Hamm back, all would be right with the world. Really, this is the show propping up NBC’s Thursday night lineup. ‘The Office’ has turned into the grandpa with Parkinson’s disease. Every once in a while it remembers how good it was, but it mostly thinks we’re its wife and yells at us for not having supper on the table when it gets home from work. ‘Outsourced’ is garbage and ‘Community’ is too busy smelling its own private parts to do much else. When the lineup grows by a hour come January, it’s gonna be ’30 Rock’ and ‘Parks and Rec,’ so get ready for it.

Justified. FX is really trying to roll with the big dogs as of late, at thanks to shows like ‘Justified,’ it’s paying off. The show had a mix of procedural and serialized storytelling, and I think that as the season progressed, it realized how much stronger those serialized elements were, and so followed them more as the season closed out. Timothy Olyphant is a great actor, and fans of ‘Deadwood’ know that this role was almost tailor-made for him. The back and forth between him and Walt Goggins is great, but honestly, I’d watch a show of Olyphant just ramming Dewey Crow’s face into steering wheels.

And there you have it. A pretty good year, all things considered. And next year we’ve got ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘Luck,’ ‘Lights Out,’ ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ and more ‘Parks and Rec’ to look forward to, so it’s going to be pretty crowded. So until then and as a always, excelsior true believers!

**’Community’ still wouldn’t be on it, because it still isn’t that good.

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Emmy Love

The Emmy nominations are in, and oddly enough, NO ONE seems to be talking about them. So I thought I’d give my thoughts to the only categories anyone really cares about.

Outstanding Drama
“Breaking Bad”
“Dexter”
“The Good Wife”
“Lost”
“Mad Men”
“True Blood”

I don’t watch The Good Wife, so there’s not much I can say about it. I’ve heard some good things, and from what I understand, the fact that the show and Julianna Margulies were nominated isn’t too big a surprise. Breaking Bad and Mad Men earning nominations also lands firmly in the “no big surprise” category, as both shows put out some of their best work this past season. Dexter seems to be a show we should expect to see in this category, although — with the exception of John Lythgoe’s performance in the show’s fourth season — Dexter seems to be a series offering diminishing returns with each season. With the [spoiler alert!] death of Rita at the end of last season, the show has a chance to seriously shake itself up. We’ll see whether or not they’re able to pull it off. Lost has been nominated in this category a couple of times before, but I have a feeling this time around its inclusion has more to do with the show going away FOREVER. Don’t get me wrong, I was satisfied with the way the show wrapped things up in its final season, but taken as a whole, season 6 wasn’t nearly as strong as seasons past. Rounding out this group is True Blood, which I’ve only seen a few episodes of. The fact that it was able to make its way into the drama category is a little amazing to me, given Anna Paquin’s horrible southern accent.

Outstanding Comedy
“30 Rock”
“Curb Your Enthusiasm”
“Glee”
“Modern Family”
“Nurse Jackie”
“The Office”

30 Rock and The Office are a couple of moldy oldies when it comes to Emmy noms, but I don’t think neither one of them is going to take the award away this year. 30 Rock suffered a pretty big dip in quality when stacked against past seasons, and The Office was just horrible. I don’t care if Jim and Pam finally got married and had a kid. The show sucked. Seriously, I don’t understand how The Office was nominated and Parks and Recreation got passed over. I have yet to be disappointed by Curb Your Enthusiasm, and look forward to the show’s eighth season with great relish, but I don’t really think it has any chance of winning. That honor will probably go to Modern Family, which had an incredible first season. Now, I say that Modern Family will win, but of course the country’s strange fascination with Glee will come around to bite it in the ass. With 19 nominations, I’m worried. And you should be, too.

Outstanding Actor in a Drama
Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”)
Hugh Laurie (“House M.D.”)
Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”)
Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights”)
Matthew Fox (“Lost”)
Michael C. Hall (“Dexter”)

Nice to see Matthew Fox, but again, I think his best work on the show came in previous seasons. I count Michael C. Hall and Jon Hamm out. They’re both great actors, BUT Bryan Cranston’s also been nominated, and has won in this category two years running now. And as much as I love Mad Men, Breaking Bad is just doing more for me right now. That aside, what I’m really happy about in this category is Kyle Chandler’s nomination. It’s a long shot, but his work on Friday Night Lights these past four years has been phenomenal and it’s a shame that it’s taken so long for him to be recognized here.

Outstanding Actress in a Drama
Connie Britton (“Friday Night Lights”)
Glenn Close (“Damages”)
January Jones (“Mad Men”)
Julianna Margulies (“The Good Wife”)
Mariska Hargitay (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”)
Kyra Sedgwick (“The Closer”)

Again, Friday Night Lights. I could easily see Connie Britton winning this category, but that may be my utter lack of interest in L&O, Damages and The Closer speaking. Realistically speaking, Julianna Margulies has a real chance here.

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy
Alec Baldwin (“30 Rock”)
Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”)
Larry David (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”)
Matthew Morrison (“Glee”)
Steve Carell (“The Office”)
Tony Shalhoub (“Monk”)

I don’t see how Alec Baldwin doesn’t get this one. Although seeing as how Monk is going away, Tony Shalhoub’s also got a shot. I’d love to see a Larry David win, but it probably isn’t in the cards. Again, for shame Steve Carell, for shame.

Outstanding Actress in a Comedy
Amy Poehler (“Parks and Recreation”)
Edie Falco (“Nurse Jackie”)
Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“The New Adventures of Old Christine”)
Lea Michele (“Glee”)
Tina Fey (“30 Rock”)
Toni Collette (“The United States of Tara”)

I’m glad to see Parks and Recreation wasn’t completely passed over. Although I’m not sure Amy Poehler can defeat Tina Fey’s star power. From what I understand, Edie Falco is the least comedic thing about Nurse Jackie, so I wouldn’t put much stock in her this year. From the rest of the pack, Lea Michele is the only one I can see winning, in one of those bonehead stunts the Academy likes to pull, like when James Spader beat out James Gandolfini a few years back. No, James Spader. You are not a better actor than James Gandolfini.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama
Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”)
Andre Braugher (“Men of a Certain Age”)
John Slattery (“Mad Men”)
Martin Short (“Damages”)
Michael Emerson (“Lost”)
Terry O’Quinn (“Lost”)

Just a few thoughts on these supporting categories. I love John Slattery, Terry O’Quinn and Michael Emerson, but none of them did what Aaron Paul did this past year on Breaking Bad. If he doesn’t walk away with the award this year, it’ll be a travesty. Congrats to Andre Braugher for sneaking in under the radar here.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama
Archie Panjabi (“The Good Wife”)
Christine Baranski (“The Good Wife”)
Christina Hendricks (“Mad Men”)
Elisabeth Moss (“Mad Men”)
Rose Byrne (“Damages”)
Sharon Gless (“Burn Notice”)

I used to date Christina Hendricks, so I’m partial to her in this category, and thought she showed more range than Elizabeth Moss in this season of Mad Men. Again, I don’t watch The Good Wife (or Damages for that matter), and as of yet, no one’s offered to pay me to watch Burn Notice.

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy
Chris Colfer (“Glee”)
Eric Stonestreet (“Modern Family”)
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (“Modern Family”)
Jon Cryer (“Two and a Half Men”)
Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”)
Ty Burrell (“Modern Family”)

This one’s pretty crowded, but I would put my money on either Eric Stonestreet or Ty Burrell. I’m just desperately hoping that Glee doesn’t come in and sweep the whole thing.

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy
Holland Taylor (“Two and a Half Men”)
Jane Krakowski (“30 Rock”)
Jane Lynch (“Glee”)
Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”)
Kristen Wiig (“Saturday Night Live”)
Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”)

My heart says Kristen Wiig, but this one is probably going to go to Jane Lynch. She’s obviously a great comedian, and her character on Glee is pretty funny. Congrats to both Julie Bowen and Sofia Vergara for their nominations, although now that I think about it, this is one that I can’t really see Julie Bowen winning.

Other thoughts…

  • Suck it, Charlie Sheen.
  • Suck it, Entourage.
  • Really surprised to see Ed O’Neill snubbed this year.
  • Not surprised to see Sons of Anarchy snubbed.
  • I’m not the biggest Community fan out there, but not a single nomination? Come on, now.

Breaking Bad, “Kafkaesque”: Church.

There’s a part of me that expects the story of Walter White to end in some sort of Scarface-type shootout, with Walter as Al Pacino. “Kafkaesque” seemed to lay down a little more of that framework, with Walter extending his deal with Gus, who’s now the principle meth supplier for the entire Southwest.

As much as Walter tends to roll his eyes or spaz-out every time Jesse gets on his case, he isn’t too proud to recognize when he makes sense, although he may be too proud to let Jesse know it. And I think it was Jesse who convinced him to go see Gus, or at least to bring up their arrangement during their conversation. And rightly so. If it weren’t for Walt and his magic meth recipe, Gus wouldn’t be pulling down so much money on the street. But Gus, ruthless as he is, also seems to be generous when it comes to Walt and agrees to pay him more while at the same time extending his employment from three months to a year. So, Walt’s a millionaire now, and that’s just fine.

Back at the hospital, Hank seems to have come out of the red, although whether or not he’ll walk again is anyone’s guess. With his hospital bills piling up and Marie’s insistence that they get Hank the best care money can buy, their situation is becoming desperate. The quick fix to that problem is sitting right in front of them, although Walt is understandably reluctant to bring it up: he can pay for Hank’s treatment himself using his filthy, ill-gotten drug money. Here, Skyler turns out to be a little more imaginative, coming up with a story that provides an excuse to pay their bills while at the same time explaining her and Walt’s divorce. It turns out that Walt’s idea for providing for his family after he passed away was to win millions counting cards. And after a slight setback – he blew their entire life savings during his fugue state – he’s earned a tidy sum that’s sitting in seven figures. Smart, eh? Marie buys it. Problem solved.

Or is it? When Walt asks Skyler how she could possibly come up with such a story, she says that she learned from the best. It’s hard to dismiss the suspicion that she understands – at least in a small way – what Walt was going through all those months, and why he started cooking meth in the first place. The divorce papers may be signed, but you can’t put a period on their relationship just yet.

During all this we’ve got Jesse, who’s decided to get back into his own meth game with the usual suspects, Badger and Skinny Pete. Using the two of them to build up hype in the middle of his recovery group meeting was pretty cold-blooded, but at the same time shows his determination to make the whole thing work. Unfortunately, like so many other things Jesse’s involved himself in, I have a feeling this will not end well. Whether he screws it up himself or Walt and Gus become wise to his plan, the entire thing has to go south.

Stuff I liked:

  • Cold-blooded though it may have been, I do like it when Badger acts half-competent.
  • The commercial for Pollos de Hermanos.
  • How Gus transports his meth. Mmm. Delicious.

Breaking Bad, “I See You”: There’s nothing wrong with jazz.

This week’s episode could also have been titled, “The Waiting Game.” After his run-in with the Cousins last week, Hank’s been rushed to the hospital in critical condition. And we the viewers were forced to wait to see how things turned out, just like his friends and family.

It was a little curious to watch such a low-key episode after seeing the show’s momentum build to an almost unstoppable fever-pitch in the last few weeks. And I’m really not sure if I should take it as a needed break for us, the audience, as a necessary break for the show’s narrative, or just another brilliant move by what has to be the most brilliant show currently airing. I’ll just go ahead and say it was brilliant. Is that okay with everyone?

Not only were Marie, Walt, Skyler and Walt Jr. forced to wait for news on Hank, but Jesse – now Walt’s partner in Gus Frings’ meth operation – had to wait for Walt to return from the hospital and get to cooking. It seemed like Walt was also waiting, this time for the other shoe to drop, with his arrangement with Gus. When it became clear that he and Jesse wouldn’t meet their quota for the week, he called Gus and blamed the delay on our dearly-departed Gale botching things up.

(Speaking of Gale, is there anyone else who thinks that we haven’t seen the last of him? I mean sure, he seems calm and collected on the outside, but he’s a meth cooker. Anyone who opts in to that sort of that can’t be completely on the level. And it was obvious he did take being replaced – by Jesse of all people – that well. This season’s delivered a few surprises already, so I wouldn’t put it past them to bring Gale back to cause problems for Walt later on down the line.)

Despite Walt’s excuse – and I think Gus knew it was an excuse – Gus didn’t get angry. I mean, hey, he’s only trying to sabotage the Mexicans, thereby further cementing his hold on the Southwest drug trade, but sure, Walt can be late on this week’s shipment. It’s only TWO HUNDRED POUNDS OF METH. Gus didn’t get angry, but what he did do was much more sinister. In typical Gus fashion, he put on a smile and delivered Pollos de Hermanos to all of Hank’s cop buddies who were visiting him in the hospital He even took the time to talk to his family, which just happens to include Walt. You’ve always got to watch out for the quiet one because you just know they’re do something cool eventually, right? And it was that knowledge that caused Walt to follow Gus out into the lobby, just to make sure the everything between them was still simpatico. It looks like it is, for now.

Skyler and Walt Jr. have taken a back seat to things these past couple of weeks, but we were again reminded that Skyler’s feelings toward Walt may not be as clear-cut as she’d like to think. While Walt told Marie about the day of his XXXX, Skyler had to keep looking away, wiping tears for eyes. Beats like these make me miss her character, and happy to see her doing things besides sleeping with Ted.

“I See You” ended just about as well as it could, and I seriously mean that. The family, hearing that Hank has stabilized enough for them to see him crowds around his bed, and it’s there that the credits begin rolling. In an episode where everyone is forced to stand around and wait, it’s only fitting that the conclusion should, well, leave us all waiting.

Stuff I liked:

  • I guess sabotaging the Mexican cartel was putting things lightly. He does it with a smile, but Gus is becoming more and more ruthless as the season goes on. How long until this affects Walt and his family?
  • See Leonel shamble out of his hospital bed with two amputated stubs was probably the biggest shock of the night. Man, that stuff sticks with you.
  • Jesse looks f’ing scary with his face all busted up like that.
  • How old is Walt Jr.? 37?

Breaking Bad, “One Minute”: Family is all.

Well, he fell apart. As soon as he was done at the hospital, Hank drove straight to Jesse’s and beat the ever-loving HELL out of him. And man, it’s one thing to be punched, but getting face slammed over and over with Hank’s ham-hock fists is true pain. Now, Jesse’s in the hospital and planning on owning Hank’s soul until the day he crawls for his gun to jam into his eye socket blah blah blah. He’s REAL pissed off.

There was a lot going on in last night’s episode, and I’m still trying to figure out everyone’s motivations for doing what they did. Jesse sees his injuries as his Golden Ticket. The DEA’s going to want to steer as clear away from him as possible, so now he’s free to cook all the meth he wants. And if for some reason they ever do come knocking on his door, he’ll give them Walt, who right now is the only person Jesse hates more than Hank. So Walt has reason to leave Jesse alone, although he suspects he may be bluffing about sending him up.

Now Walt has reason to help both Hank and Jesse. Hank, because when Jesse presses charges it will end him. And Jesse, because he doesn’t want him to go after Hank. But at the same time, it doesn’t seem like he’s too eager to help either of them. Skyler tries telling him that because Hank’s family, he’s obligated to help him. That doesn’t go over too well because Walt and Skyler are getting divorced, so technically Hank isn’t family, and Walt doesn’t like the idea of Skyler coming around and acting civil (mostly civil) only when it suits her. As for Jesse, well, he and Walt have always had a love/hate relationship, and with the way he’s acting right now, I think Walt thinks it’s best to give him as wide a berth as possible.

I think it’s been established that Walt’s a stubborn person, so I don’t think he can just come out and help Jesse or Hank. After talking with Skyler, Walt goes to the lab in a huff, looking for a reason to be pissed off at Gale, who’s acting his usual, mild-mannered self. When Gale accidentally sets one of Walt’s science gizmos to the wrong temperature and ruins a batch of meth, Walt calls Gus and tells him there’s no way they can continue to work together. Who could Walt possibly use as a lab assistant? Jesse, of course.

When Walt makes Jesse the offer, Jesse isn’t exactly receptive, and it wasn’t until I heard him say it that I realized exactly what a red nightmare his life has become since hooking up with Walt. Jesse says that’s never been more alone, that he has no one. Then he reminds Walt that it wasn’t that long ago when he had told him that his meth was garbage. Why would Walt want him as an assistant? I was actually really surprised that Walt didn’t tell him it was because he didn’t have anyone either. For better or worse, the world has kind of bailed on these guys, and as weird as it sounds, all they really have is each other. I think Jesse realized this in part, and that’s why he accepted Walt’s offer in the end. And hey, there’s also that 1.5 million dollars. I’m sure that helped, too.

In the middle of all this craziness are the Cousins, who have given Walt a slight reprieve to take out Hank. Hank isn’t pulling any funny stuff with the Jesse situation. He realizes that what he did was wrong and he’s taking full responsibility for it. He had a good cry. He admitted to himself that he may not be cut out for more police work, and finally things are looking a little brighter for him. That’s when he gets a phone call from someone using a voice distorter who tells him that two he’s being followed by two men, and that he’s got about a minute before they find him.

Who tipped him off? If it was Gus, why would he hand Hank up to the Cousins only to tell him later that they were coming for him? If it was Walt, how did he know? I couldn’t possibly solve this mystery. Can YOOOU? Unanswered questions aside, that entire end scene was made of 100% pure awesome. Although I would have liked to have seen Leonel spitting out more blood after Hank rammed him with his car. Is there anyone I can talk to about that?

Stuff I liked:

  • For a split second I could have sworn that truck driver was played by Walt Goggins.
  • “Your meth is good, Jesse. As good as mine.”
  • Although I thought Hank getting the bullet in his gun at the last possible second was a little predictable, the shot of the cousin’s head opening up like a Bloomin’ Onion made it all worth it. Violence!

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.

Breaking Bad, “Green Light”: Sometimes it doesn’t hurt to have someone watching your back.

After the adrenaline rush of the past three episodes, it seemed like last night’s Breaking Bad gave us all a chance to step back and take a breather. But just because people weren’t dying and stuff wasn’t blowing up in our faces doesn’t mean there wasn’t a ton simmering just below the surface.

All is not well in the White household after Skyler’s revelation last week that she “f’ed Ted.” Mike brings Saul a tape of the two screaming at each other and they realize what a potential threat this poses. Playing the drug game has really had a Fight Club effect on Walt. The deeper he’s involved himself in it, the more fearless he’s become in his day-to-day life. Before, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to imagine him taking Skyler with another man laying down (zing!), but now he turns things up to 11 and goes to Beneke’s office to confront him in person. In a lot of ways, Beneke is just as introverted and scared as Walt used to be, and as Walt bangs on his door, screaming that he just wants to talk, Ted hides inside, only poking his head out to tell Walt that he’s really busy. And we have to remember that Walt, for all his badassery, is still an aging high school chemistry teacher playing drug kingpin. If this is something we sometimes forget, the show is nice to enough to give us scenes like we saw last night, with Walt throwing a potted plant at Ted’s window only to have it bounce off and hit the floor. “Next time you OPEN the door!”

After righteous anger, Walt figures that maybe he can also play at Skyler’s game and tries kissing Carmen at work. This doesn’t have quite the same effect and he’s sent on sabbatical “indefinitely.” From here he dials things down to quiet resignation, sitting at the breakfast table and playing with his Cheerios, while Skyler sits at the other end and puts up her, “I’m a quiet yet oddly upbeat asshole” act we’ve seen so much of. I’m not exactly sure what Walt’s game is here. Maybe he thinks that if he just sits back and does nothing, the situation will just resolve itself. After all, Skyler was dead set on kicking him out of the house. But he forced his way back in and she seems to have more or less accepted it.

Jesse’s doing his best to get back up on the horse. He’s back in the RV and cooking. I saw this as a further sign that he had embraced who he really was, the bad guy. After what happened to Jane last season, Jesse may be completely repulsed by crystal meth, and he’s obviously gotten himself off it, but he’s still the bad guy. In the end he knows he has to cook it and sell it. This week, though, he really jumped into the role with both feet, putting on his little song and dance for the cashier at the gas station, telling her that this crystal was “awesome,” and that what she had heard about it being addictive was just “the media.” Talk about embracing who he is. You could almost see the evil coming off of him like little stink waves in a cartoon. And the fact that he passed her the sample in front of a cop I think is very telling about the person he’s morphing into and shows that Walt isn’t the only one suffering from the Fight Club effect.

It’s become pretty clear that Mike is serving two masters, as we saw him talking to Gus Frings later in the episode. He was carrying a folder filled with copies of Walt’s medical records, so you have to ask yourself exactly what sort of reach and resources he has. Gus’ main question was whether or not Walt would live for the foreseeable future. Mike said he will, for the next few years, at least. So whatever nefarious plans Gus has cooking up (zing! I’m on fi-yah!), it looks like Walt will play a big role in them. When Gus last approached Walt, offering him three million dollars for three months’ work, Walt said he wasn’t interested. Well, he better get interested quick, because it looks like right now, Gus and his offer are all that are all standing between Walt and an axe in his head. Gus may have granted Walt a temporary reprieve with the Cousins, but he’s still marked for death. And we saw just how literally we needed to take that when Mike found a chalk drawing of a scythe on the street in front of Walt’s house. Listen to the bells, Walt! They toll for thee!

We got to spend a little more time with Hank this week, and saw that he’s really letting his post-traumatic stress get the best of him. Using the Heisenberg case as an excuse, he’s shirked off his promises to head back to El Paso. It’s possible that this won’t have an adverse effect on his career, but it’s definitely taking its toll in his personal life, with him getting more and more pissed off at people like Gomez, people who are only looking out for him.

The episode ended an a somewhat upbeat (?) note. As upbeat as a bag full of money can get, I guess. I was really holding my breath for a second there, as shows like these (I looking at you, Mad Men and The Sopranos), with characters driving down long stretches of road while quietly listening to the radio have a way of ending in car accidents. But alas, it wasn’t meant to be. Walt got his share of the drug money, and I’m guessing it isn’t going to take a whole lot more to get him back with Jesse and cooking again.

Stuff I liked:

  • There’s a quick radio mention that Jane’s dad tried killing himself. Walt quickly changing the radio station was short and powerful.
  • “Your half.”
  • Saul’s class action suit against anyone who was caused “pain and suffering” as a result of the plane crash.
  • Seriously, the scene at Beneke was great.