Breaking Bad Recap “Buried”
BY Matthew Guerruckey
Published 8 years ago
“You’re done being his victim.”
After all the ink that was spilled about how Breaking Bad was completely redefining television narrative by pushing the plot far ahead of where we assumed they’d begin last week, this episode was a necessary (if light) tap on the brakes. The tense confrontation that closed “Blood Money” ends with Hank and Walt facing off in a literal showdown (complete with itchy trigger fingers) in Hank’s driveway. But cool, calm, collected Heisenberg disappears the minute that Walt gets back in his car. He panics and dials Skyler immediately, only to find that (this time, anyway), Hank has beaten him to the draw.
Hank arranges a meeting with her in a diner, with his concerned face on (and maybe just relieved to finally get to talk to someone—anyone—about the horror he’s uncovered) ready to dish out sympathy. But Skyler’s not really interested in that. Here, and later in an excellent scene with Marie in the White house, we see just how calculating Skyler herself can be. Whether this is Walt’s influence or whether—like Walt himself—it’s something that’s been inside of her all along is hard to say. One thing is certain: Skyler, perhaps from the months of relatively quiet dealing followed by Walt’s actual exit from the business and the routine of the car wash, no longer agrees with Hank’s assessment of Walt as a “monster”.
But, also like Walt, it is the very idea of her children being taken away that triggers Skyler’s other side. Hank’s suggestion that the kids stay with him and Marie causes Skyler to return to hysterics, barking, “am I under arrest?” repeatedly and running away. And as much as her guilt may cause Skyler to apologize to Marie, her pride still won’t allow her to say the words—instead, Marie grills her and figures out just how long she’s known—including before Hank’s shooting. Marie snaps and tries to take baby Holly (which, unfortunately for Marie, would just be straight kidnapping), and Skyler’s mama bear takes over, as she reaches for her child with claws out. It’s tense. It’s horrifying. It’s Breaking Bad.
Hank is shaken to his core, not in small part because he realizes (as we have long ago) that proving Walt’ to be Heisenberg would end his career in a flash. Hank’s vision of Walt as a meek “good guy” kept him from noticing the increasingly bizarre behavior in his brother-in-law and making some fairly basic connections. Hank’s basic faith in Skyler made him reach out to her, assuming ignorance or coercion. Hank just keeps believing in people—which makes it all the more fitting that the one person he would have zero faith in might just be the key to making his case against Walt.
That person, Jesse Pinkman, has given up on his Robin Hood crusade halfway through. That much money, bundle by bundle, just proves too much for him to give away. We drives into a park (down a steep hill—was this a suicide attempt?) and lies flat on the merry-go-round, kicking his feet to propel him around slowly—an appropriately lonely image and also appropriate because Jesse and children, etc. Not subtle. But neither is blowing off one half of a man’s face.
So, Jesse sad. Saaaaaaad Jesse. And Aaron Paul gives silent Jesse (not one line of dialogue in the episode) a wounded dignity, because that’s what he does and that’s what he wins Emmys for, bitch, but (as I said last week!) we need to see more sides of Jesse right quick or he’ll remain a static character and stall the momentum of the plot whenever he’s around.
Of course, by episode’s end they’ve made it obvious that Jesse’s decisions will be central to the plot going forward, as Hank takes an ambling shuffle into the interrogation room. How much will Jesse spill? He’s no friend of Hank’s—who, in case you’ve forgotten, put Jesse in the hospital a few seasons back—but he’s terrified of Walt and in need of a solid confession, to the police or otherwise. And here’s a brilliant moral dilemma that the series has given to the viewer. Can Jesse make his life right by giving up all he’s done? (Even-gulp—Gale Botticher.) If he snitches on Walt, is that betrayal? Keep in mind, Jesse doesn’t know all of the horrible things that Walt has done to him personally, and Walt did save his life a few times. There is a genius to the series that after all that Walt has done, when we see him on the floor of the bathroom in the grips of a slow, wasting death, we can still feel sympathy for him as he begs Skyler, “please don’t let me have done all this for nothing.”
And what of Walt? Walt, hiding his money in the desert, unable to trust those he loves, unable to find his partner, and unable to keep his cells from mutating and dying? Even after Walt, as Heisenberg, threatened Hank, Walt is offended at Saul’s suggestion that Hank take the same vacation to Belize that Mike is on. “Hank is family,” Walt says, a reminder of Walt’s humanity that we desperately need at this late stage.
And, of course, unbeknownst to Walt, there is a growing threat in the desert, as Lydia and Todd take out the Phoenix crew. They have customers, they have distribution, and they have equipment—all they need is a cook. Did I mention that they’re Nazis? Because they’re Nazis.
Season Five, Episode Ten