I hate to say it, but this most recent episode of Breaking Bad seemed very much like filler to me. It goes without saying that the direction, acting, cinematography, and editing far surpassed other TV dramas, but the writing took a considerable hit this week. For the first time this season, I actually feel as if the show took an easy out. Still, it made for a breathless and tense hour of television that has no peers.
This episode begins right where the last ended: Walt and his family are packing up clothing and toiletries, preparing to stay at Hank’s, under protective custody of the DEA. Skyler is hysterical when she discovers that Walt refuses to join them at Hank’s. Walt explains, in what can only be described as a double entendre, that “there is no more postponing the inevitable” and he must take rash action. He doesn’t explain what specifically he must do or what will transpire but to Skyler and us as viewers it means the following: Either Walt or Gus is going to have to die, and it is still unknown who will make the first move.
Hank is not phased in the slightest by the “hit” on his head. Rather, he views it as a crafty diversion. He believes so strongly in his lead on the meth lab that he feels this was merely an obstruction to prevent him from leaving home and discovering the true reason for the Laundromats existence. In an audacious rebuttal, he recruits the help of his friend and co-worker Steven (sorely underused this season) to scope out the area, drug-dog and camera in tow.
Brock, the young boy that Jesse has taken under his wing (of sorts), is hospitalized and the doctors cannot determine the cause for his severe illness. When Jesse discovers that his poisoned cigarette has been removed from his pack, it doesn’t take him long to put two and two together. He assumes that Walt was the perpetrator, he being the only other person who knew about the poisonous cigarette. Therein lies this episode’s (and season’s) weakest asset.
Much like the hold up that Mike and Gus staged for Jesse earlier this season to reinvigorate his ego, poisoning Brock was a pretty random and unrealistic stretch for this series. I understand why they did it: If Jesse believed that only Walt knew about the cigarette, then surely Jesse would retaliate and kill Walt for his infraction. Gus is well aware of this. Though it’s uncertain just how the poison left Jesse’s pack and entered Brock’s bloodstream, it was an absurd set up that brought the pair to a boiling point once more.
In a powerfully acted scene, Jesse holds a gun to Walt’s head and threatens to kill him for poisoning Brock. Walt keeps his calm and clearly defends his actions, promising that he didn’t commit the heinous act. He elucidates the cause for the poisoning incident, explaining how manipulative Gus has been in bringing this situation to fruition. Jesse finally lowers his gun, choosing to trust Walt on his word. As Jesse is leaving, he tells Walt that he will stop at nothing to kill he who caused this problem (Gus and Tyrus). Conveniently, Walt wants to help him.
Don’t get me wrong here. I am absolutely thrilled that Jesse and Walt are once again on the same team against Gus, but that was all too easy. Though it is never explicitly stated that the ricin was in fact the cause of the sickness, it fits in line with Gus manipulative personality. The problem with it is, in my opinion, that Jesse (who happens to have a pretty solid head on his shoulders) acts like too much of a pawn around him. To me, it makes more sense that Jesse would confront Walt about it as opposed to straight out killing him. That is essentially what happened, but I feel as if Jesse came to his sense after the fact. It was all too obvious, and to me stands as this season’s weakest moment (despite a brilliantly tense scene).
This episode was a major pause in the action and was merely a set up for next week’s explosive finale. It was a strong episode, no doubt, but took some routes that could have been handled slightly better. Nonetheless, it was a great hour of television and I can’t wait for next week.