Breaking Bad Recap: Breaking Good

The better angels of Jesse’s nature, coupled with the blossoming of some old-fashioned common sense, leads him to a momentous decision in this week’s episode of Breaking Bad. But seeing as how that decision runs counter to Walt’s interests, its chances for survival are worse than those of a spider in a jelly jar. So drop a fumigation tent over your house and let’s review what happened in “Buyout.”

THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE | The episode opens with a perfectly scored, dialogue-free sequence of Mike, Walt and Todd giving their train-job witness and his motorbike the full Emilio treatment: disassembly and an acid bath. Jesse’s conspicuously absent; he’s smoking outside, where Todd joins him and lamely observes “S—t happens, huh?” which earns him a well-deserved punch. When the dirty work is done, the group convenes to discuss the quick-triggered newbie. Todd’s got plenty to say in his own defense — while an inability to keep his mouth shut endeared Friday Night Light’s Landry to me, the same quality in this unknown bug boy makes him seem really weaselly. (Nice, subtle work there, Jesse Plemons.) “I was thinking on my feet,” he says, completely unapologetic about cutting down a young boy in cold blood. “At the end of the day, it was him or us, and I chose us. And I would do it again.” On the way out, Todd casually mentions an uncle in prison who could help their business – anyone else think there’s a whole lot of “us” coming out of Todd’s piehole, especially for someone whose future is yet to be determined? Jesse wants “Ricky Hitler” gone, but Walt outlines the three undesirable options available: fire him and pay him hush money, dispose of him or keep him on the payroll in order to keep an eye on him. The vote comes down in Todd’s favor, news Mike delivers by roughing the kid up and warning him never again to bring a gun to a job without disclosing it. Alone in his car, Todd pulls out the dead boy’s jarred spider (which, unlike its previous captor, is still alive) and stares at it. Though I can’t figure out exactly what his endgame is yet, it’s clear that nothing good is coming from this dude.

BREAKING UP THE BAND | Pretty soon, Jesse’s thinking something the same about his former chemistry teacher. Inside a tented house, the methmakers are watching a program about simulated caviar (is this even a thing? Apparently so) when there’s a news break-in about the missing motorbike kid. He was 14, his name was Drew, and these details devastate Jesse before our eyes. Walt notices and makes some noise about how he’s lost sleep over the boy’s needless murder – yeah, he looks real broken up as he launches into yet another speech about the importance of their business and how they’re so close to having everything they want. Walt oh-so-benevolently offers to finish the cook by himself so Jesse can have the afternoon off, then whistles a jaunty tune as his younger partner prepares to leave. Walt’s behavior is decidedly at odds with his alleged inner turmoil, a fact that doesn’t escape Jesse’s attention. (And what I took away from that small moment was that Walt’s cockiness has reached such a level that he just doesn’t think anyone would ever be on to him, least of all Jesse. You know what they say: Pride goeth before a life prison sentence and/or violent, drug-related death.) Later that night, when Walt delivers the product to the Vamonos Pest office, he’s surprised to find his partners waiting for him and even more surprised by their announcement: They want out. Mike’s got DEA agents tailing him – I loved his airid response to Walt’s question about whether the feds had followed him to the meeting: “I would never come to the headquarters of our illegal meth operation dragging a bunch of cops, Walter. It would be unwise.” —  and Jesse’s quite understandably lost his taste for the business. Plus, when they sell their two-thirds of the stolen methylamine to one of Mike’s Gus Fring contacts, they’ll have $5 million each… a figure Walt scoffs at as “pennies on the dollar” compared to the $300 million he can make by cooking the stuff into product. Later, when the potential buyer realizes that there’ll still be methylamine – and therefore, more blue crystal – floating around the desert southwest, he says he doesn’t want any of it unless he can get all of it.

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER? | Mike sends Jesse to get Walt to acquiesce, and Jesse’s surprised when Walt invites him over to the house for the discussion – such as it is. “Absolutely not,” White says about selling his methylamine, too. Jesse reminds him that he only needed $737,000 at the beginning of their venture, “because you worked it all out, like, mathematically” (heh) and that the $5 million – which is way more than that — would mean safety for Walter’s family. Walt’s response to this is at once heartbreakingly sad and incredibly chilling. He tells Jesse the story of Gray Matter, equating his $5,000 buyout from that venture to the $5 million one at hand. The company is worth “$2.16 billion as of last Friday. I look it up every week,” he says. How is this bald-headed bad guy still able to make me ache for his sad little life? He tells Jesse in no uncertain terms he’s in the “empire business,” and I can’t tell if Jesse’s dim or sly when he challenges, “I don’t know, Mr. White. Is a meth empire really something to be that proud of?” Just then, Skyler comes home with a bag of groceries and is none too pleased to see the meeting in progress in her living room. When Jesse tries to leave, Walt invites him to stay for dinner – it’s a command, really, but it’s nothing compared to the look Walt levels at Skyler when he pretends to care what she thinks about adding another place setting that evening. If I had any doubts about whether Walt has any tender feelings left for his wife, that wordless moment just choked them to death with a bicycle lock. The awkward meal that follows, however, is so fantastic that it’s best told in bullets. Of note:

• Skyler’s singlehanded kicking of a bottle of white wine. She was at greater peril of drowning in that giant wine glass than she ever was during her backyard dunk a few episodes ago.

• Jesse’s monologue about the vagaries of frozen food, which I feel the need to recount verbatim: “It’s usually pretty bad. I mean, the pictures are usually so awesome, you know? It’s like, hell yeah I’m stoked for this lasagna! And then you nuke it, and the cheese gets all scabby on top, and it’s like you’re eating a scab. And seriously, like, what’s that all about? It’s like, yo, whatever happened to truth in advertising? [looooooong uncomfortable silence] Yeah, it’s bad.”

• The way Jesse sucks down his water and shoots furtive glances at Walt and Skyler after she brings up her affair with Ted… and how the ever-manipulative Walt uses the meal as evidence that the meth business is the only good thing he’s got going these days.

A SOLUTION? | Mike later catches Walter trying to steal the methylamine from Vamonos Pest, so he babysits him there all night and ties him to a radiator in the morning so he can’t get in the way of the deal. But first, Mike and Saul pay a visit to the DEA to slap Hank and Gomez with a restraining order for “stalking” Mike. In the car after, Saul warns his client that the order is going to get tossed in about 24 hours, so he’d better tie up any illicit dealings before then. Mike’s unworried, but he’s also unaware that Walter is melting his plastic restraints (and nearly burning his hand off) at the office by stripping some power cords and creating a mini blowtorch. MacGyver! When Mike returns, the precursor is gone but (an untethered) Walt and Jesse are there. Jesse is barely able to stop the ex-cop from putting a bullet in Walt’s smug skull, but he promises that White has figured out a way for them both to get their $5 million and Walt to get the methylamine. “Everybody wins,” Walt promises. You know, I really, really doubt that.

LINE READING OF THE WEEK | If you DVR’d the episode, go back and watch for the moment when Marie asks Skyler if she feels better about getting her affair with Ted off her chest. Anna Gunn’s take on “Oh yeah” is as packed as it is funny. (Try not to focus on baby Holly sucking on Skyler’s bracelet, though – at first, all I could think was small parts! Choking hazard!)

Now, it’s your turn. What do you think Walt’s plan entails? What do you suspect Todd is up to? (After all, this was the most we’ve heard him talk since he first appeared in the ABQ.) And would you have put a fork into your forehead to get out of that dinner from hell? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. sam says:

    Hahah, could not stop laughing at the hilariously awkward dinner with jesse and the whites!

  2. watch it for free at GATVERcom

  3. Indiana says:

    walt will negotiate the sale of his services through a partnership with the new dealers. i think……

  4. Eric says:

    I loved the look on Jessie’s face during the dinner. Reminded me of the dinner with his parents in the first season.

  5. Britta Unfiltered says:

    I’m freaking in love with Aaron Paul. He was GREAT this episode. Mike was pretty fabulous too. Pretty much at this point I’m just rooting for those two (plus Skyler) and I really want to smack Walt’s smugness off his face. Ugh, he has reached George Clooney-like levels of smugness. I was glad they brought up the stuff with Grey Matter, I had forgotten about it and it added a connection to Walt’s motivations for why he does what he does now that I’m sorry to say I didn’t see before this episode. I was so disturbed Landry took the tarantula as a trophy for killing the kid. What has happened to you, Landry?? I’m not sure the character personally has an endgame, I think he’s just an unstable wildcard. Though I am with you, I can’t figure out how he’s going to play into these final two episodes of the year.
    This is quickly becoming my favorite drama. I just wasn’t at that point the first few seasons, but I have a feeling by the time the part one finale rolls around in a couple of weeks, I’m going to have to start saying I like this show more than Homeland, Mad Men, and Justified.

  6. Lyndsey says:

    Aaron Paul deserves an Emmy for that dinner scene alone!! It was just pure awesomeness!!

  7. Walt says:

    Great episode and Aaron Paul is just amazing. But I am sick and tired of everyone judging Walt’s character after every episode, and how he has become so devoid of morals. He is a bad guy now and he does what he feels like. He isn’t going to be redeemed and will probably die in the end. Please stop this moral bigotry.

    • TV Gord says:

      I’m enjoying the discussion. Instead of asking people to censor their thoughts, you should present the other side of the argument. That’s more productive, don’t you think?

    • KevyB says:

      Sorry, but that is just so dumb. So sooooooo dumb!

    • TM says:

      I think the comments about Walt are relevant, as he has completely changed since the first episode. I don’t think Walt is devoid of morals, I just think he has been forced to change his views due to the cutthroat nature of the meth business.

      I think what we are seeing now is a cockiness from Walt, he has taken down Gus and believes he can and should fill the void. Jesse and Mike’s reactions this week just show how far down that road Walt has gone. Walt thinks he’s untouchable and I am sure the next couple of episodes will prove otherwise.

      Out of interest, how does everybody think it will end for Walt? Death seems to be the popular consensus, but for me I’d prefer it if he ended up in prison. If only because everything will then be laid bare, his responsibility for Hank’s shooting, Brock’s poisoning and so on. It could make for some great scenes.

  8. MADAries says:

    I have been disappointed this season due to the fact that I agree Walt has become devoid of morals. I can understand logically how this transformation happened but as a viewer that enjoyed Walt and Jesse against “the bad guys”, I feel the show has taken a completely different turn. Perhaps it’s crazy of me to want a happy ending to a show where the plot involves meth but I can’t help myself. I keep hope that maybe the cancer has metastasized to Walt’s brain and there is an explanation for his cold, calculated behavior.

  9. Louie says:

    Walt’s cockiness could be summed up with that final shot alone. With a gun to his head and an angry Mike itching to pull the trigger, the look on Walt’s face was nothing but smug coolness.

    • tripoli says:

      That was a really great shot. I had flashbacks to how inept and bumbling he was in the first season. The Walt of the past would have been sweating bullets over that kind of situation. As much as I’ve always been a bit of a Walt apologist, this episode really pushed him off the edge of sanity and reason, in my eyes. Jesse, and even Mike, were clearly affected by the kid’s death and subsequent disposal of any evidence related to him, while Walt was pretty devoid of any real emotions. The casual whistling of a happy tune while Jesse stood nearby was chilling and a great moment for Jesse to take stock of the partnership between himself and Walt. Absolutely loved the dinner scene. Jesse/Aaron Paul was on fire! Such an awkward and funny exchange. Jesse is clearly the most level headed and mature person left in this weird little world(although Mike is pretty level headed also). Who would have thought that when we met him back in season 1! Can’t wait to see what happens in the next 2 episodes. Things are really heating up in an excellent way.

  10. RcanTai says:

    Think back, Walt started this show as a science teacher that has never smoked or done anything bad for his health(presumably). Then he get lung cancer, from then on the ball just rolled and he’s been fighting to stay on top of it. Jesse is perhaps almost as responsible for where they are today as Walt is. Think about how neive and dumb Jesse was during the first seasons. The choices he made, like trying to play the big “Supplier” that landed him and Walt in the desert almost shot. Or how about when Jesse decides that he’s gonna kill the guys that work for Gus, the ones that killed the little boy on the bike. Walt gets involved and saves Jesse only to land himself in the bad books with Gus. So then Walt needs/has too kill Gus before Gus kills him. It goes on and on like this. Walt is by no means a saint and yes he probably deserves whatever end game the writers have coming down, as I’m sure it’s not gonna be “Happy”. However beyond the choice to poison Brock, what has walt done that he’s not be somewhat forced into doing. The poisoning of Brock was even slightly needed to pull Jesse back to his side, and I’m sure if the doctors didn’t figure it out, and the problem with Gus was solved, Walt would have figured a way to save the boy, I don’t think he’s so morally defunct that he’d kill a child of his own doing. That’s just my quick thoughts!

    • RcanTai says:

      Also I’m not sure if Walt is cocky because he thinks he’s untouchable or if it’s just he doesn’t really care anymore. As he said he’s lost everything else so it’s make or break for him and if he dies he’s not overly concerned. Plus it’s not the first time someone has pointed a gun at his head, and probably wont be the last.

      • RcanTai says:

        Damn so many thoughts in my head.

        I hope that in the end it comes down to Walt dieing in a hospital bed alone(as it’s been discovered what he’s been doing and what he’s done), and reflecting on what he has done to himself and his family. Realizing that he lost sight of what it was all about back when he first started.

  11. Karen says:

    It’s incredible to think that I’ve never disliked a TV-character more than Walter White, and poor Jesse is all caught up in his web.
    I was really hoping that Jesse could have explained his brilliant inputs to Skylar, and not Walt, but that was never gonna happen, was it.
    And finally, it only strengthens this amazing television program, that I’m able to spend a few minutes laughing in the most tense show on tv – and in an intense scene, nonetheless. I am of course speaking of the incredibleness of Jesse in that dinner-scene. I nominate him for ‘Best Vocabulary’ on tv :)

  12. SK says:

    That opening scene was intense! There is no redeeming Walter and the boys now. The dinner scene was indeed hilarious!

  13. Joseph F. McNulty says:

    That dinner from Hell at the White’s house was awful and hilarious. They should have been drinking venom instead of wine. The unspoken hatred between Skyler and Walt (with Jesse rattling on trying to distract and fill up the time) was amazing. “Breaking Bad” achieves the incredible thing of creating suspense without action of any kind. When you think of what Skyler and Walter WANTED to scream at each other and how they held it back and just directed passive-aggressive death rays at each other — the entire dinner set up by Walt to humiliate and punish Skyler and to manipulate Jesse with Walt’s sob story of marital wreckage — it was amazing. Even when Skyler admitted that the delicious green beans had been bought at a supermarket deli, Jesse had to compliment her on her wise shopping! Skyler’s only retaliation was to bring up her affair with Ted, thus humiliating herself in from of Jesse, but knowing that Walt would know that she KNEW that he had told Marie (for purposes of manipulation). Also the scene when Marie told Skyler that she should not be blaming herself for the affair with Ted — thinking naively that this was why she was depressed — was a triumph. Comparing “Breaking Bad” with “Hell on Wheels,” which precedes it, and “Small Town Security,” which follows it, has to be embarassing to someone in authority at AMC.

  14. jfix317 says:

    Walt dying at end?? …Didn’t we see a flash forward of him living in New Hampshire with a fake identity – either on the lam or under witness protection?

    • Shwaig says:

      We did indeed see that, but maybe you’re forgetting the gigantic machine gun in the trunk of a drop-car left by the gun salesman from S4. Obviously there are some loose ends in that timeline, and I think this new Declan character is gonna have a lot to do with them. The way I’m picturing it, Skyler and the kids are already dead at that point. Maybe not something so dramatic as that, but it’s pretty obvious Walt has been found out, and whatever remains of his soul has been crushed. I only think that (at least) Skyler is dead because of the way Walt solemnly creates the “52” digits out of bacon.

      • tripoli says:

        Why do you think the bacon 52 signals Skyler is dead? Just curious on any theories. Pretty sure that’s been the birthday tradition and perhaps he’s just doing it out of habit in the absence of Skyler. I imagine that things between the 2 will have gone from bad to worse at this point, but she could very well be alive.

        • Joseph F. McNulty says:

          I think that by the time the end comes, Skyler has decamped with the kids for another state. Walt will have lost everything — and probably is wanted by the DEA — by this point and has only the meth business. In effect, he has nothing left to lose (remember, that he is also taking chemo-therapy at that time) and is going out Tony Montana-style with a machine gun in his hands.

  15. valerie tower says:

    Every week I think BB can’t get much better and every week it does. How do they do that?

  16. Emo McGee says:

    I’m very curious to see if the writer’s bring in a story line about Walter Jr. being addicted to blue meth. The way he has been all “Emo McGee” lately as Hank referred to him makes me think he may turn to drugs. He’s the perfect candidate….a kid with a lifetime of hardships from his disability hitting the teenage years when every kid gets over emotional…mix that with the depression that he feels from his parents kicking him out of his own house without telling him why…why not turn to drugs for some relief? He gets hooked, maybe even killed either directly or indirectly from the drug, and his father finds the blue meth in his bedroom or jeans pocket after he has died and Walt suddenly realizes there is a downside to what he is putting out on the streets that has been all but invisible to him up until this point. He then decides to get out but can’t due to other people he is about to get into business with.

    One of a possible million directions the writers could take this story. They could go 10 more seasons if they wanted. I know I’d watch.

  17. Ghetto Dirk Diggler says:

    Another thing that hasnt came up is Walt watching Jesse’s girlfriend OD and die. Walt has been bad for a while. Im sure if Jesse ever finds out about that , he will kill Walt.

    • danny says:

      i dont know about walt is good and has bested every person who stood against him.
      with how real breaking bad tries to be it wouldnt surpise
      me if in the end walt gets out clean and happy

  18. Willard says:

    I think most people don’t understand that Walt really didn’t have that many morals to begin with
    Sure In the beginning he wasnt as hardcore as he is now, but he’s always been the power hungery man his is now who will do anything for his bussness

    My Theory is that he will some how sacrifice holly and the rest of his family for the sake of his empire
    And in the end, Walt will be the King…..but at the cost of what he started it all for
    His Family

    • I’d love that ending. That would be a fitting way to end the story of Walter White (greatest character ever on TV) and conclude Breaking Bad (greatest TV show of all time).

  19. Tracy says:

    Does anyone else think Hank is already fully on to Walt?

    Some thoughts…

    In this epi, there is a very brief scene where Mike is listening to Hank’s bug and looks all annoyed because there’s nothing of value on the recording. There’s some talk about “miracle whip is not the same as mayonaisse” and presumbaly nothing about the investigation. Odd right? I think when the Cayman accounts were revealed, Jesse and Walt were named on them…

    In Madrigal when Hank is nearly finished with the interrogation of Mike he says to him, “it’s a good thing you didn’t touch the money like the other ELEVEN”. Huh? Mike is paying off 9, Mike is 10… who are 10 and 11? Recall that Lydia tells Mike that she doesn’t know who the master cook is when they are discussing her list of names…

    I think that in epi 5 when Lydia is cuffed and they place the call to Hank, Hank caught on… the call to Texas is a dummy call. There is a nice 30 second delay. Then you hear Hank calling Texas asking whether they tagged all the barrels. Even Lydia looks surprised when the guy on the other line says they tagged them all. I think it’s because Mike was right that she tagged (and conveniently found) the one barrel she took out of inventory hoping they’d leave her alone. Mike asks Jesse later if he checked and he says no, but he also says that Lydia told him it was the one and only barrel they could take. Why is Texas running a parallel investigation? Hank called another guy in his office after setting it up. He never called Texas at all. I think Hank has already been speaking to Lydia and understood her call as a tip off from her.

    Prior to all of that, the scene with Walt in Hank’s office is also telling. I think Hank gave Walt just enough time to do what he wanted to do, but not enough to not see what he was up to. Hank conveniently closes all of the blinds, then says he’s going to get a coffee and offers Walt one with cream and sugar. He returns fairly quickly with a single black cup of coffee just in time to see Walt with the photo in his hand.

    Also in that episode, you see Hank with the baby Holly. he says she’s his and he is never giving her back….