Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Recap: 'Breaking Bad' goes 'Good Will Hunting' and Jesse Pinkman is done knocking

Todd is still the scariest person in Breaking Bad. As terrifying as The Danger can get when he feels caged in, Todd is sadistic. The kid regaled the Redneck Mafia with tales of The Great Meth Train Heist over a meal at a diner while they still had blood on their boots from the massacre they just carried out in the desert. The waitress was ostensibly wary of the group and the worst part is that Todd seems giddy throughout his entire recollection of the events but doesn't mention that HE SHOT AND KILLED A LITTLE KID IN THE PROCESS. Seems like an important detail to omit.

Recap: 'Breaking Bad' goes 'Good Will Hunting' and Jesse Pinkman is done knocking

SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU MISSED BREAKING BAD BECAUSE YOU WERE TOO BUSY WATCHING MILEY CYRUS TWERK ALL OVER BROOKLYN AND SINGLEHANDEDLY NAPALM AMERICA'S CULTURAL PALATE, THEN STOP READING AND CATCH UP ON SEASON 5B.

Todd is still the scariest person in Breaking Bad. As terrifying as The Danger can get when he feels caged in, Todd is sadistic. The kid regaled the Redneck Mafia with tales of The Great Meth Train Heist over a meal at a diner while they still had blood on their boots from the massacre they just carried out in the desert. The waitress was ostensibly wary of the group and the worst part is that Todd seems giddy throughout his entire recollection of the events but doesn't mention that HE SHOT AND KILLED A LITTLE KID IN THE PROCESS. Seems like an important detail to omit.

The whole first scene paints Todd as a Heisenberg fanboy. Between the message he leaves for Walt and the storytelling going on in the diner, it's almost as though Todd's a former fling who hasn't quite grasped that the absence of a return phonecall/text message/DM/snapchat photo means that it's over.

Meanwhile, Jesse Pinkman finally stops playing mute in the interrogation room upon the arrival of Hank. For all of his frustration, Jesse still doesn't snitch. Hank is leaning on him, pushing his buttons and antagonizing Jesse about his fallout with Walt when Saul Goodman triumphantly rides into the interrogation room on his valiant white steed. He heard about Jesse's Robin Hood routine on the news and came to the rescue, thanks, in part, to Walt's self-serving generosity.

Walter White is a manipulative sonuvab****. We already knew this, but The Danger takes it to new heights this week when he does a dry-run of his sappy dad crap with Walt Jr. before working Jesse Pinkman over. Marie is still all baby crazy in the wake of the revelation that her brother in-law is actually a murderous drug kingpin. So, she calls up Walt Jr. and makes up some Internet problem that probably just exists because she's still using IE6. Instead of being a respectable human being and coming clean to his teenage son and treating Flynn like, you know, an actual person, Walt decides to confess that he got the cut on his head because his cancer is back and he's been undergoing chemo and passed out in the bathroom. Those things are all legitimate truths, but the omission of the whole druglord/crater of money in the desert/potential DEA suspect thing negates all of the truthiness.

The worst part about this conversation is that it's part of an escalation. Walter White's transformation from Mr. Chips to Scarface hasn't been a simple one. He has killed and ordered hits and blown stuff up and poisoned kids and done a whole bunch of other awful crap along the way. But, for the most part, manipulation is a new page in Heisenberg's playbook.

Early in the episode, Walt's on the phone with Saul, who is at the jail with Jesse Pinkman. At first, Walt is angry, ordering his lawyer around. But, then, there's a sliver of forced compassion when Walt says, "Just work your magic." It demonstrates Walt's understanding that Saul is an ego-driven scumbag who, in spite of all of his inherent froth, needs the occasional "Ataboy!" from his employer/alpha dog druglord.

Immediately after that conversation, with his son halfway out the door to Hank and Marie's house to reboot their router and eat (breakfast for) dinner, Walt plays his son like a fiddle, "coming clean" about his cancer and manipulating his son into making the decision to forego the pancake feast for a king that surely waited for him at Hank and Marie's. Walter Jr. felt as though he had made the decision himself.

Fastforward to the rendezvous in the desert and Walt is playing Concerned Father Figure for Jesse Pinkman. Though he lacks a bit of tact in the beginning, the whole plan comes together when Jesse accuses Walt of planning to send him on a trip to Belize. Walt's response is to engulf Jesse in a long, silent embrace.

The whole scene felt like a nod to Good Will Hunting. From Walt and Jesse leaning on the cars to the invasive "It's not your fault" hug at the end.

For the record, in Good Will Hunting, in Ben Affleck's "You owe it to me" speech he says, "In 20 years, if you're still living here, coming over to my house to watch the Patriots game, still working construction... I'll f***ing kill you. That's not a threat, that's a fact. I'll f***ing kill you."

The fact that Walt delves into the whole "I'd switch places with you thing" echoes Affleck's character's sentiment in Good Will Hunting, too. Jesse needs to get out because he's got a whole life ahead of him. Because he can hit reset and start over. Because he didn't sell his soul for $50. And, if he doesn't, Heisenberg will f***ing kill him. How do ya like them apples?

But, it looks like Heisenberg may have to worry about more than just getting Jesse out of town. Right Saul's Mr. Fix-It shows up to give Jesse a new identity and/or take him on a trip to Belize, Pinkman realizes that Saul's henchman lifted his baggie of weed right out of his hoodie. The subsequent "OH SH**!" moment leads to Jesse's realization that Walt poisoned Brock and had Saul steal the ricin cigarette to make Jesse blame himself and Gus Fring.

The shaking camera, the spittle flying from Jesse's mouth, the screaming and the cursing and the entire fallout of this realization indicate that Walt's about to get everything that's coming to him. While he was busy trying to set his nuclear family up for a life after he succumbed to cancer, Walt managed to infuriate and anger his brother in-law and his student/friend(?)/business partner.

When Heisenberg felt cornered, he had his aloof sidekick knock on Gale's door to eliminate the threat and tie up a loose end. The irony is that Heisenberg became "The One Who Knocks" without ever actually knocking. He sent his meth head sidekick to do his knocking. And, now that Jesse Pinkman has realized what a monster his partner has become, homeboy's all done knocking. He burst into Saul Goodman's office and rearranged the sleazeball lawyer's face before grabbing a pistol, threatening Huell and the receptionist, and speeding off to the White residence with a canister of gasoline. He kicks the door and douses the place before Vince Gilligan cuts to credits. Jesse Pinkman is sick of played. Jesse Pinkman is sick of being Heisenberg's pawn. Jesse Pinkman is all through knocking.

Notes

  • "I see a kid with a bicycle helmet on, I wanna smack the sh** out of him. Like, for his own good." - Redneck Mafia
  • Maybe this is how Walt is able to fake his own death? Maybe the house was all boarded up because of the fire and Walt figures out a way to have "died" in the forthcoming blaze.
  • Walt's "confession"/blackmail threat is genius. Vince Gilligan recalling the gambling money that paid for Hank's rehabilitation was brilliant. It was surprising, sensible, and very much indicative of Walt's devious intelligence.
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