SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU'RE NOT CAUGHT UP ON BREAKING BAD, DROP EVERYTHING AND WATCH THE SECOND EPISODE OF THE SECOND HALF OF THE FIFTH SEASON, THEN GET BACK AT US.
Vince Gilligan's second offering from Breaking Bad's final half-season picks up right where the first one left off. Jesse's finished his crankhead Robin Hood routine and is, we learn, in police custody after crashing his car and doing his best Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind gag with millions of dollars of drug money still in the back seat of his crappy station wagon.
Meanwhile, Walt tears out of Hank's garage, hops in the Methmobile, and speeds off to find Skyler like he's auditioning for a role in Fast and Furious 19. He's too late, though, because Hank's already got his sister in-law on the horn and sets up a meeting at a diner.
What follows is one of the strongest conversations in the series' run. For all of the excitement of Breaking Bad's middle few seasons, it looks as though Gilligan is again focused on the intense, character-driven drama that earned the show its chops in the early going. Hank sitting across the table from Skyler is the first wonderful example of that in "Buried." His face is littered with stubble like he's been up all night trying to solve a murder (or up for 18 months trying to break up an International drug cartel). He's anxious, hyper-aware of the importance of the conversation he's having. Skyler, though, is, first and foremost, terrified. But, as Hank grills her and tries to pressure her into spilling the beans on the record, we can feel Skyler's wheels turning. We see her tip-toe through the early portions of the conversation like someone playing leap frog in a minefield. And, when she realizes that it's in her best interest to keep her mouth shut (snitches get stitches, remember), she bolts using the tried and true "AM I UNDER ARREST?!" freakout method.
As this is all playing out, Walt's in crisis-control mode. Saul has him ditch the battery in his phone and blow off his wife's calls. But, when Saul suggests that Heisenberg rear his ugly head and "send Hank on a trip to Belize," Walt loses it, reminding Saul that Hank is family and that's not an option.
The conversation is an apt reminder that, despite his chaotic tailspin, Walt still thinks he has a moral code. Sure, that code has decayed over four seasons and change, but he still thinks it's in tact. For all of Heisenberg's, ahem, indiscretions, he's always neutralized his actions by claiming that all of the evil was necessary to protect and benefit his family. So, even after Jane and Gale and poisoning the kid and cleaning up Todd's mess and all of the Destiny's Child nonsense, Heisenberg seems convinced that Walter White's soul still exists somewhere in that icy heart of his. Too bad the rest of us know he sold it for $50.
With the killing family idea off the table, Walt, Saul and company continue to strategize in wake of Hank's enlightenment. Walt has Bill Burr and Lavell Crawford make a trip to the storage unit to collect that massive pallet of cash he's got stashed away. They fill a handful of oil drums with wads of hundreds so that Walt can drive them out into, presumably, the same desert where this whole crazy tale jumped off back in Season 1. Walt buries the cash, memorizes the GPS coordinates, smashes the gadget, and purchases a lottery ticket to remind himself of the location. His subtle brilliance in those moments of panic have, continuously, been the integral piece to the Heisenberg puzzle. Killing Gale, crashing the car when he's driving with Hank, stalling when Hank and company were set to make the bust way back when. When the pressure's on, Heisenberg is like the anti-LeBron.
While Walt's spending his day burying cash in the middle of the Albuquerque desert, the love of his life is freaking out and trying to avoid her sister and brother in-law. Hank and Marie show up to the White residence and Skyler lets only her sister into the home. As Marie grills her and Skyler breaks down, it becomes clear that Skyler knew far more than Hank orginally suspected. Marie—always the dramatic one—wigs out and tries to kidnap the baby. As Skyler tries to stop her, Marie screams and calls Hank into the house.
Instead of running into the house and going all Elian Gonzalez on Sky-senberg, Hank tells Marie to give the baby back. This moment, as in the instances when a trembling Hank feebly pulls back when pressuring Skyler in the diner, is very indicative of the fact that Hank is hell-bent on catching Walt the right way. For someone who has, mostly, had a singular focus throughout the show, Hank's renewed dedication is predicated on the idea that, really, the biggest mistake he can make right now is to try to bring Walt down and coming up empty.
For someone who's been nearly wiped off the face of the planet by two Pitbull wannabes in skull boots and seen Danny Trejo's head crawl through the desert and explode into oblivion, the scariest thing in the world might be the thought of embarrassment at the hands of his outwardly timid, unimpressive, bland brother in-law. Walt has been a ghost pepper hiding in a day-old potato salad container and, if Hank's constituents were to find out that he'd been duped, the man would simply unravel.
Hank explicity mentions this later on when he decides that he's going to go back into work, but not tell anyone that he's discovered the identity of The One Who Knocks. As he gets back into things and readies himself to pull a page from his brother in-law's playbook (playing two people at once), he's alerted to the fact that a one Jesse Pinkman is in police custody. The same Jesse Pinkman that was involved in the lie about Marie being in the hospital. The same Jesse Pinkman that once answered his door and caught Hank's right fist with his face over and over again.
If there's one thing that might be able to snap Jesse out of his funk, it's the idea that Hank might have gotten the best of him. If you remember correctly, Jesse isn't exactly Hank's biggest fan.
Waiting an entire week to learn what happens in that interrogation room is a slow form of torture. Is it next Sunday yet?
- While all of the family drama unfolded with Walter and company, Lydia (the Madrigal lady) grabbed her bull by the horns and hired Todd (the scariest person in Breaking Bad, right now) and his Road Warrior family to massacre her meth guys. So much death. So much devastation. Heisenberg better keep an eye on "the competition."
- "34-59-20-106-36-52" is the new "4-8-15-16-23-42" #LOST
- No Walt Jr. in the whole episode? Slowly, everyone is finding out that mild-mannered Walter White is actually a badass drug kingpin and, the son who consistently gazes at his father with a look of disappointment, hasn't discovered how extraordinarily unoridinary his father really is. Cannot wait for Flynn to finally meet Heisenberg.
- Walt accuses Skyler of snitching to Hank, convinced that she'd be happy that his cancer is back. But, Skyler seems to have, in some ways, made peace with what her husband's done. She thinks they should keep their mouths shut and seems content in her relationship with The Danger.
- The shot of Bill Burr and Lavell Crawford laying on all of Heisenberg's millions was almost as wonderful as Burr's "Scrooge McDuck" line.