'Breaking Bad' Recap: The Unstoppable Force vs. The Immovable Object



On Sunday, August 11, 2013, The One Who Knocks waltzed back into our lives. In a continuation from last season's flash forward, a bearded and otherwise disheveled Walter White returns to the home he once shared with his wife, Skyler, their son, Walt Jr./Flynn (BREAKFAST!), and that daughter that they had at some point.

This time, though, there are no fancy cars in the driveway. There's no water in the pool and no pizza on the roof. The walls, which once wore family portraits and the like, are bare, save for the "HEISENBERG" graffiti all over the place. His home looks much more like Hal's place in Malcolm in the Middle than it does the White residence circa Season 1 of Breaking Bad. Even Walt's neighbor, Carol, is petrified to make eye contact with The Danger. (Her fear makes a whole lot of sense, though, when you consider that he's got an M-60 in the trunk and only came back to the house to recover that deadly ricin he left in the outlet way back when.)

Back in the present, Hank has finished his business on Walt's toilet and stashes that inscribed copy of Leaves of Grass in Marie's (purple) bag. As Hank opens the sliding door to rejoin his family on the patio, you immediately hear Marie jovially call Walt "The Devil." Her husband, though, is now keen on proving exactly how well those horns fit ol' Walter White. Hank pretends to be sick and he and Marie hightail it out of there. On their way home, Hank's white-knuckling the hell out of the steering wheel and grunting and mashing his teeth, as he's wont to do. He crashes into some guy's mailbox and acts like he's having a heart attack. Turns out he's not.

Meanwhile, Jesse Pinkman is losing his mind. Homeboy is holed up in that nearly empty house with Skinny Pete and Badger. His two cronies are discussing Badger's wonderful Star Trek script that starts with a pie-eating contest and ends with Chekov's guts being sent out into the ether. Seriously, this scene almost comes close to being in the same arena as Patton Oswalt's Parks and Rec filibuster. Unable to take their banter—or his own guilt—any longer, Jesse heads down to Saul's with two giant duffle bags filled with millions of dollars of drug money in tow, intent on gifting it to the family of the boy that Landry Clark shot last season in Season 5A and Mike's granddaughter.

Saul's got other plans. The sleazeball lawyer snitches Jesse out to The One Who Knocks, which leads to an emotional conversation between the estranged business partners. Walter confronts Jesse about his plans and talks him out of giving the money away. During the exchange, Walter explains to Jesse that Mike is almost certainly still alive (SPOILER ALERT: He's not). He repeatedly pleads with Pinkman, begging "I need you to believe me."

As Modern Family actress Julie Bowen and Breaking Bad showrunner Vince Gilligan discussed on the new program Talking Bad last night, this is, apparently, because Walter White has gone full-on heel at this point and will feel compelled to eliminate Jesse from the equation if he doesn't buy into Walt's entirely unbelievable story.

Aside from earning Jesse's silent allegiance, upstanding family man Walter White has some other issues on his hands. As he and Skyler debate the arrangement of their air freshener display (Does "bubble gum" have any business being near "ocean spray"? I think we all know the answer to that riddle.) and discuss expanding their enterprise to a second location, that frantic woman from Madrigal (the parent company of Los Pollos Hermanos) shows up to try to lure Heisenberg back into the business. He gives her the cold shoulder and Skyler tells her exactly when to come back (never). Who's The Danger, now?

Hank hasn't been going to work. Citing that whole not-a-heart-attack thing as a health concern, he's instead setting up shop in his garage, pouring through files and evidence pertaining to the entirety of the Heisenberg disaster. When Walt throws up as a result of the chemo, he notices that Leaves of Grass is gone (GASP!). He becomes paranoid and immediately starts searching his home. Eventually, he checks his car for tracking devices and, of course, finds one identical to the aparatus that he and Hank used to track Gus Fring in a former lifetime. This, coupled with Hank's time off, have Walter all 'spicious.

The final scene of last night's premiere was the kind of apex that we could have had to wait a month for. Walt heads over to "check up on Hank." When he confronts his brother in-law about the tracking device, Hank closes the garage behind him and sucker punches Walt straight in the mouth. In the subsequent standoff, Walt explicitly admits nothing, while both threatening Hank and reminding him that the cancer has returned and he'll never have to see the inside of a jail cell.

Hank's, "I'll put you under the jail," and Walt's, "Tread lightly," serve as two of the episode's simplest lines, but carry the most meaning. To get all science-y on folks, Hank's persistence and Walt's transformation have been the two constants throughout the entire series. So, with seven episodes left, it appears we're set to look on in horror as an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.

In mythology, the irresistable force paradox was demonstrated through the story of the Teumessian fox and Laelaps. The Teumessian fox was sent to the countryside of Thebes to prey on children, destined to never be caught. Laelaps was the magical dog destined to capture everything it sought. Amphitryon tasked Laelaps with capturing the uncapturable Teumessian fox. The resulting paradox forced Zeus' hand. The Father of Gods elected to turn both the Teumessian fox and Laelaps to stone, either freezing their struggle or damning it to play out for eternity.

Foreshadow much?

With seven episodes left, it looks like Vince Gilligan is set to go all Medusa on us. Can't. Freaking. Wait.


  • No breakfast? The whole episode featured zero breakfasts. Walter Jr. is definitely pissed off.
  • Jesse's like the Robin Hood of the meth community, riding through the neighborhoods tossing wads of hundos onto people's porches.
  • The cancer's back. But, in the flash forward, Walt's got a healthy head of hair, which means to foreshadow that he'll beat it, right?
  • Skinny Pete's Star Trek transport theory was actually the basis for James Blish's book, Spock Must Die!