September 12, 2013

Breaking Bad - To'hajiilee

More than anything else, this is a list of disconnected thoughts. Based on some of the things I write, it might seem like I didn't like this episode all that much. I actually did. It was intense, but there were a few uncharacteristic moves that I found off-putting.

Breaking Bad is one of the best written and well-acted television shows in history. They have never relied on tropes or gimmicks because they have never needed to. This past episode had more of that “junk” than the entire series to this point.

Huell is usually a man of few words, but in this episode he gave Hank the exact data he needed in order to make the fake photo. In the process of the show it seemed believable for the most part. The interaction with Huell seemed contrived, but not horrible. I'm not sure what it was, but I didn't think he was legitimately distressed when he saw the fake dead Jesse photo. Then he proceeds to spill the beans, which I found confusing right at first. But then I understood that he was supposed to be genuinely under duress. After the episode was over I realized the information Huell gave to Hank was unprompted and oddly specific; giving them the exact amount of detail they needed to get the fake money photo. Hmmmm…..

At the carwash Walt was taking a nice moment to watch as Skyler was showing Walt Jr. the ropes of running a business. Walt had a few seconds to bask in what he had created; a business that his family could run together… then 5 seconds later he got a picture of his meth-funded nest egg from his former partner turned nemesis. He runs for the car and takes off.

The car chase was impressive for a television show, and it contained a pivotal interaction for the show's two main characters. Jesse kept Walt on the phone the entire time and in my opinion the Jesse side of the conversation was almost unlistenable. I personally hated it. I guess he had to keep Walt on the phone the entire time because they were using it to track his location. That wasn't 100% clear, but it seemed odd how it all went down.

I guess when Jesse said he was going to get Walt “where he lived” meant his money. It seemed to have worked. Walt abandoned he thoughtful and calculated course of action and got really sloppy when it came to his cash. On the phone he even reminisced with Jesse a bit on their prior crimes. Walt basically ran down a list of the people he'd killed, even naming names and describing their method of demise. We get it. Hank has Walt dead to rights. Walt somehow went from an omniscient force of nature to a police officer's dream suspect.

I have been torn on the flash forwards from this final season. I initially thought it was interesting, but as the season progresses I am starting to dislike the fact that we have that tiny bit of view into the future. The huge moment of Hank slapping the cuffs on Walt was completely devoid of impact because we know for sure Walt isn't in jail just mere months from that time. It was still interesting to see how Jesse reacted to the situation. It was a mix of joy and shame. But we knew for sure Todd and Uncle Jack were on the way. Walt wasn't getting locked up.

The last few minutes were intense, but there were a few things that took me out of it. After Hank gets the satisfaction of reading Walt his rights, he gives Marie a call to tell her the good news. At the end of the conversation comes the quintessential goodbye that means “this guy is about to die”.

The redneck neo-Nazis roll up and there is a standoff. This would have been a great time to end the episode. A nice cliff hanger. However, with Hank and Gomez standing out in the open, they open fire with automatic weapons…. and completely miss them. The gunfight went on for a little while, then the episode was over.

Why end it right there? It seemed like a cheap cliff-hanger. But it did get me thinking. We have to return to flash forward land for a little while. Walt has ricin and a big gun that need to get put to use. Maybe the beginning of the next episode starts in the flash forward, and it takes us the rest of the season to learn how the gunfight played out. I don't know if I want this or not, but I think it is a possibility, albeit slim.

I still have a lot of hope for an amazing final three episodes. “To'hajilee” was a bit of a letdown, but I might be starting to go into denial about this being the end. It is hard to tell.

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