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October 6, 2015

Breaking Bad: Down

by Allison Waldman, posted Mar 30th 2009 9:03AM
walter white(S02E04) The one-eyed stuffed animal was still floating in the pool, but not for long. It was fished out and lined up with a whole bunch of other evidence bags. What this all adds up to will likely be something dreadful. Right now, the tension builds and you just wonder what it all means.

Breaking Bad is like a pressure cooker, and the reference to cooking is probably appropriate. Walter and Jesse are stuck in a pressure cooker of their own design and things are getting more and more intense. Something is ready to blow, but the when and the where and the how keep us coming back for more.

This episode was called "Down" and that where Walter and Jesse were. After being held hostage by Tuco, it didn't seem likely that they could have it worst, but that's what was happening.

Skyler's reaction to Walt's secret – the question of the second cell phone -- was to give him a taste of his own medicine. She wants Walt to tell her the truth, not just talk about what's keeping them apart. It was brilliant how she walked away in the middle of Walt's B.S. about using his cell phone as a medical alert reminder. All of Walt's perfect husband shtick, making breakfasts like he was a head cook at Denny's, offering to go to writing seminars with her, saying he would go to the cancer patient meetings, was a ruse to win her over and Skyler wasn't buying it.

Skyler's torture extended throughout the episode, frustrating Walt to the point where he finally burst -- on Jesse. His alienation includes Walter Jr. – who now calls himself Flynn, which cuts Walt to the core – and when he tries to reach out to his son with the driving lesson, it was a metaphor. They just can't get it together.

Jesse was getting a different kind of alienation. His family seized the house; it had been Aunt Ginny's and she had left it to Jesse to live in because he had cared for her when she was ill and dying. None of that matters now. Ever since Hank showed up to question her about Jesse, she's decided the only course of action left for Jesse is tough love. No more interventions – apparently he's been through a few – just tossing him out in the street. His old friends, including Pete with the cute toddler and pretty wife, can't be counted on to help JP.

Has there ever been such a sad sack in the guise of a cool dude on TV before? Jesse thinks he's on top of everything, but as Walt yelled at him, "You never think things through." With nowhere to go, he hops the fence to get into the RV where at least he could sleep, but when he lands on the roof of the port-a-potty it collapses. Covered in blue water and urine and fecal matter, he got into the RV and cried himself to sleep. This was how low he'd fallen.

The final confrontations were hardly cathartic, although I was glad to see Jesse steal the RV and screw Badger's cousin. But Walt's reaching out to Skyler just helped to push her away when he again could not reveal his secret. What is Skyler doing with all her time alone? Smoking. Is this how she'll get back at Walt, but hurting his unborn child?

The fight between Walt and Jesse had been coming. Walt ripped into Jesse, in part venting his own rage at Skyler and Walter, Jr. to who he cannot rage. But without knowing how far Jesse had already been pushed, Walter misread him. What stopped Jesse from pummeling Walt, I think, was their shared misery. These two have been to hell together. They have to keep it together somehow. Jesse had a moment of clarity because he needs Mr. White to be the producer; he needs the cooker (and the thinker). Otherwise, what's going to happen to Jesse Pinkman?

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I love this show. It's one of the best dramas on TV right now. House and Breaking Bad are great way to start the week.

I have to say that Skyler is starting to bug me to no end. Her smoking hurts no one but her own baby. Even if the baby isn't Walter's, which I don't think is the case, hurting the unborn kid is insane and nothing a real mother would do, no matter how much the stress. Why are women portrayed as such helpless irrational beings on most TV shows, is beyond me.

March 31 2009 at 2:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

VIP - I agree..that's the excuse I would use. I'm really starting to hate Skyler.

March 30 2009 at 11:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It bothers me a bit, the cell phone and all, when the easy excuse is to just say that he used that phone to get his pot from Jesse.

March 30 2009 at 5:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Justin McGuirk

I love the details they put into this show. When Skylar first heard the second cell phone, I immediately thought of the 'cell phone alarm' excuse.

March 30 2009 at 10:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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