Breaking Bad: Peekaboo
by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 13th 2009 12:48PM
(S02E06) Even though this episode was slow on external conflict as compared to other episodes, it was still an amazing and important episode. For twelve episodes now we'd been seeing our heroes immerse themselves in this world of meth with little to show the consequences of this. It was two very different storylines focusing each on Walt and Jesse, but in both we got to see how meth destroys lives and changes people.
It was powerful stuff and easily one of the best episodes of the season. Featuring the return of the junkie couple that robbed one of Jesse's men last week, theirs was the most direct and the most tragic fallout from a life of drugs, and meth in particular. I live in what was at one time at least the meth capital of the country. This county used to lead the nation in meth production and even now we can see the ravages of the drug on the faces of too many people in this community. It's all consuming and its destruction on your life and family is total. You can't find a better outreach against the usage of drugs than what Jesse experienced in that house.
While it may be cliche that there was a small child living in that house, the reality of his existence was all to sobering. On the outside, before Jesse got in, was a sunny day and an even sunnier mail woman. But just on the other side of those walls was the most horrid squalor you can imagine in a suburban neighborhood. And the poor child, who never spoke a word of dialogue and barely had any reactions at all, who ran around in his underwear dirty, hungry and watching a home shopping network on the only channel he could find. Oh that poor child!
The full extent of the destruction of the family was evidenced when the mother exacted ultimate revenge on her hateful husband at the hands of his seventh stolen ATM machine. I'm sure when she comes down she'll feel remorse for her actions, but is likely too far gone to do anything about it. That this role was played by Patty, the friendly hooker from My Name Is Earl, is a testament to her versatility. When we saw her last week I didn't even recognize her, but here she was a tragic tour de force, along with David Ury as her hapless hubby.
The change is evident in Jesse himself, though not as dramatic. For all his bravado and street tough behavior, the creators summed up the heart of our Pinkman beautifully in the scene with the bug on the sidewalk. While he almost killed it, he was ultimately unable to do so and even seemed to enjoy the elegant beauty of it, before his man took it down.
He showed the same sweetness mixed with reluctant violence in his dealings with the meth family. Despite it being way too late, he even chastised the mother for her parenting collapse in the throes of her drug habit. In the end, when the situation spiraled out of his control, AKA the ATM on the husband's head, he tried to erase himself from the situation, but ultimately couldn't just leave that kid in that house.
He wasn't dumb enough to try and take the kid, but he did the most human thing he could think of, removing the kid from the house where his father lay dead and his mother lay in her own stupor. From here it's only the hope of a better life for this kid who's suffered so much already.
Walter's change was far more subtle. His saga was the fallout from his having lied to Skyler about Gretchen and Elliott paying for Walt's treatment. But rather than negotiate and try to work with Gretchen, he strongarmed her as he's been having to do with the toughs on the street, and as he's started doing with Jesse. It's a dark path Walt is heading down and every bit as destructive as the meth family earlier, proving that any connection you have with drugs can change your life for the worse, no matter what that connection is. Powerful stuff.