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August 31, 2015

Breaking Bad: Over

by Allison Waldman, posted May 11th 2009 10:27AM
Walter AMC
As I watched this episode, I was pondering, can you put the toothpaste back in the tube? What about taking a bite from the apple from the tree of knowledge, if you want to get Old Testament about it? Walter White has issues with what he's done, how he's rationalized his doing them and now, seemingly, wants a fresh start. But as another saying goes, be careful what you wish for.

For viewers who haven't yet watched the episode, from here on I'm talking spoilers, so be forewarned.

After the good news about his remission, and escaping from a near-death experience in the desert, Walt seemed ready for that clean slate. His meeting with Jesse, for example, sounded very much like a farewell to the business. They didn't discuss how to break up, but that was the subtext.

But something snapped in Walt at the party, perhaps the mention of Gretchen and Elliott's generosity -- which is a falsehood -- because Walt turned. You could see it in his eyes well before he got into a pissing contest with Hank in which Walter Jr. was the pawn. Then, in typical Mr. White fashion, he had to try to make it right, starting with apologies to Sky, his son and mention of a call to Hank.

The installation of the new hot water heater, replacing the toxic brown water with the best hot water in New Mexico, was followed by another home improvement project -- rot removal. But all the cleansing can't purge Walt's soul. The silence by Skyler and Walter Jr. as they try to eat breakfast amid the cacophony of Walt's construction was a brilliant touch. It illustrated better than any dialogue that his family don't know who this new Walter White is anymore.

Then, when Sky cried to Beneke about how nothing's changed since the remission, she wasn't really talking about Walt's cancer. She was talking about the cancer infecting her marriage. She and Walt are more estranged now than ever, and Sky is ready to embrace her boss, who may or may not have been her lover in the past. Her reaching for his hand said it all.

Jesse is also trying in some way to achieve a normal life with Jane, perhaps to change his aimless direction. His cooking huevos rancheros for her, sharing his comic book sketches, and especially trying to get her to introduce him to her father, were all his efforts to be remade. It hurt him to be called a stoner and for her not to follow him out of the house, but what else can Jesse expect? He is what he is, even if he has a sweet, sensitive side. The saddest sight in the show might have been seeing Jesse smoking meth again.

Getting back to Jesse's sketches, is it any wonder that he would create a Rewindo character? Think how he would have loved some Rewindo super powers since teaming up with Mr. White -- when he jumped into the Porta-potty, when he used the last of the water to douse the generator fire? Rewindo powers fit right in with Jesse's actions.

Once the water heater was installed and the rot removed, Walt had an epiphany of sorts. Seeing another meth maker buying supplies, Walter became the badass Heisenberg he has become. Not only did he put aside the house paint he was buying for the rot removal project, he walked into the parking lot and went mano-a-mano with the competition, warning them to get out of his territory. Like his face-off with Hank, Walt doesn't seem to care about life or death anymore. He's turned. He doesn't think he deserves to live, so what the hell. He can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

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Vince Gilligan presented a graphic look at contempory American society. The methamphtamine addicts, Tuco the local wholesaler, the street level meth pushers and the violence that is part of the drug trade. The enormous quanities of cash that is involved in the illicit narcotics business. And how about the ever clever drug lawyer, Saul Goodman.

I particularly liked the portrayal of the Mexican restuarant chain proprietor. What a great way to launder drug money.

I wonder if the average viewer is aware how close Gilligan's plot is to much of contempory American life. Especially, the clean businessmen who operate under the radar with their narco trade and money laundering. And their friends and neighbors just think these people are just hard working and very clever businessmen.

The only people that Gilligan left out were those at the very top of this drug prohibition cabal. That would be Bush 41 and Bill and Hillary Clinton. And the Clinton puppet Barack Obama. To learn more about these drug lords search: Clinton+Bush+Mena.

Is this a great country or what?

June 04 2009 at 2:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

At the end of the episode when they showed the sneak peak for episode 11, what did Jesse say to Walt? It sounded like Walt said things have changed and Jessie replied yea, you got a guy too or you killed a guy to. What did he say and what did it mean?

May 12 2009 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Nate0527's comment

I believe he said something like "Yeah, we've got a cartel", because their drug business is expanding...

May 12 2009 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Harry J. Friedman

Walt has a money launderer now.

May 12 2009 at 8:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Was I the only one that thought Walt might be planning to build a super-deluxe secret hiding area for cash under the house when he was down there on his rot crusade? Or at least, that's what I thought when he first discovered the water damage in the floor -- that he would use that as cover. But I suppose that if you want to make a secret hiding area you don't make a huge spectacle of working on it like Walt did, so it would appear that his motivation really was just to occupy himself with the distraction of home repair.

May 11 2009 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Rhomboid's comment

yeah, I thought the same... Solving the problem could also mean that nobody will need to look there anytime soon, and make it a safe place to hide the cash.

Anyway, isn't Saul Goodman supposed to find a way to launder the money?

May 12 2009 at 9:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't think he was building a hiding place or just "occupying himself" with a distraction; Allison was right when she suggested he wanted a "fresh start." Fixing the house is a symbolic way for Walt to rid himself of his guilt and start over. Tabula rasa. Clean slate.

Remember when Walt told Jesse he was diagnosed with "newmanitis?" Get it? New-man-itis?

Of course, I could be wrong. The crawl space could play a role down the road.

May 12 2009 at 10:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Howard

Rewindo can't go back in time and change things.

May 11 2009 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I haven't seen the episode yet, but don't mind the spoilers. In general this show has been fantastic with the non-dialogue. Makes it really hard for me to fold laundry while I'm watching.

May 11 2009 at 1:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I just have to say this: Allison Waldman - this was a really great review of this week's "Breaking Bad". You picked up and described really insightfully every significant nuance of this show. Fantastic job. For me, the best moments of this episode were the dialogue-free static exchanges between Walter, Skyler, and Walter Jr. at the breakfast table. That was priceless. This show raises the bar every single week for what should be happening in Prime Time television dramas. It's gritty, fiercely creative, exquisitely acted and directed, and never misses a beat. I'm a fan!! :)

May 11 2009 at 1:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The openings this season haven't really been to be with the episode - they are building up to something.

Is it wrong that I really want him to succeed as a drug lord - I just love it when he goes bad ass, I think he's just realised that he never has much control or power other than when its his meth business where he feels empowered.

I know the constant peril is exciting but its a bit too Weed-y so i'd like to see next season the drug business going really well and his family side being more at risk (assuming his family survive as I suspect that bump in the body bag was just to mislead a bit).

May 11 2009 at 11:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to snife's comment

I thought this episode was like a transition episode. It is the aftermath of the marathon cooking, which presumably is the last cooking to be done by Walt (that we know won't be), and the aftermath of the unexpected cancer remission news. This episode has set up some very open and interesting ways the arc of the whole story will go.

One thing that the creater of this series Vince Gilligan has said is that this is the story of a man who goes from being a mild mannered milquetoast to a "drug kingpin" quote unquote. Taken literally, that means that the show is basically the story of Walt becoming a drug king and all that defines what a drug kingpin is. The pattern of the show thus far is seeing Walt and Jesse take the steps towards becoming drug lords in their take-one-step-forward-two steps-backwards way. Looking bad it is miraculous that they have gotten this far. That's the gist of the show and the over the top, outrageous, and hilarious ways that these bumbling stooges have managed to achieve. But, drug kingpins they will eventually become. It is the destiny of the show. Walt will become a Scarface. He is in almost a literal way becoming "Darth Vader". His soul has darkened and gets darker every time he gets closer to reaching drug lord status. He no longer has fear. He has met near death in the face several times now: his initial encounter with Crazy 8, Tuco, almost dying last week in the dessert, and the cancer that was supposed to be a terminal certainty. What's there to be afraid of now? Nothing. He was dead, now he will live longer. His confrontation with the other meth dealers with no weapon to back himself up other than only his thin body was a classic mind over matter posture and revelation for this former timid man of a school teacher. He has the mind of a Jedi, a dark Jedi that is. He is on the dark side. The arc of the show will eventually see him as a fully realize criminal drug lord who will be every bit as ruthless as required of such bosses in such a business as the meth trade. He won't be a psychopathic as Tuco was, but he'll step up to the plate and do the deeds of a Tuco if such a thing is pragmatically called for when the time comes. Jesse has the illusion of street cred for now. But, when the time comes for Jesse to show his street cred for real, he will wilt. And who has always had to come in for Jesse when he can't come through? Mr. White. He'll pull the trigger when it comes time again and again. Literally. So be assured of one thing about this show: Walt White aka Hesienberg will become a most ruthless and cunning drug kingpin and everything that comes with that and is required to be called that. This story is more or less the story of Anakin Skywalker's descent into becoming Darth Vader. I think Walt will be far badder than Vader.

May 11 2009 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didnt understand the cold open. They usually have something to do with each episode.

May 11 2009 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to Jeff's comment

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