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'Breaking Bad' - 'Fly' Recap

by Joel Keller, posted May 24th 2010 1:04AM
Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston in 'Breaking Bad' - 'Fly'(S03E10) After a series of intense episodes, it seemed like this episode would ease the tension and be small and relaxed ... at least at first. We spend almost the entire episode within the confines of the lab, which could also serve as a metaphor for the inside of Walt White's brain.

One of the things that makes this show excel is that Vince Gilligan and his staff seem to have a knack for making the viewers feel as claustrophobic as the characters do when they feel trapped. '4 Days Out' from last season immediately comes to mind, when Walt and Jesse were stranded in the desert for days because of both men's arrogance and stupidity.

But here, the claustrophobia was all coming from Walt. He knows that he just made a deal with the devil, and he just wanted to distract himself by any means possible ... including swatting away a tiny "contaminant."

Before we do the deep dive into Walt's mind, let me ask you all a couple of questions:

1) When Walt stupidly lunged for the fly from the catwalk, bounced off one of his tanks, and crashed onto his back, didn't you think he'd be more injured than just a cut on the back of his head? I mean, that was a ten-foot drop, including a bounce, and what looked like a head smack.

2) Didn't you find it amazing that, no matter how doped up Walt was on those sleeping pills Jesse fed him, he wouldn't talk about watching Jane die? He talked about meeting Jane's dad, he talked about everything else about that day, but he wouldn't go that extra step, even though I thought he might slip and say something, especially when Jesse was up on that ladder. He was exhausted, and slipping in to unconsciousness. But somehow he kept enough of his wits about him to not tell the part of the story that would send Jesse around the bend. Walt knows he still needs him.

Okay, so let's start the deep dive by talking about Walt's statement to Jesse near the end of the episode: "It's all contaminated." Indeed it is. It's contaminated by greed, by corruption, by lies, and by a whole bunch of bad stuff that Walt has experienced or committed. He's seen too much and knows too much, and he never thought he'd be in a position of being a meth maker for a living, even if it was a very comfortable living.

We knew from the start of this episode that Walt's deal with Gus Frings was weighing on his mind. Instead of just doing this to pay his medical bill and provide for his family when he dies, he's now in it indefinitely, making a living as a criminal. On top of that, Skyler is now lying for him, making up stories about his gambling habit in order to convince Marie to let Walt pay for Hank's extensive medical care. So now he's in it, and he's in it deep.

This is why we got the speech about "the perfect moment," meaning that if he had just died right then and there, and never left the house, then Skyler wouldn't have found out, Jane would be alive, the plane crash would have never happened, and he wouldn't be in that lab, using the chase after the fly to stall his inevitable descent into the criminal deep end. "I've lived too long," he tells Jesse; truer words have never been said on this series.

Like I said at the top of this review, what struck me about 'Fly' is that this had all the earmarks of a respite episode; one where Gilligan and crew said, "OK, the last few weeks have been pretty intense; let's use this one to collect our thoughts." But I liked how the tension slowly ratcheted up as things went along, to the point where we thought that either Jesse was going to fall off the precarious ladder, Walt was going to spill the beans about Jane, or both.

But it was also fitting that, after everything the two of them went through that day, with Jesse telling the story about his aunt's cancer-induced craziness (who knew he knew what the word "metastasized" meant?) and Walt talking about living too long, a rested and more collected Walt still warns Jesse about not skimming off the yield for his own purposes. When he mentioned the discrepancy at the beginning of the episode, you didn't know whether he knew Jesse was skimming or not. But Walt can't trust anyone, not even in the seemingly safe confines of the lab. It's always amazing to me that Bryan Cranston can display both concern and contempt for Jesse all in one sentence. But all Jesse can see right now is the contempt.

Three episodes left, folks. I know what's going to go on next week (AMC sends me two-episode screeners) ... but where do you think we're headed as we roll towards the season finale?

[Follow @joelkeller on Twitter.]

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Travis Cline

This episode "bugged" the hell out of me. Was I supposed to be on the edge of my seat while they try to kill a fly for an hour. This happens when the production co. wants to save bucks, so the viewer has to suffer. Many episodes in the history of tv put us, the viewer, in this type of situation. Whether it's locked in a freezer or broken down on the side of the road we sit an hour while the actors "talk". You see, whenever a show hits it big they pull this type of lame nothing happens episode at least once. Vince Gilligan should be ashamed to have his name on this episode. In a series where there are only 13 episodes in a season there is no excuse for this. This is the "Sunst Limited" of Breaking bad. They could have rotated scenes around Hank Hospitaized, Skylar trouble, the lawer or whatever. I give the episode one half star.

June 11 2012 at 7:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Travis Cline's comment

Dude, WTF is your problem? You need explosions and action to entertain yourself?

Breaking Bad is the best television, nay the best character study ever presented in visual media there probably ever will be, this episode included.

There is nothing wrong with working with tight budgets, in fact I should think it a necessity at times.

One of the best 'bottle films' of all times is called 12 Angry Men. Perhaps you have heard of it? Hell, most of life is an effing bottle episode.

July 25 2012 at 2:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wasn't surprised Jesse knew what metastasized means. In a few episodes he mentions how he helped his aunt with her illness, obviously he'd pick up a few words. I thought this was a "filler" sort of episode too, just to let some of the air out from the tension, but you're right, near the end it builds up so much I could barely watch. Walt mentioning the two cell phones seemed like a foreshadow. When he was drugged last time he spilled the beans, so why not this time? Somehow he stopped himself, wanting to die, knowing if Jesse knew what he did Jesse would kill him, so why not say? He's in too deep now. If he dies, Jesse dies, and most likely his whole family. Gus didn't blink an eye after almost killing Hank, why would he for the rest of Walt's family? I loved all the rationalizing Walt did. Making a makeshift flyswatter. Trying to calculate words to say to Skyler to make her understand as if it were a lab experiment and not true feelings. Comparing coincidence to atoms. Then with Jane, I closed my eyes hoping he wouldn't say anything. What a great show. :D

April 14 2011 at 5:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Walt certainly feels responsible for Jane's death. He could have saved her but saw her as the rival to get control of Jesse. Jesse is just now starting to climb his way back up from the depression triggered by Jane's death, but from what I gather, within the next few episodes her death will rear its head again, and could lead into what ever events happen in the season three finale. Which means, at least next week more Krysten Ritter.

May 24 2010 at 5:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tony DIMeo

It seems Walt has thought he lived too long for a much longer time he really can't stand what he's doing and just wants to be with his family

May 24 2010 at 2:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The episode definitely had the feel of a stage play.

I thought Walt would have at least cracked a rib on the fall. The landing didn't seem bad, but hitting that piece of hardware on the way down looked brutal.

May 24 2010 at 1:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Strangely enough, of the most startling elements of this episode for me too was that Jesss knew (and correctly articulated) the word "metastasized"). But everything about this was brilliantly written, acted, and directed. You feel the claustrophobia of living in Walt's world, and the lab is like a giant weight now. Can't wait to see what happens next; the trull hallmark of great writing.

May 24 2010 at 1:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Scott's comment

Jesse is smarter than he gets credit for, as demonstrated by his realization of the money inequity, his plot to skim, the recognition of Walt's sleep-deprived state, and a few other things. The less drug-addled he is, the more thinking he's able to do, and his actions are less rash and more thoughtful.

May 24 2010 at 3:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I, too, thought Walt was going to be more injured from the fall. I was waiting to see blood seeping from under his body where he had fallen on a large shard of glass.

The episode was intense and informative, but I couldn't take many more like it. I want to see the other characters and the drama continue to develop.

May 24 2010 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, you really know that a show has to spread those dollars thin when you have just one location and limited characters in one episode. I hope it doesn't become prohibitively expensive for AMC.

May 24 2010 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Kitsilanoguy, Jane and Jesse were sleeping on their sides. It was Walt trying to wake Jesse that pushed Jane onto her back.
Although Walt is very hard on himself, his body count is pretty high.

May 24 2010 at 6:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Alex's comment

Walt's interference may have made her roll to her back, but it was a matter of time before one of them died. In the end Walt probably saved Jesse from 50-50 odds.

May 24 2010 at 10:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watched 5 1/2 hours worth of the ending of Lost then caught tonight's episode of Breaking Bad. It was the latter that left my gut wrenching. On the surface this was a subdued episode, tedious, at points but the epitome of great story telling and character development. Like others have commented, I was SURE that as Jesse was precariously balanced on the top of that ladder and Walt, nearly comatose regretting the decisions he's made, that Walt would spill the beans about not having saved Jane. The entire episode had me as much on edge as the previous, more 'action packed' episodes did.

This show is so brilliantly written. I hate that it has such a short season compared to many but I think that is why every single episode is a perfect gift to the viewer.

I disagree that Walt's cancer is back. I think this whole set of choices he's making is his new 'cancer'. The old Walt did die in a perfect moment on the night that Jane lost her life. Walt now has to figure out how to live despite the carnage.

May 24 2010 at 4:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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