Posted on Monday, August 19th, 2013 by Joanna Robinson
As we promised in “The Ones Who Knock” Kickstarter, I will be doing weekly recaps here for each episode of Breaking Bad. For those of you unfamiliar with my recapping style, it’s less of a straightforward plot summary and more a distillation of the most interesting elements of each week’s episode. The recaps will spoil everything up through the current episode (S5E10 “Buried”), but won’t spoil any future episodes or even scenes from the “Next Time” segment of the show. There will, however, be some light speculation and straight-up crackpot theories. No theory or speculation is based on foreknowledge of the show. So hold on to your pork pie hats, because here we go.
1. The Whole Plot Turns On Jesse Now: As we’ll see when we get to the end of the episode, Jesse Pinkman, who has done his best to get out of the game and stay out of Walt’s way, is about to become deeply involved in the case against Heisenberg. Probably. A few of you in the /Film comments last week mentioned how much you wanted to see Jesse and Hank work together. But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Suffice it to say that the atmospheric, mist-bound opening scene that found Pinkman circling the drain was one of the most profoundly beautiful sequences in an already visually stunning episode. Episode director Michelle MacLaren is well-known for her visual flare and the overhead shot of Jesse (symbolizing the remaining shreds of his child-like innocence, the inexorable wheel of fate, etc.) where the camera is spinning with him and then holding still to watch him spin out of frame all alone, was perfectly disorienting.
2. The Garage Doorslingers: And if you’ll bear with me a little further as I overanalyze shot composition, I want to admire the High Noon look of this early confrontation between Walt and Hank. Both men stared each other down and flexed their trigger fingers at their side, in true Sergio Leone fashion.
The scene was also shot in such a way that Walt was so enormous, so swollen with his Heisenberg persona and threatening demeanor, that he filled the sky. Especially when you compare this dominant presence to a scene later in the episode.
I don’t know that Walt has ever looked so small as he did out in the desert (the same location where Jesse and Walt first cooked) frantically toiling to hide the goods. It’s fitting that while Walt is out in the middle of nowhere fighting to preserve his Ozymandian wish to have been despairingly important, MacLaren should make a point of how truly insignificant he is in the grand scheme of things.
3. Oh Man We Needed This: On the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast, series creator Vince Gilligan explained that last week’s Star Trek scene between Badger and Skinny Pete served one major purpose: to provide a much-needed moment of levity. He went on to discuss the unrelenting bleakness of the rest of the season and how they struggled to get as much humor in there as they could. They also wanted to make sure we had an organic chance to say goodbye to some of our favorite characters. That’s how I read this bit between Huell (Lavell Crawford) and Kuby (Bill Burr). But what, exactly, was with that Scrooge McDuck comment? Isn’t Kuby older than I am? Shouldn’t he be making a Demi Moore in Indecent Proposal reference?
4. The Heat Is On: I think most people agreed that Dean Norris was the acting MVP of last week’s episode, but I’d wager even the most hardened Skyler White hater would have to give Anna Gunn the heavyweight crown this week. This diner scene was done so well with Hank’s ham -fisted attempt to play off his desperation pushing Skyler over the edge. The image below does it no justice, but Skyler and Hank were framed beautifully with the blue sky between them (drugs, Skyler, etc.). Anna Gunn’s eventual explosion (perfectly reminiscent of her screaming at Marie to “shut up, shut up, SHUT UP”) was superb.