Posted on Monday, September 23rd, 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 (S5E15 “Granite State”), 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. Don’t Call It A Callback: Not every call back in Breaking Bad‘s history is intentional. We learned that just last week when director Rian Johnson told us he had no intention of framing Walt in “Ozymandias” to mimic Gus’s despair in “Hermanos.” But this link between Walt learning of his cancer in the pilot episode and Skyler being interrogated this week is undeniably real. So what’s the point of such an echo? The point is this. Walter has all along claimed that he was a victim of circumstance, just doing what he needed to do to provide for his family.
But here’s Skyler in similarly dire straits and what does she do? Slap on the black hat? No, in the words of Todd, she “seems like a nice lady trying to look out for her kids.” She moves into a smaller home and takes a part time job working taxi dispatch. Boring, right? Certainly not the makings of an outstanding drama series. But her humanity and her completely normal reaction to her circumstances only serve to highlight the monstrosity of Walt’s behavior. No matter how much he tries to justify it, it’s just not what people do.
2. It’s Not Over Until He Says It’s Over: I know a lot of people had a problem with this episode and saw it as a mere place holder or table setter, but I disagree. For me, this episode was all about the death rattle and resurrection of Heisenberg. There was a theory floating around that after Holly said “mama,” last week, we had seen the last Heisenberg. That the man in Denny’s and the man with the M60 was Walter Hartwell White, hellbent on redemption. That was certainly my preferred interpretation. But right at the beginning of this episode, we see Heisenberg’s first attempt to re-emerge as he tries to intimidate Saul in his old manner. Even calling on the same words. He’s brought up short by a cancer-induced coughing fit and Saul declares it “over.” That was too soon to call, Saul.
3. Is That The Last We’ll See Of Marie? Those of you who were looking for more of a reaction to Hank’s murder from Marie were in for some disappointment. All we got was this brief, numb car ride before she was whisked away into protective custody. I hope it’s not the last we see of Betsy Brandt, I think she’s phenomenal, but I’m not sure what place she has in the finale. In fact, I’m not sure what I want from the rest of Walt’s family during the finale. If Walt’s coming back for revenge (more on that later) and not to redeem himself, then I think the best we can hope for is Bryan Cranston’s bearded face pressed up against a window like a Dickensian pauper while Skyler, Walt Jr., Marie and Holly enjoy a warm (if impoverished) meal. He should be left out and forgotten. That’s what he has coming to him.
4. Hey! Nazis Like Ice Cream And Romance Too: Why do you think Vince Gilligan and company worked so hard in this episode to humanize the Nazis? To make them extra creepy, that’s why. There’s nothing more unsettling than a monster who enjoys Ben & Jerry’s.