Posted on Monday, September 23rd, 2013 by Joanna Robinson
5. Exhibit A: Todd, That Dead-Eyed Opie Piece Of Sh*t: Because we need to take a minute and pay homage to Jesse Plemons. I mean, credit where credit’s due, the writers of Breaking Bad have created a fantastic, slow burn villain in Todd Alquist. He has been incrementally, politely worming his way into your nightmares over the course of these past two seasons and we’re at the point now where I might not ever be able to look at Plemons the same way again.
But with all due deference to the writers, I cannot heap enough praise on the subtlety of this performance. Watch the episode again and ONLY pay attention to Todd’s fingers (thumb caressing Skyler’s petrified shoulder, curling possessively around the back of Lydia’s chair, plucking a bit of lint off her suit jacket). Terrifying. Which brings us back to Hamlet and the notion “That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.” His (bashful? sheepish? proud?) smile at the mention of Drew Sharp was the second most appalling smile of the episode.
Because, of course, this was the first. Was poor Andrea a bit of a sap to open the door to a stranger and walk out into the night? She was. But look at that face! We’ll come back to Andrea and Todd’s notion that her death is “nothing personal” in a minute. But for now I just want you to soak in the horror of this Walter White fanboy. This good, kind, patient, temperate “dutiful” son.
6. The Return Of The Three Sons Theory: I floated the notion a few weeks back that the triptych of Jesse, Todd and Flynn is one of the most important themes of the entire series. These three young men serve as more than mere players in Walt’s drama, they’re important reflections of the fluctuating nature of our murky hero. Todd reflects the blackest part of Walt and represents his worst, most morally bankrupt tendencies. Walt doesn’t really seem to care for Todd, but who does care for the worst aspects of themselves? Then we have Jesse. The middle son. This is someone who in his complicit criminal behavior and agonizing struggles with remorse and the weight of his conscience represents all there is to Walt. He’s known both Heisenberg and Mr. White, the mild-mannered chemistry teacher, and the way Pinkman’s been torn to shreds throughout the entire series reflects the inner Jekyll/Hyde struggle ripping Walt apart. Which, of course, bring us to Walt Jr.
7. “Why Are You Still Alive?”: In an echo of Season 1, Episode 4 “Cancer Man,” Walt Jr. wishes death on his father. Flynn represents how Walt always wanted to be seen. He wanted to be the paterfamilias, the clever and brave provider. He wanted to look at his son see, literally, hero worship reflected back. In this aspect, at least, we can agree with Saul. It’s over. That side of Walter, the white, blameless facade, is dead and gone. What remains? That’s what’s left to be seen.
8. So That’s What Happened To The White House: Speaking of wake-up calls, one of the more shocking images of the series so far has been the way Walt’s house of lies, the structural representation of his fictional life as the good husband and father, was destroyed and turned into a more accurate mirror of his destructive, criminal lifestyle. I loved this episode, I thought it was phenomenal, but I will be the first to admit I was a little let down when Robert Forster (amazing casting choice!) revealed it was just a bunch of vandals. Where’s my poignant symbolism, Gilligan!?!