10 Things We Learned From "Breaking Bad" S5E10 "Buried"

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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5. I Think We All Have A New Catchphrase Now: I went on record as not being a big fan of the meme-able, tweet-able lines from the Breaking Bad universe. That being said, I can't wait for someone to cross me today so I can hurl this threat at them.

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6. The Other Contender For The Acting MVP Title:  I've heard several people mention Betsy Brandt's Marie as the emotional core of this episode.  I still give Anna Gunn the edge, but that's not because Brandt was anything short of amazing.  Marie's kleptomania reared its ugly head again. Dave would be so disappointed.

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Though I suspect some of you may have appreciated Brandt's performance for another reason.  Much the way I did a little jig when Hank clocked Walt last week, I'd wager Marie's slap was cathartic for those of you who are less than effusive about Skyler.

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7. The Numbers Are Bad: In a fun little Easter Egg for the Breaking Bad crackpot theorists like myself, the powers that be worked up the following GPS coordinates which, yep, point to the Albuquerque production offices for Breaking Bad. That's pretty cute, but I was ready to go full-Hurley about them.

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8. Forget Numerology, Let's Talk Iconography: Series creator Vince Gilligan was raised Catholic and has mentioned on multiple occasions that Breaking Bad is a good old-fashioned story of the corrupting, corrosive and seductive ways "evil" can pervade even the most innocent-seeming lives.  I thought this shot of Skyler and Walter was a contender for best of the episode and I couldn't help put flash on Michaelangelo's Pietà. Does this mean that Walter White is our stand-in for Jesus?  Hardly.  If anyone deserves thorny martyr crown, it's Pinkman.  But this is not the first time Skyler has been given Mary imagery.  Specifically in last year's episode "Fifty-One," she was shot both with a halo and, when she took that dip in the pool, her skirt floated up around her head to echo Mary's iconic blue mantle.  Am I saying Skyler is a stand-in for all that is goodness and light?  No, but she is certainly The Mother figure in the context of this morality play. 

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9. Or For A More Sinister Interpretation: We talked a good bit about mirroring last week and it came into play again this episode with the Hank punch/Marie slap, the original cook site/money burial site and here with the very clear mirroring between Skyler and Walter.  We already took note last week that Skyler and Walt have started dressing alike in beiges, whites and taupes.  If you look at this scene before Walt strips down to his now-legendary undies, the similarities are striking.  Right down to the shoes.  Couple that with the literal mirroring here and...

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...the dialogue parallels here and I don't think we would be out of line to expect Skyler to behave more and more like Walt in future episodes.  I've heard some Skyler non-supporters accuse her of being power hungry, and I've never really agreed with that assessment.  But I believe that when she feels her family is being threatened (see Marie's sticky fingers), she will close ranks.  So if, in the coming weeks, we see some Heisenbergish behavior from the lady of the house, I wouldn't be surprised.

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10. Leave It To Lydia To Bring Louboutins To A Gun Fight:  One of my greatest delights in this whole segment was watching Lydia totter around the desert on those preposterous, iconic red soles.

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At any rate, Todd, his Uncle Jack and their jackbooted band of misfits are back to take control of the meth production.  If this means more Jesse Plemons and Kevin Rankin, I'm all for it. And isn't Todd just the courtliest, most solicitous criminal you ever did meet?  The memory of Landry Clarke is alive and well in our hearts.

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Crackpot Theory Of The Week:  Alright all you numerology theorists, what do you suppose the "B 024" designation on Jesse Pinkman's interrogation room means?  I have to admit, I'm drawing a blank and it might just be that in this one instance, a number is just a number.  There is the famous WW-II B-24 Bomber also called "The Great Liberator" and if we wanted to stretch ourselves to the breaking point, we could theorize that Jesse is about to...drop a bomb on Walt?  Yeah I don't like it either.  Do me one better, won't you.  It's worth noting, however, that the Catholic "confessional" imagery is in full effect here between Hank and Jesse.  Next week should be good.

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Money Shot Of The Week:  I mean, in the most literal sense, I'd have to pick ol' Huell.

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But then I'd be neglecting whatever this was at the DEA offices.  Whatever it was, I think we can all agree it was amazing.

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