Breaking Bad: 5.10 - Buried
Second week into the exciting final season of Breaking Bad! This week, basically, it's the logical next stage after the last one, as Walt takes steps to stop Hank ruining everything, whilst Hank himself begins building a case against our half-dead anti-hero. Meanwhile, Jesse is still catatonic with guilt and Lydia's post-Heisenberg meth operation is... still not going great.
So, can they keep up the momentum? Surely even this critically beloved show has to pause and take a crap week at some point? Spoilers follow, obviously.
The Beautiful Sounds Of Suffering
The joy of any show's final season is the ability to finally give us those scenes we've waited years for, to tease tension and danger with the added excitement that since it's the last season, the bad cliffhanger could actually come true. If you want a glorious example of how not to do that, Dexter is currently playing a blinder, but Breaking Bad is nailing it so far. There were several scenes in this episode which ticked the eager anticipation box, primarily Skyler's confrontations with Hank and Marie.
And last moment of the week, Hank has got Jesse cornered in his guilt-ridden state - will he talk? If this had been season three or four, almost certainly not, but in their last year? When we know the end-game involves Walt modelling a post-apocalyptic beard, the entire status quo apparently stripped away? It could happen.
Most interesting, and the biggest sign that the writers know what they're doing, is the clever sense of full-circle. After several seasons of borderline villainy ending in him plonked back at the car wash last week, Walt is desperately remembering why he got into this in the first place, cornered by Hank and cancer into scrabbling just to make his life worthwhile. Meanwhile, even more interestingly, Hank himself might be developing a Walt complex, as he wades bullishly into the case, convinced he's doing the right thing, but also knowing that since this revelation will likely destroy his career as a cop, he wants to make his last chance as big and impressive as possible.
Storing Drama For Later
Meanwhile, both men now have their wives cheering them on, and I'm curious whether the show is going to try and amp the Marie Vs Skyler conflict into as much a battle as Walt Vs Hank. They've got six more episodes to fill and are going at a pretty sturdy pace, so more drama to fuel to machine is always good. In particular, even though Skyler has been distraught throughout the run, she's ultimately gone along with Walt's deception, and you can feel her guilty discomfort in her scene with Hank, as he frames her as some totally innocent victim. Seeing her finally confront that and accept it as part of herself is a a great step in therapy terms, but probably dramatically reduces her chance of making it out of the show unpunished. Ah well.
Hard to have strong opinions on the Lydia/Todd scene - it was nicely done, but the corporate intrigue section of the plot has always been placed secondary to White family drama. I get the feeling that's an intentional reflection of the main character's attitude - Walt himself, despite his massive arrogance, never realised what he'd got himself into, and it'll be back to bite everyone on the arse soon enough. And once it becomes massively important, we'll all be kicking ourselves for not memorising those big speeches explaining the Pollos Hermanos corporate structure.
In short, yes, another good Breaking Bad episode. Only six to go! The fact there's only six to go, to be honest, is my only real complaint. Oh, I'd still like more Jesse, I suppose, but that's more a wish than a moan. I have faith that he'll be all up in our faces, calling us bitches, before the final season is out. Showrunner Vince Gilligan and crew gotta know it wouldn't feel right otherwise.