Say My Name (S5E7)

Full disclosure! I intended to get this one done much earlier but ran into technical troubles. As I made no effort to hide earlier, I was originally watching the series from ripped files on a flash drive a buddy gave me. Since then the entire series has been released on Netflix (like, literally, they were released a day or two after I finished watching all the ones that had been given to me). Just for ease of note taking, I decided to watch the episodes through my browser with Notepad open in another window, so I could type my notes as I watched. However, I work on a very outdated desktop computer or through a pretty low quality laptop, and both of these machines have a tendency to slow down and freeze, especially if I decide I want to back up and watch something I missed. This happened several times and I got frustrated and just shut down the machines each time. I was busy the last few weeks and didn’t have the patience to deal with it.

So when I go to do this again, I’ll either borrow the DVDs from someone or stream them through a more reliable piece of hardware like my Xbox or something.

So to personal friends who were reading this and wondering why I haven’t updated, you know I’ve been busy and I apologize. To anonymous internet strangers, I’ve been busy, and hope you can forgive me, and also hope you didn’t completely give up on me ever updating again.

Anyways, in relation to my aforementioned hardware issues, I watched the first ten or so minutes of this episode like a week ago, and finished it today. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that up until the part where Walt goes to the Car Wash, he and Mike and Jesse were in the process of taking over the management of that Seth Rogen looking dude’s meth operation.

Anyways, going into the parts of the episode I’m certain I viewed and understood as correctly as I’m able to in my chronology of the program:

Mike seems like an interesting character. Another sort of foil for Walt, perhaps? An older guy with a family he’s still very much in touch with who happens to be a criminal, a very thorough and careful one, with lots of contingency plans and preparations he made in the event of his probable apprehension or execution.

One thing that only now dawns on me as I write this, was why did Mike want to have a separate lawyer when he seems so tight with Saul? Did he not entirely trust Saul? Saul apparently has sort of a reputation in the community, has ads that people see, has an unapologetically sleazy air about himself and his business, whereas Dan seems much more charming and personable. I mean I don’t know that,  the only person I’ve seen him deal with on camera is the fat old woman at the bank that he plies with baked goods, which I thought was a funny bit. This may not have been an important or interesting detail, but when he brought her the cake pops he makes a point of telling her that each one has a little face on it, followed by a close up of the little faces on the cake pops. Were any of them indicative of actual characters from the series? I looked up a screenshot and they look generic enough, there’s like a couple smiley faces and a cowboy pig, but I don’t want to conjecture here. I’m sure plenty of people who have a stronger grasp of the characters than I do have done so.

I’m trying to grasp Mike right now. Obviously he was wrapped up in the meth game. My understanding right now is that Gus Firing was once the guy running things. Mike says as much in his last confrontation with Walt, and Hank’s boss refers to the investigation as the Gus Firing case. How long ago did Walt bust up Firing’s operation, how wide ranging and complex was it, and how did the breakup of that effect the price and distribution of the drug in Breaking Bad’s Albuquerque? Obviously this is a huge plot point that I’ve only seen allusions to, one that surely means a lot more to viewers who watched the series in the correct order.

Back to Mike though. Mike seems like an okay guy as far as Walt’s criminal friends go. Sure he’s a little crotchety, but I guess I don’t blame him. From the sounds of things his role in their operation was plenty stable, and he had things worked out really well. Lots of references were made in the final episodes to Kaylee, specifically Jesse wanting to make sure she got some of Mike’s money. Mike obviously was trying to set aside a substantial sum of money for her, and apparently this is the second time his illicit money was seized. Why was he (and by extension Jesse) so concerned with getting her money? He clearly didn’t exactly plan on being around for her 18th birthday. Is he her guardian? Is she just his favorite granddaughter? Is she his only granddaughter? He seems very close to her at least, and if he was her sole guardian that would’ve been really unfortunate if he had to abandon her at the park when the police came looking for him.

Walt is… obviously a complex character. I wanted to like him, but clearly he’s not a simple hero. He’s an anti-hero, a manipulative, driven, sometimes mean guy, or at least that’s how I felt watching him talk to Jesse when Jesse was trying to tell him he wanted out. Is there something I’m not getting? It seemed to me that Walt simply didn’t want Jesse to quit. Jesse is obviously very valuable to him as a meth cook, and at the time of that conversation he didn’t know that Todd would become a comparably competent replacement in time. Was Walt maybe even a little hurt that Jesse wanted to leave him? Were his insults just him projecting his own worries about how he would carry out his business without Jesse?

In the end he had kind of an “oh crap!” look on his face right after he shot Mike and chased after him. I’m still really unsure of how, for lack of a better word, “good” of a criminal Walt is. Obviously I know he’s a talented chemist and is very good at covering his tracks and doing business, I mean how good he is at doing baseline, dirt-dude things like stealing and killing. A lot is made of his reputation as a murderer, but the finale aside, up until this episode I’ve never seen him kill anyone, and he even did sort of a lousy job shooting Mike. He looks unsure of himself any time he handles a gun, and while he got the job done with Mike, he shot him real low in the torso and Mike lived for another five minutes and walked, like, pretty far away from his car before he died, besides managing to drive it like fifty feet. A character like, I dunno, Jack or Todd, probably would’ve aimed for the head or chest, killing him instantly. Then there was Walt realizing with what sounded like genuine remorse that he didn’t need to kill Mike, and fumbling out an apology as Mike bled out. Should I have made anything of Mike having a gun in his hand but not killing Walt? Was he just too weak to do it or did he ultimately decide not to, figuring Walt wasn’t worth it or that he might’ve still been valuable to someone alive?

I’m still not clear on what Walt’s story is with Hank and Marie. I think I conjectured before that they’re asserting Skyler is an addict or had a nervous breakdown or something, and that’s why Hank and Marie are watching the kids, presumably to keep them at a safe distance while Walt stabilizes his criminal empire.

Other questions:

Who, who is this guy Todd shot? I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to that, Walt and Jesse were talking about a boy dying and I thought it was Brock at first.

What was Mike’s role in the larger meth operation that Walt dismantled?

When, why and how did Walt take over Firing’s operation, and did he have a larger reason for doing so besides Mike’s accusations of Walt’s, “pride, and [his] ego?” Was it just so he could get more money?

Random note

“Todd is so clean-cut and simple seeming even though it’s been stated he is a murderer”

Gliding Over All (S5E8)

I went to check the title of this episode and started reading the Wikipedia summary, like barely started, just the introductory paragraph before the little contents tab, and it mentioned that Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (and presumably just Walt’s copy of it) is featured prominently in the series. Whether this is just addressing it’s relevance in this last season as the plot point that undoes Walt, or if poems by a dead guy who liked to sing about himself are a recurring theme, is something I will presumably have to wait to learn.

So anyways, this episode threw me for a bit of a loop in regards to the length of time Walt has had a professional relationship with many of these people. I already figured Walt and Todd had worked together cooking meth, but I didn’t have a concept of how long they had worked together. Presumably Todd was one of his students at school like Jesse, and just took over Jesse’s position after Jesse got out of the game. Additionally, characters like Lydia, and Jack and the nazis, seem to have only begun their working relationships with Walt as of this episode.  And Walt’s ridiculously huge cash pile was all the proceeds of this episode (and whatever length of time it encapsulated).

And of course there are characters like Mike that are asked about and referred to, besides Lydia’s referring to someone else that was distributing Walt’s product that is presently under investigation, and Gus Firing who must have been an extremely important character for a while even though I still know next to nothing about him. I was going to use this post to speculate about the corpse in Todd’s trunk, but again, spoiled that body’s identity by glancing at the wikipedia page for this episode (I obviously kept reading beyond the first paragraph, then promptly closed the tab after this second spoiler). I didn’t get a good look at the body, but is this the same guy whose family Jesse wants to give his money to? Jesse mentions a granddaughter, but I don’t remember enough about the body to say if it was an old looking corpse. I just remember that it was a beat-up looking white guy.

Whoever Mike was, Lydia was very concerned about him. Walt was a little cagey about telling Jesse exactly what happened to him. Is this going to be a grey morality type situation, where Jesse has a different view of Mike than everyone else? I mean I don’t know anything about what this guy did besides turn up dead in Todd’s trunk, but Jesse is not directly told  he’s dead. I didn’t write it down, but I think Walt tells Lydia Mike is dead in not quite as many words, but with a stronger implication of “Yeah, I whacked the guy, let’s get down to business.”

Did Walt dump Jesse as a partner because Jesse was developing a sense of wanting out? An earlier (later in the correct chronology of the series) episode had a flashback of Walt and Jesse cooking in a trailer, with Jesse kind of kicking sand in the background like he was mad at Walt. The discussion they have in Jesse’s awful living room about how unreliable their old RV was also seems to imply to me that perhaps their relationship was always a little tenuous. Walt makes it clear to Jesse in the beginning that Jesse no longer has any say in his activities. Was Jesse two ways about Walt from the beginning, or did he not start to want out until Walt began to rack up a body count?

I guess the phrase body count is as good a segue as any into the prison montage. That was a pretty brutal scene, and while I didn’t care to pay attention to this specific detail, I’m sure it was a two minute montage, like how it was only supposed to take two minutes within the world of Breaking Bad itself. It certainly felt like two minutes. Two really violent, bloody minutes. I don’t even think the execution of all the mob bosses in The Godfather was that long. A lot is made of the fact that Walt had all these guys executed in prison (three separate prisons) in the following episodes, but something I can’t help but think about is the fact that Walt’s not exactly responsible. He’s just the guy who paid for the hit.

The Aryan Brotherhood (or it’s in-universe equivalent), an enormously powerful and influential prison gang, was responsible for these murders. And apparently they only became Walt’s muscle in this episode. Lots of other references have been made to people Walt has killed, but how intimidating was Walt before he had Jack backing him up? I think he ran over a few guys, and apparently he’s pretty attached to ricin poisoning, but is that it? Todd just turns up with Mike in his trunk so I’m guessing he’s the one who killed him, and I’m still waiting to find out about the guy Todd shot off of a dirt bike, unless that was Mike. Does Walt just have a lot of murderous friends who build up this reputation for him?

The domestic situation is still muddled to me (I say domestic situation but obviously the domestic situation is very much effected by, and is perhaps a direct result of, the meth situation).  Marie talks to Skyler like she’s a recovering addict or something. Why are their kids living with Hank and Marie? Why did Skyler and Walt want to keep the kids someplace else, and what’s their cover story?  I’ve asked these questions before but they got brought back into the forefront here, and I think a lot of my questions are repeats anyways. I can’t stress enough how crazy it drives me that I don’t know more about guys like Mike and Gus who are already dead as of the episodes I’m watching.

Anyways, other questions:

Where did all of the money go before? There’s the car wash and Hank’s surgery. Is Walt’s deal with Lydia simply way more profitable than anything he was up to previously?

Walt asked Todd to introduce him to his uncle. He says to Jack, “It can be done exactly how I want it. The only question is, are you the man to do it?” Is this a bluff? Who else could Walt have approached about something that elaborate?

What was the deal with all the fumigation tents appearing over the neighborhoods? Do Walt and Todd break into empty houses to cook? And they’re fumigated later when authorities discover someone was cooking meth in there? This seems like it would be a really easy pattern for the police to catch onto so I’m guessing I’m mistaken or missing something on this point.

What’s the liquid in the drums they’re stowing the meth in?

What sort of treatment is Walt receiving? He looked like he was about to get radiation but he’s also on chemo. Do they do multiple kinds of treatment like that when treating cancer?

What happened to the paper-towel dispenser is whatever public men’s room Walt was in?

Random notes:

Walt’s stupid hat and giant old-person sunglasses

haha, “Rocks, right?” asks Hank when pouring a whiskey for Walt

Blood Money (S5E9)

The start of this episode threw me off a little, it being a flash forward to the events of the final episode, complete with showing Walt’s machine gun in the trunk of the car and him grunting out a “Hello, Carrol” to his neighbor, who promptly drops all her groceries in the street. I’m not going to check because I promised myself I wasn’t going to make this blog too much of a chore for myself (which is evident in my non-existent update schedule), but in the last episode, Skyler receives a phone call from a woman I’m pretty sure was Marie, in which she warns Skyler that someone saw Walt in the neighborhood. Was it this woman? It’d be kind of neat if the cold opens of the show had been steadily giving out little previews of the finale for a while.

Anyways, moments later it goes to the present and we see Hank coming out of the bathroom at Walt’s house all kinds of perturbed. I’m assuming the next episode will show me exactly why he went in there, and whether or not he was seriously ill or just feigning it because he somehow received an inkling that he’d discover a sample of Walt’s handwriting lying around in the box of things that are read in the bathroom.

(Do we really want to explore the reason that seminal American poet Walt Whitman’s most famous collection is considered bathroom literature in the White household? I’d prefer not to. But it may turn out to be a more important plot point than “a thing with Walt’s handwriting in it.”)

Things are slowly coming together for me, and I mean very slowly, because while these episodes are confirming little obvious hunches I had, like how the car wash is just how they’re laundering their money, it’s throwing all sorts of other new information at me, like who are these people Jessie wants to give money to? I think Mr. and Mrs. Sharp are the parents of some guy Todd killed, and Kayleigh … Ermentrout? Presumably him and Walt were somehow complicit in the murder of her grandfather.

I want so much to know more about Jessie as a character. Right now the only things I know about him are that he’s suffering and scared and feels incredible remorse over all the shady things he got into with Walt, but previously, from my ancillary exposure to the character from not even watching the show but just seeing commercials and little meme-type images around the internet, he just seemed like kind of a wigger-clown kind of guy who called everyone “bitch.”  He’s a relapsed addict, which is a reasonable enough reaction to hating one’s life and being told by everyone who could help you that there’s no real feasible way to make personal amends to your victims. In many ways he seems like a more complicated figure than Walt and Skyler.

He has an enormous amount of cash on hand, at least 5 million according to Saul, which is a small fraction of Walt’s total take from what I know at this point, unless there was more cash that he’s already spent. And judging from the crap dudes he hangs out with, 5 million would be much, much more than enough money to set Jessie up for life. And yet he can’t let it go. Walt doesn’t seem to have the same conflicts, but Walt also has the luxury of knowing that his time is limited, and that even with treatment he’s unlikely to live much longer. If Walt’s guilt is anywhere near as intense as Jessie’s, he’s able to hide it or cope with it much better.

The huge reveal in this one of course is Hank, who now knows Walt is Heisenberg, actually accusing Walt after Walt discovers his book is missing and that Hank stuck a tracker on his car. Walt remarks that he saw Hank use this same kind of tracker when they (they) were involved with Gus Firing. This brings up a question I’m still not clear on from Walt’s confession video. What the hell was their joint involvement with this business? Hank is a DEA agent, but as far as I know, Walt was a high school teacher. Was he working with Hank as a chemistry consultant? Was Walt already making/selling meth when this Gus Firing thing, whatever it was and however long it lasted, came about? Walt seemed really familiar and chummy with the guys dropping off all the files Hank requested, so was he a fixture around the DEA at some point? How much longer until all of this starts to come together for me?

Again, Walt doesn’t exactly admit to Hank that he’s Heisenberg, but basically implies it by saying that Hank can’t prove anything. Hank spent all day in the garage looking at what appeared to be every file on the Heisenberg case though, so why is it he’s never able to put together a case strong enough to convict Walt until he gets Jessie’s testimony later on? Is this something I should already know by now, some detail that I missed because I lacked context for it, or is the rest of the series just going to be a long chronicle of Walt covering his tracks so thoroughly that every episode is just going to end with Hank and Steve standing around scratching their heads over a bunch of corpses?

Questions:

Is Lydia in any kind of physical danger at the drop in quality of the meth she’s selling? Or just financial danger, danger to her reputation as a distributor of weapons-grade methamphetamine?

What does Marie do? She was leaving for work in what looked like a labcoat.

Random notes

The banter in the beginning when they’re all just kibitzing in the back yard while Hank stumbles out of the john sounded really natural, I liked it

Skyler looks to be a little taller than Hank in heels

I keep noticing more and more funny details every time I see Saul’s office, his constitution wallpaper, the variety of crap-people in his waiting room, Huell barely awake outside the door, etc.

Buried (S5E10)

Been away a while, terribly sorry.

So this episode opened with a little old guy starting his truck up in the wee hours only to notice a sizable wad of cash in his driveway. I liked that they showed him going around picking up the other ones on the street, and since this guy never shows up in the other episodes I’ve seen, I like to tell myself he took all the rest of the cash he could find, took the remnants out of the truck while Jesse (who I’m guessing was very, very high) spun around on the playground, and just lived in the lap of luxury for the remnants of his earthly days. I’d really love to know that some of the ancillary characters benefited from Walt’s drug money because right know nobody else is.

Except maybe Kuby and Huell, who seemed to exchange little looks like they stole insignificant portions of Walt’s cash pile, which would still be enormous amounts of money.

Not that it did Huell any good.

Image

This episode, like many of the ones I’ve seen, dealt mostly with Walt’s family. I read the comments people leave on these, so someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but Skyler and Marie are sisters, right? For some reason I’d been under the impression that Skyler was Hank’s sister. It’s entirely possible I have the correct relation written down in my notes somewhere, but I haven’t thought about this blog in a while, and I’m going into this one without giving myself a refresher.

Anyways, while I’m positive that the pacing of this program would’ve been just fine if I were watching along with the rest of America last year or whenever, this one felt like, I don’t know, homework to me. It didn’t really show me anything I don’t already know, and only dredged up a couple of little questions that I’ll probably be told the answers to in the next lesson.

I’ve read that this program is apparently replete with symbolism, and either I’m too dumb to notice it, or I’m just not familiar enough with the program to recognize symbols yet. I feel like some shots are framed very intentionally to show me something as a viewer, and I’m just like “crap kid be careful, Walt nearly backed over your little toy car.”

Walt impressed me in this one. He really only shows up a small handful of times compared to, say, Hank and Skyler, but right now he’s a man on a mission. If you’ve never spent longer than an hour digging a hole it may be difficult for you to appreciate just how insane it is that Walt dug out the money pit all by himself, in one evening. Gravity did some of the work when he rolled the barrels into it, but that was still a hell of a task. Then he moved the dirt back, and took a little time to like, cover up and landscape his spot, which is seemingly so far out in the desert that even if someone was actively looking for it, nature would’ve made it look just like the surroundings in almost no time at all. That would be a huge amount of work done in a small amount of time for a healthy, strong person, but Walt is of average build, middle-aged and dying of lung cancer, so it wasn’t exactly a huge surprise when he passed out in the bathroom.

Which just serves as a reminder of how driven Walt is. Obviously there are some contrivances in the concept, as a show where Walt decided to use his intelligence to, say, cheat at Press Your Luck wouldn’t have been as dramatically compelling as a crime-drama about cooking meth in the desert. Still, when he begs Skyler “Please don’t let me have done all this for nothing,” it’s easy to take that in the context of a sick, weary Walt having just done a job that would usually take three or four strong, young men, and not in the larger context of “Walt has killed (x) people and ruined the bodies and brain chemistries of potentially thousands of others with his drugs,” all to protect his family after he dies. I mean I love my family, but if someone I loved was sick, I can’t picture myself putting a bullet in somebody else to cure them. Obviously that’s a metaphor that raises a lot of questions and don’t ask me to describe the scenario in which I cure a terminally ill relative’s ailments by executing someone else, point is even if I could think up the parameters in which I could be given that choice, I’d have a really hard time doing it unless the person was like, human garbage “with half a soul and the balance owed to Judas.*”

And I don’t know who Walt has killed. Just looking at the people Walt associates with I can guess the people I’ll see him kill as the series regresses back to the start are going to be crap dudes like Jack and Todd. Additionally, I’ve seen in previous episodes that he wouldn’t be above throwing Hank and Marie under the bus in order to protect his family, his immediate loves, his wife and children. He makes that very clear when he tells Saul that putting a hit on Hank is not an option, and I know that he paid for some operation Hank needed in order to walk again, but as much as he’s willing to protect Hank physically, he apparently had no qualms about ruining him professionally in order to protect Skyler, Walt Jr, and Holly.

In the little tearful confession scene with Skyler and Marie I learned that the car wash was indeed a recent acquisition, and going from shots of the place during business hours and the number of employees they seem to have, it appears the car wash is a successful enough business that it would’ve easily kept the Whites comfortable in the event of Walt’s passing. The following episodes will surely be a downer as I learn how Walt got pulled back into the life and how Hank made the revelation that Walt was Heisenberg.

Heisenberg as a name and concept doesn’t actually get thrown around as much as I’m presuming it may have in earlier episodes, and only came up here near the end when Lydia talked with some Seth Rogan looking dude and his people in the desert before Jack’s gang came and blasted the guys apart. What is Lydia’s deal and how long has she been a fixture in the series? She sells meth to people all the way over in Europe so she obviously has a lot of juice, but she won’t look at corpses, and winces when she hears Jack execute a guy while Todd leads her away, so she’s probably not supposed to be a “tough” character. Does she have some other legitimate business she launders her drug money through? Is she part of a larger enterprise, or is she just a singular conduit between awful meth-cooking hicks and high class methamphetamine connoisseurs in France?

Questions:

What is this pool incident Hank and Marie keep referring to? I’m having trouble imagining a scenario in which Skyler is able to cover up the fact that her husband is the region’s deadliest drug dealer by diving into a pool

When Walt promises to turn himself in if Skyler keeps the money, was there previously a question of whether or not she would do so? I mean I know later on when Walt is actually made it becomes an impossibility, and Skyler says that he’ll have to turn in the money if he turns himself in. The car wash and Hank’s surgery were paid for with Walt’s drug money, has the blackjack story simply run its course?

What is Albuquerque’s climate like? I have a hard time conceiving of how they can all walk around in suits and long sleeved shirts and fuzzy slippers in the desert, but I suppose I have to consider that these characters have lived there for a long time, and to them a 70 degree day might be like, a 40 degree day to me.

Where was Walt Jr. during this whole episode?

Random notes:

Skyler just pulls a duvet and a pillow into the bathroom where Walt passed out

Huell cannot help himself and has to lay across the cash, even just for a minute. Kuby has to admit that he must as well.

*Chris Onstad, http://achewood.com/index.php?date=03052009

Confessions (S5E11)

I’ve begun to worry I’m not watching the program closely enough, or that my notes are scanty, or something, because I feel like I’m missing things. Yes, obviously I’m extremely clueless about lots of things based on the entire premise of this experiment, but there are things I feel like maybe I should’ve picked up that others felt they had to explain to me.

When I mention the show to any of my friends, they almost universally want to start talking to me about it, and I try to hush them, worried that they’ll give away some enormous plot spoiler or something (we can reasonably make the argument that spoilers should be meaningless for me at this point since I’ve already seen the ending). Nobody has though, and in fact anybody who’s talked to me about the show has done so very delicately, knowing about what I’m trying to do, but it’s something I fret over because there was at least one big thing Walt did that confused and frightened me, and a buddy (the guy who suggested this experiment, actually) had to set me straight on.

In whichever episode it was that Walt goes back to his house after Hank dies in the desert, I wrote that Walt’s phone call to Skyler scared the crap out of me. I couldn’t imagine why he would spit at her like that given that he’s the guy with the meth empire, and my friend explained to me that it was a conscious decision on Walt’s part to sound like an accusatory psycho because he knew the police would be listening and he wanted to make Skyler look like a victim so she wouldn’t get hit as hard now that everything is falling apart. My friend also speculated that this might’ve been Walt’s reasoning when he ran off with Holly too, and why not, nothing makes a parent look more like a victim than kidnapping their baby. Apparently Saul says as much to Walt in the next episode, and it’s entirely possible that I heard Saul tell Walt something about a phone call, and didn’t bother to note it down because it was an innocuous enough sentence that I couldn’t imagine the significance of.

This will probably not be the last time I have a complete misunderstanding of a plot point based on the screwed up chronology of my viewing. Hell, there are probably lots of other unaddressed misreadings peppered throughout this right now.

This episode was nice for me because it addressed a great deal of my immediate questions, while dredging up a few that I figure I’m a goodly long distance from knowing. Most of this came in the form of Walt’s confession video, which I’m presuming is more or less a complete and concise description of how he got started in the meth business with some obvious (?) fabrications in regards to Hank’s involvement.

What got me was Hank and Marie’s reaction to it. Hank has apparently been investigating Walt (or investigating Heisenberg) for a very long time now, but even though he knows it’s Walt, he apparently doesn’t have quite enough hard evidence to convict him. He says as much to Jessie, and Gomez tells Hank that he can’t let guys watch Saul and Jessie because apparently there just isn’t enough evidence. So how did Hank figure it out?

My question is, why is Hank so worried about Walt’s video? Yes, Walt’s money paying for whatever surgery Hank received earlier in the series links him, but other than that, why is he so distraught? Is Hank crooked enough that he could conceivably be linked to something fishy? Jessie bluntly states that Hank assaulted him previously and I sort of began to get the feeling that maybe Hank is like, a “loose cannon” type of character, like maybe he breaks some rules in order to get results. Hank is also apparently the agent mostly in charge of the Heisenberg case, and this episode implies the DEA is getting a little impatient with him in regards to the resources he’s allocated to the investigation. But is Hank crooked enough that this could be stuck to him, or was Walt just skillful enough in his performance that they would investigate Hank long enough for Walt to cover whatever frayed ends he didn’t quite clip?

Then again, apparently there is literally no hard evidence linking Walt to this, which I would believe as so far I’ve pretty much only observed Walt being extremely conscientious and thorough in his criminal activity. At least, I watched him be extremely conscientious and thorough in the final episode, in which everyone’s guard is let down in light of his disappearance and he’s intent on some revenge murder, as opposed to the episodes I’m presently watching in which he’s trying his hardest to escape from that life, but his otherwise airtight lock on the situation has been compromised by associates like Jessie.

Obviously Jessie is still freaking out. I once again violated my policy of doing no extra research on the show by reading the Wikipedia entry for this episode. I figured maybe I would be able to read an episode summary without it revealing too much about details I shouldn’t know yet, and was dealt a little reality in regards to the possibility of doing that in for a show as long running and complex as this one. Still, in trying to determine if I’d simply missed something in regards to why Jessie freaks about the pack of smokes in his jacket, the summary just alluded to Brock’s ricin poisoning (which I sort of already know about) and a character named Gus Firing (who Walt mentions in the video) so I don’t think I slipped too badly. Still, I should probably just take better notes so I don’t need to resort to that crutch again, in addition to actually consulting my notes more than once after I’ve written them.

Questions:

The diner scene in the beginning kind of confirms what I already suspected in that Todd has worked with Walt in a criminal capacity, but he mentions an actual train robbery. I realize there’s like 50+ episodes I haven’t seen yet where all sorts of madness can still happen, but exactly what kind of shenanigans do these guys get up to? Obviously it got a lot more complicated than “Walt and Jessie cook meth in a trailer.”

Is Walt still working? I’m sure he helps out at the car wash, but is he still teaching? If he stopped, how did he explain why he stopped to his family?

Right now I’m operating under the assumption that pretty much everything Walt says in the confession video (barring Hank masterminding the whole thing) is true. Was Walt’s family really in a position to be bankrupted by his illness? Did none of them have insurance? Is it really feasible that a full time public school teacher would have such inadequate medical coverage, or is that just a dramatic convention for the sake of the concept? Or am I woefully naive about health insurance companies, and how they would handle a guy with a terminal diagnosis?

What year does this show take place? I mean obviously it’s a pretty contemporary setting. My only concept of how much time has passed in the series comes from my knowledge that their baby is 18 months old and Skyler was still pregnant during one flashback where Walt was cooking in the desert with a full head of hair.

Random notes:

Who is this one guy that always seems to be hanging around with Jack? I think he’s hilarious.

Jack is always wearing a long leather coat even though he lives in the damn desert.

The restaurant scene where they’re all quietly furious with each other and the poor kid keeps trying to sell them on appetizers is great

“oh yuck a tarantula oh gross it’s walking towards Jessie”

The decor in Saul’s office is also hilarious to me

“Jessie roars and gargles as he douses the house in gasoline”

Rabid Dog (S5E12)

Not exactly an action packed episode, but that’s fine, it was actually kind of a nice change of pace to not see someone die or be anticipating anybody’s death.

Again, and I realize this sort of spits in the face of staying as in the dark as possible about the series, in my pirated copies of the episodes I’m presently watching, a “previously” segment plays, and this one was just Jessie losing his damn mind. Mind you when I actually watched the episode, they pretty much explicitly demonstrate exactly what Jessie did, so I learned what was going on anyways. I like to tell myself watching these “previously” segments for episodes I haven’t seen yet is perfectly in the spirit of willfully watching the show in the wrong order.

I learned a lot about Jessie in this episode. Not as much as I’d like to know though. At this point my huge unanswered question is what is his relationship to Andrea and Brock. Jessie only says he “cares about” Brock so I’m guessing Brock isn’t his son or his nephew, which means Andrea is probably his girlfriend or just a friend, and he’s simply very fond of Brock rather than having any kind of legal or biological imperative to protect him. The child-poisoning incident was referred to a number of times in this episode and each time Walt kind of mentions that he had to do it and he feels like he had a pretty good reason, and I’m really interested in learning exactly what the hell that is.

When Jessie is talking to Hank he seems utterly convinced that Walt is going to have him killed. When Hank wants Jessie to take Walt’s offer of a meeting, Jessie freaks right the hell out, and given what I know about Walt that seems like a perfectly sensible reaction. Hank’s explanation of why it was unlikely that Walt would kill Jessie seemed pretty reasonable, but I definitely understood Jessie’s reaction to the ominous big bald white guy standing near Walt, and to hear Walt previously talking about how he’d deal with the “business” I was just as surprised when the scene ended with a little girl running up to him, rather than Walt giving the guy a subtle but certain “no go, get out of here” hand gesture or something.

What kind of hit home for me in this one was Walt and his family again. Skyler didn’t buy Walt’s ridiculous crappy story for a minute, but Flynn, who I learned was completely in the dark about this whole mess a few episodes ago, not only believes his flimsy gas pump story, but reasoned that Walt must’ve had a fainting attack because he’s sick. In these episodes Walt is constantly coughing, and in all my notes from the first episodes I watched, I wrote things like “how sick is Walt?” or “how far has his illness advanced?”  Among all the other scary crap that’s happening to Walt, it’s easy to forget that the most overarching threat to his life is the one metastasizing in his lungs. I don’t know the specific extent to which Skyler is aware of everything Walt is up to, but she seems to acknowledge the very real possibility of somebody killing Walt, and I didn’t even think about the fact that Flynn is just as worried about Walt dying of cancer. Maybe it’s just because I’ve only seen them interact as a family in the final days, but I guess I was operating under the assumption that maybe Walt hadn’t even told them. Like, he started cooking meth just so he would have a great deal of money stashed away, and he could have it ready for them by the time his illness became more obvious, and he could minimize their suffering by hiding it as long as possible.

It’s strange to sit here and rationalize Walt being a considerate family man given what I know about him, but I guess I’m conditioned to want to like him because he’s the main character of the show, in spite of the fact that he’s a drug pusher and a murderer.

But again, a lot of the time when murdering is brought up, they allude to him doing it for someone else’s protection. Jessie tells Hank that Walt has “a zero tolerance policy on threats” so I suppose it isn’t unreasonable to assume that anytime he kills someone, it’s just a preemptive strike.

Which is why this question of “why did he poison an eight year old” is so pressing to me. One thing I was careful to note was that when Saul suggests killing Jessie, Walt absolutely refuses. And in the finale, when Walt has the opportunity to kill him, he doesn’t take it. Their situation is obviously more complex than I realize at this point.

Anyways, other questions:

Jessie, like Todd, calls Walt “Mr. White.” Minutes after I got done asking myself “Was Walt his teacher in high school?” he says that he was. Was Todd in the same class? How old are Jessie and Todd? Hank and others keep calling Jessie “kid” and the actor playing him could pull off a reasonably young age.

When did Hank and Marie start catching onto what Walt was up to? Marie blames herself for not noticing earlier. Evidently Walt and Skyler explained some purchases with “blackjack winnings.” Presumably Hank at least knew about a guy dealing high gravity meth long before he ever made any kind of connection to Walt.

Hank keeps Jessie in the house, reminding Marie that his “last ten witnesses” were all knocked off somehow. Were these the guys Walt had hit in prison through Jack, who I’m guessing is Aryan Brotherhood?

Lots of references were made in this episode and previous episodes about Jessie’s drug use. What was he on, how long has he been using, and (they mention a rehab stint) when did he relapse? Did he even relapse, or does everyone just assume he’s strung out because of how angry he is?

Random notes:

From my previous limited exposure to the show I always assumed the guy who turned out to be Jessie was supposed to be kind of a funny character. That may still be the case but right now this guy has problems

Walt confusedly putters around and tries to throw out the gas can in his neighbor’s rubbish

Skyler pours herself a stiff one in the extremely nice hotel they’re staying at

Marie is so angry that she gives a rote recitation of the effects of some poison to her therapist like a psycho

To’hajiilee (S5E13)

This episode set up the massive showdown that had already concluded at the start of the last one I watched,  and it confirmed a few of my guesses while completely undoing some others. One of the interesting things about this episode is that it took place the same day as the other, finishing exactly where the next one picks up. I imagine it would’ve been a more powerful narrative technique if I were watching the show in chronological order like a normal person.

What I’m looking forward to the most at this point is when I know enough that I recognize all the characters. I learned Saul’s name in this one, and met Huell Babineaux, whose name was extremely difficult for me parse out until I punched it into Google. I’ve begun permitting myself extremely limited Google searches when I want to know a character’s name after I learned that Todd’s the only guy with the last name of Alquist, which I had been spelling wrong besides attributing the same name to the rest of the people in Jack’s gang. I’m only typing in names to see the preview snippets on the first page of Google, to confirm spellings and basic affiliations. I can’t imagine how I’d have parsed out Huell Babineaux’s name without that crutch.

I got to learn a little more about Hank in this episode. Just from the two or three lines he had before he was offed in the last one I gleaned that he was a principled and smart guy, and this one showed exactly how good he was at his job. Do they set Hank up as sort of a foil to Walt? Like a guy who’s just as smart but in a different sort of way, who is on the enforcement side of the law rather than the violation side? It seems to me he’s been trying to bust Walt for a while, and maybe that he was a little bitter about it. There was a trace of “Screw you, man” when he shows Walt the doctored photo of the cash barrel, reminding him that it was taken in the backyard where they used to barbecue. So there’s the familial betrayal angle, of course Walt’s activities would be a shame to Hank as a law enforcement officer, whose brother in law is a powerful meth dealer, besides the revelation in this episode that Walt has had lots of people killed and killed some himself.

Watching Walt have a totally amicable meeting with Jack and the rest of the nazis was a huge shift from the sort of relationship I’d have imagined them having, based on my only seeing the final three episodes of the series. Not only was he (sorrowfully) trying to put a hit on Jessie, but he alluded to some previous hits he’d put on guys who were already in prison. And in his phone call with Jessie he mentions he ran over some gang bangers, besides killing some guys named Gus, Emilio, and Crazy-8. I guessed from the finale that Walt is reasonably comfortable killing people, and maybe all these people he killed deserved it, but then they started alluding to him poisoning a child.

During Walt’s visit to Andrea (again, what is she, Jessie’s girlfriend? Is Brock his son?) Brock freezes right up when sees Walt, and Jessie later confirms that Walt poisoned him, besides Hank and Steve alluding to it in their talk with Huell. Now Walt says some stuff about how he knew exactly how much of a dose to give to Brock, and Walt’s pretty bright so I’m sure he was careful about poisoning him, but holy crap I hope that he had a really good reason to poison/kind of half poison the kid because right now I’m having a hard time thinking of justifications for why that had to happen. Maybe he had to fake the kid’s death? Maybe he just wanted to send Jessie and Andrea a really strong warning? This is the second episode in a row that alluded to/explicitly demonstrated Walt’s disregard for the well being of children, and I hope for his sake that that’s just the kind of crap he pulls when he’s pushed into a corner.

Look at me worrying about Walt’s karma when I learned what ultimately happens to him the first time I ever sat down and watched an episode.

The person I want to know more about right now is Lydia. We see a lot of her in beginning, where they drum the viewer over the head with her really particular tea order, besides showing her being a little reluctant to buy Todd’s less-than-blue meth. In the previous episodes I saw Todd kind of having to negotiate with her. Does this mean Walt was her previous supplier? Is that why he kills Lydia in the last episode? Because he just lumps her in with Jack’s gang for continuing to sell his stuff after he disappeared?

Which segues into another question, how does Walt feel about meth? When Jack offers to kill Jessie for free if Walt will just give Todd some cooking lessons, he haggles down to just cooking one batch. Is this Walt’s final statement that he’s done? That he’s made plenty of money and wants out, and really disapproves of the idea of more drugs being made? He knows these guys will keep making this stuff with or without his consent, so does he just feel like his high-gravity meth is worse than the garden variety stuff?

I wrote in my notes that Todd apparently learned how to cook meth from Walt, and also that he calls him “Mr. White.” So apparently those two have a preexisting relation, which I supposed I should’ve already gleaned from watching Walt set up a hit via Jack, besides discussing previous murders.

My other big thing here is that Walt tells Jessie his cancer “is back.” Did it go into remission at some point, so he was planning on just going back to his life, and having the cash buried in the desert in case of an emergency? Before the cancer went away, was his plan just to keep making money until he died, and like, revealing just enough on his deathbed to get the money to Skyler?

Some questions:

Walt…Walt’s not a nazi, right? I thought maybe the shaved head was a chemo thing, but he still has his little beard. Is it just his personal grooming choice or did he become a skinhead to get in good with the nazis?

What’s Saul’s deal? He looks to me like a live-action drama version of Lionel Hutz, but his sleazy suit, slogan, and car interior covered in cocaine make him seem kind of two ways, like maybe he is kind of funny, but he’s also helping some genuinely horrible people?

Flynn mentions a smell at the house while working at the car wash, what happened there?

Random notes:

Todd is the kind of guy who downloads and assigns funny ringtones to each of his contacts