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.

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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”