Hyphenated Review: Breaking Bad – “Hazard Pay”

Breaking-Bad-Hazard-Pay

Summary: Mike visits the remaining members of his team to reassure them they”ll be reimbursed after the DEA took their Fring hazard pay. Walt moves back into the house much to Skyler’s dismay but keeps the condo for now. Mike, Walt, Jesse, and Saul visit locations for a new superlab and then decided to cook in houses that are meant for fumigation. They work with a crew/business named Vamanos Pest Control to accomplish this. Skinny Pete and Badger make an appearance but Jesse ignores their attempts to join the new business. Andrea and Brock drop in on Jesse and Walt’s final preparations and then Brock and Walt share an awkward silence. As Walt and Jesse cook their first new batch, Skyler breaks down in front of Marie. After Walt leaves Jesse with doubts about his relationship with Andrea, he is confronted by Marie at home. He tells her about Skyler’s affair and chalks her break down up to guilt and grief from Ted’s accident. Mike, Jesse, and Walt break down their profits from the first cook and Walt is unhappy with his take after Mike’s “taxes” (for hazard pay, Vamanos’ crew and distribution). Mike leaves and Jesse tells Walt that he broke up with Andrea. Walt ignores him and leaves him with a thought about the late Victor:

Victor trying to cook that batch on his own, taking liberties that weren’t his to take? Maybe he flew too close to the sun; got his throat cut.

And then Walt leaves, leaving Jesse with more questions than answers.

Thoughts: Sadly enough, this has been my favorite episode of the season, but for all the wrong reasons. I love that it got back to Walt and Jesse cooking, being a true team again. This is what made the first 2 seasons so memorable: the awkward, yet functional Walt/Jesse dynamic. Seeing them sit around and bullshit while they finished up their cook was one of the few moments Walt let his guard down recently, even as he manipulated Jesse out of his relationship with Andrea.

And that scene with Walt and Brock? Wow. Brock definitely recognized him. If he didn’t, I wouldn’t have expected Walt to be so weird. He’s never had trouble dealing with kids before then.

Mike continues to push to be my favorite character, as his combination of badass-ery and wisdom is the perfect blend at all times. And he’s still one of the few remaining characters in the series who’s able to stand up to Walt.

The mobile superlab idea is genius and I think the Vamanos crew is pretty trustworthy. But then again, I haven’t seen too many criminals in this series willing to run to the cops either. We’ll see how that holds up as we get closer to the series finale.

I’m pretty apathetic when Skyler is onscreen now. I almost wish she would start bitching and moaning like she used to. Walt has beaten her down in every facet and you have to give Anna Gunn all the credit in the world for this portrayal. I expect her to get a ton of more work following Breaking Bad‘s wrap.

I wasn’t totally surprised by her breaking down when Marie visited her at the car wash. And again, how this woman hasn’t went to the police is beyond me. Of course, that would mean the end of this wonderful 5 season narrative, but to not even attempt to contact the police? I suppose you have to chalk it up to battered wife syndrome as she fears for Walt Jr. and Holly’s lives. And she could never confide in Marie since she’s married to the very man who introduced Walt to the crystal meth business.

Walt’s ability to manipulate everyone continues to be the trait he’s had since episode 1. Telling Marie about Skyler’s affair is the closest he’s come to telling anyone outside of Skyler the truth…ever. And the fact he can still come off as “good ‘ol Walt” at the drop of a hat really tickles me. It makes me wonder about the events that led this brilliant man to the point he was at when the series started again.

I really love Skinny Pete and Badger. I know there’s no room for them in the narrative at this point but I always saw them and Jesse as a loveable gang. Spin these three off into their own sitcom and they could get through a season at least.

The final scenes with Walt, Mike, and Jesse are intense, with Jesse always seeming to be caught between his two dads. And it’s pretty apparent at this point that Walt’s ego will be his ultimate downfall. He’s convinced himself that Fring’s death means life is easy now. Mike, Skyler, and Saul have all tried to plead their case that the danger is far from over but Walt really believes that he’s won as he stated in “Live Free Or Die”. Jesse seems to believe this as well but ultimately, (unless Walt decides he’s a liability) he’s the only person who could walk away from it all and live a normal life.[1. Sure, Jesse's murders of Gale or Joaquin could come back to haunt him. But I'm pretty sure both of those murders are chalked up to Gus or his criminal empire by now. Everyone he met in Mexico died on that same trip. So unless he's caught being directly involved with the meth, he's fine. And honestly, I don't think anyone (other than Hank) would waste their time testifying about Jesse Pinkman, especially with a Walter White over his shoulder.] Walt’s determination to apparently replace Gus instead of simply trying to make a ton of easy (for him) money is going to be the final straw.

And I’m worried about how long Mike can keep all of his guys satisfied with their hazard pay cuts. Isn’t one of them eventually going to want to out the badass who’s still living free and happy while they sit in jail? Not that Mike hasn’t given them plenty of reasons not to confess but at some point, as much as I enjoy the suspension of reality that you have to accept with this series, in order for it to end: reality will have to return with a vengeance.

And as I told Thomas and Anthony the other night: I just hope the whole series wasn’t a bad dream of Walt’s that he had the night after he was diagnosed.

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4 Comments

  1. Terrific review and I’m glad to see somebody giving some love to this most underrated of series. BREAKING BAD and “Sons of Anarchy” are the two best series on TV now that nobody seems to be watching. At least nobody I know. But you’re on top of things so that’s all good.

    Is it wrong of me to say that i can’t stand Skyler or Marie? Marie because she is just so mollyfoggin’ STUPID it hurts my head. And I can’t stand Skyler because she’s an ethical opportunist. Whatever suits her purpose at the time is the way her moral compass points. I have to admit I’ve been taking a perverse pleasure in seeing how the tables have been turned on her from the early days of the show when she was a control freak with her foot on Walter’s neck and quite happy to have him that way.

    • Haven’t started Sons of Anarchy yet but it’s in my Instant Queue.

      I’ve hated Skyler and Marie since the beginning of the show for the exact reasons you listed.

      And their both terrible nags. Yuck.

      • Matter of fact there’s only one person in the whole show I feel sorry for and it’s going to break my heart when Walter, Jr. learns the truth about his dad. Oh, and I did feel sorry for Mike as well and what happened to him. Bad as Mike was, I respected him because in his own way he was an honest man. He knew what he was and what he did and he never made excuses for it or rationalized it the way Walter does his behavior.

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