Sunday, August 18, 2013

'Breaking Bad' Review - 5.10 Buried

On the newest episode of AMC's Breaking Bad, Skyler's past catches up with her; Walt needs to cover his own tracks; and Jesse continues to struggle with guilt.

Skyler White has fully committed to her deal with the devil now. She chose not to turn Walt in to the DEA when she first discovered his secret in season three because she felt she had to protect her children. She then came up with the whole gambling story in order to use the money to help Hank recover from the big shoot-out - which occurred entirely because of Walt. She bought the car wash to launder the money through but that was as deep as she was in this operation with Walt. And she was happy with the arrangement - smiling for the first time in forever in last week's premiere. She had full control of the money and what happened with it. But she had no knowledge of his business dealings with Mike or Lydia. Her knowledge is enough to grant her immunity at the top of the hour if she decided to talk to Hank but by episode's end it's clear that no such no deal will be made.

After the cold open and credits, "Buried" picks up from the premiere as Walt emerges from Hank's garage moments after telling him to "tread lightly." As he peels out, both men have the same thought - to reach out to Skyler as she is just as pivotal to this as both of them are. She meets with Hank in a diner as she once again feels powerless to the various men in her life. The two of them have no clue how to process this information and thusly speak quite softly in this very powerful six minute scene. Hank knows that this revelation is what will derail his career and thusly is trying to do everything he can in order to prove his suspicions. He's trying to stranglehold Skyler into giving up Walt - but she slowly is able to recognize just how desperate he is. He breaks the news to her about Walt' cancer returning. The one thing she had been eagerly anticipating and yet - much like Hank - she can't be certain that it is actually the truth. She needs to make a scene to get out of there because there was no way Hank was going to let her willing go. She needed time to think - think of what's best for her and what's best for her children even though she is basically in a no-win situation. Then came Marie - who Hank sent in and who Skyler has the much more difficult time trying to lie when confronted with the truth. It's devastating for both woman in this fantastic scene. Marie breaks as she is able to tell by Skyler's face just how long she has know about Walt's secret. This is simply just not something that Skyler could keep from her sister any longer while being confronted. She says nothing but her face says everything. Then, the primal instincts kick in as Marie gives Skyler a good-ole slap to the face and goes to take Holly away from her. Holly's scream echo as Skyler desperately tries to hang on to her family while Marie is simply trying to protect her from this dangerous environment. In the end, Hank lets her keep her daughter but she still has a choice to make. Something that comes much easier once she sees Walt collapse from exhaustion once he finally returns late at night.

I wonder if she would have stayed by his side if she knew he was still in the business. His retirement has forced her into a corner. So while a lot of her actions do come across as sympathetic, she still has been forced to make some terrible decisions. Choosing to remain silent will doom her just as much as Walt. And now, Hank is going to be coming at both them with every desperate move he's got.

Walt was confident that Hank would never be able to prove his allegations and yet as soon as that garage door begins coming down again. He goes straight back into panic mode. Over the course of the series, Walt has perfected the Heisenberg persona in front of people but that doesn't necessarily make him that person 100% of the time. He is frightened that everything that he has worked for will be for nothing. When he was first diagnosed with cancer, he simply wanted to give his family the security he couldn't give to them doing what he had been doing. Then he went power hungry and became this evil force of a man. Now that he has retired and his cancer has returned, he just wants to leave knowing that his family will be happy. He figures the cancer news will make Skyler happy - as she famously said she's just waiting for it to come back. And as long as she keeps the money a secret, his work will have some meaning. A fool's dream but one that both he and Skyler are desperate to hang onto no matter how much it could destroy their family.

The episode opened and ended on Jesse. Although he didn't say a single word throughout the two scenes, his presence was felt and will truly shakeup what is coming up. He and Hank despise one another and yet their shared disdain for Walt might be the missing piece for Hank to connect everything together. Jesse will be reluctant to enter this deal but it may also be the only way to truly clear his conscience of all the horrible stuff he has done for Walt. A fact I'm sure Hank will try to manipulate to its fullest. And yet, Hank truly is the most tragic character in this final season. His whole world has come crashing in - and while he does have Marie to confide in - his career is done. So now, he has to be the one to catch Heisenberg - although that means keeping it from Gomez whose work bond has been one of his most valuable things.

Overall, a truly shining hour for Anna Gunn. And Dean Norris. And Betsy Brandt. And (of course) Bryan Cranston and a subdued Aaron Paul. But especially Gunn - I'm fully expecting this to be her Emmy submitted episode next year.

Some more thoughts:
  • What's Up with Walt Jr.? - Don't know. He wasn't in the episode. But let's just say he was out in his car eating some breakfast.
  • The direction is simply stunning - which should come as no surprise as veteran series director Michelle MacLaren helmed the hour. The combination of her and the Albuquerque desert is always a strong combination - with the landmark moment being Walt's tossing of the barrels of money into the hole he just dug (scored to Jose Larralde's "Qurney Neuquen").
  • Speaking of thematics, both Walt and Lydia head out to the desert - one to hide all that he has and the other to take back the power. Lydia is neurotic and nervous, unable to truly understand or deal with the drug business. And yet, she is on the rise. Perhaps the show is building up Lydia similar to Walt S1 & S2. Unable to handle the severity and lies of the business but choosing to carry them out nevertheless. Could the ricin in the future be meant for her? As a way for Walt to atone for this dangerous enterprise he's created?
  • It's also grown clear that Saul, Huell and Kuby have all grown quite afraid of Walt as well. Huell and Kuby joke about taking all the money to Mexico and Saul proposes sending Hank "to Belize." And yet, none want "to go to Belize" either and so simply fall in line with whatever Walt wants - be it his money or his moral code of Hank still being family.
  • "Buried" was dedicated to Thomas Schnauz, Sr. - father of series writer Thomas Schnauz who wrote tonight's episode and has been with the series ever since "One Minute."