I Forgive You
So, I guess I’ll start at the beginning. How awesome is the hipster version of Walter White? I loved his glasses and beard. What we learned in the cold open is that at some point in the future, Walt will end up having a lonely 52nd birthday breakfast where he purchases a large amount of weaponry. So, it seems that while he did “win” against Gus Fring, he still has plenty of battles to fight.
First off, Walt has to clean up the mess he made in the process of “winning.” The first step of that is actually cleaning up his mess. I love how Breaking Bad usually wastes zero seconds in between the end of one season and the beginning of the next. Or, as in season 5, we even went back a few minutes to remind us how awesome Walt’s last line in season 4 was. Walt hurried around to clean up the mess that actually making a bomb causes, then he remembers to get the lily of the valley out of his backyard just before Skylar and Walt Jr. come home. Walt’s plan to celebrate keeps running into snags. After pouring his whiskey to celebrate, he remembered the poison plant in his backyard, then his son comes in and starts rambling about how Uncle Hank is a hero, really rubbing salt into Walt’s hemorrhaging pride wounds. After that, Walt goes to talk to Skylar, and it seemed he wanted to celebrate with the only person in his family that knows what happened. Instead, Skylar announces that while relieved that he is alive, she is now even more emotionally detatched from him than ever. And then, just as he resigns himself to celebrating alone (or with his infant daughter rather), he realizes that there are hours upon hours of video of him working in what is probably the most sophisticated meth lab ever created. Being the King has not been so great for Walter White, so far.
And this, as with almost everything else in the series, causes Walter to become an instant idiot. After Jesse initiates an actually pretty awesome idea of using a magnet (complete with wonderful Jesse sound effects), Walt almost ruins everything because he wants to crank the magnet up to 11 like Tim “the tool man” Taylor.
And, just to show Mike how much of a God he thinks he has become he tells him that the plan worked “Because I say so.” That is what every parent has said to their 8 year old when their 8 year old has made a good point but is still wrong and then asks “Why not?” And somehow, Walt makes this only the second most demeaning thing he says all episode, with “I forgive you,” taking the gold medal in the douchebag olympics.
So, know that Walt realizes that he can’t drug lord his way to his wife’s love, he has decided that he will just try to power control everything until he finds that warm fuzzy feeling again. Which apparently is how you end up alone at Denny’s on your 52 birthday with a volvo from New Hampshire, buying explosives for what must be WWII (Walt’s War II).
One last thing I will talk about is how fun it is to see Jesse and Walt in their playful element again. It has been a long time since I’ve had as happy of a moment watching this show as when Jesse jumped up and yelled “Yeah bitch! Magnets!”
I love how Jesse and Walt will always default to each other when it comes to taking sides. Their shared experience in getting to this point has caused them to them to have a fairly unbreakable bond. Although, you could see Jesse was taken aback when Walt said “Because I say so.”
I’m looking forward to your thoughts! Here are a handful of random notes I had:
– Ted is alive. I guess I should have realized that not saying explicitly that he was dead, means that he could be alive. There is a part of me that wonders if AMC wanted to have him still be alive so they could have a cross promotional event with Ted Beneke and Ted from Seth Mcfarlane’s new movie with Mark Wahlberg.
– Speaking of cross promotion: Denny’s! I think Breaking Bad does a good job of being up front about their in-story advertising (ie. Dodge Challenger in Season 4), but they also manage to make the advertising work with the theme of the show. Denny’s free meal on your birthday promotion set-up one of the best lines of the episode. “Free is good. I don’t care if I was rich. Free is always good.” Walt sure as hell wants to feel the freedom to do exactly what he wants as ahead of having money.
– God particle reference: how timely.
– Mike: “You know I can see a lot of possible outcomes to this situation and not one of them involves Miller Time.”
I am so excited to blog this show with you. I feel an older siblings pride in having convinced you to watch Breaking Bad – since how often does the older sibling have an inside scoop on something really cool? And now we can revel together in how amazing and awful and beautiful and painful this show can be. Thank you also for this extended pictorial recap. I don’t have the persistence to track down all those images, but I loved rewatching some of the best images of the episode.
BB has always done a masterful job building suspense around broken chronologies, jumping us around in the timeline so every detail – small gestures, random bits of conversation – take on loaded meaning, potentially a clue to something we haven’t seen yet but are watching unfold in snatches. We’ll see if the flashforward to Walt’s birthday breakfast and weapons stash unfold like the pink teddy bear and airplane wreckage of season 2. But that quick vignette of the loneliness and power struggles waiting for Walt were a lovely moral frame to the monster Walt we watch rise out of the ashes of the exploded nursing home.
I hated Walt in this episode, which is to say I absolutely loved him and was mesmerized by him. Ever since his explosive “I am the big bad” speech to Skylar last season, we’ve seen wounded pride, anger, and malicious evil intent take over Walt’s usually conflicted demeanor. I don’t want to underestimate the degree to which sheer terror and almost certain death pushed him over the edge, giving him the manic drive to quell whatever moral qualms might have lingered. But “winning” this battle of wits to the death with Gus gave Walt a taste of the kind of power he has only pretended, in fits and spurts, to wield before. I agree completely – “because I say so” and “I forgive you” run neck and neck for most inflated ego douchbag things to say. “I forgive you” takes the cake because it carried with it so much menace. He took Skylar’s admission of fear and ran with it,Sleeping with the Enemy style (“I forgive you for not straightening the bathroom towel and I’m sorry you made me beat you”).
Except, Skylar did the same thing with Ted! She goes the hospital room, thinking she will need to grovel and beg and cry her way out of a horrible mess, only to find Ted is scared out of his wits of her. And Skylar loves it! She steels her face and her nerves and plays right along. I suppose there is a chance that she was only doing this to protect Ted from Walt (she is super quick to assure Walt that Ted is not a threat), but it was Skylar who had Ted threatened in the first place (without Walt’s knowledge). Skylar is one of my favorite characters because of the way she is, right along with Walt, breaking bad in her own way. Her need to tell herself that she is taking the moral high ground only makes her morally culpable in my book, compounding greed and power with hypocrisy. I can’t wait to see how she responds to Walt’s own new extreme: will she be pulled along/down with him, or will it wake her up to the reality of the life she has steadfastly been helping him build and support (even while pretending she is not completely part of it)?
And Jesse, oh Jesse how I’ve missed you and your sweet, good-natured ways. How is it that by the start of season five, the recovering addict-high-school-drop-out-pushover has become the most morally centered person on the show? One of my favorite touches on the show is the way Jesse, after all they have been through together, continues to call Walt “Mr. White.” If and when that changes I will know we’ve lost Jesse for good. I can’t see Mike ever calling Walt “Mr. White,” but I am glad he is still around and curious what role he will play in what’s to come.
Free is always good,