The Moth Chase

Elevating the Art of Procrastanalysis – Academics wasting time on pop culture

Blue is Our Brand

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Hi friends,

Sorry I didn’t get the chance to join the conversation last week, but to extend it, I’d like to pick up on one of Bryan’s points – that Walt has always had his meth cooking skills to fall back on and, without them, he’s left quite vulnerable. For all the incredible action and plot movement twists and gasp-out-loud moments this week, I think this simple point remains at the core of the current narrative: Walt’s the only one who can make the meth blue…it’s the perfectly simple truth that he is never going to escape his own creation.

If the ubiquity of the colour blue throughout the episode weren’t enough to make this apparent (Lydia’s jacket, the meth compound’s outbuildings, the White family’s clothing – Walt’s shirt, Walt Jr.’s jacket, the cuffs and details on Skylar’s blazer, Saul’s blue lapel ribbon, even the blue desert flowers by which Walt crouches waiting to be found…), Todd’s gang’s blatant disregard for Walt’s orders first, not to come out to the desert and, second, not to open fire once they got there demonstrates that no one is obeying Walt anymore – like so many of the addicts we saw in the early seasons, those who keep Walt’s empire alive now – and expand it – obey only the blue crystal. It doesn’t matter what Walt wants them to do; it matters that they want to keep him alive so he can give them that one more cook. This creates a lovely parallel between Walt and all the addicts he always saw himself as separate from – whether they consume it or create it, in the end, the drug rules them all.

But this means that I cannot imagine Hank, Gomez and Jesse getting out of this shoot-out alive. Somewhere between Hank’s gloating to Marie and his telling her he loved her, I think we probably all realized his number was up (all he needed to round out the story was only one more payment on a boat to sail the world because he’s just an honest cop who’ll be retiring next week). We know Walt has to get away, because we’ve got to get him on the run we see happening at the beginning of the season – and with only 3 episodes left, that HAS TO start soon! Unless, oh my – will the series just end with Walt on the run?! I can’t imagine…but I also absolutely cannot imagine how we get from where we are now to any number of endings, which I also can’t imagine.

In other words, I’m beside myself with excitement for the next 3 Sundays!

One more thing to add to Bryan’s observations from last week – you noted, Bryan, in support of my theory that Walt Jr. has to die, that his character is starting to come to life, perhaps to enhance the pathos of his death. This week, with Walt once more not even giving Skylar even a hint as to what is going on, we saw mother and son in a lovely image of the ‘family business’ that could exist if Walt were gone. In other words, we saw a glimpse of what Walt professes to want most of all, stability and love for those he’ll inevitably leave behind. Seeing this glimpse of what could be only affirms my sense that poor WJ is going to bite the bullet.

Finally, I don’t know about you guys – but the thrill of watching Walt outsmarted by a mix of Hank, who he consistently underestimates, and Jesse, who he outright calls stupid to his face…that was perhaps the most satisfying moment of the season for me! The various staged texts of brains on the floor and barrels in the backyard were such brilliant plays! This is Hank at his best, and gives us yet another reason to prep for the sadness of what I think is his inevitable death next week…

Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!
oxox,
Natalie

———————————————-

Hello all,

First off, great analysis about the color blue, Natalie. I think you really picked up on something cool there.

Now, I’m going to talk about how that episode made me feel: From the moment that Walt got the text message with the picture of the barrel of money to the end, it was all I could do to remember to breathe. I usually take lots of notes during this show, but I didn’t have many to write during that sequences because I was just in love with it. A couple great things that I did take time to write down about the sequence:

1) Jesse said “Walt” instead of “Mr. White” for the first time that I can remember when he was talking on the phone.
2) Jesse is a great storyteller. He describes burning $10,000 and says it’s a “nice orange blaze.” What a great, descriptive line to put into a complete lie. The pupil really has been paying attention to the master.
3) Even in panic mode, Walt is trying to manipulate, “I’m dying. My cancer is back. You’re not hurting anyone but my family.”
4) When Hank shows up and is yelling out for Walt, it felt just like a classic old western movie. Him shouting “Come on out!” was fantastic. It was the Sheriff showing up at the saloon to get the renegade cowboy to surrender. I loved it.
5) After that point (about 10 minutes before the episode ended), the only note I had the capacity to write was, “Fuck.”

I think there is plenty of speculation to be made about what will come next, but I’m not overly fond of trying to predict TV shows. I agree Natalie, it does seem difficult to imagine the full combination of Hank, Jesse, and Gomez making it out alive. But, this show has never been shy to make you expect one thing and turn it all around in your face. Does anyone else have a bold prediction to make?

One overall thought I have about this episode: for a show that basis so much of it’s time in manipulation and deception, this episode seemed particularly full of it. Everyone was getting in on the action. Walt used his skills on someone that is not immune to it yet: Andrea. But, at the same time, Hank shut that down with his own deception by keeping Jesse’s cell phone and not telling him about the call. Hank and Gomez manipulate the shit out of poor Huell with the cell phone trick. But, Hank does a lot of power playing with stuff like, “Like I said, you’re free to go. But, if I were you, I wouldn’t take one step out that door.” And, “I took the liberty of removing the battery so Walt can track you with GPS. So, don’t put that back in.” He never technically steps outside of the law, but he sure as hell comes close. This is some really high level manipulation.

Another piece of manipulation: Lydia can tell that Todd is interested in her, so she tries to use that to her advantage: “Please do make the cook better. It’s very important to me.” (Also, I loved the moment of Todd inspecting the lipstick mark and then drinking out of the mug from the same spot).

There is plenty more to talk about in this episode, including that it was shot beautifully (not a surprise, but I’m still consistently amazed with the brilliance of the cinematography on this show). But, I will let the rest of you cover that stuff.

I’m just holding on for these last 3 episodes.

I like your commercial, what happened to your face?
Bryan

I don't want to say goodbye to this face.

I don’t want to say goodbye to this face.

 

Hello all,

Let me also apologize for missing the conversation last well (thanks for a great post, though, Bryan!)

And, of course, this week’s episode was one of the best in Breaking Bad‘s tenure. What struck me is what no one has mentioned so far: why is Walt willing to kill Jesse but not Hank (and Gomez…I assume that Gomez was less important to Hank calling off the goons originally)? Perhaps, the reason might be that he sees Jesse as ‘incapable of listening to reason’ (i.e. the rabid metaphor from last week, which you cite, Bryan)…but surely the same is true of Hank, no?

And if it is because of family, then, something very interesting is happening this week. Jesse, Walt tells us, is only like family, while Hank is family, and that seems to make a difference. What’s the difference though? Is ‘family’ the only bond that ties Walt to any semblance of traditional morality? It’s particularly odd because all of Walt’s other actions seem clearly to suggest he doesn’t particularly care about any of his family (whether Skylar or Walt Jr. or whomever). Why does Walt want to spare Hank? And what does it suggest about Walt?

Furthermore, does Walt try to call of the goons because of Jesse or because of Hank? Perhaps, actually, it is the former, and he tries to call them off once he realizes Jesse never planned to kill him (wasn’t ‘rabid’), and is this why he calls Jesse a coward?

Best,

Martin

—————————————

Hello friends,

So glad to be back in this conversation for this episode, if only to add my voice to the chorus of amazement and anticipation! You all have covered everything so well. I also wondered why exactly Walt called off Todd’s uncle: was he acknowledging that Hank had won (at least until he could “lawyer up”)? Was he so bowled over by Jesse’s betrayal? After all, he insisted to Todd and gang that Jesse was not a rat and the idea that Jesse would betray him to Hank seemed to unnerve him most of all. Was there some level of protection for Todd and his operation? After all, taking out DEA agents is not the best way to stay under cover? I am struck by your idea, Martin, that Walt’s belief that he is doing this for family (even though we can see how much he is lying to himself in that ruse) is how he justifies some connection to a moral code. But I just can’t predict how that is going to play out from this point on. I don’t know what will be left alive when the dust settles, but I am betting that this is the beginning, in one way or another, of Walt’s life on the lam. It also seems like the definite moment that his cover is blown, so at least the first step toward his family abandoning their home and his neighbors learning his real identity.

I realize I have offered nothing much to this conversation. But I share the excitement for what will come next and all that it means to be reaching the end of this saga together.

Kathryn

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