Sunday, May 30, 2010

Review - Breaking Bad Season 3 Episode 11 Abiquiu

Breaking Bad isn't a big picture show, focusing, instead, on the characters and their relationships to each other and their relationships to the drug trade. Rarely do we see the average drug user, those bystanders caught up in Walt's business who buy the drugs and don't sell. Occasionally there may be some like Spooge and his woman, but for the most part, there has been an isolation between the two worlds--and rightfully so. Gus runs his drug empire from the safety of his nice house and Walt and Jesse cooked in the RV and now in a fancy lab. They don't see the effects of their drugs so neither do the viewers.

"Abiquiu" bridged the gap and gave us another angle to look at, and true to the show, from the perspective of the characters. Jesse goes to rehab and finds out that Skinny Pete and Badger haven't sold any meth even though they planted the seeds a while back. They're not born drug dealers or hardened to the point where they don't care about people they see trying to get better. Jesse, however, is of another mindset and quickly turns himself towards Andrea, an innocent woman who looks to be easy prey.

And she is, Jesse kissing and ready to make the offer, but then her son, Brock, comes in and Jesse realizes that he may be ruining the kid's life if he sells Andrea the drugs. Certainly his experience with Jane would tell him that drugs do very bad things to people and that will be forever ingrained in his mind. To make matters worse, Andrea tells the story of her younger brother Tomas. As she recounted the story of her brother joining a crew, selling drugs, and eventually shooting someone, I started to put the pieces together and realized she was talking about Combo. The drugs Jesse peddles contributes the systemic decay of entire neighborhood's and Andrea's young brother was one of many victims. It's weird how these coincidences keep happening and they work well together.

At the end of the episode, Jesse returns to the scene of the crime, the corner where Combo was shot. Tomas is still there, circling on his bike. Jesse buys some drugs and walks away, clearly angry at something. But is he angry at himself or Tomas and the others?

It's hard to choose who is the most important character in each episode this season. More often than not, Walt doesn't play as big a role as he used and the other characters step up to the plate. Skyler's dramatic change puts her in running with Jesse. Her inner criminal comes out to play for a second time and again it was something to see. Last time, she spun a tale of Walt's gambling. This time, she dives into Saul's side of the business, telling him how to properly keep the money safe with a vigor that is would seem to come from someone like Saul, not a mother with a baby.

Skyler is reaching that turning point where she is about to break and something inside of Walt--an ultimately redeemable quality of his--recognizes that she is heading down the wrong pass and gives her ample opportunity to back out. But Skyler sees it in no other way. In an attempt to safeguard her family's financial future, much like Walt did, she turns to crime. Once she reaches that point where law no longer matters, she enters the realm Walt is currently in, a self-delusional state where she will believe that she is doing everything in the interests of others when in reality she is is filling a void inside herself.

The end of the episode has a curious scene in which Gus invites Walt over for dinner, offering simple advice, "Never make the same mistake twice." What is the mistake? Gus has his hands everywhere so he could know any number of things from Jesse's drug dealing on the side to Skyler's involvement.

This is far out there (and almost 99% wrong), but if Gus is viewed as a man with compassion (and that's a huge stretch), his warning could serve to stop Skyler from going down the same path Walt did, the first mistake being Walt breaking bad and the second mistake being Skyler breaking bad. All we've seen so far is a detached Gus, politicking for his own ends, and all evidence still points to him as one who makes moves carefully and for a purpose (handing the knife to Walt was kind of like a bitch slap) but what if the dinner was just him being friendly?

With a detour into a different area of Albuquerque, the plot was opened up to several more avenues involving Andrea and Tomas. There are two episodes left in the season, so something major will happen soon.

Score: 8.9/10
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