Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review - Breaking Bad Season 2 Episode 2 Grilled / 3 Bit by a Dead Bee


"Grilled" takes Breaking Bad to new heights with one of the most choking experiences ever. Walt and Jesse are trapped with Tuco and Tio for almost the entire episode and the plot is draining every step of the way. Tuco is such a weird character that his mere presence is frightening--to Walt and Jesse, and also the viewers. We don't know when he'll snap, or even what he wants. But one certainty is that he is crazed and can inflict severe damage to anyone.

As the plot moves ahead, Walt and Jesse are left with fewer and fewer options while Tuco is going crazy about Gonzo. First they contemplate attacking Tuco, but there is nothing to use. Then they try to poison Tuco, but Tio stops them by knocking the plate onto the ground. The scenes with Tio are scary in that their fates lie in the hands of this bell, which also makes it a little funny. And as much as Walt and Jesse try to talk their way out, Tio is still a sharp guy who knows what's going on.

Finally, Tuco takes them outside and begins beating on Jesse before Jesse manages to shoot Tuco. The situation is resolved when Hank, looking for Jesse, arrives and is surprised to find Tuco but kills him nonetheless. I could certain see where one could be miffed by this easy resolution, Hank of all people saving Walt and Jesse from Tuco without actually seeing them, but Tuco was a loose cannon ready to go and he would have to go eventually. And it's not like the story is over right there. Walt still has to explain his whereabouts for the past few days and his other cell phone, and those explanations could drudge up even more questions.

Meanwhile, Skylar, Marie, Walt Jr., and Hank all go out to look for Walt and we see how much of a toll it puts on all of them, especially Skylar. It also doesn't help that Marie is still in denial about the tiara. Again, the secondary characters are used effectively to balance the tension of Walt and Jesse's scenes and it works nicely.

Like the season premiere, "Grilled" begins with an ominous set of images, though no in black and white, depicting Jesse's low-rider, windshield blown out, bouncing up and down. This is explained at the end of the episode, but we don't get any new information about the pool or charred bear.

Score: 9.3/10

"Bit by a Dead Bee"

"Grilled" sets up an exceedingly tense situation for Walt and Jesse to get out of, and "Bit by a Dead Bee" immediately follows up on that with their explanations. Breaking Bad once again proves it shift gears in an instant and set its character on a new path.

Walt's explanation is filled with deception, layers upon layers of lies. He shows up in the middle of a grocery store naked as part of the plan to show how messed up his mind was, backing up his statement that he doesn't remember anything. It all makes for a convenient yet plausible explanation. Here is a guy with cancer, with bills to pay, a pregnant wife, and cerebral palsy. When he lies to the psychiatrist about the actual "truth," it sort of fits together. Only Walt is hiding something much, much darker. Walt proves himself to be a master liar, fooling his wife and doctors, and it's very convincing with Bryan Cranston behind the wheels.

Since Hank was originally looking for Jesse when he found Tuco, Jesse is the focus of Hank who quickly catches Jesse. But Jesse has a tight alibi which the hooker confirms, and Tio refuses to cooperate. Just like that, with Jesse is free, the trailer in a safe place, and Walt itching to cook and earn money, they can go right back into the business.

Left out, of course, is Walt's family. They don't know what's going on with Walt and are disturbed by his indifference. Walt sneaks back home to retrieve the money and spots Skylar and Walt Jr. trying to deal with the situation. Alas, he says nothing and sneaks out to enter the drug world again, leaving them to suffer. It's difficult to put any blame on Walt other than his inattention to his family. He has to lie or else he'll be thrown in prison, and he wants money for his family. At this moment he's still on the path he set out on in the first episode.

Score: 9.4/10
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