Thursday, July 14, 2011

Review - Breaking Bad Season 2 Episode 10 Over / 11 Mandala


Breaking Bad began as a show about a man dying of cancer who wanted to leave behind enough money to support his family. This was a noble goal--marred by the illegality and immorality of the business he engaged in--which he carried out fairly well. But in the previous episode, ""4 Days Out," Walt learns that his tumor diminished significantly and likely will not die. It begs the question, "What now?"

The episode begins with a disturbing confrontation between Walt and Hank, Walt drinking lots of alcohol and also pouring plenty for his son before Hank tries to stop him. We see Walt's alter-ego, Heisenberg, come out, the mean, angry man who won't let anyone dictate to him. Walt doesn't care what anyone thinks and, now drunk, isn't afraid to express his opinions loudly. Truly fantastic acting from Bryan Cranston.

Walt spends the majority of the episode fixing the house while his family stares at him, not entire sure who this  person is. He isn't the angry drunk they saw earlier, but he also isn't the mopey, absent Walt from a few episodes ago. Most telling is Walt's inability to sense anything is wrong, going about business without a care in the world. Eventually, Walt goes to the hardware store where he finds a guy buying products likely intended for meth production. Seeing the wrong items, Walt tells him what to buy instead before the guy runs off. Outside, Walt sees the guy and his boss, a bald guy. It's kind of a funny situation, given the similarities to Walt and Jesse, but Heisenberg comes out and tells the bald guy to leave. And so, Walt returns to what he's been itching for the whole time, the drug trade and the money.

Jane's character is expanded a tad bit when we see her react to her father's arrival. They seem to be on good terms, but considering Jane's past as an addict, there is definitely something interesting there. While Walt is acting odder by the day, Skyler turns to work, or more precisely, her boss Ted who is also interested in her. Nothing has happened between them yet, but

The teddy bear flashback gave us the clearest picture yet of what happened. We see Walt's car in the driveway with a broken windshield as well as several body bags. Yeah, something really bad happened.

Score: 9.2/10


The arrival of Gus Fring marks an important turning point for Breaking Bad, when Walt and Jesse go from street-level guys to the corporate-level. This is especially important because of what happens in the third season and the season finale. After Combo is shot during the cold open, a deliciously frightening scene, Walt turns to Saul who points him in direction to get rid of the 38 pounds.

Gus is essentially the person Walt wants to be but isn't. He's the owner of the Los Pollos Hermanos chain and undistinguished by appearance. He doesn't hang out with addicts or do anything that would call attention to himself. Simply put, he's a normal guy, discreet and unsuspecting. Giancarlo Esposito plays the character perfectly and his first appearance as a manager talking to Walt doesn't clue the viewer into his real character. In comparison, Walt, despite his seemingly high standard, is far from the model drug boss. His second in command is a druggie, and he often gets into situations in which he could get caught. But the one thing Walt has are his cooking skills and his current load of meth, and Gus recognizes his worth.

At the same time, Jesse and Jane end up in a terrible position. Jane gives in and starts shooting up again, introducing Jesse to heroin. The blame for her relapse can't really fall on Jesse since she had plenty of chances to ward him off--when he originally came to rent the place, when she smelled the pot, when he invited her to watch TV, when she figured out he was a drug dealer. Also, Jane's eventual fate truly spells out who was wrong.

While everyone is falling onto old habits, Skyler is no different. She discovers that Ted has been doing some illegal accounting to keep the company afloat, and he even admits that. Skyler initially tells him she won't be coming back, but returns to him, knowing he is supportive of her when her husband has not been. We all know where this is leading and it isn't pretty.

The episode ends on a frantic set of events, Gus's man telling Walt to deliver a shipment in a certain window or the partnership is done forever. The problem is, Jesse has the stash and he's currently passed out on the bed. Luckily, Walt acts quickly, breaking the back door, waking Jesse, and getting the meth--while Skyler goes into labor. This is Walt pushed to the limit and he seems to have won on the drug side of things, but he family problems are still as big as ever and constantly growing.

Score: 9.0/10
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