Sunday, July 3, 2011

Review - Breaking Bad Season 2 Episode 4 Down / 5 Breakage

"Down"

As Breaking Bad moves forward, the events with Tuco remain a major force, the consequences reverberating through each character. It is at this point when the show is its darkest and most powerful, when the character drama comes to the top, transcending drug dealing or cancer.

Up until "Down," almost everyone could sympathize with Walt for what he had to deal with--cancer, drugs, Tuco, pregnant wife, son with cerebral palsy. But here, we see what a real asshole Walt has become. He treats Jesse-once an equal partner--like crap, and expects his family to reciprocate to whatever he does. Walt wants everything to be fine, but in his self-centered world, other should respond to him, not the other way around. So, when he continually wants to do things with Skyler or Flynn (I guess I wouldn't want to be named after Walt either), they reject him and his bizarre behavior.

Skyler wants answers, and when Walt refuses to provide any, she becomes fed up. She eventually smokes some cigarettes--over the glaring eyes of the public--and we begin to lose a bit of sympathy with her as well. It's understandable what drove her to this place, but it still doesn't excuse her actions. In any case, Breaking Bad has never been about virtuous people always doing virtuous things, or even having characters act consistently, and Skyler's exemplifies this uneasy tension that exists for every character.

While Walt inadequately deals with his problems, Jesse hits rock bottom and practically has no options. His parents take their home back after seeing Jesse's lab, leaving their son out on the street. Jesse tries to room with a friend who is now married with a child, but finds himself woefully out of place, out again showing Jesse's descent from nice suburban kid to low-life junkie with no home. Then he tries to get back to his trailer and falls in a porta potty. He ends up in his trailer, doused in blue chemical and excrement, curled up on the floor with the gas mask and crying. It's truly a pathetic sight and Aaron Paul plays the role perfectly.

The burnt pink bear returns this week to be placed into an evidence bag. Now we know Walt's house is a crime scene, but we don't have any indication why. On another note, I know happens with the bear and it's simply brilliant whenever I think of  how Vince Gilligan planned everything.

Score: 9.6/10

"Breakage"

After dealing with the aftermath of Tuco for two episodes, Breaking Bad begins to move forward again, setting the table plot-wise. We see the beginnings of Walt and Jesse's drug operation, Hank getting a promotion, and a possible new character in Jesse's landlord. It makes for a episode that moves relatively fast, though without the tension of some previous episodes.

Jesse is very active in the episode and cobbles together a crew consisting of Badger, Skinny Peter, and Combo to sell the meth Walt is cooking. It goes fine for the most part, but Skinny Peter is robbed by Spooge and looses a thousand dollars, which angers Walt. Immediately, there are problems in this plan--people can steal from them and they don't exactly have the muscle Tuco had. Walt poses a solution at the end, handing a gun to Jesse to deal with the problem. Along with potential thieves, the operation is in danger of DEA scrutiny, as the DEA is already focusing on Heisenberg, blue meth, and whoever Tuco's replacement will be.

Hank has gotten a lot to do this season, and we see more cracks in his armor. He is having panic attacks over Tuco, and being assigned to a border taskforce has him on edge. In a way, Hank is a mirror of Walt. In his private life with his family and friends, Walt is the poor guy with cancer who is timid and mild. But in his work life--and in his mind--Walt is tough and unforgiving. On the other hand, Hank is the tough guy with family and friends, but is dreadfully scared in his mind and when he is by himself.

On top of the pink bear mystery, we see some illegals at the beginning of the episode find Tuco's grill in what appears to be the Rio Grande. This mystery is solved soon enough, though, when we see Hank toss the grill into the river at the end of the episode.

RIP Kim Manners, one of the great television directors.

Score: 9.2/10
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