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‘Breaking Bad’ Review: “Hazard Pay”

Breaking Bad Season 5 Hazard Pay
AMC

Just two weeks after its first appearance at Comic-Con 2012, ‘Breaking Bad’ season 5 cooks up its third episode of the year, as Walter and Jesse find themselves a new place to cook their product, ironing out some details with Mike, while Skyler has a breakdown at work.

Last week’s ‘Breaking Bad’ episode “Madrigal” saw Walter and Jesse try to recruit Mike into their newly-reestablished business, while Mike himself was left to deal with Gus’ spooked, and under DEA scrutiny partners, so how does “Hazard Pay”  keep things moving?  What will season 5 of ‘Breaking Bad’ cook up?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Breaking Bad’ season 5 episode 3, “Hazard Pay!”

Mike and an associate pay a prison visit to a man named Dennis Markowski, one of the men in Gus’ former operation, in order to clear up what happened last week with Mr. Chau as well as ensure him that the deal for his silence is still in place.  Dennis protests that the FBI seized his “hazard pay” and someone else is likely to talk to the cops, but Mike assures him he has something new in place to compensate him.  One man down, Mike angrily prepares to visit his next chore.

After a tense morning in which Skyler nervously realizes that Walter will be moving back into the house for good, our hero chemists bring Mike in for a meeting with Saul, despite Saul’s protests.  Reminding him that they need Mike for distribution, Saul reluctantly relents.  In their meeting, Mike lays out that he exclusively will handle the business aspects of their organization, a fact the others look to Walt’s reaction for.  Walt ominously agrees, but later tells Saul his view that while Mike handles the business, Walt handles Mike.

The four head out to scout new locations with their ventures, the first a box factory that Walt rejects on account of potentially steamy conditions ruining their product.  The second, a tortilla factory can’t be used either given that food products mean unannounced government inspections.  Laser tag isn’t an option either, but the final location, a dank garage within Vamonos Pest control, Walt announces to be perfect.  How, you ask?

Well, he wasn’t referring to the garage, but the pesticide tents within them.  By buying Vamonos Pest, they can cook within a tented house, moving the operation in and out without anyone finding it suspicious, and simply activate the pesticide on their way out.  Vamonos Pest would be the perfect fit as well, given the crew’s normal propensity for illegal activity like burglary.  Mike proposes they take a vote, but Walt assures it isn’t necessary.

At a local music store, Badger and Skinny Pete purchase four giant equipment cases for Jesse, before being sadly denied to get in on the action.  Later, Mike explains to the workers of Vamonos Pest that their burgling days are over, and no one from the crew is to address Walt or Jesse without having been given explicit permission.  Later that night, Walt and Jesse plot out a few equipment modifications, when Brock and Andrea arrive for dinner.  After Walt agrees to stay for a beer and possibly dinner, the scientist gets left alone with the boy he previously poisoned (though still by unknown means).  Awkward…

The next day, Vamonos sets up a house to be bug-bombed, hand-waving away the homeowner’s concerns about the size of the equipment, and sending them on their merry way.  Just then, Walt and Jesse pull up to enter the house, before Todd, one of the workers breaks his code of silence to explain that he disabled a nanny-cam.  .  With their hazard suits laid out, Walt and Jesse get to work doing what they do best.

Afterward, Walt and Jesse recline over a few beers, where Walt shares how much he enjoyed seeing Jesse in a stable relationship.  That said, Walt asks if Jesse has any kind of plan for how much he’ll tell Andrea about what he does, to which he insists that she knows nothing.  Either way, Walt parentally lays out that he trusts his partner to make the right decision.

The next day at the car wash, Marie shares lunch with Skyler to explain that Hank is happily back at work, and offer her services as far as planning Walt’s 51st birthday party.  Having forgotten, Skyler reveals they have no plans, but Marie insists they do something about it given Walt was first diagnosed around his birthday.  Growing increasingly nervous, Skyler lights up a smoke, and Marie’s inane protests are met with a frenzied Skyler screaming at her to shut up over and over, before bursting into tears.

After counting their yield and leaving, Walter finds Marie waiting for him at home, explaining what she gleamed from Skyler’s “breakdown.”  She doesn’t understand the cause of it, refusing to leave without an explanation, to which Walter explains what happened to Ted Beneke.  Not understanding why that would affect Skyler, Walt accidentally slips that she and Ted were having an affair, which astounds Marie into leaving.  Afterward, Walt glibly bites into an apple.

Over at Jesse’s, Andrea catches him deep in thought, while back at their home Skyler stares at the ceiling.  Hearing the TV down the hall, she walks out to find the rest of her family watching ‘Scarface,’ the suggestive imagery and thought painting a dark portrait of what’s to come for her family.

The next day, Mike divvies up the profits from their first batch, a grand total of 367,000 apiece.  Walt points out that the number is lower than it should be, to which Mike retorts that 20% goes to he mules hauling the product.  Gus never had to pay his, because he spent 20 years building up a business around his drug empire with built in distribution.  Next, Mike takes money from himself and Walter to cover Jesse’s initial contribution, afterward taking more and more chunks from all three to cover Vamonos Pests, Saul’s fee, and finally the “Legacy Cost.”

When Walt protests that one, Mike explains that they have to pay money to keep the 9 from Gus’ operation quiet, and Jesse offers to settle the conflict between the two men by paying the fee himself, but Walter ultimately relents.  Left with only $137,000, Walt complains that the take is less than with Fring, but s Mike puts it, “Just because you shot Jesse James, don’t make you Jesse James.”  Jesse reminds Walt that he’s looking at things all wrong, because even with a smaller take, they still maintain control of the operation, considering they aren’t producing as much product as they were with Gus.  Walter then explains that he’d been thinking about Victor, whose throat Gus slashed right in front of him.  Rather than trying to sent Walt a message with the gruesome act, Walter wonders if perhaps Victor had gotten too far out of line by cooking a batch and making changes that weren’t his to make, a dark sentiment of Walt’s that Jesse seems visibly unnerved by.

While considerably less action-packed that last week’s Mike-centric effort, “Hazard Pay” has the difficult job of moving all the pieces into place to get Walt and Jesse cooking again.  Plenty of seeds are sown for conflict between Walter and Mike, but for now tonight’s episode seems mostly a placeholder.  Oh, and way to be subtle with the ‘Scarface’ placement, guys.

Did you get your fix of ‘Breaking Bad’ bad-assery?  What did you think about the episode? Join us next week for another all-new ‘Breaking Bad’ episode recap of “Fifty-One” on AMC!

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