‘Breaking Bad’ Talk: “Buyout”
On this week's installment of 'Breaking Bad' talk we're joined by two critics to discuss the latest episode, "Buyout," in which Walt, Jesse, Mike, and Todd deal with the fallout from last week's shocking conclusion.
Editor Britt Hayes is joined this week by fellow critics Allison Loring and Samuel Zimmerman. Allison is a contributor for Film School Rejects and Reel Vixen, and you can tweet her @allisonloring. Sam is a contributing editor for Fangoria and you can tweet him @samdzimmerman. You can tweet Britt @missbritthayes.
Britt: This week's episode, "Buyout," has such a somber opening as we watch Todd (aka Landry Clarke, aka Meth Damon) dig through the dirt to pull out the kid's dirt bike, which the guys break down and liquefy in acid before we watch Todd uncover the little hand. I don't know about you guys, but I was really into the way Jesse punched Todd, followed by Mike's assertion of dominance. Watching the typically composed Mike flip out on this kid was delightful. As they discussed, the trio had three options: letting him go and risking that he might open his mouth to the wrong people, killing him, or letting him stick around so they can keep him on a short leash. Do you think they made the right decision? How'd you guys feel about Todd and the fallout from the shooting this week?
Sam: I'm not entirely convinced they won't backpedal. As Walt noted watching ‘Scarface,’ everyone dies in this movie. The decision feels like the right one, simply because it's not another instance of murder at the moment, but in ‘Breaking Bad,’ every bad decision leads to worse. So if keeping Todd alive was a bad decision, it certainly won't end well.
The fallout was certainly, and rightfully somber, and like much of this episode, yet another example of Walt, the (now bitter) a--hole.
Allison: The cold opening from this week now ranks as one of my top ‘Breaking Bad’ moments -- the music was spot-on and watching them dismantle the bike, knowing what would be going into the barrel next, carried more weight than any words on the situation could. I wasn't sure how Jesse was going to react to Todd coming out to join him on his smoke break, but a single punch to the face seemed about right.
I unfortunately can't say I disagreed with any of Todd's reasoning for doing what he did, and that made the tight spot all three of them were now in all the worse. I do not think they could have killed Todd, as another death on Jesse's conscious would send him right over the edge -- something Mike wouldn't want because he seems to have truly come to care about Jesse and something Walt wouldn't want because, as we are starting to see, he no longer truly cares about Jesse, but he doesn't want to cause him to do something stupid that would hurt his "empire." I think Mike sealed their decision by making it clear to Todd that he was being kept on, not as a reward, but because they couldn't afford to let him go.
I think Todd had the best intentions, as screwed up as that is to say, but their business is anything but "normal." Like Sam said, nothing in this series goes unpunished and their decision to keep Todd around will undoubtedly come back to bite them all in the ass.
Britt: I'm glad to see them keep him around (mostly because I love Jesse Plemons so much), but him keeping the kid's tarantula jar is a big mistake, and one that I think might get them in a lot of trouble down the line if and when the DEA starts snooping around Todd. His reasons for killing the kid were sound, but they echoed so much of how Walt likes to conduct his business, further cementing Todd as a Jesse replacement.
Allison: And I'm sure that's Walt's thinking as well. When he pulled out that tarantula jar, it became so clear that he has NO idea the kind of business and trouble he is now involved in. Walt may see him as a natural replacement for Jesse, but I definitely do not agree. And I love me some Landry.
Sam: I'm curious to see if Walt tries to pit them against each other, or make a jealousy move on Jesse. Hopefully, it will backfire, as I'm pretty sure Walt's whistling (in his Wallabees), cemented Jesse's realization of what he's become.
The most interesting piece of the episode, for me, was Walt's admission of serious bitterness about Grey Matter. We knew he resented them and what he perceived to lose from being bought out (although Walt gained a family who loved him), but that moment felt really poignant to Walter's transformation. For someone to become what he's become, he'd had to have been that person all along. It makes me question a) If Walt would've been so cold having founded a family as a rich man and b) What exactly his falling out with them was? Was it a moment that foreshadowed his darker side?
Allison: I always had a feeling that Walt truly was bitter about what happen with Grey Matter and was never okay watching his friends gain all that success while he, at least monetarily speaking, did not. His admission and reveal of exactly how bitter he has been about it was a major moment and explains why he is not walking away from things now, despite Jesse and Mike's solution giving him more money than he ever said he needed and a way out.
I now fear that Walt has always been overly ambitious and he's been keeping that feeling at bay, but now he has what he sees as a second chance to not just become rich, but powerful, respected, and feared. I also want to know what caused his falling out with Grey Matter because I think that will be another important piece of the puzzle we are learning is the true Walter White.
Britt: Maybe I'm mistaken, but I thought the thing with Grey Matter had something to do with his jealousy over his two colleagues hooking up? Wasn't he in love with that woman? I could be wrong.
It was a pleasant surprise to hear Walt speak about Grey Matter again, though, as the show seemed to have completely dropped that thread, but it still very much affects Walt and informs his current decisions. It's almost refreshing and gives him a little much-needed humanity at a time when I've been doubting that he even has feelings anymore. Every time he talks I just hear lies and more lies, and his heartfelt convos with Jesse are just repulsive to me now.
Allison: I think that was alluded to as the reason, but now I'm wondering if it was something more.
I am also starting to become repulsed by Walt. He used to actually care about Jesse, but now he's using their relationship to constantly manipulate Jesse into doing what he wants, and it is usually for selfish reasons that are never the best option for Jesse. And Walt knows that because of his emotional bond with Jesse, he can take advantage of him like that, and it just kills me every time I watch Jesse get sucked back into his toxic BS.
Britt: It really is sickening how blind Jesse is to Walt's sociopathic tendencies and how he remains so loyal to a man who has no concern for his well-being. Which brings us to Jesse and Mike's attempt to remove themselves from the business this week. I knew it was too good to be true when we still have so many episodes left in the series, but I cheered for Mike and Jesse trying to free themselves from Walt's insanity to do what's right for them. Watching Walt MacGyver his way out of the restraint so he could take off with the Methylamine is just further proof of the crazy lengths he's willing to go to stay in power.
Allison: I agree -- although when Jesse came downstairs to find Walt literally whistling while he worked after claiming to be as broken up about that boy's death as Jesse clearly was, you could see Jesse starting to FINALLY see Walt's true nature.
But of course, one manipulative dinner later, and Jesse is back to defending him. Again, I always pity Mike at the end of the day, trying to corral and work with these two. I can only imagine where things are going to go from here, but if next week's previews show us anything, Walt is back to his kingpin ways, Jesse and Mike reluctantly in tow.
Britt: The whistling! That's such a great moment, watching as Jesse has a very rare moment of clarity in regards to Walt, realizing that maybe this dude is full of crap.
And speaking of that dinner -- most awkward dinner scene ever?
Allison: EVER! Poor Jesse -- like the child stuck in the middle of these two lunatic parents, trying fruitlessly to cut the tension.
Britt: I'm glad Jesse got to eat a real meal because his frozen lasagna story was bumming me out.
Allison: I wanted to eat some of those green beans so bad!
Sam: Oof, it was an exercise in discomfort, and soon enough (I hope), Jesse will be on the Skylar side of things. Maybe the half season divide will see everyone take a stand against Walt, and the whole final season will be like the end of ‘Scarface.’ Walt just attempting to elude everyone and murder his way out of things.
Allison: I have a feeling there is no way anyone is getting away from Walt without some serious (most likely deadly) repercussions.
Britt: What did we think of Skylar this week? Her cold demeanor at dinner felt like somewhat of a victory under the dictatorship of Walt, but my heart broke for her when she seemed so close to spilling the beans to Marie, only to discover Walt had already manipulated her one possible source of comfort.
Allison: I have hated Skylar most of the series, but this episode made me really feel for her -- my heart broke when she was so close to coming clean to Marie, but it was interesting/validating to see her finally just shut down and give Walt nothing to interact off of. I really hope Jesse starts to follow Skylar's lead of distancing themselves from Walt.
Sam: I've never understood the Skylar hate. She's not my favorite, by any means, but she's always been in a tough position. I feel like, unless you're shooting someone, marginalized in your marriage is not the place you want to be on TV.
At least she wasn't saddled with the purple plague, I guess.
What do you guys think Walt's Everybody Wins plan will be?
Allison: I think I hated her because I got sucked into Walt's BS because at first, and I think this was true at first, he really was trying to help his family and she kept getting in the way. But in hindsight, she had no idea what was going on and was also trying to do what was best for her family. Even though she bugs me sometimes, she wasn't trying to be difficult and has always been put in awful positions. And yes, good to know that purple plague isn't hereditary. Although I guess we'll have to wait until Holly grows up to really see if that proves true...
I have NO idea what Walt's plan will be. I have a bad feeling it will be something along the lines of merging businesses with this other dealer to try and expand his own territory/empire. It terrified me how much you could see him getting off on the guy piecing together that he was the infamous Heisenberg.
Britt: I'm with Allie on this. I really think it's going to be some sort of merger that will allow Walt to stay in business and keep cooking, and it'll appeal to this business rival because it gives him control of the best meth on the market. This way Mike gets out with his cut, and Jesse still has the option of getting out or staying and cooking with Walt. I hope Jesse chooses to get out, but I don't think we'd have much of a show left if he did. I'm more curious how this chain of events leads to Walt going on the lam and needing that heavy artillery in his trunk.
Allison: I fear Jesse will still stay by Walt's side, but I'm beyond curious to know what Walt could have possibly told him to convince him to do so. The way Jesse was defending Walt and pleading with Mike after Walt essentially stole all their Methylamine out from under them was heartbreaking -- this is a dysfunctional relationship to the highest degree and whether Jesse realizes it or not, Mike is really the only person left in Jesse's life who is truly looking out for him, and I worry by choosing Walt, Jesse is going to lose Mike forever and probably inadvertently sign his own death certificate. Walt has turned into a real killer and I wouldn't be surprised if, when it came down to it, he took Jesse out if he continues to try and stand in his way.
Britt: When this season first started I thought for sure the series would end with a Walt/Jesse showdown where only one can walk away alive, but now I'm not so sure. As the season progresses, I'm realizing anyone and everyone could be locked in a stand-off with Walt -- the more the merrier! Eventually this facade of power will have to crumble and he'll be left with a lot of people he's pissed off. I'm still holding out hope that Skylar gets some sense and goes to Saul for help.
Sam: Here's hoping for strength in numbers!
Also, how great was a brief bit of Saul?
Britt: Uh, that suit was insane in the best way possible.
Allison: I love Saul -- he is the much-needed comic relief of this show, especially in such a heavy and dark episode like this one! And his suits are always fantastic.
Britt: Bob Odenkirk as the Joker in whatever Batman they make next.
Britt: There seemed to be much less of Hank this week, aside from the tapped phone calls. Do we think he's going to remove himself from the investigation per his new job requirements, or will he still be heavily involved?
Allison: I can't see Hank letting go of this investigation. He's so involved and I think this is his source of pride -- the last thing he would want to do is walk away and have someone else catch his elusive Heisenberg. But then that begs the question, what do we think will happen if and when Hank comes face to face with the real Heisenberg and realizes exactly who it is he's been chasing this whole time?
Sam: Pretty much every possible outcome is ruined. At least for the family. Even if Walt gave up now, I can't imagine anything salvageable. Heisenberg is a train, and it's definitely on its way to Hank. That s--- is going to be rough.
Britt: I'd like to imagine a quiet, but fierce moment between Hank and Walt once Hank realizes what's up, but I don't think Walt's pride will allow that to happen. It's going to get explosive, and I think Hank isn't going to let Walt off easy, especially since Hank has some sizable pride of his own, and he's going to feel like Walt's made a fool of him for years.
Allison: That showdown may terrify me more than the potential one between Jesse and Walt. We've certainly seen those two go to blows, but Walt has broken down Jesse so much I fear he won't have the fire of pride and betrayal that Hank would bring to their inevitable confrontation.
Britt: What were your favorite moments or lines this week? Dramatically, that opening was fantastic, but I really loved the whole awkward dinner scene with Jesse and the Albertson's green beans and his descriptions of his horrible frozen dinners.
Sam: I loved Walt's Grey Matter speech. If anything, it just proved there's always been a monster within (and that maybe goes for all of us, as well). I was also a huge fan of Saul's return. Slimy lawyers threatening feds slimily always makes for top notch entertainment!
Allison: Anything with Mike is a highlight for me -- I loved his put-out/slightly annoyed attitude when trying to keep an eye on/restrain Walt to keep him from messing up the deal. I loved when he came upon Walt in the garage and tells him to join him in the office and emphasizes that it was "not a request." Plus his "F--- you" note to the DEA when they were tailing him at the park -- classic Mike.