With just six episodes left, ‘Breaking Bad’ is spinning a brilliant, intricate web for its upcoming finale. While relatively low on violence, this week’s installment is high on drama. The walls are closing in on everyone, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.
An old man starts up his beat-up Chevy truck in the wee hours. When he turns on its headlights, he sees a stack of banded cash lying in his driveway. Looking around, he discovers more. Like a trail of breadcrumbs, it leads him to Jesse’s car in a nearby park. Delirious, Jesse gazes up into the night sky, lying on a spinning merry-go-round as the bewildered old codger tries to make sense of it all.
Picking up where last week’s episode left off, a battered Walt exits Hank’s garage. No words are exchanged, and they have a bitter stare-down. In a panic, Walt tries to get Skyler on his phone while driving away, but discovers Hank already has her on his phone.
Skyler meets Hank at a local diner, where he sympathizes with her and offers her and her children his protection. He asks her for a taped confession. He reveals that Walt told him his cancer was back. To Hank’s chagrin, Skyler suggests that she thinks she might need a lawyer. She realizes he doesn’t have the hard evidence he needs. Angrily, she storms out of the diner after confirming she is not, in fact, under arrest.
Walt meets with his lawyer Saul, who helps him collect his mountain of cash, which is in storage. Saul suggests that he send his brother-in-law Hank on a “trip to Belize,” a not-so-subtle euphemism for killing him. (Walt tells people Mike went on a trip to Belize after he killed him.) Disgusted, Walt refuses, ironically invoking family values.
Marie goes to see Skyler at her home to try to convince her to help Hank convict Walt. Skyler doesn’t say a word, but Marie pieces it all together. Angrily, Marie tries to take the Skyler’s baby Holly with her. Skyler refuses, and they tussle, screaming over where the baby should be. Hank intervenes and they part company with very hard feelings. Holly remains with her mother.
Walt buries barrels of his cash in the desert. Making mental note of the coordinates, he purchases a lottery ticket with those numbers so that they’re not forgotten.
Exhausted, Walt returns home to Skyler. He collapses while getting ready to shower. When he comes to, Skyler conspires with him. She advises him to stay quiet and tries to convince him that Hank doesn’t have enough evidence to nail him.
Lydia meets with her new meth manufacturers. She’s unhappy with their underground lab and their inferior product. Calling in her people – including the creepy Todd – she has the replacements executed while she stays in the lab waiting for the all-clear. She doesn’t want to see the carnage and covers her eyes as she’s led away from the scene.
Marie urges Hank to return to work and report his suspicions to the DEA. Hank is reluctant because he fears that he’ll be fired for perceived incompetence. He wants to at least be the one to catch Heisenberg. Nonetheless, he returns to work.
Jesse has been arrested and is being interrogated by detectives Frick and Frack. He remains silent. Hank convinces the detectives to let him talk to Jesse. They agree and subsequently leave. Hank enters the interrogation room as the episode fades to black!
One of the things ‘Breaking Bad’ does best is create tapestries of silence. Some of the most dramatic moments are those in which not a word is said, or in which only one person does the talking. From the opening sequence with the old man finding the cash and Jesse, to Walt’s frantic rush to hide his money in the desert, to Skyler’s lack of verbal response to questioning from both Hank and Marie, this strength is on abundant display this week. As I recall, Jesse hasn’t spoken a word in any of his scenes this season! All are highly stylized scenes that manage to be revelatory and substantive. It’s masterful work.
On a lighter note, must we have images of Walt in nothing but his tighty whiteys inflicted upon us in every single episode? (This time, it’s the shower/collapse scene.) I’m calling a moratorium on that. After five seasons of this nastiness, we’ve had quite enough.