As the Belize Tourism Board sounded the alarm to undo all the damage Saul Goodman did in "Buried," the stellar follow-up to the Season 5b's premiere "Blood Money," so too were the sirens blaring for Walter, Hank, and Skyler. Breaking Bad is showing complete disregard for the health of America's hearts as it moves along in its final season intent on giving the pacemaker industry more business than it can handle.
If last week was the slap in the face for Heisenberg's
unmasking unhatting, this week was when the sting was felt. And "Buried" showed that sting would be felt where it could hurt Walter most: by everyone within spitting distance of him. Sure, the meat of Breaking Bad's final season is watching eagerly to see if Walter the drug kingpin meets a grisly fate or if he ends the series out on top, but there's also the matter of how big the crater is where Walter's home and family life used to be when all is said and done.
Following last week's showdown in the garage, Walt simply walked out of Hank's home office (Hank was nice enough to open the garage for him) and the mad dash to make the next move was on. Boy did I overanalyze their conversation last week as I thought Walt was playing a subtle game by toying with Hank's head, but when you peel out in your car as your exit after being correctly accused of being a drug kingpin by a DEA agent, those skid marks may as well read "I'm guilty!" And thus these final episodes of Breaking Bad become a different game; it's less of a chess match and more of game to see who can shove more chess pieces down the other's throat. How can Hank prove what he knows, and what can Walt do to make she he can't prove a thing when a gifting Hank with a trip to Belize with Mike is not an option?
For Hank, the answer was simple: get to Skyler, the poor innocent victim in all of this (ha!). At least that's what Hank thought. Hank was quicker on the draw with his cell phone than Walt was, and convinced her to meet him at a restaurant for a bite of consoling with a side of testimony in the first of a pair of fantastic scenes involving Skyler seeing the end in her sights. Hank's approach here was interesting. I didn't think he thought Skyler was in cahoots with Walt, so he thought he was doing her a favor by putting this "monster" away and freeing this damsel-in-law in distress from her prison. Skyler reverted back to her panic mode of squealing a phrase over and over and over again; last season it was "Shut up!" to Marie, this episode it was "Am I under arrest?" to Hank. And when Skyler gets into one of these broken record routines, it's best to let this crazy lady go and cool off.
But Hank knew that to break this case, Skyler's testimony would be the step ladder that would make it a slam dunk. So he got Marie in on the action to coax Skyler out of her shell, except it didn't go exactly as planned. Marie ripped Skyler to pieces for knowing that Walt was the creep Hank had been chasing this whole time, and the sound of unbridled joy came from the many members of the I Hate Skyler Club as Marie tried to spin Skyler's head around with a nuclear-grade slap of mass destruction. WOW! Maybe Marie was trying to make Skyler's face a nice shade of her favorite color, because she unleashed one on her. But even more painful for Skyler was the sight of Marie trying to take baby Holly away, and Marie would have tucked that kid under her shirt and ran off like she was stealing a diamond tiara if Hank hadn't stepped in and stopped her. And if there was any doubt as to where Marie stood with Walt, she menacingly barked to Hank, "You have to get him."
But with Skyler a dead end (for now), Hank needed another way to get to Walt and the police gods were kind that day because they dropped Jesse Pinkman right in his lap. Busted for making it
rain torrential downpour all over the neighborhood, Jesse was taken into custody and questioned by some cops. And as the episode faded to black, Hank was about to step in and wring all the info he could out of him. Who needs Skyler when you have Jesse Pinkman, Heisenberg's right-hand man?
These scenes with Marie, Skyler, and Jesse all seem to be pointing towards one thing: Breaking Bad is kicking off Season 5b by turning everyone against Walt. Jesse is at another one of his points where he's ready for all of this to end, and Hank is about to give him a convincing spiel. Jesse suspects Walter killed Mike, so it can't be far from his mind that he could be next as his role has gone from partner to loose end. Skyler obviously can't handle the heat like Walter, and breaking her looks like it's only a matter of time. The moment Marie tried to take Holly away was a lot more than just an immediate scare for Skyler; if she's going to stand by Walter, the possibility of losing her kids is a reality. And Marie, well, she's there to turn the screws on Hank to make sure he does this thing full throttle in case he has any doubts. The later scene with Hank and Marie clearly laid out Hank's state of mind. He can't go to the DEA because that would mean he would be done with his job (we just have to take his word for it on that), but if he can at least come in with hard evidence against Walter he can go out with some dignity. Obviously Marie doesn't have anything on Walter, but if either Skyler or Jesse opt to flip on him, Walter's screwed.
While Hank pressed those closest to Walter, Walter made his obvious first move of getting rid of the huge block of green evidence against him and buried his cash in a money grave in the middle of the desert. That whole sequence–from Huell and Kuby playing Scrooge McDuck to Walter using the GPS coordinates of the money grave as his lucky lotto numbers–was fantastic viewing for ultimately being just about a guy hiding a lot of cash. But it was also vintage brainy Walter solving a problem. However, this episode wasn't really about Walter.
And it certainly wasn't about Heisenberg. Ever since Walt "got out" in the Season 5a finale, we're seeing some regression back to the Walt we liked, as opposed to the huge jerk he became in Season 4 and 5a. It's a big change from what the show was doing in those two seasons when a straight line to Scarface-ication was the main objective. Now he's smiling and talking about air fresheners more than he's stinking of the scary hubris that had some viewers turning on him. Is Breaking Bad softening up Walt for this final swan song? He's just not the same guy I wanted to see get his comeuppance. He's more like the genius reactionary of Season 3 that we rooted for, and that's making it awfully hard to hate the guy right now.
If that wasn't enough to fill out an episode, Declan and his sloppy meth gang got theirs and it was awwwwwesome. What a play by Lydia! Teaming up with Todd and his white supremacist buddies to take out Declan and his Chef Boyardee meth-makers was some inspired ladder-climbing. Now she can sell Todd's 74-percent pure meth to the Czechs and take over Declan's territory! And as Lydia suddenly takes over the meth business in the Southwest and in the Czech Republic, she (and Todd's crew) becomes a nice little prize that any DEA agent would love to cuff. And a nice bargaining chip, if, say, any other drug dealer were to be caught (ahem Heisenberg) and willing to give them up in exchange for some leniency. Just an idea, folks!
"Buried" spread the tension created by "Blood Money" out to the rest of the characters, effectively bringing everyone into this big mess between Hank and Walter. We're not just waiting for one man to go down. Breaking Bad has always made a point to show how Walter's decisions affect everything around him, but now it seems that everything around Walter may affect him. This is a fantastic start to Breaking Bad's final season.
– How great was that shot of Walt as he exited Hank's garage, standing before Hank like he was a gunfighter while Hank held the garage door opener in his hand? Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan is a huge fan of Westerns, and the genre's frequent desert landscapes were visited all episode long. "Buried" was absolutely gorgeous and one of the most beautiful episodes of the series.
– If you wanted a preview of Walter's possible death scene, we got it when he and Skyler had a talk in the bathroom after Walter collapsed. But everything Walter said to Skyler came from a moment of weakness, if you ask me. I don't believe he's going to give himself up like he said, and Skyler doesn't want him to give himself up. "The way Hank talks, he's got his suspicions but not much else," she assured him. "You can't give yourself up without giving up the money. It's the way this works, Walt. So maybe our best move here is to stay quiet."
– Marie even has a purple tea kettle!
– Belize! Belize! Belize! "Send him to Belize? I'll send YOU to Belize," Walter said, making my day.
– I can't help but laugh at all the fun gratuitous "let's stick a camera here" shots Breaking Bad does. We got a nice crane shot of Jesse twirling on the playground merry-go-round, rolling barrel cam, and a camera inside a GPS unit. Which one was your favorite?
– There are three popular theories going around about how Walt got to the flashforwards that we saw at the beginning of Seasons 5a and 5b. He faked his own death; he's in the witness protection program; or he had Saul's associate make him "disappear." Which do you think it is?
– There's something sneaky about Walter's cancer, but I can't put my finger on it. I just can't trust anything Walter says right now, and we've never heard a doctor talk about the cancer to confirm that it has returned. Walter told Hank that he'd be gone in six months, yet he's clearly alive beyond that AND he's got a full head of hair. Did he abandon chemotherapy and is he living beyond his prognosis, did he beat the cancer again, or is he staging a brutal and elaborate hoax?
AIRED ON 9/29/2013
Season 5 : Episode 16