Breaking Bad

Season 2 Episode 12

Phoenix

9
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM May 24, 2009 on AMC
9.2
out of 10
User Rating
379 votes
11

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
Walter Jr. launches a new website to raise money for the family.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • The last scene saved the episode

    7.0
    the rest was just boring.

    The story with the girlfriend nevrer really got me. One day they they have casual sex on the floor, the next they're madly in love and Jesse lets her handle the whole money situation. That did not convince me.

    The last scene was pretty intense, I liked it. It kinda solved this silly situation with one very good moment.
  • Momentarily Outstanding, But Not Perfect as a Whole

    8.5
    Season two's penultimate episode doesn't feel as if we were coming to an intense season finale, but nevertheless includes scenes of great importance. Firstly, Walt's and Skyler's second kid Holly is finally born. After the tumultuous ending of "Mandala", "Phoenix" takes it a bit calmer and includes some lovely scenes between Walt and his daughter. The fact that Skyler's boss Ted was present at the birth and her actual husband Walt wasn't, is an interesting idea already and the 'introduction shot' of Ted was made very well too.



    Yet the bigger aspect of this episode is a new problem that Walt faces: through his incredible deal in "Mandala", he made him and his family rich, but can't tell them because the deal's methods were a bit disgraceful, to say the least. The growing suspicion of his family about Walt so decisively objecting to any form of subsidies is another really well-made part of "Phoenix". In one rememberable scene, he shows the tremendous money stash to his infantile daughter, which makes her fall asleep. Walt's new lawyer Saul also gets a word into that dilemma and comes up with an ingenious solution again in his "I know a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who knows a guy" technique.



    However, the plot part that you will surely not forget about "Phoenix" is neither of those two but what happens to Jesse and Jane in this episode. I'm not spoiling it for you, but it's indubitably the most intense moment up to that point on Breaking Bad. Bryan Cranston, who is also involved in this unforgettable scene, does a phenomenal acting job in that particular scene, it is crystal clear (no pun intended) why this man has won three Emmys for this role. What happened previous to that excellent closing scene is not nearly as good, but I at least appreciate the writer's idea of how to let this story come to an end. It's just that the screenplay gives the involved actors some cheesy lines and admittedly, Aaron Paul and Krysten Ritter don't seem to have had their best of days whilst shooting this episode. Anyway, there's still the aforementioned stand-out scene and before that, a great conversation between two characters you wouldn't have expected to meet up for a talk.



    I consider "Phoenix" to be one of season two's best episodes, yet it still isn't perfect and a tad unentertaining at times.moreless
  • Damn..

    9.5
    The end was really sad..
  • Greatest TV show ever?

    10
    (small spoilers ahead, vague references to season 5)



    A fantastic episode.



    For me, Walt's actions stopped being justifiable ever since he didn't accept they Grey Matter money. He decided to put his family's life in danger, and ruin the lives of others by cooking meth, instead of losing face and accepting the money. Did he do this for his family? Absolutely not. He did it for himself. You can't fully hate Walt even though you really should that early on, because I still empathise with him, even though I rationally know I shouldn't.



    In this episode, we think we see how Walt is still fundamentally a good person, despite the horrible things he has done. He clearly deeply cares about Jesse; this is where their dynamic gets really interesting. But there's a real sense of cognitive dissonance; I still liked Walt at this point, but at the same time he's being a terrible father for his son (the alcohol, the website), and he is clearly putting his pride before his family. When I watched this for the first time, I was trying to figure out what exactly to make of Walt.



    Then BOOM. He does that. Absolutely shocking. A fantastic plot development. At this point, we have every reason to hate Walt. He has pretty much murdered Jane after all. And yet, SOMEHOW, I still didn't hate Walt at this point. His actions were understandable in their own fucked up way. That is the genius of Breaking Bad and Vince Gilligan. We, as an audience, are so used to rooting for the protagonist that we don't know what to think when he's clearly becoming the antagonist. In retrospect, I was performing mental gymnastics to still like Walt at all now. And Vince Gilligan is a genius for making me do so.



    But now that we're at season 5, I have no idea how anyone can still be managing to abandon all forms of rationality and perform the mental escapology required to still root for Walt, and in turn hate the clear victims of the show, namely Skyler. Breaking Bad fantastically transformed 'Mr Chipps into Scarface', and managed to keep us supporting Walt for longer than we know we should. This episode is a fantastic example of that. But, as of the end of season 5, the transformation is complete. I have no idea how anyone can still root for him.



    Anyway, sorry for going off track a little. I just love this show and think that this is such an important point in the development of Walt's character.moreless
  • Walter White sinks even lower. (spoilers)

    9.5
    So he cries afterward, does that make it any less evil? In a way it makes it worse. He knows better. He knows how bad the thing is that he does. But he does not let that hold him back. Because ultimately, Walter White is the kind of guy that can inadvertently trigger a young woman's death by asphyxiation - then see it as an opportunity and just stand by and watch her die. It's his fault she choked because she was on her side but he flipped her on her back. He clearly knows all about the dangers of this as shown in the earlier baby scene where he and his sister in law discussed propping the Whites' baby on her side to make sure she wouldn't choke if she spit up in her sleep. This latest deed of Walter was chilling. So cold. And at the end of the day, I doubt it will make Walter any less proud of his 'success'. As the scene in Saul's office revealed, Walt feels he 'earned' that money and he resents that he can't crow to the world about it. Later, he shows the hidden cash to his newborn baby and cooed "see what your daddy did for you"? He might as well now show her Jane's lifeless vomit plastered face. That's what your Daddy did for you. Actually - no. That's what he did for Walter. That's who it's all for now. And the evil Walter gets stronger and the good Walt fades further into oblivion.moreless
Tomas Potts

Tomas Potts

Tattooed Biker

Guest Star

Cydne Schulte

Cydne Schulte

Tattooed Woman

Guest Star

Tony Whitecrow

Tony Whitecrow

Addict

Guest Star

Krysten Ritter

Krysten Ritter

Jane Margolis

Recurring Role

Bob Odenkirk

Bob Odenkirk

Saul Goodman

Recurring Role

Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins

Ted Beneke

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

FILTER BY TYPE

  • TRIVIA (3)

    • The name of the episode is a reference to the Phoenix Lander which discovered water in Mars. There's a image of it in the television, in the bar, between the dialogue with Walter and Jane's dad. 

    • Bryan Cranston mentions in an interview that the scene with Jane at the end of the episode was one of several versions. The original version was that Walter is filled with disgust when he sees Jesse and Jane on the bed. In a paternal way – like a 'this is somebody's child' way - Walter pushes Jane on her back. The version shown was in the middle of the original and Bryan's suggested third version. Bryan's suggestion was that he tries to wake up Jesse, Jane flops on her back and in disgust Walter walks out and when he's down the hallway he can hear her choking, but it doesn't really register. When he gets to the front door he realizes what he's actually hearing and runs back to the room and she's dead.

    • In "ABQ", Donald explains that Jane was born in Phoenix, a connection to this episode's title.

  • QUOTES (3)

    • (Jesse surprises Mr. White at the school)
      Walt: When have you EVER not dropped the ball, Jesse? Blasted out of your mind on whatever the hell that was – what was that? Heroin? Jesus!
      Jesse: I was on my day off, man. What I do on my day off is -
      Walt: Day off? We were on call, you junkie, on call for the biggest deal of our lives. And I just managed to pull it off by the skin of my teeth, no thanks to you. And YOU – made me miss the birth of my daughter. Son of a bitch.
      Jesse: How much?
      Walt: How much what?
      Jesse: How much did you get for the deal?
      Walt: 1.2 million.
      Jesse: 600 thousand each.
      Walt: 480 thousand. Saul's cut is 20 percent.
      Jesse: Alright, so where's my money? (Walt laughs) What?
      Walt: You are joking, right? If I gave you that money, you would be dead inside of a week.
      Jesse: Yo, man, look I'm off the heroin. I didn't even like it anyway, it made me sick. And the meth, you know, I can take it or leave it. I'm clean, Mr. White – for real.
      Walt: (tosses beaker to Jesse) Prove it. Pee in that.
      Jesse: How gay are you, seriously?
      Walt: Pee in it. They're selling testing kits at the drugstores. If you are clean, I will give you every last dime. No, huh? Well, I guess until then, you'll just have to depend on the kindness of strangers to get high. That and your little junkie girlfriend.
      (Jesse throws the beaker at the blackboard, narrowly missing Walt's head)

    • (After Walt talks about his problems with Jesse)
      Donald: Family.
      Walt: Yeah...Family.
      Donald: You can't give up on them, ever. I mean...What else is there?
      (Walt nods)

    • Walt: (Referring to Jesse's relationship with Jane) Nice job wearing the pants.

  • NOTES (3)

    • Original International Air Dates:
      Czech Republic: April 9, 2011 on Nova Cinema

    • Featured Music:

      "Desperate Time, Desperate Measures" by Susie Boehm
      "Green Grass & High Tides" by The Outlaws

    • During the episode, SaveWalterWhite.com redirected to AMC's "Breaking Bad" webpage. However, the site later became active with the same text we saw in the episode. Clicking on the donation button redirects you to the National Cancer Coalition online donation webpage.

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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