Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Episode 21: You Just Might Learn Something

Join your host as he recalls what Fat Albert taught us, plays another round of This Product Exists, wonders why he can't figure out the time, rails against lazy fundraising, applauds a royal snub, and provides an emotional Parting Shot.

Links from the episode:

The Snuggery

Music from this episode:
"See No Evil" - Television
"OK" - Beastie Boys
"Gold On The Ceiling" - The Black Keys
"Home Town" - Joe Jackson
"Got The Time" - Joe Jackson
"(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" - Devo
"Same Love" - Macklemore and Ryan Lewis
"Live at Union Square (November 1986)" - DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Monday, November 05, 2012

Episode 20: Just Warming It Up

Join your host for this milestone 20th episode as he waxes philosophic on Chinese desserts, pities the belly b-roll subjects, is amazed at a new way to ingest alcohol, tears down the Long Island Medium, paints a cautionary picture about automatic fixtures, and sits in awe of old folks who just don't care anymore.  Also, a deliciously perfect Parting Shot.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Episode 19: Random Ramblings

Join your host as he atones for an earlier oversight, confirms his suspicions, observes strange and annoying behavior, fails at Real Man stuff, and narrowly avoids an 80's horror movie fate.  Also, the Parting Shot recommends something awesome.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Episode 18: You Hate Cancer, Right?

Listen as our hero makes a startling confession, rants about being forced to show his opposition to things, ponders our viewing choices, remembers Neil Armstrong, and recommends something awesome via the Parting Shot.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Say My Name" (Season 5, Episode 7)

Previously on Breaking Bad, Mike played paralegal with his lawyer and told Walt both he and Jesse were quitting, while also striking a deal with another dealer named Declean, Jesse implored Walt to quit also, but Walt wasn't hearing any of it, which forced Mike to secure him to the radiator while he finalized the deal, Walt MacGuyver'ed his way out of that and stole the remaining chemical, which caused Mike to put a gun to Walt's head for like the 8th time in 3 seasons, but Walt evaded the bullet once more by letting Mike and Jess know that, in his plan, everybody wins.

Another open where we know immediately what's happening - it's just after the end of the last episode, and the crew is en route to a meeting where we will all hear Walter's master plan.  Pulling over in the middle of the desert, we see Declean and his henchmen.   Mike wearily stops the car and sighs, "Your play, Walter", and it's hard to tell how much he believes in whatever this plan is.  What is clear is that Walt will be the only one talking for the crew. After Dec (which we will call him from here on out) notices that they came bearing no product, Walt indicates that it isn't coming.  Dec asks why, and oh by the way, who the hell are you?  He addresses Mike, who remains silent, and Walt informs him how much more the stuff is worth in his hands as opposed to Dec's, but Walt needs distribution.  Dec finds this amusing, and Walt continues that if Dec gives up his cook let Walt do the cooking, he can enjoy a whopping 35% of the profits.  Dec, getting increasingly impatient, looks to Mike for answers.  Walt, getting cockier by the second, lets on how he hears that Dec's product is 70%, versus the 99.1% blue gold he can conjure up.  Better product equals premium pricing, so do the math, Dec.  Store brand generic cols vs. Classic Coke, if you will.   Dec offers to just waste Walt right here, thereby solving his problem, but Walt counters that who would want to live in a world without the best product being available.  Even Dec chuckles at this, and Walt seizes the moment by slowly reaching into his pocket and tossing out a bag of the aforementioned blue meth, then calls out Dec for using food coloring to ape Walt's product.  Dec counters that he's not giving up this deal and couldn't care less if junkies high's were a little substandard.  Walt counters with the math: better product, better yield, higher prices, more profit.  Now in full on Heisenberg mode, he lets it be known that Dec has the opportunity for the best, no, the two best (points to Jesse, who's like "Dude, leave me out of this") meth cooks in America.  Why am I so lucky to be a part of this, Dec wonders, and Walt tells him that Mike is "retiring" so the distribution job is open.  Finally, dec asks the question: who are you?  Walt, chest puffed out, replies that they all know exactly who he is, and asks them to say it.  Dec is like, what? I don't know.  Walt elaborates that he is the cook....the man who killed Gus Fring.  That raises some eyebrows, and Mike silently confirms that yes, this guy - not the cartel - did the deed.  Now, Walt spits, "Say my name".  Dec gets it now and replies "Heisenberg".  Walt: "You're goddamn right".  Titles.....

The deal is done, and Mike congratulates Walt, whie Jesse, though appreciative of the kind words, reiterates to Walt that he's done, finished, out of the cooking biz, remember?  Walt gives the condescending "we'll talk" reply, and mentions that he needs a little time to help get Jesse his $5 million cut.

Back at Vamanos Pest, which I guess is where they're having what amounts to Mike's retirement ceremony.  He offers a few parting thoughts - first, he's going to pay off his legacy cost guys, thereby freeing Walt of the burden, and second, tells Walt he will need to remove that bug from Hank''s office, and soon.  That's it, Walt asks, no thanks for the money, no "sorry I chained you to the radiator"?  "Just get the bug, Walter", and with that the two frenemies part ways.  Jesse has a little more of an emotional parting, and Mike makes it pretty clear that neither of these guys will ever see him again, as he is getting as far away as possible.  He advises Jesse to look out for himself, and offers him a handshake (which he did not offer to Walter, who see this through the blinds and is clearly not cool with it).  Prick.

We're at the Car Wash, where Skyler looks nervously out through the front door.  We see that it's closed, despite the fact that it appears to be the middle of the day.  There's a knock at the back door, and we see it's Walt.  We also see what Sky was so nervous about, as the thousand gallon tank is parked right in the middle of the bay.  Jesse beings backing in the truck, and pauses to offer an awkward "Hi, Mrs. White".  Once inside, he gets out and walks up beside her, and, looking at the writing on the side of the truck, looks at her and says "Vamanos".  "I wish" is her reply, and these two have soooo much in common right now that they really should just go out and have some drinks and vent about how much Walt is screwing up both their lives. She asks Walt what is in the tank, and he tells her twice not to worry about it.  her concerns are valid, as always, figuring that if it is somethign valuable that it's worth killing for, thus it puts her in danger.  He tells her to get back in the office and let him get it out of her hair.  Well, that helped.  Jesse watches her walk away, and they appear to exchange a quick glance before we head to commercials.  If I neglected to mention it yet, Walt = Prick.

At a bank which we have never seen before, a woman named Dorothy has a tupperware container dropped on her desk containing, awesomely, Bacon Banana cookies.  They're delivered by none other than Lawyer Dan, who represented the legacy cost guys.  She escorts him to the safe deposit box room, and proceeds to open her half of the boxes, where Dan lets her know that he has just bought an additional one that we can see is a lot bigger than the others. Once alone, he proceeds to open each and deposit small amounts of cash inside, saving the biggest drop for the last box.  That box belongs to Kaylee, and it also contains an envelope that she is to open on her 18th birthday.  Kid will be loaded.  Finished, he meets Mike in the parking lot and they share a smile about how Kaylee's box is filled to the brim.  When Mike asks about the others, Dan tells him that they were all empty, meaning that the families are getting their shares as Mike promised them, albeit in smaller, harder to trace installments.

Mike is out in a remote field, listening to Hank via the bug, and it's mundane chatter about his having to be a fundraiser. When Gomie arrives, the talk turns to Mike, and they speka about the warrant which they will have in a matter of hours.  At hearing this, he shuts down the laptop and walks over to a deep well, where he deposits not only the laptop, but an entire weapons cache.  When he says he's out, he means it.  Cut to him parking a car at the airport, and hiding the key on a nearby beam.  Presumably, this will be his final getaway car.  He hails a cab and leaves.

Back home, he pours a cup of coffee as the cops arrive, loudly banging on the door and yelling about their warrant.  Hank is there, and mocks Mike by asking about the restraining order. As usual, Mike is one step ahead as he calmly sits in his easy chair while the DEA takes apart his house and finds not a damn thing.

Walt is working on the equipment when Jesse arrives.  He tells him to help out on one of the tanks and makes small talk about the last cook,  Jesse wants to talk, but Walt cuts him off by offering to set him up with his own lab.  He's talking very fatherly when he tells him that he deserves it.  Again, kind words and all, but not what Jesse wants to hear.  He says, again, that he just wants to get his money and get out.  Walt goes into Knute Rockne mode and discusses wasting potential, and why would you want to do that when you can be the best?  Besides, what would you be leaving this for?  Jesse doesn't have an answer, but wouldn't it be nice to get out of a job which entails sometimes killing people and potentially spending a large chunk of time in prison?  Walt then goes into full on asshole mode, dressing sown the kid about how he has nothing or no one in his life except video games and go-carts, and we can see Jesse's face begin to fall as the eyes moisten.  Walt then drops the "how soon before you start using again" bomb, which is just fucking low.  Sensing maybe he went too far, Walt backtracks and tells him he knows he's upset about Spider Boy, but hey, so is he.  Jesse doubts that, highly, and recalls the whole whistling from last episode, at which point Walt makes the point that yes, that happened, but we can;t simply stop because of it.  When recounting the others they've killed, he only mentions Gale, who happens to be the one Jesse popped alone, and affirms that if there is a hell that the two of them pretty much have their tickets punched.   Jesse just wants the money, and Walt plays the whole "blood money" card, and goes on about how "pure" jesse is.  It's all bullshit, and Jesse knows it, but Walt goes on how much more they can make if they stay together.  Jesse sticks ot his guns and leaves, while Walt yells at him, like a Dad actually, that if he leaves he GETS! NOTHING! NOTHING!!  Prick.

DEA office.  A video conference with the Head Honcho is in progress, but Hank is zoned out on survelliance photos of Mike before HH snaps him out of it.  Hank is forced to stay behind as the meeting adjourns, and HH lets Hank know how he needs to act more like a boss and less like a guy who is obsessed iwth one case, The Fring Case, which is essentially over.  There are several other cases in play, and he implores him to spend time on those as he cuts the Ehrmantraut survelliance budget to a big fat zero.  Gomie knocks and enters and the talk quickly goes back to Mike, who is not doing anything at all, not even throwing the DEA tails.  Hank can't let it go and wonders why this is the most loyal crew in history - unless someone is still paying them off.  He realizes they are all represented by the same lawyer, our pal Dan, but Gomie says that's not all that unusual in cases like this.  Hank orders them to tail Dan anyway, splitting budgetary hairs by rationalizing that it's not Mike who is being tailed.  Gomie has reservations, but goes ahead with the plan.

Walt is prepping for a cook, donning the yellow hazmat suit, when we are treated to his new assistant - Todd.  Walt is in teacher mode, as he realizes that Todd, though eager to learn, is a bit of a dim bulb.  A montage, over "Down" by the Monkees, shows the cook process in progress while Todd takes copious notes.  I get the feeling these notes won't resemble Dale's highly technical book of info, and contain more lines like "pour stuff that smells like piss into the big vat and turn that knob thingy to the left..."

The finished product awaits as morning breaks, and the cook is complete.  Todd remarks on how complicated it is, and how it will take him a few more times before he gets it.  Walt assures him that he applied himself, and that's all he can ask.  He unzips as Todd leaves, and it's clear he's got a lot of training to do before this kid approaches Pinkman-level skills.

Back at the bank, and here's Lawyer Dan with another Tupperware Box O'Treats.  It's cake pops, with little faces on them.  Doris is glad, but seems a little off, and we soon see why.  As Dan is opening the first box, he turns toward the door and is greeted by a smiling Gomie along with two other agents.  Busted.  Maybe he could offer them some bacon banana cookies?

The White House, and a microwave beeps while Skyler is seated at the table, goblet of wine at her side.  Walt enters with his nuked supper (I guess she's not even cooking for him anymore) and begins to eat.  An attempt at small talk by Walt is greeted by Sky getting up and leaving, goblet in hand of course.  Smash cut to Walt sniveling in Hank's office once more, laying it on much thicker than the last time.  He asks for coffee, which is the cue to get Hank to leave and allow Walt to remove the bugs, which he does just before Hank returns.  In a very fortunate turn of events, Gomie swings by to relay the news that they've nabbed Lawyer Dan and he is willing to flip on Mike.  Bingo!  Walt hears this, and is concerned, obviously.  Prick.

At the playground, Kaylee swings to and fro while Mike does a crossword on the bench and smiles at her.  his cell rings, and it's Lawyer Dan, who lets on that there is a small situation with the money, and they need to talk, and where exactly is he?  Mike tells him he's in the park, and Dan agrees to come right over.  Mike barely has time to register concern before his phone rings again, and he groans as he answers and hears Walt.  Walt's not making a social call - he's tipping him off that the cops are on their way to get him, now.  He cuts Walt off mid rant and sees a cop car pull in just beyond his granddaughter.  Hiding behind a tree, he sees more cops arrive as he realizes he's running out of options.  In one of the most heartbreaking things this show has ever done, and that's saying a lot, we can guess that he's made the decision to bolt and leave her there.  Damn, this show.

Saul's office, where we hear him ranting about what a hack Lawyer Dan is.  Ideas?  Who's got any?  Saul says that if Mike flips, it's all over.  Jesse is adamant that Mike would not flip, but Walt mentions that the nine legacy guys will.  A phone buzzes, and Saul goes to his desk drawer which contains about ten other phones.  He finds the buzzing one and answers - it's Mike.  He lets Saul know about his airport car, which contains the bag Mike needs in order to get away.  get the bag, he implores Saul.  Jesse offers to get it, and Mike will not allow him to get further into any trouble.  Besides, as Walt prick-ily reminds him, he's out, remember?  He offers to go.

Cut to the beam where the key is hidden, and Walt's hand grabbing it.  He pops the trunk, finds Mikes bag and opens it, where he sees a pistol right on top. Hmmm.

Mike is seated on a bench near a small lake, waiting for the bag and skipping a stone.  A car approaches, and it's Walt, with the bag.  Before he hands it over to him, he demands the names of the legacy guys.  Mike scoffs and says the only option left is to leave town.  Walt invokes his family (remember them?) as his reason for staying.  Mike grabs the bag, says goodbye and begins to leave.  Walt spits out a "You're Welcome" and demands the names again, and this sets Mike off.  He blames all of the problems on Walt, and now it's Walt's turn to scoff.   Mike counters that they had a perfect setup with Gus, and if Walt had just kept his mouth shut and cooked none of this crap would have ever happened.  If he just kept his stupid pride and his ego in check, and "knew his place", they'd all be fine right now.  Said pride and ego can't allow those comments to be the final words, so Walt springs into action and returns to his car, then thinks twice and doubles back toward Mike's car.  Mike is opening his bag and just as he realizes the gun is missing, Walt shows up and the windows and shoots once, breaking the glass.  Mike winces and drives away, which Walt has trouble fathoming.  He doesn't get very far, and the car veers into some rocks and crashes.  Walt seems genuinely scared as he trots toward the crashed car, only to find the door open, Mike gone, and some bloody tracks leading toward the water.  He follows them, gun drawn, and finds Mike sitting where he was at the beginning of the scene, gun in hand.  He's bleeding from his stomach, and isn't doing very well.  Walt takes his gun, then realizes, too late, that he could have gotten the names from Lydia.  He apologizes to Mike, which is a first (and last).  Mike cuts him off with the best line of the show: "Shut the fuck up, and let me die in peace".  As we move to a wide shot, we hear a thud, and it's over.  RIP Mike.

Comments, observations, etc:

  • Fanfic writers are having a field day speculating that Jesse and Skyler should get together, and not just to talk if you know what I mean and I think you do.  I'm sure Walt would be okay with this.
  • Many were upset about how Walt found out about the lawyer flipping, but given that this is a short season, I'll allow it.  We had to have a way for Walt to be in the loop so he could warn Mike and setup the final scene.
  • The insider videos on AMC were great - Jonathan Banks was tearing up when talking about the show, his role, and filming this episode.
  • One more to go, so many potential things can happen - silencing the legacy guys via Todd's prison connections?  Lydia's fate?  When Jesse finds out about Mike?
  • What do you think?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Buyout" (Season 5, Episode 6)

Firstly, let me say that this was the only episode thus far this season that I watched live.  In doing so, I used the AMC StorySync, and it was very cool.  If you have a chance to watch the show with this, do it.  It's not intrusive and kinda fun.  On to the recap....

Previously on Breaking Bad, Walt bugged Hank's office and nearly got caught, Lydia mapped out a big plan to help the crew acquire gallons o' methylamine via a good old fashioned train robbery, Hank and Marie took an extra shine to baby Holly while Skyler told Walt that the kids stay away while he tries to be the King,  Walt insisted that any and all "legacy costs" should come from Mike's cut, Jesse made it clear to Bug Guy Todd that nobody could ever know about the train heist, which they managed to pull off by a whisker, then everything hit the fan when Todd took action on the only witness, a kid on a dirt bike.

No mysterious open this week - we're directly in the aftermath of the shooting.  No ambient noise is heard as we see the almost mundane details: the unloading of the truck and the excavation of the dirt bike, which is then taken apart and cut up into little pieces before getting forever forgotten in a tub of hydrofluoric acid, which we know dissolves any and everything without leaving a trace, even bathtubs.  Once that dirty deed is done, the task gets grimmer as the body of Spider Boy is unearthed from the truck. Thankfully, we are spared the details and are only shown his little hand sticking out of the dirt pile, while Walt preps a fresh barrel.  Once they're finished, Jesse heads out back for a smoke and is joined by Bug Guy Todd.  You can tell Jesse is eaten up by witnessing yet another senseless death, and is clearly in no mood for chit chat when Todd sets up next to him and lights one up.  An attempt at small talk regarding the smell of the acid goes unacknowledged.  After an uneasy pause, Todd goes with the "shit happens, eh?" line and is promptly cold cocked by Jesse, who then walks away without a word.  Titles.....
Back inside the Vamanos Pest HQ, Todd is trying to explain himself, as it appears that no discussion of the shooting has even occurred as yet.  He actually makes some pretty valid points: the kid was on a bike, and could easily have gotten away, so he saw a threat and took care of it.  At this, Jesse perks up - "A threat?  The kid was waving at us!"  Todd's point is that he could not have been sure, and did what he thought was best in light of the mission's objective that nobody could know what went down.  He goes through that move where you keep talking about why you did something, and you start out sort of questioning what you did but by the end, since nobody else is responding, you end up getting more and more confident that what you did was right.  Walt dismisses Todd to allow the crew to talk it over and decide what to do next.  Before he leaves, Todd stresses again how much he wants to be part of this team, and alludes to an uncle's connections in prison which could be a big help.  That seems like too much of a potential plot point to be dismissed, so let's hold on to that one.  As soon as the door shuts, Jesse makes no bones about how he feels: Todd is a whack job.  Walt calmly points out that while Todd was impulsive, there really is no way of knowing what Spider Boy could have potentially said to anyone, even in passing.  Jesse's not hearing it, calls Todd "Rickey Hitler", and asks if that's the way they do business now.  He calls bullshit on the prison connections, but Mike verifies that they are legit (he came across it while vetting Todd), but when asked by Walt if that poses a problem, Mike says no.  Walt cuts to the chase: they have three options,  none of which are very good.  Fire Todd (Jesse nods approvingly), which is risky because he knows way too much and would likely require a major payout to keep his mouth shut.  Walt gets in another dig at Mike regarding adding more legacy costs before moving on to choice number two: "dispose" of Todd, which nobody really has the stomach for at the moment, leaving them only one last choice, keeping him around on the payroll, tenting the houses under a watchful eye. Walt likes this option, as does Mike, and that's enough.  So ordered,  2-1.

Mike goes out to break the news to Todd,  who begins to thank him profusely as Mike grabs him by the lapels and slams him up against the wall.  He warns him that if he ever brings a gun to a job without telling him again, he'll put said gun in a very uncomfortable place in a very uncomfortable position.  Ouch.   We see Todd heading back to his car, an El freaking Camino, no less, and getting in.  Once there, he pulls out the tarantula in a jar that Spider Boy picked up and stares at it as a tiny hint of a smirk crosses his face.  Jesse's right, this guy is freaking batshit.

Stakeout time: a man in a car is writing things in a little notepad and looking through binoculars when Gomez approaches the passenger side and gets in.  It's the Mike surveillance that Hank alluded to just before his promotion.  Mike is sitting on a park bench while Kaylee happily plays in a tree.  He then writes a note of his own, gets up, and very deliberately places it under the trash can before gathering Kaylee and walking away.  Gomez calls it as a "dead drop" and tells the other guy to watch it, thinking that Mike is leaving something for someone else to pick up later.  They wait for a few minutes to see if anyone else comes along to pick up the item, but nobody does.  A break in the case?  Well, not really.  Gomez moves in after a few minutes of inactivity to pick up the item, which is a folded up two word note ("F--- You").  This ain't Mike's first rodeo, fellas.

We're treated to the view of Mike's laptop as he scans the recordings collected by the bug in Hank's office.  After fast-forwarding through some mundane items, including a gem about Hank's hatred of Miracle Whip, he stops when he hears Hank and Gomie talking about him.  Gomie lets on that Mike is a pro who has managed to slip numerous attempts at tailing him, and Hank indicates that Mike, though a pro, is bound to slip up at some point.  They have no intention of stopping this pursuit, and Mike knows it.

Marie, in purple once again, sits down and enjoys a visit from Skyler, who is holding Holly on her lap while they discuss Flynn's moody behavior.  Eventually the talk moves on to Skyler's condition, and the state of her "therapy" with "Peter".  Skyler lies that she's making progress, but begins to break down and sob.  Marie moves in to comfort her and Skyler starts blathering about keeping the kids safe and it looks like she is pretty close to spilling her guts about everything.  Marie acknowledges that even though she sometimes has a big mouth (understatement), she can be trusted, and it really looks like Sky wants to tell her all abut Walt and the meth and everything.and holy shit what if she does?  When Skyler says there are things Marie doesn't know, that if she did know she would never speak to her again, she's obviously referring to the drug empire thing, but Marie runs with this in the opposite direction and figures she's referring to Ted Beneke.  Skyler's mood changes rather abruptly as she now realizes that Walt has poisoned this well too, and she really has nowhere to turn.  Prick.

Another tented house, which means it's cooking time.  Jesse and Walt are watching TV (and a show about simulated caviar made from kelp - what the hell?) as they wrap up their lunch hour and get ready to go back to work.  Just before he can turn off the TV, Jesse stops as a breaking news alert comes on about the missing Spider Boy, whose name, we learn is Drew Sharp.  It's Day 4 of the manhunt, and the search is being expanded.  Jesse sits back down and begins to well up with tears as Walt grabs the remote and turns it off, then begins to comfort Jesse.  Unfortunately, he's been so good at lying lately that we can't tell if anything he says or does is sincere, and when Jesse mentions the kid's parents Walt says he understands and hasn't been able to sleep the past few nights, thinking about them.  However, finally, he says, they have everything they need and no one to answer to.  Eventually, after they burn through this batch of chemical, they will have time for soul searching, but not now.  Until then, he goes on, we run our business our way and make sure "this" never happens again.  This seems to get through to Jesse, but Walt tells him to take the rest of the day off (nice call back here to the birthday episode where Jesse did the same for Walt).  Walt zips himself into the Dexter Kill Room as Jesse gets his jacket upstairs.  As he puts on his hazmat suit, Walt, the son of a bitch, starts whistling.  Whistling while he works, not a care if the damn world.  Jesse gets wind of this, stares incredulously at the tent, takes a phone call and tells the other party that he's leaving, then pauses again to peer at Mr.Happy once more, who's still whistling even as he puts on his gas mask.

We see Walt locking the gate at Vamanos Pest, and unloading a bag from his trunk before heading inside.  He's surprised to see Mike standing in the doorway, and Mike seems equally surprised to see Walt, who says he is delivering the batch.  "We might as well get this over with" Mike sighs and asks Walt to step inside, where Jesse also is waiting.  After putting the batch in the safe, Walt asks what's going on.  Mike tells him that he's already thrown three separate DEA tails since this morning, and that they've been pretty interested in his movements since this whole operation started.  Walt is understandably derailed by this, but Mike assures him that he's got it under control.  This can't go on, Walt spits at him, and Mike is way ahead of him.  "I'm out" he says.  After a pause, Walt tells him that he's sorry to see him go, but it's probably for the best.  He's still got his old friend Jesse on the team, right?  Right?  Jesse?  "Yeah, about that....Mr. White....actually, I'm out too..."  D'oh!  Walt doesn't take this news as easily, and gets in Jesse face about the $300 million potential for the chemical they just risked their lives to steal.  Mike butts in to tell Walt that they're only walking away from the business, and have found a buyer for their share of the methylmine, and this guy is motivated.  Each of them would clear about $5 million, which is a nice chunk of retirement change, while Walt can keep his third and do whatever he wants.   Join us, Jesse tells him.  Pfft, selling out for pennies on the dollar doesn't interest Walter, nor does the fact that his partners are selling out to a competitor.  Besides, Jesse asks, are we in the meth business, or the money business?

Out on a desert road, Mike and Jesse wait, and wait, while a gallon of what we presume is methylmine is perched on the roof of the car.  A black SUV pulls in, and we figure out that this is the motivated buyer.  This gallon is free, but Mike sets the price for the rest (667 gallons) at a cool $10 million.  A steep price, for sure, but it's worth it to this guy since it will get that "blue stuff" off the market.  Ruh roh.  Buyer Guy quickly figures out, based on Mike and Jesse's body language and the math of the number of gallons he's buying, that these guys must have a partner who isn't part of this plan.  Buyer Guy, whose name is Declean, comes up with a new deal - a higher price per gallon, but he needs the entire 1000, thus eliminating his competition and allowing him to expand his market share.  Mike replies that the rest of the stuff is not his to sell, but Declean makes it clear that without it, there is no deal.

The Heisenberg hat sits perched on the nightstand when we hear a cell phone buzzing.  It's Walt's and he's lying in bed when he picks up and tells the person on the other end to come here.  To his house.  Yes, he's serious.  We realize why we heard that line of questioning as we cut to Walter opening the door and letting Jesse into Casa White.  The kid looks a little spooked, as he's never had Walt cross the streams quite like this before. Walt reassures him that nobody is home, so have a seat.  Jesse lets it out right away - Mike's connection wants all 1000 gallons, and Walt immediately shoots him down.  Jesse expected that, but smartly reminds Walt that when he got into this whole thing, he calculated (using math and stuff) that he needed exactly $737,000, which he will now make several times over with the added bonus of having no more dead bodies popping up all around them.  Walt strongly feels that this is selling out, and that he, no, they, have invested too much to pull out now.  This still isn't making sense to Jesse, so Walter breaks it down for him.  Ever heard of a company called Grey Matter, he asks?  We have, via some early flashbacks - it's the company that Walt founded back in Grad school with two of his friends.  They knew this was a potential Big Thing, but "something happened" and Walt left the company by selling his share for $5,000.  The company is now worth, $2.1 billion, with a "B".  He's been kicking himself ever since for selling out his potential just to make a few months rent.  This is a great reveal and callback, and really gets to another layer of his motivation beyond simple ego.  Swirling his scotch, he provides an answer to Jesse's earlier question - meth business or money business?  Neither.  He's in the empire business.  The door opens, and Jesse shoots to his feet, as if he's been busted.  It's Skyler, returning home with a bag of groceries.  I'm reminded that these two have had basically one scene together in five seasons, and that was back in episode two when she told him to stop selling weed to her husband.  No longer concerned with putting on a front, Walt chuckles to himself at the uneasy situation in front of him and does the introductions.  Jesse, bless his heart, calls her Mrs. White and compliments her lovely home as he prepares to get the hell out of there.  Walt won't hear it, and insists that Jesse stay for dinner, which is an idea that both Jesse and Skyler do not like.  Walt is such a bastard right now.

Cut to the most awkward dinner party ever.  Jesse is stuffing his face, presumably so he doesn't have to endure the awkward silence, while Skyler sips from a goblet of white wine.  Seriously, that is the biggest wine glass I've ever seen.  Walt silently eats and we don't care what he's feeling since he orchestrated this whole thing.  Jesse finally breaks the silence by complimenting Skyler's green beans.  He oversells it a bit, and she lets him know these were strictly from the deli at Albertson's, and she tells him this fact as if he were a five year old.  Seeing the need to keep some kind of conversation alive, Jesse then goes into detail about how much frozen food he eats, and how the lasagna looks so good on the box but when nuked produces a scabby like substance.  Walt says nothing while Skyler keeps working the wine bottle.  Once again it's like poor Jesse is the kid stuck between his divorcing parents, only this time it's Walt and Sky.  He brings up the Car Wash, and how Mr. White tells him what a great manager she is.  Intrigued, she asks him to go on - what else does Mr. White tell you about her?  Can of worms now open, she looks directly at her husband and whispers if Jesse's been told about her affair.  Awkward....She eventually can take no more and gets up to leave, bringing the bottle with her, so her night is pretty nicely mapped out.  Once she's gone, Walt tells Jesse that the kids are gone, and not just for tonight - they're gone because she made them go away.  He guilt trips him further by relaying the whole "she's waiting for my cancer to return" angle, and puts the cherry on the guilt sundae with "this business is all I have left, and you want to take it away from me".  Prick.

Cut to the Pest garage, where a ansty Walt opens the door and starts to unlock the chemical tanks.  He's planning to abscond with his portion - how exactly would he pull that off?  not sure, but it doesn't matter since Mike was already one step ahead of him and asks him to step into the office.  Walt declines, but Mike shows his piece and lets him know it's not really optional.  He lays it out form him: the deal is going down no matter what, and to make sure he and Walt are going to spend the night in the office ("like it's my birthday" he deadpans).  Walt wants to cook it, but Mike is not hearing any of it. He sits him down in the chair and keeps an eye on him, as we see night turn into morning outside.  After what looks like a night of very little sleep, Mike informs Walt that before the deal goes down he needs to attend to something.  Not trusting him for some reason, he zip ties him by his wrist to the radiator.  Once Mike is gone, Walt immediately starts looking for a way out, and sees a coffee pot on a file cabinet not too far away.  His attempt to get it fails, but he finds a better way to skin this cat by MacGuyvering his way into making a handy makeshift blowtorch out of a lamp cord.  I swear by the end of this show he'll make a bomb out of a rubber band and two used Kleenex.  Anyway, he frees himself, burning the skin on his wrist in the process.

A conference room at the DEA, where we are privy to an unlikely meeting between Saul and Mike on one side with Hank and Gomez on the other.  The jist? A long shot attempt to buy some time by forcing the DEA to back off on the repeated tailing of Mr. Ehrmantraut.  Saul even compares it to stalking, which is a hoot, and lets on that he has gone so far as to file a temporary restraining order against the DEA.  After they finish, Mike and Saul repair to their car and listen in on the resulting Hank/Gomie convo.  The gamble worked, at least for a while, and they have bought themselves about 24 hours, which Mike deems long enough to do what he needs to do.  It better be, because, as Saul puts it, Hank's hard-on for Mike has just reached "Uncle Miltie proportions".  Love that Saul.

Mike returns to the garage to find the chemical gone, and he freaks.  Walt is there, along with Jesse, and if not for the presence of Mr. Pinkman it's a pretty good bet that Mr. White's gray matter would be decorating the back wall right about now. He really want to shoot him in the head, while Jesse pleadss for him to listen since Mr. White has a great idea.  An idea which allows both Mike and Jesse to get their five mil, and allow Walt to get his methlyamine.  Mike grimaces, keeps the gun to Walt's temple and asks if what Jesse says is true.  Wlat, not the least bit fazed despite the barrel making an imprint on his bald head, says simply "Everybody wins."

Thoughts and bullets
  • Marie was tempted to cheat?  With Ted, or someone else?  I had her pegged as taking a run at that physical therapist that showed up at the Schrader house that one time.
  • Like how Mike refers to Hank as "your peach of a brother-in-law"
  • I too hate scabby lasagna.  Who doesn't?
  • Funny how since we know how much Mike really doesn't like Walt, he still manages to say "sorry" after zip tying him.
  • Walt's plan - could it involve him working for Declean?  I don't think he wants to work for anybody, so does he think he can somehow take those guys out too?
  • Next week looks awesome - they have to remove the bug from Hank's office, Jesse reiterates his desire to quit and Walt's yells at him, and we get a meeting with Walt and Declean.
What do you guys think?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Episode 17: H-E Double Hockey Sticks

Join our hero as he examines the line between old bands and tribute bands, eliminates creepy things, recalls being not totally on board with the women's movement in the 70's, relays a tale of a potty mouthed valedictorian, and recommends another podcast via the Parting Shot.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Dead Freight" (Season 5, Episode 5)

Previously on Breaking Bad, Skyler took a dip in the pool, then got Marie to suggest to Walt that the kids stay with her, Hank made a fancy bulletin board with yarn connecting the links in Gus' empire, and put surveillance on Mike, Bug Guy Todd was very helpful in finding and disabling a nanny cam on the first cook, Lydia noticed something was amiss with the barrel of precursor she was about to give to Jesse, but Mike was adamant that she was responsible for planting it. Walt, when pressed for his opinion on the matter, coldly proclaimed that nothing stops this train.

A windy desert scene is interrupted by a noisy dirt bike roaring through the brush and over the rocks.  As the driver slows down and stops, we see he's a kid of about twelve.  He dismounts the bike and walks over to a creepy, large tarantula, which he picks up with zero fear or hesitation.  After letting it crawl on his arm briefly,  he pulls out a jar, gently deposits the spider inside, screws on the lid, and puts it in his jacket pocket.  He puts his helmet back on and we hear a train whistle off in the distance.  Spider Boy looks that way, and heads toward the source of the whistle.  Titles....

Hank is getting settled into his nice new spacious office when Gomie announces a visitor.  It's Walt, who asks Gomie to excuse them.  Gomie comments, as he shakes Walt's hand upon exiting, that somebody has to catch the bad guys.  Don't let go of the hand Gomie, you just caught one!  Hank, true to form, takes notice of Walt's shiny new Rolex and asks if it was a gift.  Walt replies that he bought it for himself, and why is he lying here?  Between this and the new cars, Hank is noticing stuff and will undoubtedly start connecting the dots pretty soon, right?  They make small talk about Skyler, and when Hank asks about her getting some professional help Walt lets on that she's seeing a doctor named Peter......well, he is drawing a blank on the last name.  Smooth, Walt, but let's get to the real reason for your visit, shall we?  He starts by once again thanking Hank and Marie for helping with the kids, but after a pause and some prodding, lets it out that his wife no longer loves him.  Beginning to break down, he relates that she thinks he's a bad influence and a bad father.  Seeing Walt starting to lose it, Hank, who isn't really good with all this touchy/feely stuff, gets up and tries to reassure Walt while he draws the blinds on the office so as to avoid a potential scene.  Needing an out, he offers to get some coffee, and Walt finally agrees.  Knowing Walt like we do, we're still not sure if he's full of it here, and our suspicions are confirmed as soon as Hank leaves.  Walt wipes his eyes and gets down to business, attaching something to the Ethernet cable on Hank's computer, and placing what appears to be a bug right inside the picture of Hank and Marie.  He's not yet finished when Hank returns, but Walt's back is to the door and as he completes the reassembly of the frame he makes it appear that he was wistfully staring at the happy couple, hoping his life could one day be so blissful.  Phew, that was a close one.

Here's Lydia, and she looks panicked.  Again, but with pretty good reason this time, as she's just had her blindfold removed.  She's in a darkened warehouse with Mike, Walt and Jesse, and it's interrogation time.  She chatters about her daughter and where is she and what's going on as Mike handcuffs her to the table and tells her to shut up.  He really doesn't like her, folks, but he does hip her to what's going to happen.  Since Walt and Jesse are big ol' softies and don't want to let Mike whack her just yet, she's getting one last chance.  She will be placing a call to Hank, for which Mike has helpfully provided a script.  Oh, and by the way, if she tries in any way to tip Hank off that there is even the slightest hint of trouble, Mike will pull out his pistol, and shoot her in the head.  He makes her say what will happen, and she repeats it back to him.  Hey Jesse, over there with the laptop, are we ready?  He gives the affirmative, and it's go time.  Mike dials the phone, gives her one last pep talk, and places the phone in front of her.  She speaks with Hank (as we are shown the picture in which Walt has planted the bug, just in case we forgot) and lets him know about the device she found on the barrel of methalymine.  Was that important?  She doesn't want to get in the way of a sting operation or something.  Hank, who appears to be on the up and up, tells her that he will look into it, and to keep this quiet.  Hank summons Gomie and we can see that this convo is being picked up on Jesse's laptop - he asks if Gomie knows anything about this, and he says he doesn't.  This only strengthens Mike's belief that Lydia planted it, but she vehemently denies it.  The boys then plot their next move, which involves trying to get as much of the stuff out of the warehouse before the DEA can get there and confiscate it all.  What about Lydia, asks Jesse.  This time, he's outvoted, and Mike says he will "deal with her".  As she starts to lose her shit yet again, the laptop picks up Hank's next call, which is to the Houston FBI.  Everyone stops to listen as the Houston guys cop to the operation - and they tagged every barrel.  Hank basically calls him an idiot and hangs up.  Lydia is vindicated!  Mike's still a little bitter towards her, despite the fact that Jesse and even Walt acknowledge that she basically saved their asses.  He spits out that she put a hit out on him, and I suppose that's a little harder to forgive.  Walt and Jesse are stunned, while Lydia uses this opportunity to change the subject - they still need methalymine, and she knows how to get more. Walt questions how this is possible when her entire supply of barrels has been tagged and compromised.  Barrels, schmarrels - She's talking about an ocean of the stuff.

After commercials, Walt is now alone with Lydia, who is still handcuffed.  He prompts her to tell him this grand plan, and is visibly skeptical.  She wants to bargain that she won't be killed anyway after revealing this awesome plan, and Walt gives her his word, but it's not very serious.  She must watch a lot of Survivor, since she next asks that he swear on his kids that no harm will come to her.  I've never understood this bargaining tactic - if I lie, does that mean you will take my kids away?  Such an empty gesture, but hey, we're in a alliance and I won't write your name down on the parchment at Tribal Council, so there's that!  Walt refuses to agree to this bullshit bargain, and lets her know that she has absolutely zero leverage right now.  He presses her for detail on the Mike hit, and she lets him know the deal about how she was afraid that the guys in jail might blab, etc.  Satisfied, Walt gets back to this "ocean" - how much are we talking here? "How does 24,000 gallons sound?"

Well, she's uncuffed now and spreading out a map on the table.  It seems that a freight train carrying the stuff eventually makes its way right through New Mexico on its way to Texas. That's where you "do it".  Do what?  Rob the train, "like Jesse James" asks Jesse Pinkman.  Mike quickly points out that stopping a freight train, post 9/11, sets off all kinds of bells and whistles with Homeland Security, etc.  True, says Lydia, but these trains have to pass through a three mile "dead zone" where all communications are temporarily rendered useless, giving them a perfect opportunity to do the job.  Walt wonders how they could determine which car is the right car, but she's got an answer for that too since the manifest is uploaded to her nightly and she will be able to provide a six hour lead time for them to prepare.  Getting a bit too satisfied with herself, she mentions that this is very risky for her and that she expects to be paid.  Seriously.  Mike scoffs and she quickly retreats, saying "we can talk about percentages later".  He brings up another salient point - the train engineers will have to be killed, since they would be able to contact authorities as soon as they leave the dead zone, leaving the bandits with nowhere to run or to hide.  No witnesses can be left - there are two kinds of heist, Mike says.  Those that get away with it, and those who leave witnesses.

Hank is playing with baby Holly, and it's clear he's become pretty attached to the little munchkin.  He even jokes that he's not giving her back when (if) the time comes.  He asks about Junior, who is apparently reverted to his "Flynn" name - must be his Emo alter-ego.  He mopes out of his room and rejects any attempts from the Schraders to involve him with food and DVD's.

We're in Jesse's house, back to the planning for the next great caper, Mike suggests taking it easy and laying low by going back to the old routes for gathering the stuff, and using pseudo to cook with despite the fact that it will restrict output.  Walt's not hearing that, as that means less money.  The pissing contest between these two continues as Jesse sits on the couch between them, playing with a straw by holding his finger on the top end, then releasing it and watching the trapped liquid fall out the bottom.  It's another "magnets" moment as he shuts them both up by suggesting they could rip off the train without anyone even knowing it was robbed.  Score, Pinkman!

Walt's got the Heisenberg hat on again, so you know it's business time.  The three are out in the desert measuring off the distance from the train crossing to the trestle bridge.  It's "814" (feet, I presume), which is perfect.  A backhoe is now digging a pit just off the trestle, enough to deposit two huge empty tanks.  After they're buried, a water tanker truck, driven by Bug Guy Todd, is backed into place.  This water fills one of the tanks, and will be used to offset the weight lost when the chemicals are removed from the train.  He reminds Todd, in no uncertain terms, that doing this is a major, major crime, and that nobody can ever know about it.  Nobody.  Todd responds that he understands, and Walt asks "Are you sure?"  "Yeah, absolutely" he replies.  So we've established that there can be no witnesses then?  Good, let's move on.  The water will be pumped back into the tank as the methalymine is removed.  Todd asks, smartly, that won't people be upset when they discover that the chemicals are watered down?  Correct, says Walt, they will notice, but they will blame the source (China) for providing a bad batch.  Way to start a trade war, Mr. White.  Todd shakes his head in awe. "you guys have really thought of everything!"

Back at Casa White, Walt returns to find Skyler pleading for "Flynn" to come out of his room.  Who let that Emo bastard back into the house?  He's staying, and that's all he has to say.  Walt asks Skyler as he passes her in the hallway what is going on, and even when they are on the same side she still freaking hates him.  "You got what you wanted", she tells him, "congratulations".  Junior demands  to know what is going on, and why can't he come back home.  Walt gets firm and gets him to leave, finally.  Afterwards, he tries to share some of the misery with his wife, but she's having none of it.  Walt won't accept that from his wife, and is immediately corrected - "I'm not your wife, I'm your hostage".  I like this new ballsy Skyler.  She offers him a deal as she lights yet another cigarette - she'll keep laundering the money and keep all of Walt's secrets, but the kids stay at Hank and Marie's.  Remember how you just told her how there was a gun to your head? she reminds him.  Who's to say that won't happen again, and if it does, there is no way that she wants the kids to be anywhere near this place.  Walt has no response other than to shake his head, but he realizes he's got nothing here, and basically concedes the point.  He then informs her that she is seeing a (fictional) therapist named Peter YouFillInTheLastName.  Whatever.  As he walks away she notices the dirt on his jeans and quips "Out burying bodies?"  Zing!  Realizing he has no need to lie to her, he tells her the truth.  "Robbing a train", but neglects to punctuate it with a Pinkman-esque "BITCH!"

Caper Time!  Lydia burns the midnight oil in her office, gets the manifest data, and relays it to Mike.  Later that morning, we're good to go as the crew stands on the trestle awaiting the payload.  A dump truck rolls past Mike and comes to a stop at the railroad crossing.  Hey, it's Kuby, played by comedian Bill Burr.  He's one of Saul's guys so we know he's legit.  We see a  POV shot of the train as it rumbles towards our heroes, and Mike monitors it's progress through his binoculars.  He's stationed by the crossing, and has a walkie-talkie to communicate with Walt, Jesse and Todd back at the trestle.  The train passes over the trestle and one of the engineers notices Kuby standing in the road waving frantically from the crossing.  They hit the brakes hard and manage to stop about ten feet from the truck.  It's go time, as Jesse and Todd rig the generator and connect hoses to it.  Kuby thanks the two engineers, bemoans his bum luck with his truck, and figure that since these guys are engineers they must know a lot about engines, right?  Mike gives the go ahead and they run the other ends of the hoses the top and bottom of the train.  Todd gets the top opened and drops in the hose and Jesse gets the bottom taken care of.  Walt fires up the generator and the chemical flow begins.  Kuby tries to start the truck, but he makes sure that won't work by flicking some kind of switch (I'm not a car guy, shut up).  Mike asks for a status, Walt gives it and the water begins pumping into the train car.  We get shots of every aspect of the operation, and all is going according to plan, until Mike looks behind him and sees another truck pulling up to the crossing.  Seeing Kuby and the train guys trying in vain to push the dump truck, the Good Samaritan offers to push their truck with his. Despite Kuby's reluctance to mess up the guy's shiny new bumper, he eventually caves and lets the helpful man push it off the tracks.  Mike relays to Walt that the mission needs to stop, and right now.  Walt, ever the perfectionist, denies him as they're about 1400 gallons short.  Mike, who would totally punch Walt int he face right now if he could, implores him to get the guys off the train now, since said train will be moving in a matter of minutes.  Walt doesn't respond, and gives the hand signal to Todd to say "hang on, almost there", while the engineers are back inside and getting ready to move out.  They sound the whistle, which gets Jesse's attention.  He screams to Walt, who continues to monitor the meter on the chemical intake tank as it rips past 9400...9500....Walt tells him to hold it steady....then screams NOW as the meter hits 10000.  Jesse works frantically to close off the tank while Todd does the same on his end.  The wheels engage and begin rolling , leaving Jesse no choice but to lay down and let the train pass right over him.  Todd wraps up his end and manages to jump off the train safely before it picks up any speed. Everyone is safe, and the robbery wasn't detected.  Success!  The three share a relived laugh together, and Jesse lets out a celebratory "Yeah bitch!"  Walt turns off the generator, and the three guys notice another, quiter engine sound.  Walt and Jesse, who are facing the source of the sound, both stop and stare silently.  The camera switches to behind them and, as Todd swings around to see what is behind him, we see the source of the noise.  It's Spider Boy, from the opening, sitting there on his little dirt bike, clearly having just seen what went down.  He stares back and waves innocently at the crew.  After a slight pause, Todd waves back, then pulls a pistol from the back of his belt, which Jesse sees and screams "NO!" just before Todd shoots Spider Boy in the chest.  Dude, you said "No witnesses".


  • Aaron Paul tweeted earlier on Sunday when this aired that shit was going to get crazy in this episode, and man was he right.
  • I love how the lighting is so vastly different between the White and Schreader homes.  Every shot inside the White's is like a cave, even in the middle of the day, while Hank and Marie's is the exact opposite.
  • Another Jesse James reference this week, which clearly means something.
  • The hatred toward the character of Skyler in several forums has been astounding, but she is kicking ass this season.  The preview for next week shows that she might be cracking, and on the verge of spilling to Marie, which would be absolutely fatal.
  • Saw an article speculating that Hank might already know about Walt being Heiseneberg.  Interesting theory, but I'm not sure I'm buying it just yet.
  • Previews for next week: Now they have to dispose of this body.  Somebody will inevitably come looking for this kid.  Mike says he wants out.  Walt says he's not in the money business, he's in the Empire business.  Holy shit.
  • What do you guys think?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Episode 16 - Your Tattoo Smells Funny

 This episode finds us offering thoughts on the recently completed Olympics, why some sports don't belong, why others should be sweeping the nation, how much pool pee is too much, tattoos in a heretofore uncharted territory, and a Parting Shot that recommends something awesome.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Fifty-One" (Season 5, Episode 4)

Previously on Breaking Bad, lots of money was made, Walt moved back into his house, which made Skyler uncomfortable, Nervous Lydia met with Mike and feared that the caged birds would sing, Hank was praised by the outgoing scapegoated ASAC, Sklyer suggested Marie keep quiet, in a loud way, Walt let Marie connect the dots regarding Skyler's I.F.T. moment with Beneke, Mike held off on shooting Lydia since she could provide the missing ingredient to the Blue Gold.

One of the best things about this show are the opening scenes, which never seem to take place somewhere we've already been.  This week is no exception as we open in a garage, where a mechanic marvels about how this certain little car he's bringing down has an amazing amount of staying power.  Of course, it's the Aztec, and the two Walters amble over to check it out.  You'll recall that it was last seen being T-Boned near the laundry last season as Walt and Hank were driving it, and Walt forced the crash rather than let Hank poke his nose around the super secret underground meth kitchen.  The mechanic goes over the list of items he replaced and how he kept it all on the insurance ("nothing beats free", he says) by using after-market parts, then he remarks on the front bumper and the unfortunate run-in Walt had with that "deer", which we know was a couple of hoods who were going to kill Jesse.  After obtaining the signatures he needs, the mechanic wistfully tells Walt how much he likes the car, how sturdy it is.  Walt opens the door and sees his old friend, the Heisenberg Hat!  The magical powers of the hat remind him of what a badass he now has become, and as his eyes get a bit larger and he suggests that he'll sell the Aztec to the man for $100.  After no haggling, he settles for $50, as Junior is all WTF?  Walt dons the hat and fingers the brim in the side mirror, feeling a little frisky.

Cut to the White driveway, where we see Junior pull in driving his PT Cruiser, and Walt screeches in behind the wheel of his new Chrysler 300.  After Junior appears to not be impressed, Walt gives him a "Huh?" look, and we see the scene repeat, only this time both of them are driving Product Placed Penis cars.  In fact, Junior is driving the same model red Charger that Skyler made them get rid of the last time Walt made a stupid purchase.  They rev their respective engines and have a little testosterone party as we go to the titles....

German is being spoken on a conference call as we pan to what we discover is Lydia's glass encased office. She's not engaged in the call topic one pit, and while looking down notices one of her shoes has lost it's little bow.  For someone as tightly wound as her, this is a big deal, especially in light of all the other stress in her life right now.  She bullshits her way, in German, through a question as we hear her cell phone vibrating.  it's in the desk, and it must be the secret MethLine because it's Mike on the line giving her a heads up that some DEA folk are about to pay her a visit.  Cut to thirty seconds later where she's pretending to work on something as Hank, Gomie and a couple of blueshirts arrive.  We don't hear what is said, but within a few moments she is leading them down the hall and to the warehouse, where she helpfully points out the foreman, who shoots a steely look back at her as the DEA takes him away.  She returns to her office, draws the blinds and lets out a healthy scream into a throw pillow.  She picks up the MethLine and tells Mike what happened, and he's okay with it.  She starts freaking, describing the look Ron (the foreman) gave her, and exaggerating that fourteen DEA agents practically broke down her door and screamed and yelled ate her, etc. She seems like the type who catches a cold and thinks it's cancer.  She tells Mike (and us) how important Ron was to the operation - he ran the warehouse, security, inventory, etc., and now that he's gone there is just no way she can handle that responsibility.  Mike says simply that he'll send over a new guy and hangs up.

Skyler comes home in the Wagoneer and can't get into the driveway as the Product Placed Penis cars are hogging all the space.She sees the temp plates in the window and sighs to herself, then is subjected to listening to the Walters go on and on about horsepower, donuts, and whose car is faster/better, etc.  As they prepare for bed, Walt rationalizes the car as a birthday present to himself, and since he leased them it won't raise any suspicion.  He then plops twenty grand on the nightstand for Skyler to marinate on, as she realizes that he's back in the drug business.  Sitting on the bed with her back to Walt, she proposes a private school for Junior.  This makes no sense to Walt since Junior's so close to college, but Skyler elaborates about changing the environment and this tweaks Walt's interest.  What's wrong with this environment, he wonders.  She meekly replies "nothing", drops the subject and crawls into bed.  Walt does the creepy cuddle and assures her that despite all the craziness of the past few weeks, the threat is gone.  Gus is dead, remember?  He proposes that they move forward and hey, what better way to do that than to have a little birthday party for him?  Chocolate cake, please.

Breakfast time, and Walt is served with a plate of bacon and eggs.  Junior reminds Skyler of the birthday tradition of spelling out the age in bacon, and she half-heartedly makes the pork fat into a "51", stealing a piece from Junior to make it whole.  At least she won't have to do "52".

Hey, it's a photo of Smilin' Gustavo Fring, as Hank laments how even with half a face, lying in a grave he's still giving them agita.  He's setup a huge bulletin board with all the major players in the Fring Ring, from Madrigal tater tot man Schuler to our newly captured Ron the Foreman.  He's looking for more, and suggests Lydia to Gomie, who dismisses her as too uptight, too together for an operation like this.  Maybe, says Hank, but he noticed her mismatched shoes and wonders how "together" she really is.  Pretty perceptive one, this guy, maybe he should get a promotion.  The new head honcho walks in and asks for an update, and Hank provides some thoughts on why everyone is keeping quiet.  He suggests that none other than Mike is the one holding everything together, so as usual he's on the right track.  Also, the blue meth is making a comeback, which raises a few eyebrows.  Head honcho dismisses Gomie, praises Hank for his stellar work, and suggests that Hank applies for a promotion to be the ASAC in the office.  He notes that Hank would be less involved with the day-to-day, Fring included, and would oversee all the open cases.  Hank accepts, noting that Marie would kill him if he didn't, and shakes head honcho's hand.  Good job, Hank.

At a tented house, Jesse and Walt are wrapping up another cook when Walt asks Jesse to cover for him as it's his birthday.  He's expecting a party of some kind to be awaiting him, and Jesse wishes him a HBD as he boxes up the equipment.  Walt arrives home, checks his reflection in his PPP car, notices no other cars in the area, and goes inside.  No party - Junior is watching TV and Skyler is finishing up dinner. Whats the plan?, he wonders. Turns out it's nothing more than Hank and Marie stopping by, a nice dinner, and the chocolate cake he requested.  Burn!

A great car scene with Hank and Marie ensues.  He's aware that something is bugging her, since she's unusually quiet.  It tales about 15 seconds of prodding before she basically spills the beans about "infidelity".  He assumes Walt, and is surprised to find out it's Skyler.  After dinner the couples gather by the pool for drinks and listen to Junior brag about how fast he drives his new PPP car.  He leaves, and the party grinds to a halt, as Skyler makes no effort to even fake interest.  Hank and Walt small talk about the cars some more, then...crickets.  As Skyler gets up to start cleaning up, Walt begins to reflect on the past year. The cancer diagnosis, the surgery, Hank getting shot, etc.  As he begins to talk about his fear of the treatment, we see Skyler in the background approaching the pool, and grabbing the ladder handles. Walt's speech starts dripping with subtext as he talks about the times he thought he was "done for", but then "someone, or something" would pull him through.  Skyler's dipping her toes in the pool now, and we see just enough of her in the shot to know that we should keep an eye on her.  Just then, he brings it around to her, and speaks about how when he first got the chemo he was a mess and she was the strength he needed to get through it.  He turns around to give some detail to Hank and Marie when Skyler starts eyeballing the water, and begins her descent.  At first it's kind of funny, but once she submerges herself Marie gets scared.  We see Skyler underwater, no expression on her face, her blue dress flowing around so she looks like a jellyfish, floating silently until Walt jumps in and grabs her arm.  Scene...

Back at the warehouse, Lydia struggles with the breaker box, turning off different groups of power until finally getting the correct one which shuts off the surveillance cameras.  Mike's new guy shows up, and it's Jesse, who is forced by Lydia to provide Mike's last name before she finally trusts him.  I was surprised he even knew it.  I loved the fact that she tells him how she had to be careful since he could have been one of "those undercover people they send into High Schools".  Jesse Pinkman in a 21 Jump Street reboot?  I am IN.  She points out the one barrel of chemicals he is to take, from the highest shelf, and he procures a fork lift to get it down.  What's this? Lydia "discovers" some kind of item secured to the bottom of the barrel, and freaks.  At this point we don't know what it is, but it can't be good.

Back to the White house, where Skyler's dress drips dry.  Hank tries his best to get some detail out of Walt, to help, and Walt lets it slip that there are some "issues' in his marriage.  Hank suggests Marie's therapist, but man, doesn't that guy have his hands full with her?  Marie emerges from the bedroom,  and after verifying with the men that Skyler probably wasn't trying to off herself, suggests to Walt that maybe the kids should come and stay with them for a few days, until things settle down.  Walt scoffs at the idea, not really seeing how that is a solution to the problem.  Hank gives his approval of the idea, and Marie oversells it juuuuust a bit more which pings Walt's spidey sense.  He asks her whose idea this was, hers or Skyler's?  She cops that it was, in fact, Skyler's.  Shit's about to go down now....

Bedroom.  Skyler is awake but closes her eyes when Walt comes in. It's later now, as Walt tells her he's provided Marie with supplies for baby Holly, and notified Junior by phone as to what is going on.  You got your way, Skyler, so cheer up!  Finally, after weeks of catatonic silence, she's ready to confront him with her fears.  She doesn;t want the kids in the house anymore, and feels it isn't safe.  Walt scoffs at that suggestion - he got rid of the danger by killing Gus, remember?  Skyler calls back "I thought you were the danger?"  Point to Mrs. White.  Walt, getting a little more on edgy, wonders if the whole pool "stunt" was just a ploy to get the kids out of the house.  Skyler contends that she is part of this, and that her hands are dirty vis a vis Ted.  Walt calmly tells her that she was doing what she had to do to protect her family, and far from making her a bad person, it simply makes her human.  He moves in for a tender leg touch, and she jumps off the bed.  No more bullshit rationales, she says.  She's a part of this whether she likes it or not, but she will not have her kids be anywhere near it.  Walt challeneges her assertion that this is somehow a permanent measure but she puts her foot down that she will not have them back here, end of story.  Walt gets that look in his eyes again, you know the look, where he's cold , calculating and scary as hell.  "What are you going to do to stop it?" he asks.  Taken aback, she starts throwing vague "whatever it takes" talk.  "Specifically," Walt asks, "what is your next move?"  He's calling her bluff and you can see how when he feels smarter than his adversary the smugness gets cranked up to eleven.  She suggests that they'll need more time and are struggling, he counters with no, you're still struggling and I'll have you committed.OK, she counters, maybe I'll have some bruises, and tell everyone that you're beating me after finding out about my lover; he counters with sure, let's get Ted involve, which will surely get the authorities curious and open up that can of worms, not to mention the effect on Junior.  Speaking of Junior, she suggests sending him off to boarding school again, and Walt slams this one right back at her by saying how wonderful it would be to ask him to drop everything with one year left of high school and ship off to some faraway place.  She's getting desperate now and she move to another corner of the room and Walt challenges her once and for all to find a "solution" to this "problem".  He corners her on the bed and starts getting louder as he asks again "You want to take me on, and take away my children? What's the PLAN?"  "I DON'T KNOW" she sobs/screams.  She;s trapped, and she knows it - she can't go to the cops, stop laundering the money, can't keep him out of this house or her bed.  All she can do is wait.  For what, Walt wonders.  "For the cancer to come back".  BOOM.  Game, set, match to Mrs. White.

Back form commercials, we are treated to a rear view of Walt's head shaving session, where blood is drawn.  He eats breakfast, alone, when his cell buzzes.  He tells the other party to relax and says he's coming.  At the Bug HQ, Jesse is all ramped up about the item attached to the barrel, which he helpfully shows a picture of to Mike and Walt.  if the DEA is tracking this, they are done.  Done!  Turns out the device was a GPS, which Mike deftly explains was clearly placed there by an amateur.  After asking who spotted this first and finding out it was Lydia, Mike puts two and two together.  "okay", he says, "she's dead".  He gets up, presumably to go and kill her, when Jesse wonders what's going on.  Mike explains that Lydia set this up to create the (false) impression that the DEA is tracking her stuff, thus forcing the boys to look elsewhere for a methylmine source.  She's right, Mike says, they will need a new source after he leaves her in a ditch.  Jesse implores Mike to cool it - they need her to keep the operation moving.  Mike, the business side of the crew remember, says that if they have to ramp it down for awhile, so be it.  It's worth it to cool it until the heat is off.  Jesse is adamant, and asks that it gets put to a vote.  Walt, who has been silent through all of this, is prompted by Jesse to weigh in.  Holding the magic hat in his hands, looks ominously up and says the methlymine keeps flowing, no ramping down will occur, and that nothing stops this train.  Nothing.  We do not see how Mike responds to this pronouncement.

Outside, Walt, hat now on, heads toward his PPP car when Jesse catches up and compliments him on his idea.  Also, he gives him a birthday present - a freaking Rolex.  Nice taste there, Pinkman.  Considering Walt got nothing from his wife when he was expecting  a party, this is a nice surprise.  

Walt returns home to find Skyler on the couch, puffing away now that no kids are around.  She's also using an Area 51 mug which ties in nicely to the show's title for this week.  He tells her her stopped by to see the kids and that Junior is asking a ton of questions.  He asks how she is, and she says nothing.  "Coming to bed", he asks, and Skyler says nothing as she lights another cigarette.  Walt heads down the hall, but has a second thought and turns around.  He shows her the Rolex, and mentions that the person who gave this to him wanted him dead not very long ago, but changed his mind about Walt, and soon she will too.  Left unsaid is how Walt manipulated the shit out of him to change Jesse's mind, but since when does Walt get bogged down with these kinds of details?  He gets into bed and eye the Rolex as he turns out the light.  We close in on the watch face as it ticks, ticks, ticks past 50, and the last sound we hear is a gun click.


  • Does anyone else still think there is a mole at the DEA?  I'm thinking the head honcho promoted Hank to get him off the case, since he's been right all along.  Possible?
  • So Lydia gets to live, which I can't help but feel will be a bad thing for these guys at some point
  • Anna Gunn continues to have a great season, mostly because she's getting a lot more to work with
  • Next week: the crew resorts to pulling heists in order to get the precursor.  Sounds like the body count will inevitably rise...
  • What do you think?

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Hazard Pay" (Season 5, Episode 3)

First, a correction.  In the last recap I mentioned that Walt hid hid newly created fake ricin cigarette behind the wall outlet.  A quick trip around the internet informed me that he was hiding the actual ricin from the original cig, and what he flushed was the now empty cigarette.  Important to know that the ricin is still in play, as I'm sure it will make an appearance at some point.  On to the recap.

Previously on Breaking Bad, the boys needed Saul to find a place for them to cook again, asked Mike to get on board (he scoffed), Mike had a secret meeting with a jittery Madrigal employee named Lydia, Skyler remained scared of her husband, some important information was uncovered behind one of Gus' photos, Hank and Gomie grilled Mike and found his soft sport in the form of granddaughter Kaylee, which led to him not offing Lydia as planned since she could provide the precursor which led him to reluctantly join Walt's new cooking crew.

Prison.  A man gets buzzed in, and he looks very lawyer-y.  He's here to see a Dennis Markowski, and he casually mentions that he brought one of his paralegals with him to sit in.  The paralegal? Mike, who is looking dapper in a fine suit.  Once inside, Dennis arrives in the meeting room, lays eyes on Mike, and is understandably nervous and confused.  Lawyer man pops in the ear buds so he has no idea what will be talked about, while Mike lets him know that Chow is gone but that it wasn't anyone sending a message, nor was it payback.  It was a mistake, and Mike has it under control.  Turns out Dennis is one of his "guys" - he ran the laundry where the Super Lab once was.  Mike lets him know that the deal he had with Gus is still in effect, and Dennis affirms that, even though he's looking at eight years in the joint, he still isn't gonna sing.  However, he has no money for his family since the feds took all the dough (which he refers to as his hazard pay).  Mike gives him his word that his family will be taken care of, thanks to the new venture, and asks if he needs to hear anything more.  Dennis seems relieved and shakes Mike's hand.  Lawyerman and his new paralegal exposit that they'll be visiting all of the remaining guys.  Today.  Mike yells at the surveillance camera as we splash to the titles....

Moving day.  Walt's back home, bringing in boxes, shirts, etc. when Skyler happens upon him.  She asks if he's moving back in, and he cheerily responds that he is.  She manages to stammer out if he thinks that's such a great idea, and he replies "yeah".  Her life just keeps getting better and better, doesn't it?

Mike's working a crossword in Saul's waiting room while bodyguard Huell is asleep, standing up, outside the door.  Saul's a little freaked that Mike is in the building, recalling the leg breaking threat from last season, while Walt implores him to grow a pair since Mike threatens everyone, all the time.  Saul, under duress, allows Mike in.  Now it's time for some rules:  Mike is in charge of the business, Walt is responsible for the manufacturing.  Capice?  Walt manages to keep his rapidly inflating ego in check and agrees, and it's time for Saul's Tour of The Meth Friendly Local Businesses.  Saul asks Walt if he's okay with Mike's division of labor, and he responds that while Mike does in fact "handle the business", Walt "handles him".  So, the ego is still pretty much there.

First stop is a box factory.  No good, too steamy and salty, which will ruin the product.  Next, a tortilla factory.  Problems: random government inspections since it's food related.  Jesse steals one for the road anyway.  Next stop is the arcade, which is met with two resounding "no's" from Walt and Jesse.  The last stop is a crappy little garage of a pest control operation called, I kid you not, Vamanos Pest.  Immediate concerns from Jesse about the lack of space and ventilation.  Mike indicates a cop shop less than half a mile away.  Walt, of course, looks around and says it's perfect, as he inspects what appears to be a large green and yellow tarp rolled up on a dolly.

We see the beauty of Walt's thinking.  The tarp is a house tent - used to bug bomb infested houses for days at a time.  The cooking will occur in the tented house before the chemicals are unleashed, making this a truly mobile operation.  Since everyone who observes the house expects unusual smells, they can cook without raising any suspicion.  Saul gives the background on the bug crew - they're burglars, so they certainly won't be dropping the dime on the mobile meth factory one their loyalty is purchased.  Mike's on board, and suggest a vote.  Walter: "Why?"  Jesus, he's really   just one big ol' bag o' hubris now, isn't he?

Cut to someone playing a keyboard, very well.  It's Skinny Pete!  Wow, with such talent one wonders why he never cashed it in.  I guess Meth is a hell of a drug. Hey, it's Badger!  Good to have you guys back.  They're in a music store, and are looking to buy some roadie cases, the biggest ones they can find.  They pick up four of 'em, and bring them back to Jesse.   Sensing that Jesse is on to something big, they ask to be part of the crew.  He gently brushes them off as Mike shows up.  Time to brief the bug guys, and Mike gives them the straight dope: don't even look at these two guys (Walt and Jesse), speak only when spoken to, etc. and, most important of all, NO STEALING.

Back at Jesse's house, he and Walt are going over the plans on just how they can easily mobilize all the gear.  Jesse comes up with a handy solution to a problem, and Walt seems proud and impressed.  Jesse also has the idea of using an internal plastic tent, similar to what he saw at the Mexican Tent Hospital, to keep the smell out of the house.  Another score for Pinkman!   Before Walt can give him more kudos, there's a knock at the door.  It's Andrea and Brock, and Jesse performs the introductions.  Walt greets Brock, the kid he poisoned, with a handshake and a "oh have brave you are" speech which makes my stomach churn.  He's so far gone, you guys, and he ain't coming back.  Andrea offers to cook dinner and Jesse asks Walt to stick around for a beer, which he chooses to do, setting up a supremely awkward moment where Brock and Walt are alone on the couch together.  They exchange glances, and you can almost hear the gears cranking in Walt's head at what to do next.

Commercials.  Did you know it's Mob Week on AMC?  Hmmm...

Cooking time.  The pest boys pull up to the next house and start the process, getting signatures, etc. as the crew begins to tent the place and move in the gear.  Once the place is covered and the family leaves, Walt and Jesse arrive and move in.  One of the Bug guys, Todd,  stops them, calls Walt "Sir", and indicates that there was a nanny cam in place which he helpfully disabled.  An awesome cooking montage, set to a jazzy version of "On a Clear Day", ensues.  Thy setup in what looks like a mini version of Dexter's kill room, and successfully produce a batch of the Blue Gold. Once finished, they kick back with a cold brew and some Three Stooges (an episode which shows a gorilla with a machine gun.  Machine guns are going to be a recurring thin this season, aren't they?). Walt reflects that seeing Jesse with Andrea and the boy was nice, and hints that she looks at him with some serious googly eyes.  Where's it going, Walt asks?  Then he plants the seed: asking him what his plan is on being honest going forward with her, since she has no idea how Jesse gets his money, and he has no plans on telling her.  The subtext is evident as he is clearly as concerned with her as he was with Jane, and we all know what happened to her.  Poor Jesse, kid can't catch a break.  Walt lets him know that he is confident that Jesse has earned the right to make this his decision, and is certain he will do the right thing to avoid creating the kind of issues Walt has with his own spouse.

Marie is back, making her first appearance of the season, and she's in mid-season form, complaining about the piss poor job the guys at the car wash are doing on her vehicle.  Oh, Marie, we've missed you.  Skyler is clearly in no mood to deal with Marie's crap as they eat lunch together.  Marie relays that Hank is back at work, and even though it makes him happy, she's still pretty cheesed about the way they treated him, especially when his Gus theory turned out to be correct.  She thanks Skyler for helping out with the therapy, then shifts gears to ask what is planned for the next big event - Walt's birthday.  Skyer, who has clearly forgotten this, stammers that they won't be doing anything this year.  Marie is confused and goes on about how it's been a whole year and with the cancer, etc., we need to mark the milestone.  (This makes this Walt's 51st birthday, so we're only one calendar year from the pilot).    She goes on and on as Skyler nervously pulls out a cigarette and Marie loses her shit. She goes on and on about the baby, building regulations, etc, when Skyler shuts her down briefly with a "Marie. Shut up."  Taken slightly aback but still undeterred, Marie continues, or tries to, when Skyler absolutely unloads on her. She tells her to shut up THIRTEEN times (I counted), each one louder than the last, until she breaks down and weeps at her desk.

Back at the cook site, the output is packaged and weighed, and they agree it was a good yield.  On their way out they activate the bug bomb chemicals. Mission accomplished.

Marie waits in the White living room as Walt comes home and manages to hide his surprise at her presence.  When he asks about Skyler, she says she's in the bedroom, and we cut to the two of them having a hushed conversation in the living room.  Marie is demanding an answer as to what is causing Skyler's breakdown: is he gambling again?  has the cancer returned?  Thinking quickly on his feet, Walt relays the story of Ted Beneke, and how he suddenly became incapacitated recently.  He lets Marie figure out about the affair, which works perfectly for Walt's purposes as it will keep Marie quiet and put her off his trail.  Satisfied with this explanation, she hugs Walt and leaves.  Having put out another fire, he moves toward the kitchen and takes a noisy bite from an apple.

Back to Jesse's house, where Brock and Andrea are engaged in a fierce video game battle as Jesse stares off into space from the couch.  She asks if he's okay, and he replies quietly that he's "good".  "Really?" she replies, and he says he is but it's pretty clear there's more going on in Jesse's head than he's letting on right now.

Skyler's lying on her bed post-meltdown, and we hear what sounds like a jackhammer being operated   nearby.  Nope, we see that it is the final scene from Scarface (it;s Mob Week on AMC, dontcha know).  Walt, Walter Junior, and Baby Holly are all enjoying this fine family film as Skyler comes out, just as Pacino utters the "Say hello to my lil frien'" line, which the Walters both say right along with him.  What a moment.  Walt asks her to join them, and as we see Pacino mow down thug after thug, Walt offhandedly remarks that "everybody dies in this move".  Skyler looks horrified, and should've stayed in bed a little longer.  Like, three months longer.

Money is being counted, as the fruits of the labor have arrived for the new partnership.  Mike divvies up the cash between the three, and everybody seems happy - $367,000 each.  Walt, however, seems to think this is a bit short.  Mike informs him that the mules get 20%, which Walt thinks is outrageous.  What did Gus' mules get, he asks.  Nada - he had those trucks because of the chicken restaurant front, remember?  Mike's not done yet - he pays back Jesse for the money he fronted them, takes more to pay off the bug guys, Saul's cut, and the "legacy cost" (or, as we've come to know it, the "hazard pay").  Walt is incredulous - this is bullshit - why do we have to pay these guys to honor some old deal from Gus.  "It's what you do", says Mike, and nothing more.  Walt cries blackmail, and Mike tells him to shut it, as the business is his end.  Jesse, who hates it whne the parents fight, offers to provide the money just to keep the peace, but Walt passive aggressively stops him and offers up his share.  Mike tells Walt to get used to this, as this is the way it has to be.  Looking at what he's left with - $137,000 - Walt remarks that this is less than what they got under Gus.  Mike reminds him that just because he shot Jesse James, doesn't make him Jesse James.  I don;t think this new partnership is getting off on the right foot here.

As Mike leaves, he reminds them that they'll cook again tomorrow.  When Walt asks Jesse how he's feeling Jesse spills that he broke it off with Andrea, and he's pretty bummed about the whole thing.  Walt shows zero interest in that topic and asks about this, the money.  Jesse smartly says that it was less this time due to the size of the cook, etc. and that they'll still end up making out better long term.  Walt then invokes the name of Victor.  You remember Victor, he of the famous box cutter to the throat from the Season 4 opener.  Walt was sure that Gus killed Victor to send Walt a message, but now he thinks maybe there was something else in play - Victor's attempt to cook meth in that episode, which Walt compares to flying too close to the sun.  Jesse gives him a quizzical look as Walt walks away.  Credits.


  • Walt, are you really going to try killing Mike?  Already?
  • loved Jesse stealing the tortilla, which turned out to be piping hot.  Vince Gilligan said on the podcast that was improvised by Aaron Paul.
  • someone mentioned that it would be awesome if Hank ended up having a bug problem, and his house became a cook site. Would they do it?
  • Something tells me this Todd kid is going to play a bigger role at some point.  The nanny cam reveal showed he was paying attention, and that he could prove to be useful going forward.
  • Since we're only one year into the show's chronological timeline, I have to think that the flash forward from the premiere is setting up the series finale, and not the end of season 5. 
  • Previews for next week show the return of the Heisenberg Hat, and Lydia getting paid a visit by none other than Hank and thirty of his close friends.  Only 5 more episodes to go.
  • What do you guys think?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Episode 15: The Hillbilly Road Show

We take the show on the road, literally!  Join our hero for takes on the death of outrage, what it unfortunately took to get it back, and our sudden obsession with hillbillies.  Then, go In Search Of....whatever happened to the mysteries of his youth.  Finally, the shamelessly stolen idea of the Parting Shot recommends something awesome.

My Run-in with The Macho Man Made Deadspin

Deadspin runs an occasional feature where they take any experiences readers have had over the years with pro wrestlers, and post them in a feature called the Virgilbag.  Naturally, I had to relay my early 90's tale of an encounter with Macho Man Randy Savage, which appeared in the August 1st edition.  Check it out, about halfway down, under "John:"

Virgilbag (deadspin.com)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Madrigal" (Season 5, Episode 2)

Previously on Breaking Bad, Jesse lost the ricin cig and was juuust about to shoot Walt as he suspected him for poisoning little Brock, Hank, when not buying minerals on eBay, found that a big company called Madrigal was buying super big electrical doohickeys for Los Pollos Hermanos, the Magnet Caper unveiled some interesting bank account numbers behind the photo of said hermanos, Walt made Saul nearly crap himself with his "we're not done" speech, Mike implored Jesse to high tail it out of ABQ, and Skyler is not exactly comfortable around her suddenly scary hubby.  Gus? Still dead.

What's this?  We see dollops of different colored dipping sauces while a German gentlemen describes them to another, suited man, who indifferently dips Tater Tots into each concoction and chomps away.  It's a test kitchen, and we see eight white coated lab folks anxiously watching Suit Man dispassionately wolf down about 40 tots.  No responses, not even for "Franch" or "Cajun Kick-ass"?  Damn.  A woman comes in and whispers to Suit Man, whom we now know is called Mr. Schuler, that "they" are back, and this time there are three of them.  Schuler will be there shortly, he says.  As he walks down the busy hallway we see he is clearly a big wig at Madrigal, the company Hank mentioned in the previouslies.  Among the fast food joints under it's purview are such gems as Whiskerstay's, Haau Chuen Wok, and Burger Matic.  The next logo, which is being removed form the Wall of Fame is none other than, you guessed it, Los Hermanos Pollos.  Schuler pauses to watch the sign come down, then slowly lumbers up the stairs to meet "them".  Approaching his office, he sees "them" waiting there, with the man in charge paying particularly close attention to the photo on the wall showing Schuler and his old golfing buddy, one Gustavo Fring.  Sensing that he's toast, Schuler grabs a handy portable defibrillator from the wall and heads to the bathroom, where he proceeds to lock the door, remove his jacket, loosen his tie, remove his shirt while the woman from before knocks and tells him that these men are pretty insistent on talking to him.  The coppers begin knocking as well, while Schuler takes the AED, sits on the red toilet, applies the sticky things to his chest, wets the wire and - CLEAR - zaps himself into oblivion.  Credits.....

We fade in to Jesse's voice on the phone, talking about the missing ricin cigarette, going over why he just can;t seem to figure out what happened to it.  While hearing this, we see Walt pouring salt on the table, putting some into a small tube, and basically making a fake one.  On the phone conversation, Walt is reassuring Jesse that the original probably got swept up in the laundry fire, but Jesse isn't on board.  Walt suggests that it might be in Jesse's house, but Jesse is adamant he checked the house thoroughly.  He's concerned that it's out there and perhaps some innocent person, like a kid, is going to stumble upon it and get hurt.  Walt, like a father, says he'll come over and they'll get to the bottom of this thing, as we watch him flush the original cigarette down the toilet, and store his new fake in a super secret location behind a wall outlet.

Cut to a montage of Walt and Jesse basically tearing apart the house looking for it. to no avail.  They crash down on the futon, exhausted, when the Roomba comes sliding into the room.  Jesse insists he's already checked it "like a week ago", but opens it up anyway, and BINGO, there it is!  "What luck" Walt says, as he takes it carefully from Jesse and quickly flushes it away forever. He's relieved, but Jesse starts to breakdown at the realization of the bullet he just dodged, sobbing that he nearly shot Walt over this whole thing.  This is the first scene on Aaron Paul's Emmy reel, folks, and he absolutely nails it.

Walt very fatherly rubs Jesse's shoulders and tells him to buck up - the working together, having each other's backs, well, Walt wouldn't have it any other way.  He tells Jesse to remember that as they "go forward".  Jesse gives a slow WTF turn of the head - "go forward where?"

Cut to an adorable drawing on a fridge - "This is my PopPop, Love Kaylee" - so we know we're at Mike's house.  He grabs a beer and an Ensure chaser, kicks back in his recliner, checks his wound dressing, and starts watching The Caine Mutiny when there is a knock on his door.  It's Walt and Jesse, and they have a proposal: a three way partnership to get the band back together and start cooking again.  Mike's expertise regarding support and logistics is greatly needed  , and Walt's pitch details how they will now be "owners, not employees".  Sounds good, right?  Not to Mike.  Why?  Because, as he tells Walt, "You. Are a time bomb.  Tick, tick, tick.....and I have no intention of being around for the boom."  Chagrined, Walt says they'll press on and asks him to sleep on it.

DEA.  Hank ambles in sans cane, so he's making serious progress (good thing he had a kind bro-in-law with a gambling problem to pick up the tab), and connects with Gomie.  He relays that there are several Germans in the house who arrived via their own G-5, and the two exchange fanboy talk about private jets.  The lead German sits at the table, and of course he's wearing a black turtleneck, channeling Dieter from Sprockets.  He goes on about how Mr. Shuler led the restaurant division to great heights, and how sad he is that Herr Schuler offed himself after dabbling in meth distribution. He pledges Madrigal's full cooperation, thinking Schuler was a rogue.

Turns out the head DEA guy Merkert is being setup as the fall guy for letting Gus operate almost literally right under his nose, and he shares a stiff one with Hank and Gomie in his office.  We learn that the laptop was encrypted and might not have been salvageable anyway, so the Magnet Caper likely did more harm than good.  They also figure that while Tio killed Gus, he clearly had to be supplied with the bomb, and for that they have zero.  However, Gus' financials are being looked into, and they're hopeful....while Merkert reflects on how he had Gus out to his house, barbecued with him, interacted with his family...how basically this guy was right under his nose and he didn't even realize that Gus was an entirely different person.  As he says this we are fixed on Hank, who should be, but probably isn't just yet, thinking the exact same thing.

Mike is sitting in a diner reading the paper when a woman comes in all cloak-and-dagger like and sits in the next booth with her back to him.  She makes a huge hissy fit about her specific tea-based needs which ends with the waitress saying, "we've got Lipton bitch."  Mike, exasperated as usual, asks her how they want to do this, and ends up moving to her booth.  She's a nervous wreck despite Mike's insistence that it's a safe place (the waitress name checks him after the mystery woman badly calls him "Duane").   Turns out she is the lady we briefley saw in the Madrigal/DEA meeting, and her name is Lydia.  Her involvement is unclear, but it's obviously deep enough to have her deeply concerned.  She spits out that there are a shitload of guys out there who can spill the beans on each of them and cause all kinds of trouble, so why not be a good soldier, Mike, and take 'em out for me?  She doesn't come out and say so, but when Mike suggests that's what she's saying she doesn't pooh-pooh the idea. Mike vouches for "his guys", says they're solid and will not crack, and sets her straight like the bad ass he is.

Hey, it's Walter Jr., and he's eating breakfast.  Shocker.  Walt Sr. sees Skyler's breakfast sitting there uneaten on the table and heads to the bedroom to wake her.  He gently prods her to get out of bed, and when he touches her shoulder you can see a slight recoil.  She's terrified of him, still, though I would think she'd want to get to the Car Wash as a sort of refuge at this point.

Back at the DEA, Mike walks in to see Chow and his lawyer walking out.  You may remember Mr. Chow as the man who Mike shot in the hand a few episodes back.  They exchange pleasantries, basically ensuring that Chow gave them nada.  He's not exactly the picture of stoicism, this one, but Mike seems assured that Chow didn't crack.  This leads to another Emmy worthy scene as we finally get to see Hank and Mike together.  Hank and Gomie play kinda dumb at first, and Mike answers Hank's snarky questions with straight answers.  That out of the way, we learn that Mike was a cop in Philly back in the day and his tenure ended "dramatically".  That is a spin-off we need ot see once this show wraps, right?  Hank presses the point re: Gus, and Mike plays very dumb on the whole drug empire thing.  Gomie then bad cops how they have people who can place Mike at that underground lab, and testify to it.  Mike, no stranger to bullshit, calls that bluff by laying his hands out to be cuffed.  You gonna arrest him? Nope, he's free to go, but just as he gets to the door, Hank drops the bomb: Gus had a shitload of offshore accounts, one in the name of one Kaylee Ehrmantraut worth about two million bucks.  Mike is shaken but barely shows it, and the boys let it out that since Mike never touched the money, he can't be held accountable (and has plausible deniability).  Mike still plays it cool, says he has no idea what they're talking about, and leaves.  Whew.

Back at Saul's office, Walt holds court on finding a new location to start cooking again with Jesse while Saul takes notes.  They hit a snag since they can't get their hands on the precursor, methylamine, as Jesse says the well is pretty much dry on that front.  Walt insists they can get some, and implores Jess to have faith.  Saul, for his part, suggests these two simply count their blessings as they're not dead and get out of the business altogether.  Walt scoffs that he's forty grand in the hole now, so, shut up Saul.

Mike is back home engaged in a robust game of Hungry Hungry Hippos with the I'm-rich-but-don't-know-it-yet Kaylee, and gets interrupted by a phone call from Chow, who is panicked as he tells him that the DEA not only wants to talk again, but also took his money.  He urges Mike to come to his house, soon, to "talk", and Mike says he'll be there in two hours.  We see that Chow is being held at gunpoint by a mystery man s he makes the call, so it's basically a trap for Mike. Uh oh.

Don't worry, Mike's no dummy.  He approaches the house as wee see an assassin looking at him through the peephole.  Thumping noises are heard on the door, but no Mike.  We see the exterior where Mike has attached one of Kaylee's battery operated toys to the door, and Presto! Mike is in the house and tells the would be killer, Chris, to drop the piece and have a seat next to Chow.  Chow, by the way, has a big ol' hole in the back of his head and won't have to worry about the DEA any longer.  After a brief convo, we discover that Chris has been given a list - the same list of eleven that Lydia asked Mike to take care of -  and was working through it for ten grand per.  Chow was #1, Mike apparently #2, but he was worth thirty G's, and Chris begins to apologize just as Mike pumps three quick ones into his chest.  Mike sighs, resigned to the fact that he'll now have to deal with Nervous Lydia.

We are taken to Lydia's place, and it's a doozy.  The nanny is teaching a young girl, Lydia's daughter, how to count in Spanish.  Cute.  We see Mike waiting down the hall, and as Lydia approaches he grabs her and tells her to keep the nanny and kid at bay.  She knows why he's there, and he tells her it's the last chance to talk before he does the deed.  Rather than spill anything useful, she's resigned to her fate and  basically begins negotiating on how Mike will leave her dead body - she doesn't want the kid to find her bloddy corpse, but doesn't want to disappear either.  Dilemma.   Mike, touched by the whole daughter thing as it parallels his relationship with Kaylee, reluctantly offers Lydia an out - get some methylamine.  Receiving a somewhat positive answer, he calls Walt and tells him he's reconsidered and is now in.  The band is back together.  Walt wins yet again.

Skyler lies in bed, depressed still, as Walt saunters in, and slides in beside her with banter about how great dinner was, etc.  Sensing her feelings, he tells her it gets easier, which does nothing to soothe her.  He spoons her and begins kissing her shoulders as she winces and clearly wants no part of this, but can't push him away. He whispers about how we do things for good reasons, and there is no better reason that for family as she beings to silently cry to herself, and we end another episode with a creepy Walt/Skyler scene.


  • It's ramping up now - the only remaining piece of the puzzle is a location for the cooking.
  • Anna Gunn had barely one line this episode, but showed some of her best acting work of the whole series.
  • Great to see so much focus on Mike this week.  How about an Emmy for Jonathan Banks while we're at it?
  • Still no sign of Marie (though she appears to confront Walt in the previews for next week)
  • Does Walt even have to teach anymore, since he currently seems so healthy?
  • Vince Gilligan said on the podcast that they shot more of that last scene where Walt attempts to have sex with Skyler - imagine her reaction to that - but she thinks quickly and takes care of him with her hands before he can do the deed.  the scene was cut for time.
  • What do you guys think?