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 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?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Breaking Bad Recap - "Live Free Or Die" (Season 5, Episode 1)

Previously on Breeaking Bad: All sorts of wild stuff went down.  Gus threatened to kill Walt's family, Ted took a nasty fall, Little Brock was poisoned, Mike got shot and was deemed less important to save in the Mexican Tent Hospital, Tio rang his suddenly quieter bell, Gus screamed just before the room went kaboom, Walt won, Skyler got scared.

We open on a freshly served breakfast of eggs, bacon and hash browns.  A pair of hands breaks the bacon in half and arranges them to read "52" on the plate, in a nice callback to the Pilot where Walt was served his (soy) bacon arranged as "50".  So, two years have passed, then, which doesn't jibe with the timeline of the show as we know it, making this scene a flash forward.  Hey, it's Walter, BUT, this is weird - this Walt looks decimated, coughs (in what must signify the intensifying of his cancer), has a full head of hair, sports some nerdy glasses, and the chatty waitress refers to him as "Mr. Lambert" after she browbeats him into providing ID (a New Hampshire driver's license) so he can enjoy this awesome meal on the house.  A man walks in, who the eagle eyed watchers of this show remember as the guy who sold Walt the .38 a few seasons back.  They meet in the Men's room, where Walt exchanges a package for a car key.  On his way out of the Denny's he drops a C-note for a tip, which won't raise any suspicion at all.  Is this an example of Walt not caring, or another display of ego?  Not sure.  He opens the trunk of his care, which sports a New Hampshire plate as well as the episode title, and pulls out his trusty duffel bag.  Scanning the lot, he presses the key fob to hear the tell tale beep of his new ride, and walks over to it.  He opens the trunk and wow, this is way more powerful than a .38 snub nose.  (the internet tells me it's an M60, which, yikes).

Back to the aftermath of the Big Bang, and we see the Skyler end of the "I won" phone call.  She is quite justifiably terrified at what her husband has become.  Walt returns back home to clean up his mini bomb making factory in the kitchen, then remembers that it might be a good idea to ditch that certain plant from his back yard as well.  Walter Jr. comes home and basically can't stop going on about how awesome Uncle Hank is for figuring out the whole Gus-as-drug-kingpin thing.  Walt still can't be a hero to the kid, even after masterminding the whole takeout of the Fring empire and saving his whole family in the process.  This won't have any repercussions at all, I'm sure.  Awkwardness abounds between Walt and Skyler, as she's scared of Walt and tells him so, while he's just looking for a little thanks.  After taking a hit from his scotch and cooing at Baby Holly, Walt has an "Oh Shit" moment...

...and we cut to Hank in a hazmat suit going through the remains of the Laundri-Lab, where, after some searching, he comes across what appears to be a melted security camera perched high above.  Oh shit, indeed.

Smash cut to some Mexican chickens, being fed by.....Mike!  Great to see you up and about, Mike!  His mood changes quickly once the Doc gets word that Gus is no more.  Mike angrily drives toward what I can only assume is Alberquerque and nearly has a head on collision with Walt and Jesse coming from the other direction.  He's ready to blow Walt away, and probably would've if not for Jess standing between them.  Walt relays the news that the cameras will incriminate each of them, and were likely feeding to somewhere, and knowing Gus he would have held on to the footage.  Mike knows exactly what's up and mentions Gus' laptop is what they'll need to get.  He reluctantly is forced to team up with our heroes(?).  We then see the laptop in question, being carefully bagged as evidence under Hank's watchful eye.  This is going to be a problem.....

Mike pretends to be a postal inspector or some such thing in an effort to get the goods on the laptop from the police.  This goes nowhere, and he determines that they are "boned" and tells Jess to join him on his trip out of Dodge.  Walt, emboldened by his sudden badassery, wants to know what he's up against as far as getting to the laptop.  Mike lets him know that it's basically behind large slabs of concrete and is about as easy to get to as gold in Fort Knox.  A great scene ensues as Mike and Walt argue back and forth about getting the laptop/knocking out the facility as Jesse, like the kid trying to talk while the grownups are discussing something, keeps suggesting "what about a magnet".  Finally, the adults stop and look at young Jesse, and you can almost see the light bulbs over each of their heads.  Magnets, bitches!

More callbacks as we're suddenly back in the junkyard with the guy who destroyed the RV, just before Hank could get his hands on it back in Season......2 maybe?  We see a pretty big ass magnet in action as Walt discusses the possibilities with the Junk Yard guy, and as they go to discuss the financing Mike again implores Jesse to take his money and run.  Jesse counters that this plan can only work if all three of them are fully engaged, and Mike seems to reluctantly resign himself to being a part of the caper.

Skyler's at the Car Wash, when she gets a visitor - Saul Goodman.  She's all "why are you even here, we had an agreement" and he's basically saying "the police may call, and if they do you keep it zipped, mmkay?"  Turns out Ted is alive.  Who knew?  Certainly not us.  Breathing allows for the possibility of talking, so Ted is now a problem.

The magnet experiment is ready for Test Run #1.  It looks like a bunch of car batteries in the back of an old UHaul, with Walt working some dial which amps up the power as he twists.  Jesse stands off to the side, test laptop in hand, and walks slowly toward the truck until the screen scrambles, then has the machine ripped from his hands when Walt ramps up the dial.  Success!  Yeah, bitch! Magnets!  Oh, and Walt asks the Junk Yard Guy if they can double up on the battery power too.

At the hospital, Skyler tiptoes toward Teds room, and once let in is taken aback at the sight of him.  he's propped up in his bed with one of those halo devices on and about three inches of protective devices on his chest.  He's bald, and looks petrified.  Skyler chokes back tears and begins to try to tell him how sorry she feels, but Ted cuts her off as quick as he can, telling her he hasn't said a word to anyone, told the doctors he "fell", etc.  He has a family, he says, and will never breath a word of this to anyone.  Poor bastard is basically begging for his life right now.  Skyler's demeanor changes rather abruptly, and replies with a terse "Good".  Scene!  Being feared is kinda cool sometimes, eh Mrs. White?

Let the caper begin!  Mike tales care of the security camera and the entrance gate, Walt and Jesse drive the truck to the spot where the magnets can do maximum damage.  He thwacks the dial, and the one guy on duty in the evidence building notices a disturbance in The Force.  Within a few minutes, his monitor goes dark, the light flicker, and all hell breaks loose in the evidence closet.  Walt, not knowing when to stop or perhaps just being thorough, cranks the dial to eleven and basically trashes the place so well, but also tips the truck in the process as the magnets worked a little too well.  Now what?  All cops on duty surround the tipped truck, guns drawn, but it's too late - the boys are in Mike's getaway car and speeding away.  Mike frets that with the truck left behind, they're screwed.  Walt calmly shoots down each point- the truck and batteries were untraceable, etc.  Mike wonders how they can be sure the whole thing even worked.  Should he just take it on faith?  Walt, whose balls grew three sizes that day, calmly and coolly responds: "Because I say so."  Jesse shoots a WTF look at Walt while Mike gives a staredown in the rear view. Walt's getting to be a bigger badass in every scene.....

Cut to the aftermath of the Magnets, Bitch! caper.  Cops are cataloging the damaged evidence, and we see the laptop is pretty well smashed up, so mission accomplished.  We also see the picture of Gus and his friend (the guy Tio shot in an earlier flashback last season), which in its damaged state reveals what looks to be some Cayman Island bank tracking and routing numbers. Interesting....

Saul's office, where the door has not been fixed yet.  He drops the news to Walt about Skyler's trouble with Ted and the IRS.  Saul tells Walt that he tried, to no avail, to involve Walt, but mean old Skyler wouldn't let him!  Walt coldly boils it down to the fact that Saul agreed to give $622,000 to a man who was sleeping with his wife.  Point to Mr. White.  Saul then pulls out the ricin cigarette, whines about how he's been sticking his neck out for Walt, how the kid almost died, etc. and decides that he's "done" with Walt as a client.  Walt, in the second best line of the episode, scares the shit out of Saul with this: "We're done....when I say we're done."  Game, set, and match.

Cut to Walt entering his house, and we get a nice tracking shot from behind his head as he walks down the hall to the bedroom.  He tells Skyler that he heard about Ted, and her response is a nervous "He's not going to talk.." as she now knows what he is capable of doing.  Walt approaches her slowly, creepily rubs her arm and slowly hugs her in the creepiest way possible.  Mouth near her ear, he utters the line of the show: "I forgive you."  Creepy.

All in all, this was a great way to start the season.  Several things have been setup, and we know from the flash forward that the Big Balled Walter won't last very long.  Getting there will be half the fun.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Episode 14: The Narcissism Hour

In this episode, our hero takes on the people behind the ATM cameras, narcissism (his own and yours), Prom season famewhore moves, and plays another round of This Product Exists.