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?
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