I don’t know what it is about this excellent season of “Breaking Bad,” but up until last night’s episode, I had a strange inkling that the otherwise bleak show might end well this year. The way everything has worked up toward first the reunion of Jesse and Walt and, of late, Walt and Skylar, I felt a weird sense of optimism, some hope that things would turn out well.
I don’t feel that anymore. Now, I sense the confluence of all these forces is steering the show toward something tragic. Really fucking tragic. And I think that, the way they’ve sort of pushed Walt, Jr. into the background during the latter half of the season — except for a brief mention last night that he’s due to be able to drive by himself soon — is the show’s way of setting up that tragedy. I think some bad karmic retribution is due, and I think Skylar is going to end up paying it.
Just look at the foreboding clues in last night’s episode: We saw the return of Jane, in flashback, and in her and Jesse’s haunting conversation about Georgia O’Keefe and vaginas, we got a metaphorical primer on the nature of addiction. Why should we do something twice? Because each time is a new experience. Compare that with the final image of the episode, of Jesse walking purposely back toward his anger and, perhaps, a renewed interest in his addiction (?), and the last message that Gus left with Walt: “Never make the same mistake twice.” It’s subtle, but Gus and Jane were offering conflicting philosophical viewpoints. Gus is suggesting that you should never do the same thing twice, as history is doomed to repeat itself, while Jane is suggesting that we shouldn’t be afraid to do the same thing twice, as each time offers a new experience. How these conflicting thoughts apply to Walt’s second relationship with Jesse, his second relationship with Skylar, or Jesse’s second relationship with meth is yet to be seen. But Jane is dead, and Gus is very much alive, so I think we have a good idea of who’s advice has better served him.
In either respect, Jane’s haunting return; the image of Hank’s feet dangling, as though he were being hanged; and even that familiar water-drowning sound we heard as Skylar dropped something into a boiling pot of water before a quiet family dinner all suggests that we’re heading toward some really dark, really bleak territory. There’s two episodes left, and I think we’re about to get our hearts ripped out.
The gist of last night’s episode was this: Hank is struggling with rehab, and he refuses to leave the hospital until he can do so of his own accord, never mind the astronomical medical bills for which Walt is now paying. And to that end, Skylar — who insists that the money makes its way to Hank and Marie cleanly — is becoming a new partner for Walt. In her bookkeeping days, Skylar became something of an expert in hiding money. Who saw that coming? Everything happens for a reason in “Breaking Bad,” but I never thought — at the time — that Skylar’s dirty dealings with Beneke would help prepare her to deal dirtily with this and with Saul.
Speaking of Saul, his meeting with Skylar — and the way those two butted heads over whether to purchase a car wash or a laser tag property — were the best scenes of the episode, and allowed Saul to deliver the best line: “I see Walt has the same taste in women he has in attorneys — only the very best, with just the right amount of dirty.” Notice, too, that Skylar didn’t seek to dispute the dirty characterization; she just nodded her head in disgust.
Skylar’s taking over, y’all. She’s seeking to take over the same role in the meth business as she had in her tranquil boring marriage: As the dominant partner. I feel bad for Walt, who is having his control slowly taken away. Manufacturing meth was the one place where Walt had complete and total power and Skylar is encroaching even that now. I don’t think Walt realizes, just yet, how much power he’s giving up and the level of his future emasculation. Oh, and the power struggle between Skylar and Saul may play out for a very long time, but given their respective personalities, I think we know who ends up ultimately winning that battle. Skylar is not a person that I would fuck with.
Finally: Jesse. Jesse, Jesse, Jesse. He tried to take advantage of his rehab group by slinging meth to them and ended up falling for Andrea, deciding against selling to her once he found out she had an adorable son. But then she finds out that Andrea’s little brother Tomas was the guy who killed Combo, a revelation that leads him back toward the the possibility of a violent confrontation. The silver lining: Badger and Skinny Pete’s attempts to sell to the 12-step group has backfired, as they have gotten involved in the process and started cleaning themselves up.
It’s the smallest glimmer.
And what of that dinner between Gus and Walt? Talk about tense. For some reason, I expected Skylar to walk out and for the three of them (and maybe Gus’ wife) to have a nice dinner together, solidifying their relationship. Instead, Gus ultimately offered us that quietly menacing advice: “Never make the same mistake twice.” To what mistake was he referring? Jesse or Skylar? Or both. It’s not clear yet, but I suspect that Walt will ultimately have to choose between Gus and either his relationship with Jesse or with Skylar. That confrontation is going to lead to the death or someone, and I have a feeling it’s going to be an innocent bystander.
Walt, Jr. probably shouldn’t look so forward to his vehicular independence. That’s all I’m saying.