As great as last night’s episode of “Breaking Bad” was, I think I loved the scheduling of it the most. It was a self-contained bottle episode — the only of the entire series (as far as I can recollect), and it fell on the night of the “Lost” finale. You have to think that it was designed that way, right? That Vince Gillian or the network thought: No one’s going to be paying attention to anything other than “Lost” on Sunday, May 24, so let’s put together a self-contained episode. How far back did that go? Did the network schedule the series to begin on a certain week so that the bottle episode would fall on the same night as the “Lost” finale, or had they planned that way back in the writing stage? Or, was there one fewer episode, and did the network ask Gilligan to put together last night’s episode after all the others were in the can?
Or am I being silly? Was it all a coincidence? Did last night’s “Breaking Bad” episode fortuitously happen to fall on the same night as the “Lost” finale? You’ll excuse me for over-thinking it. I think both shows — “Lost” and “Breaking Bad” — invite a lot of overthinking.
Anyway, those of you who watched scenes from the upcoming episode last week might have been a little disappointed in the way last night’s episode turned out, only in that the preview for this episode suggested violence, huge dramatic moments, and possibly even a bloody confrontation between Jesse and Walt. There was a confrontation in last night’s episode, but it was between Walt/Jesse and a … fly.
Indeed, narratively, last night’s episode dealt with a fly. Walt freaked out because there was a fly in the lab. He refused to cook any more meth until the “contaminant” had been dealt with. He refused to sleep; he fell and bonked his head fairly severely, and yet continued on his crazed pursuit of the fly, a pursuit that he eventually brought Jesse into, at first reluctantly, but then with some eagerness. It was a nightmare episode for obsessive compulsives — Walt wouldn’t let that fucking fly go, and it was hard not to get caught up on his obsessiveness.
But the fly was just an excuse for Walt and Jesse to reconnect. They’d been estranged since the death of Jane, and only recently had they become reluctant partners. Last night’s episode gave us something we’ve been missing: The bond between Jesse and Walt. They regained their old familiarity with one another. It was nice to see them emotionally reconnect again. Walt finally offered his heartfelt condolences for the death of Jane, although he did not, in his delirium, admit his role in not saving Jane (there was a tense few moments where we thought he might). There was also a really powerful conversation — a monologue, really — where Walt talked about the moment he wish he had died: Before his wife had found out he was manufacturing, and after he’d made enough money to secure their future. The night Jane died, in fact. It was a touching speech, and offered something of a preview of what a “Breaking Bad” series finale might have looked like if it had ended after two seasons.
Otherwise, there wasn’t much in the way of narrative momentum in last night’s episode, other than the fact that Walt knows Jesse is skimming. Walt told Jesse that he couldn’t protect him from Gus. And Jesse said he wasn’t asking for protection.
And that was about it, except that — after last night’s episode — I think we’ve all regained some lost sympathy for both Jesse and Walt. They’ve both been so Machiavellian all season long that perhaps we’ve forgotten that there is a lot of humanity underneath. Last night was a welcome reminder of that, and accolades go to Rian Johsnon (Brick, Brothers Bloom) for his directing work on it.