‘Breaking Bad’ Discussion: Table-Side Guacamole

There are bad double dates and then there are bad double dates. A double date that includes the female half of one couple turning to the male half of the other couple to ask, “Why don’t you just kill yourself?” is a bad double date. That’s been my personal experience, anyway.

So let’s get right to it, shall we? Here are a few notes I made during last night’s Breaking Bad about characters, scenes, etc. I found interesting for one reason or another.

– As much as I want to dive right in to Walt’s “confession” because I think it’s one of the more diabolically brilliant plot twists I’ve ever seen on a TV show, I was so baffled by Jesse’s meltdown last night — as were tons of others, based on what I saw on Twitter — that I feel like it’s an elephant in the room that needs to be immediately addressed.

So yeah, as it was happening, I had no idea what was going on. Jesse seemed excited about his new life in Alaska and then, suddenly, he reaches into his pocket, gazes at a pack of cigarettes and decides to walk away from the mysterious man in the van coming to pick him up.

At first I thought that maybe he believed that the person in the van was a hitman hired by Walt to slyly poison him with ricin. But then when he confronts Saul with a fist to the face we learn that Jesse is actually again of the opinion that Walt poisoned Brock with the ricin. Again, I was utterly baffled, as were a lot of you reading this, I suspect.

Thankfully, Alan Sepinwall helped me make sense of this

At the pick-up spot, a nervous Jesse reaches for his pot, and can’t find it. He frantically checks all his pockets, but all he finds is a cigarette pack. Staring at the cigarette pack, and realizing Huell dipped into his pocket without him noticing, Jesse realizes that his first suspicions about the ricin cigarette were correct, and that Mr. White was manipulating him into turning against Gus, endangering Brock’s life in the process.

That the ricin wasn’t actually used on Brock is beside the point. Jesse knew from the beginning that Huell had picked his pocket, and that he must have done it on Mr. White’s orders. He has been thinking about this often in the months since it happened — far more often and more intensely than those of us watching the show have, and in a more compressed time period. When he realizes Huell picked his pocket, and stares at another crumpled cigarette pack, everything clicks into place about the events of “End Times” — including how convenient it was that this terrible thing happened to Brock, which turned Jesse back into Walt’s ally, at the exact moment Walt needed an ally against Gus — and he goes on the warpath against Saul, Huell and that asshole Mr. White.

Now, I’m sure this seems like a bit of stretch to many — and it does to me as well — but I’m willing to accept it.

– So about that opening scene: if Walt’s completely out of the meth game, why did Todd call him to update him on the fact that he and Declan “had some differences of opinion and it got a little…messy.” Is there something we don’t know — namely that Walt still has a hand in things — going on here?

– Also re: Todd — I can’t help but wonder what the significance is of him detailing the train heist to Uncle Jack and his pal Kenny is? This has to come into play at some point later. My gut is that it will involve Todd making crappy meth, which will lead to Walt becoming a hot meth-cooking commodity again.

– Throughout this episode we see Walt lying and manipulating like a master liar and manipulator. But personally I found none of his lying and manipulating more chilling than when he essentially used the reappearance of cancer to manipulate Walter Jr. into not going over to Hank and Marie’s house. That sh*t was straight ice cold.

– Props to Trent the table-side-guacamole-pushing waiter for surpassing Carol the neighbor as my favorite minor supporting player on the show so far this season.

– And congrats to our pal Dean Norris for perfecting the pissed off Hank Schrader look for this episode…

– So, about that aforementioned confession tape: wow. Just wow. I couldn’t have been the only one who felt overcome with the urge to stand and cheer as it unfolded, right?  BTW, in doing so, my applause would have been also directed at Vince Gilligan and his writing staff for coming up the idea. It’s just so great.

– And speaking of the confession tape, Hank and Marie’s stone-faced reaction to it would probably be their same reaction to Miley Cyrus’ act at the VMAs last night.

– Another thing about the confession, the contrast between the one from last night and the one from the opening scene of the pilot episode is quite striking

– Okay, I’ll admit it, the scene where Walt and Jesse hug it out in the desert broke me up a little bit. There was definitely dust in the room.

– Speaking of Walt and Jesse, last night’s episode reminded me of the Breaking Bad version of American Gothic I saw floating around on Tumblr a while back.

– Knowing that Jesse doesn’t burn down the White’s house kind of took some of the teeth out of the cliffhanger at the end, no?

– Did you guys catch Samuel L. Jackson wearing a Heisenberg hat on Talking Bad? That was pretty awesome.

– One final thought: Walt’s confession last night reminded me of the confession he taped in the opening scene of the pilot episode which also reminded me of something else that I always suspected would come back and factor into the show but so far has not: the lab mask that Walt tosses and leaves behind in the desert. Here he is holding it just before he ventures out into the road to confront the cops who he believes are coming his way…

In a podcast interview with Vince Gilligan that aired some time last year (I’ve been trying to recall the exact one but have so far failed), I kinda-sorta recall Gilligan saying that something from the opening scene of the pilot episode would come back into play in the show. I can’t help but wonder if the mask isn’t that thing. A big deal was made of it back then — multiple shots of it were shown over multiple episodes — and it has never resurfaced since, as far as I can remember. I even seem to recall Hank having it sent to the FBI’s forensic labs in Virginia for testing. I can’t help but wonder if this won’t become the piece of hard physical evidence Hank needs to nail Walt. I guess we’ll soon find out.

Your own thoughts are welcome in the comments.

(GIFs via Chet Manley)