If last week’s episode of Breaking Bad ended explosively, this week’s sustained more of a simmer. Walter and Hank, now each fully aware of where each other stands, are making their endgame moves, which largely focus on Skyler. Meanwhile Walt Jr has yet to be killed. We can still hope.
Some people have given Anna Gunn shit over the course of the series, but I think she’s great and tonight was a strong example of why. Her scene in the diner with Hank is extraordinary, and Gunn sells the way her panic boils over until she’s left shouting in the middle of the restaurant. Skyler’s arc over the course of the show has been fascinating - from responsible, semi-nagging wife to criminal accomplice - and we saw it all encapsulated in that scene with Marie. The slap she gave Skyler resonated as loudly as Hank punching Walt last week.
There has been a lot of speculation that the flash forwards that began the two halves of season five indicate that Walter kills Skyler, and his suspicion that she’s helping Hank certainly lends credence to that theory. While she took care of him after he passed out in the bathroom there’s one thing we’ve learned about Walter White, and it’s that he doesn’t forget - any behavior on her part that makes it look like she’s supporting the DEA will earn her an instant death sentence. Sure, he told Saul that he couldn’t kill Hank because he’s family, but I suspect the reasons are both more pragmatic - you just don’t kill a DEA agent - and idiosyncratic - Hank’s doing his job. Walter respects that on some level. Skyler would be betraying him - than that.
Or maybe he won’t have to kill her. Lydia’s quest to get her meth higher quality got deadly this week, with good old Todd (aka Meth Damon) back on the scene, wiping out the jokers who have been cooking sub-par product. Lydia needs that high purity meth for international sales, and she’s not about to take no from Walt. With Todd’s army behind her she may lay down some hurt on the Whites to convince Walt to come back. Is this where Walt Jr buys it? Please god say yes.
Lydia's scene in the buried bus was wonderful; hunkered down, ears closed to the sounds of violence, she couldn't help notice the shell casings falling through the vent. She's trying to insulate herself from the violence around her, but she won't always have Todd leading her through the battlefield with her eyes closed. It's Lydia's frightened rabbit nature that probably makes her most dangerous, especially with Todd on her arm.
I love Todd, so I’m happy to see him back. He’s the bizarro-Jesse, polite and sweet and absolutely deadly. They’re both a touch dim, but that’s what makes both of them so lovable. I keep thinking that Walt is going to kill Jesse - after all, his erratic behavior and guilt are by far the greatest threats to Heisenberg - but it would be fitting for Todd and Jesse to take each other out, matter colliding with anti-matter.
Jesse himself was largely absent this week, appearing only in the cold open and the cliffhang. I can’t say I missed him; while I love Pinkman it feels like we’ve essentially come to the finale of his arc, with his moping being his permanent state. Will a session with Hank change that? Will it snap Jesse out of his funk? Or will he just spill it all? Remember, Saul assured Walter that Skyler can’t damage him too much - it’s all hearsay. She was never at the cooks, she never saw Walt in action, she never saw money changing hands. Jesse saw it. He saw all of it. This isn’t third party information - this is an absolute, total first-hand account. While Walt was worried about his wife his partner was really slipping through his grasp.
But now he's in Hank's grasp. It'll be interesting to see how Hank deals with this windfall; he knows that this is his last case, so he has to make it count. It has to stick. Judging by what we've seen in the flash forwards it looks like he will, but does his victory come from Jesse or another avenue? On the one hand Breaking Bad is meticulous in its set ups and pay-offs, so Jesse is the obvious traitor. At the same time there are so many pieces in motion right now, and the show is so willing to bring back pieces from the past, that anything could happen. Hank closing that interrogation room door didn't have the impact of him closing the garage door last week, but it may have a lot more meaning in the long run.