‘Breaking Bad’: “A Nuanced Discussion About the Virtues of Child Poisoning”

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The triangle between Walt, Jesse, and Hank continues to spin, arranging and rearranging itself with every new development.

Though this most recent episode was probably the slowest and had fewer dramatic revelations than past weeks, it was a masterful bit of writing and directing for Breaking Bad. Last week’s cliffhanger hung over me all week and into the tense opening scene, only to have an anticlimactic feel to it. It would have been so easy to open the episode up with Hank busting in on Jesse about the light the White house on fire, but this episode was more patient and interesting than that.

We start out with Walt covering his tracks so Skyler doesn’t find out about Jesse’s little arson attempt. True to Heisenberg, he’s very thorough–gasoline in the car, on his clothes, a fan running to pretend he tried to clean out the smell, throwing the container out several houses down. But Skyler is so aware of his deceit now (especially after watching him make that tape for Hank and Marie last week) that she doesn’t accept an inch of his story. The old Walter White might have experienced a pump malfunction, but not Heisenberg. Heisenberg doesn’t accidentally leave his gas-soaked clothes on the living room floor, and we all know it.

a_560x375My favorite moment in the whole episode was when Hank reached over Jesse and put his seatbelt on for him. There were several little moments like this–tenderness that Marie and Hank showed Jesse. It’s what I wanted from them and for him, but in my opinion, they didn’t stretch far enough. It would appear that Jesse told Hank and Gomez everything, and if that kid really laid it all out there, I would expect a lot more compassion from Hank–not the judgment and disgust that came out of his mouth.

Jesse is fragile. I am not alone in constantly comparing him to a child, and his desire to help others and keep them from getting hurt is what makes him the pure and innocent one of this show. He is not technically innocent, but unlike Walt, he has not corrupted his soul to the point of being OK with killing and poisoning people for his own selfish greater good. “For us. What’s one more?” Skyler asked Walt as she ordered him to kill our beloved Jesse. She, too, has come a long way since finding out Walt’s secret. Everything is about protecting her family now, with no outside moral compass to be found.

Hank and Walt are still acting like two opposing sides of the same coin–anger, manipulation, pride. Hank rails on Jesse for running from his meeting with Walt instead of approaching the situation with patience. He doesn’t ask, he orders. He still won’t take the situation to the DEA (although thankfully, he does have old Steve Gomez in on the secret now). He came on too strong with Jesse in his house like he did with Skyler in the diner. This case is so wrapped up in his own identity and ego that he’s botching things someone else wouldn’t.

And he doesn’t respect Jesse.

I’m convinced that’s the key to this whole thing. Who will take Jesse seriously? I love that Hank is working with him now, but it has to go beyond that. He has to treat Jesse well, because that’s what Walt could never manage.

Saul quotes of the week:

  • “I never should have let my dojo membership run out.”
  • “But you have to understand–deep down, he loves me.”
  • “An Old Yeller type situation.”
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