For a moment, let’s all just marvel at how beautifully restrained Breaking Bad is with its promotion. At the end of last night’s episode, I (and all of Twitter) was completely freaking out. The developments were thrilling in the screaming, flailing around on the couch sort of way. They were also a total surprise, and that’s because AMC is so reserved with its teasers. Had this show been on ABC, Fox, or any of the other network channels, that image of Jesse’s head on the floor next to the butcher shop brains or footage from the epic shootout would have been used over and over again in promos for Breaking Bad throughout the week. But the show and the channel trust and respect their viewers and understand that it’s much more enjoyable to watch without things being spoiled before you even leave the gate.
The episode opened up on Lydia, Todd, and his uncle plus henchman. All along, Todd has been framed as the mirror opposite of Jesse–he is obedient and eager to please Walter, but also has absolutely no problem with violence. They are both students (and almost surrogate sons) to Walt but have completely different approaches to that title.
The beginning of this episode showed us a different side to Todd, though. He was faintly hitting on Lydia, and creepily admired her lipstick stain once she had pulled away. Just as he was desperate to please Walt, he is now desperate to please Lydia, and in that scene, I got that sense that Todd is even more like Jesse than I had ever thought previously. They are both desperate for approval, for an authority figure to take them under their wing and show them they have worth–they are love starved.
Walt gave that love to Jesse hand-in-hand with emotional abuse for years, which is why Aaron Paul’s performance at the desert shootout was so amazing. Jesse is terrified, livid, remorseful, aching–and Paul manages to show all these emotions at once. You can tell a small part of Jesse regrets selling out his father figure–to Hank, no less–and conflicting with that, he feels vindicated that he outsmarted the man who has so frequently called him an idiot.
It was a shocking thing to watch Hank cuff Walt in the desert where they had their first cook (a sentimental choice by Walt or an accident?). We don’t see the moment when Walt chooses to surrender, but we do see him tell Todd’s uncle not to come. Heisenberg certainly would have never made that choice, but for this half-season, I feel like we’ve slowly been losing the meth emperor to flailing, nerdy Mr. White again.
If Walt had ordered the crew to come, they could have killed those three men, and that would have been the end of it. There is practically no way Walt could have been discovered, especially considering Hank’s desire to keep the entire operation under wraps. Who else knows? Saul? Huell? His secret (and money) would have been safe forever. It would have been a no-brainer call for Heisenberg, but Walt can’t do it. It is the chemistry teacher Mr. White who stumbles out to surrender and yells for Todd’s uncle not to shoot.
But we also know that Heisenberg makes an eventual return to the scene to get his ricin capsule, so what brings him back?