Tuesday, August 2, 2011

"Breaking Bad" - "Open House"

Spoilers for this week's "Breaking Bad" after the jump:

"Breaking Bad" has been off to a somewhat slow start this season. However, slow does not mean boring. This week's installment was once again short on big developments (apart from Skyler and Walt closing the deal on the car wash), but much like the previous episode it was packed full of quietly dramatic moments. This is despite the fact that Walt and Jesse weren't on screen all that much and Marie was.

Marie has always been "Breaking Bad's" weakest character: mainly because it's never quite figured out just what to do with her. And truthfully, I'm still not sure it has. But, at least for one episode, it found a way to make her interesting. Sure, having her start stealing again is kind of predictable. But that's only because the show's done such a great job of setting it up over the first couple of episodes of the season. And Betsy Brandt was stunning in every scene.

Just as importantly, it provided an excuse for Hank's homicide detective pal (who I don't think we've ever met before) to rope Hank into the investigation of Gale's murder. That's a good thing, since I find Hank far more interesting when he's working a case . And when the case happens to involve his meth-cooking brother-in-law, that's even better.

Jesse was sidelined a bit this week, but that's understandable since there's really not much going on with him right now: aside from his continued descent into depression and self-destruction (played brilliantly by Aaron Paul), which stood out in sharp contrast to the delightful sequences involving Skyler and Walt.

Anna Gunn had to be the MVP of the episode. She was brilliant throughout: particularly in an early scene where she confronted her husband about his black eye, and of course later on when she showed off Skyler's negotiating skills by negotiating a better deal on the car wash after coming up with a clever scheme to force a sale.

All that said, this isn't quite as tight an episode as "Thirty-Eight Snub", despite the welcome return of Saul Goodman. The Marie scenes were effective, but they went on a bit too long, and the introduction of a camera into the meth lab was dealt with far too nonchalantly (although I suspect it will come up again in future installments). Still, a not-quite-perfect episode of "Breaking Bad" is still a great hour of TV: and "Open House" is yet another example of that.

Other Thoughts

- Loved that final scene between Walt and Skyler. "We have to destroy the evidence."

- I wasn't entirely sure who that guy tailing Jesse was. Thankfully, Alan Sepinwall's review is here to clear things up.

Grade: A-

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