Monday, September 12, 2011

"Breaking Bad" - "Bug"

Spoilers for the latest "Breaking Bad" after the jump:

At one point in "Bug" (another stunning episode in a season that's finally starting to return to the incredible heights it reached a year ago), Walter White says to Jesse that nothing really matters, since "we're both dead men, anyway". And he's not entirely wrong. They're not physically dead, although they seem increasingly destined to end up that way once all is said and done. But psychologically.... it certainly appears that they're irreparably damaged.

The brutal fight that concludes this episode is the culmination of Walt and Jesse's psychological development so far this season. As Walt has grown ever more powerless, his paranoia has grown at the same rate: to the point where he no longer trusts anyone and lives in terror. And he's fed up, lashing out at his partner just when they need each other the most. Jesse, meanwhile, has finally snapped out of his generally lifeless attitude and has decided that he actually does care what happens to him . Nearly getting killed will do that to you. Only Walt won't help him, and the revelation about the bug (not to mention Walt's ill-advised final comment) is the last straw. 

It's a whopper of a finish, and one that leaves the show's central relationship in shambles. But the great thing about "Breaking Bad" is that the episode's impact isn't limited to that scene alone. No, in this case we also had Skyler's close call: a storyline that almost certainly isn't finished yet. Skyler has to give Ted some of the money, right? There's really no other alternative. The mantra I've been repeating these past weeks about choices doesn't really apply to any of the storylines this week. Just about every character (Hank is the exception) is completely boxed in right now: playing out the few cards left to them as well as they can.

On the other hand, it also very much applies to the current situation in that the choices these characters have made over the course of the last 3+ seasons have now led them to the point where they're mostly out of options. This may or may not include Gus. Right now it appears he's in the same boat as Walt and Jesse as far as his relations with the cartel go, but I still get the sense he's got something big planned. I just don't see him working with the cartel (or giving in to them) after what we saw last week, though of course I could be wrong. No matter what, though, "Breaking Bad" seems headed for a compelling endgame as its penultimate season nears completion.

Other Thoughts

- One minor nitpick: like last week, we open with an image involving blood. Only this week, it's essentially a fake out designed to trick us into believing Walt's killed someone. It felt like a cheap tactic to me, and I think the episode could have done without it.

- Just throwing this out there... if Walt's so concerned about Gus murdering him, why doesn't he create some sort of file (since he knows so much about Gus's operation) that would be sent to the police in the event of his death? It seems like this would work.

- The Ted stuff is yet another example of one of the things I love most about this show: its constant referencing of its past. Nothing is ever forgotten.

Grade: A