Breaking Bad Review: Why Am I Ashamed?

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On Breaking Bad last night, Walt took a look at the hand he was dealt, realized he was all in with little chance for victory, but refused to fold.

Forced card metaphors aside, "Bullet Points" was a phenomenal episode, one that proved this series really can do it all.

Walt in the Lab

Consider the silence of the fourth season premiere, an installment that didn't require very much dialogue in order to ratchet up the tension. Here, however - with the exception of the outstanding, tense, humorous, beautifully shot opening scene - viewers were treated to practically nothing but exchanges between the main characters.

And it was equally riveting.

Walt and Skyler going over their bullet-pointed, novel-length lie to their loved ones was at times funny, enlightening and fascinating. It was impossible not to laugh at these two, arguing like a regular married couple, but doing it over such pressing and even somewhat ridiculous topics. Hmmm... should Skyler pretend to cry when telling her sister than their fortune is based on a gambling problem, not a drug manufacturing one?

Of course, the misdirection was never without subtext. Why am I ashamed? I would never say terribly. I'm sorry for all I put you through, how does that sound? Walt was at his coldest and in his classic state of denial throughout the plotting.

But did that change when he arrived at dinner? After seeing Gale in his innocent, sweet singing glory, did Walt actually feel a ping of regret? It felt that way when he did, indeed, utter the double "terribly" and apologize to his son and excused himself from the table... but then we saw him rifling through Hank's file and realized, no, Walter White is far past the point of sorrow. He was just concerned about the murder investigation.

From here, we were treated to yet another long, intense, revealing scene of dialogue. Framed by Hank's rock (sorry, mineral!) light, Walt sifted through Gale's lab notes. It was difficult to read what he was thinking.

Fear over Gale exposing him and Jesse? Mostly. But also some pride over the formulas jotted down, some curiosity over this unusual man who included poems and other notes in the journal. Always thinking one step ahead, though, Walt was also looking for clues. Did he really convince Hank that the "W.W." inscription was meant for Walt Whitman? I think so. But Hank gave off an air of suspicious throughout the conversation, didn't he?

Finally, we had the chat with Saul, a session of whining and complaining from Walt. He actually wondered how things got "so screwed up," but he didn't blame himself. Far from it. Everyone had had played some role. It's not that he stayed at the table too long, or doubled down when he should have walked away; it was that the dealer dared to deliver the wrong card; the player in front of him had mismanaged his hand; heck, the air conditioning was too high. Anything except an admission that Walt should never have been playing in the first place.

And might it be Jesse whose chips will be cashed in? I doubt it (and I really am done with the card metaphors). But it wouldn't shock me. Naturally, it would be heart-breaking to lose Aaron Paul, but Vince Gilligan continually says the show will conclude after next season. I can't imagine either of these cooks remaining alive when it's all over. Jesse has to die at some point.

Just an outstanding hour of television all around, with half-truths (gambling, Gale as Heisenberg) exposing real truths and Walt continuing to think he can stay one step ahead of it all. But in refusing yet another answer to his problems (Saul's friend has a card?!?), did he write Jesse's death check? And, aside from wondering if he's next, does Walt even care at this point?


Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (37 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Saul was hilarious - "Perhaps that sounded insensitive," "Did my name come up?" but he also unveiled a "get out of jail" card, tho' it's not "free" - the disappearing act. Saul lingered on that. It's not the last we'll hear about it. If you watched "The Shield" everyone was predicting death or incarceration for Vic Mackey, but the writers came up with a different hell for him. I predict something along the same lines here.


I think killing has become nothing to Jesse, When no one
paid attention to how hurt he had become after he killed Gale (go kart scene,walt ignoring him) ,he changed.
Jesse has that long stare now, like hes becoming OG.
i wouldnt be surprised if he killed Mike so he could go for Gus. didnt you see how disgusted jesse was, gus killed a kid,slit his guys throat right in front of him.
Gus has got to go


Good recap, but I have a few additional thoughts. First of all, I liked the idea of the blackjack scene as a metaphor for Walt's position in the drug business After all, The Wire always referred to the drug business as "The Game," so that makes sense to me. As you say, he never should have played in the first place, and he should have folded his hand as soon as it became apparent that he wasn't cut out for this (him stupidly turning down his friends' money for his cancer treatment out of pride was the point of no return for his character, and it happened very early on). But you lose me when you chide Walt for not folding now. As you said yourself, he's all in. So even though his chances of winning don't look good, he has to keep playing because he has no other choice. If he's all in, and he loses, that's it. But he can still win. Folding when he's all in would just mean that he never gave himself a chance--however small it might be--to win in the first place. And I don't necessarily agree that Jesse has to die before the end of the series. Although the chances of that are good, I think it's also possible that he'll end up in jail. Or maybe he'll get out, possibly as a juxtaposition against the darker fate that likely awaits Walt.

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