Breaking Bad Review: In-Tents Action

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I could never bring myself to criticize Vince Gilligan in any way, shape or form, but I have to admit that my initial response to the latest Breaking Bad episode, "Hazard Pay," was this:

We get it.

Walt has made the official move from Mr. Chips to Scarface, which is how the creator pitched/sold his vision of the series to Bryan Cranston years ago. And the opening three episodes of Season 5 have done all they can to hammer this point home.

Breaking Baddies

I was enraptured by the premiere, which featured an uber confident and dangerous Walt; and also taken by last Sunday's installment, which honed in on Mike.

But this episode didn't move very much along. Yes, it set in motion a genius plan for how Walt and Jesse would cook their operation's product, but it mostly served to once again remind viewers of just how cold-minded and manipulative Walt has become. Heck, it even showed him watching and marveling at Scarface! Again: we do get it by now.

And I love it, trust me. Walt is pure evil, setting up Skyler as the bad guy when Marie confronts him over her sister's breakdown... toying with Jesse's mind and prompting him to break up with Andrea... making it clear at the conclusion that he's not afraid to slit Mike's throat. Or Jesse's throat, really. Walt has made the full evolution into the antithesis of Mr. Chips.

I'm just ready to now see where that takes him.

Unlike Mike, who is committed to "his" guys, and unlike Jesse who would jump off a cliff for his mentor at this point, Walt has no loyalty. He has no regrets (nice to meet you, Brock!) and he has no care in the world aside from being number-one. The man who kills Jesse James isn't automatically Jesse James? Mike couldn't have said anything more hurtful or irritating to his unstable business partner.

It's chilling to watch Walt stroll back home like he's invited, asking Skyler to sit down and watch her worst nightmare unfold: this dark man bonding deeper and deeper with her two kids. It's not even clear at this point whether Walt is aware he's a monster and is just toying with his wife, or if his ego allows him to truly believe he's welcome in her life and in the lives of their children.

I'm leaning toward the latter. His hubris makes him clueless about reality, whether that's his personal life or his professional world, where Walt clearly thinks he's invincible.

We all know that isn't the case, of course, not after the cold opening to kick off Season 5. Months from now, for whatever reason, Walt will be a disheveled, nervous wreck in need of a machine gun. I have no idea why and we're not meant to have an idea why.

But in only an eight episode summer season, the first few hours have really given us no hint whatsoever.

Yes, I could watch a nervous Saul vent about the Three Amigos becoming four for hours. And I appreciate the depth the series has given Mike in just two weeks. And Skyler screaming at Marie to just SHUT UP was tragically mesmerizing. But I am growing a bit anxious for the action to pick up and the stakes to be raised.

We know Walt White is now akin to Scarface. But just who will he be introducing to his Little Friend in the near future?


Editor Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (58 Votes)

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


I have been a huge fan of Breaking Bad from the very first episode up to the finale of season 4. Season 5 has taken a nosedive though. Skyler's character does nothing but brood and complain. Not believable in the slightest when you consider that she was fully on board with the criminal empire and even helped to set up the money laundering operation. All she does is mope around, and they dedicate large portions of the show to this annoying, one dimensional and unrealistic drama. Really bad move. It has made the show painful to watch. Not a good thing obviously. Even Walter's character is like a sledgehammer of repetition and beating a dead horse and saying the same thing over and over again (see what I did there?). This show so far in season 5 has sucked. Sorry to say but it is just bad.


the scarface reference was strictly for the fans of the show, v.gilligan has always said that the show would be the transformation of walt from mr.chips to scarface, well we now know that the transformation is complete, walt is now scarface and the villian of the show, his quiet line "everyone dies in this movie" was forshadowing of whats to come by the end, i dont think walt will kill skyler, even though he is truly evil now and doesnt care about anything other than his cooking biz, everything he has done he has done for his family in his mind, i think the worse thing that will happen for him is that skyler ( who truly terrified of walt now) will end up narking on walt to hank, and she and the children will go into some type of witness protection and walt will never see his family again, the absolute worst thing that could happen to walt because all that he has done has been for them and if it goes that way then it was all for nothing, truly a great show, its like watching an hour long movie each week


@pooter I really don't understand how people can be so unsympathetic towards Skyler's character. Walt lied to her for a pretty long time about his new "profession". Still, she took him back and offered to run the car wash. Walt sold the whole cook operation to her as some regular 9-5 job. Now Skyler is clearly in over her head and I don't think it is ridiculous to be really freaked out when your significant other murders someone and acts so nonchalantly about it. Not to mention Walt killing Gus was as much about Walt asserting his power than saving the family. If Walt really cared, he would've gone to the DEA and gotten the family into the WPP.


Oh the Scarface scene was pretty ridiculous though. We could've been supplied more of Skylar's POV with a wee bit more subtlety. The whole thing made me laugh out loud. Speaking of laughs - I am really glad that humor is being utilized in BB again. @AJA- Breaking Bad is one of my favorite shows and I still agree with you to an extent about the writing. While I prefer the tone, subtlety and ambiguity of, say, season 2, I do like how the programme has evolved. But the writing certainly could be tighter in some instances and there are quite a few inconsistencies and plot contrivances along the way. But even series of similarly high quality - The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood, Mad Men, etc.- have their flaws too. On a separate note: hardcore fanboys, of anything, really do suck.


Agree with Big V. Why is there so much sympathy for the Skyler character? She is a whiny B.....The reason why Walt has to cook again is she gave all his money to the moron Ted (who she was banging). Walt makes his family safe by killing Gus and instead of being grateful, she acts like he has the black plague.Hopefully, she will kill herself (unlikely as she is such a selfish character).
I love the show-Mike, Jessie, Walt and Saul and Hank are excellent.


Agree with Big V. Why is there so much sympathy with the Skyler character? Why is Walt cooking again? She without consulting him gave all Walt`s money to that idiot Ted. The re


My favorite episodes are more contemplative and center around fleshing out the characters rather than cramming as much action packed moments and plot points in the hour. To me this ep. featured a lot of excellent moments that advanced the characters and their relationships with one another. The Jesse/Walt scenes were particularly good. Seeing Walt manipulate Jesse and continue to bond Jesse to him was chilling and sad! It reminded of Tony and Chris' interactions in the later season of The Sopranos. I think they did a pretty good job of integrating Marie into the story (I think they've had a problem with doing this in the past). Also love what they are doing with Skylar - I can feel how trapped she is and her sense of dread is so palpable. And, yea, that cook sequence was amazingly done! The reappearance of Skinny Pete and Badger was the icing on the cake!


This episode fits in perfectly. Lots happened. Walt menaced Jesse several times, Skylar's dispair increased exponentially, Walt's seeing how Mike handles the business, they did some cooking. All important elements to set up the arc. I really feel bad for Walt Jr. as his world will come crashing down soon and he is the only one who really senses no tension. Everything he knows is fake. I would like to see an episode that is a day in his life.


The blatant Scarface references didn't bother me - just made me wonder how literally Mr. Gilligan meant it when he said Walt would end up as Scarface. Expecting at this point to see the machine gun used in the season premiere appear in a re-enactment of that iconic scene, right down to the dialogue.


I have a strong feeling Skyler will be dead soon. Agree with Matt that this was a bit of a filler episode, but it's still better than 99.9% of the other TV shows out there. 4.5/5

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