Breaking Bad

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Breaking Bad Review: Hat Trick

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This week's episode of Breaking Bad didn't feature a single gun. There was nary a high-speed chase. The only scene that could be considered an action sequence involved a pair of Walter Whites revving their engines in the driveway.

And yet "Fifty-One" was as tense as television can get.

Walt and his Hat

As the increasingly cocky Walt, who spent the opening of the hour excitedly convincing his petrified wife to throw him a birthday party because - in his warped mind - there's much for the family to celebrate, rambled to Hank and Marie about the trials of the past year, viewers saw Skyler in the background.

She waded in to that pool one step at a time. How far would she go? For what purpose? How would Walt respond? It was a perfectly paced and directed few moments, featuring a simple edge-of-your-seat thrill and curiosity that no other show can come close to pulling off.

I briefly complained last week that we are yet to really see the Season 5 story amp up. Walt has reached his Scarface-like pinnacle, but where's the tension? Where's the outside force that will lead to panic and suspense and that scene exactly one year from now, on his 52nd birthday, where Walt is in dire need of a shotgun?

But it looks like there will be no outside interference. Walt really might be the ultimate drug kingpin.

Instead, the final run of this incredible drama will deal with internal obstacles, the true disintegration of Walt's family; first in Skyler's bold act and stance on Walt Jr. and Holly; and eventually, of course, in Hank learning of his brother-in-law's secret.

We're not too close to the latter development just yet, but every detail of the former was simply mesmerizing and brutal to watch. I shuddered when Walt caressed Skyler in bed. I marveled at the basic way he shot down her desperate plans to get the kids away from this dangerous environment.

That won't work. Next! What else you got?!? It seemed like Walt had won the verbal throwdown... until Skyler hit him with the ultimate comeback, a slap to the face of the man who truly believed he was a strong influence on his family and had been acting on their behalf all along: I'm waiting for the cancer to return.

Yes, Walt has been that delusional. One could have argued that he's just a self-aware asshole who moved back home to make Skyler's world a living Hell because he's The Danger, he can do whatever he wants. But I never saw it that way.

Walt has viewed himself as a meth-making knight in shining armor when it came to his wife and children. He's been doing this all for them! He's the hard-working employee who has earned a promotion into the corner office and can now confidently provide for his loved ones. So to actually learn that his wife wants him dead appeared to affect the mad black hatter.

But only in the moment.

Back in his comfort zone, Heisenberg hat in hand, Walt simply grew inspired. There would be no slowing down of the operation no matter what fears Mike may have or what challenges supposedly lie ahead. There are no challenges that cannot be overcome in Walter White's world, not when he's in control.

And not when he has Jesse unquestionably under his thumb by his side. It's worth noting how Walt now views love or affection: as someone who once wanted to kill him changing his or her mind. Isn't that sweet?!?

The closing scene was more overt than usual for Breaking Bad. Time is ticking for Walt, whether that's due to the return of his cancer, the uncovering of the truth by Hank or my new, sure-to-be-wrong-yet-I'm-gonna-throw-it-out-there-anyway theory: Jesse is working against him.

I don't really think this is true. But the thought was planted in my head when Lydia questioned him, and then there was the close-up of the watch (might it contain a tracking device or recorder?) and the overall 180 Jesse has taken in how he views his mentor. Is there any chance, any chance at all, that Jesse is somehow scheming to turn Mr. White in?

Review

Editor Rating: 4.6 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.7 / 5.0 (54 Votes)

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

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Some interesting theories here about how the plot may unfold.
CheChe theory about Mike and Jessie `playing` Walt is intriguing but seems unlikely (to me). Firstly, Mike needs to 'earn` to keep his crew and his Granddaughter `whole`. The German woman is clearly a liability and needs to be dealt with. Second, Jessie is a firebrand who `reacts`. He tried to kill the drug dealers who killed his girlfriend’s little brother (until Walt saved him) and he almost killed Walt at the end of season 4. He doesn’t (seem to) have Walt’s cunning but is clearly no dodo either. Still, what do I know? I never saw the German thing or Skyler betray of Hank coming. BTW-is it a shotgun? The gun has a stand and a grenade launcher (?) and looks like serious military hardware.

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I think it's fairly obvious that Skyler is going to be killed by Walt. I'm very annoyed with the writers for beating us over the head with it. I also think it's a bad idea because I don't want to believe that Walter could be that wicked. I like Skyler. I don't want Walt Junior to die but I think it would pack a bigger punch if he were to die accidentally though some mistake Walt makes. I have to believe that they are going to pull Walter out of his own butt at some point. Killing Skyler won't accomplish that. Killing Junior after repeated pleas from your wife to protect him would certainly progress the story more. I don't want this show to become like Dexter-- killing off main characters as soon as they become obstacles. That's too convenience. And again, we've never seen Walter be that evil. Skyler is unstable but she's not going to turn him in. So why would he kill her? It doesn't make sense to me.

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Probably the thing that bothers me most is the notion that all of the series to this point has supposedly happened in a year's time. DOUBT IT. This seems utterly bogus and unnecessary. Walt's rise has involved too many steps for that amount of time, along with Hank and the DEA's involvement, Hank's reassignment to El Paso / Juarez, Hank's physical downturn and recovery, Walt's remission, all that's happened to Jesse's posse, Jesse's rehab in the desert, Jesse's trip to Mexico, etc, etc, etc. Another thing I hate about this season is the product placement. Chrysler must have dumped some money. After that scene where the camera panned back and forth to show the grills of each car, the first commercial was for the model Walt now drives. Lame. Sorry, just plain lame. I dig the cars but, uh, lame. I absolutely LOVED the first two seasons. I also really enjoyed seasons 3 and 4 but am finding 5 almost not worth watching, which is a shame.

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I think season 5 is mediocre, at best. Even though I love the show and there's a side of me that wishes it would continue, I wish it would have ended with season 4. The latest episode, "Hat Trick" had strong moments but I'm not left on the edge of my seat or left with much concern for any of the characters. There were some well-written moments but nowhere near the level of prior seasons. Each season has required a bit of willing suspension of disbelief but it didn't bother me so much in the past, mostly because the need was only occasional. There are SO many holes in the season 5 writing. Hank waited all this time to put surveillance on Gus Fring's security man? Doubt it. Lydia waiting until returning to her office to shut the blinds and scream in the pillow, making a workplace display of it instead of having done it in her car after the DEA thing? Doubt it. There are so many more. Probably the thing that bothers me most is the notion that all of the series to this point has supposedly happened in a year's time. DOUBT IT. This seems utterly bogus and unnecessary. Walt's rise has involved too many steps for that amount of time, along with Hank and the DEA's involvement, Hank's reassignment to El Paso / Juarez, Hank's physical downturn and recovery, Walt's remission, all that's happened to Jesse's posse, Jesse's rehab in the desert, Jesse's trip to Mexico, etc, etc, etc. Another thing I hate about this season is the product placement. Chrysler must have dumped some money. After that scene where the camera panned back and forth to show the grills of each car, the first commercial was for the model Walt now drives. Lame. Sorry, just plain lame. I dig the cars but, uh, lame. I absolutely LOVED the first two seasons. I also really enjoyed seasons 3 and 4 but am finding 5 almost not worth watching, which is a shame.

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there are so many ways for this show to end, can't hardly wait for the finale. too bad we don't get to see it anytime soon...
with this rising tension between walt und skylar, I can't shake the idea of her actually killing him in the end. but who knows, right?

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Mike and Jesse played Walt for a fool (and won). Mike so pointedly arguing about the tracking device and whether to kill Lydia? Then Jesse hurriedly passing the very expensive "gift" watch to Walt "with the receipt inside, in case you want to return it Mr. White." Like Jesse would give a f*** about Lydia, even know her role in the supply chain and Mike would announce what he plans to do to her. Great acting Jesse and Mike, great acting.

Wolfshades

(continued) Manipulation is becoming second nature to him, even to the point of wresting control of his son away from Tyler by contravening her opposition to Junior having a new car. This entire episode had me rapt as much as for what happened and what was said as well as what wasn't said. God I love this show.

Wolfshades

You know, it's interesting how Walt, who started out as a slightly mean teacher with a high sense of self-importance has so slowly but surely morphed into almost a psychotic person, who views everyone and everything only in terms of what they can do for him, In his ego-driven rage and rise, his attempts to become as powerful as Gus was is paying off in ways other than what he imagined: even the love of his life now fears him to the point of hatred. When Jesse gave him that watch, a normal person would have been grateful. I think his character had many emotions, none of which included that. We saw how he used it to make a point with Tyler, but also - in the immediate moments after receiving it, you could almost hear the mixed messages swirling in his brain. "Jesse thinks I'm sentimental" wars with "Now I've got Jesse firmly in my back pocket.". Manipulation is becoming second nature to him, even to the point of wresting control of his son away from Tyler by contravening her opposition to Junior having a new car. This entire episode had me rapt as much as for what happened and what was said as well as what wasn't said. God I love this show.

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I think Walt Jr.'s fate is a key to Walt Sr.'s ultimate tragic end. Somehow, all of Walt's sins will lead to the loss of his son - maybe he's killed somehow; maybe he turns on Walt when all the truth comes out; or my pet hypothesis for a couple of years now: Junior becomes hooked on Senior's blue meth and it leads to his death.

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Walt has pretty much set Skylar up to be taken out at will. She is the biggest danger to him now, being very unstable and threatened by his presence. He's got the ricin and has made her out to be suicidal in everyones eyes. Wouldn't it be ironic if he is forced to kill her even while 'trying to protect the family'? They are plotting each other's demise. The saddest thing is how happy Walt jr. is, and completely oblivious. He is in for a lot of shocks.