'Breaking Bad': It’s not a lie if you believe it
July 25th, 2011
12:16 PM ET

'Breaking Bad': It’s not a lie if you believe it

Last night’s episode began with Walter White in front of a mirror holding a gun, channeling his inner Travis Bickle. And thus, for the second week in a row, we were faced with the rule of Chekhov’s Gun, which essentially states that if a gun is presented in act one, it better be fired in act three.

But this week the rule was blatantly shirked, despite the fact that the episode was again named after the weapon (“Thirty-Eight Snub”), which made for a clever piece of misdirection. So, besides that winking piece of gamesmanship, what else did “Breaking Bad” throw our way last night?

Most significantly, we saw three characters react in three different ways to Gus’ blood-spattered message from last week.

Walt’s method of coping involved planning to kill Gus himself. “It’s for defense…defense,” he told the gun dealer. Walt will say whatever he needs to in order to rationalize his actions. There’s a memorable line from “Seinfeld” when George told Jerry, “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” Walt is now basically George Costanza. Only balder. And a murderer.

Eventually, we found Walt parked outside Gus’ house putting on the pork pie hat. Enter Heisenberg The Horrible. (Could anyone other than Bryan Cranston evoke such a sense of dread simply by putting on a dorky hat and subtly changing facial expressions?) But the wrath of Heisenberg was put on hold after Walt received a phone call from somebody (Gus?) watching his every move. For a scene in which nothing happened, that was ridiculously intense.

In another purposeful bit of misdirection, we caught up with Mike the Cleaner, and the usually stoic enforcer was visibly shaken up over Victor’s death. This brief display of emotion planted the seed in viewers’ minds that Mike would join Walt in his mutiny. But quite the opposite scene played out in the end – Mike stayed loyal and gave Walt a good, old-fashioned mafia beatdown for speaking ill of the Don.

Which means Jesse is the only colleague Walt can trust. Jesse coped with last week’s gore by purchasing a mammoth soundsystem that made his living room look like a roller rink. And then he partied for three days (well, he stopped once, but only to put in a few hours at the meth lab). All through the partying, Jesse had the empty/slightly crazed look of a man who was on the verge of snapping. I believe in the biz they call it “The Sheen.”

Mid-bender we learned that Jesse sent a giant wad of cash to his ex so that she and her son could move to a safer neighborhood. Jesse has become just as dichotomous as Walt: he’s a scheming, self-destructive druggy who can be intensely loyal and moral. But as Sunday’s final scene showed, unlike Walt, Jesse can’t balance the two sides and is falling apart as a result.

One last thing about Jessepalooza: Roomba-Cam! The cinematography on “Breaking Bad” has always been impressive, but a camera from the POV of an automated vacuum cleaner slaloming through dazed, floor-ridden partygoers, that is an inspired little flourish. I think we can all agree that after the 72 hour rager, nobody was hurting more than that poor, poor Roomba.

Meanwhile, back in Upstanding Citizen Land, Hank took a break from shunning his ever-sunny wife Marie so he could slog through another rehab session. The Schraders are in an awful situation and it’s beginning to look like their marriage won’t survive. Again, the series deftly crafted day-to-day interactions that were just as compelling as the gun-toting, meth-slinging scenes.

Lastly, we have Skyler, who dared wade into the money laundering waters without Saul’s help. She was subsequently turned away by Walt’s former boss and his vengeful eyebrows. So with the car wash idea eliminated, the laser tag center is looking pretty good again. On the bright side, the Whites will have a place to hold Holly’s tenth birthday!

In terms of story, this episode felt like a placeholder between the Very Big Things that happened in the premiere and the Very Big Things that appear to be on next week’s agenda – including the telltale lab notebook! What did you guys think?

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Filed under: Breaking Bad • television • TV recaps

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Older Sista

    "I don't get the appeal..." Shoot, I feel that way about most shows but this one had me hooked from the first. Maybe it's the suspense of who will do what or what will happen? Maybe it's the little pieces of black humor every now and then or the outragous things that go down...Jesse out manneuvering his parents to get his aunts house....the bad boys up from Mexico or the old Uncle in the wheelchair.....

    August 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Superhiro

    I don't get this show. Anytime someone describes it to me, not only does it sound just plain boring, but I always wonder "why would I want to watch that?" I don't get the appeal.

    July 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • darkstar

      Because I am willing to bet that you are a big fan of Glee and Dancing with the Stars. Simple programming for simple minds. Rock on.

      July 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Catherine

    I had a feeling that Mike killed Gus when he was in the bar by himself wiping the blood from under his thumb and looking visibly shaken and angry. I thought the same when he told Walt he would never see Gus again.

    When Walt went to Gus's house I think Mike called him because Gus and his family are dead in the house and he doesn't want anyone, especially Walt, to know.

    On a last note supporting this hypothesis, why did Mike tell Walt that things were changing in the lab? Is Mike taking over because Gus is dead?

    Did anyone have the same thoughts?

    July 29, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Sam

      That's an interesting thought but Mike strikes me as being a pretty simple guy and not exactly the Machiavellian type who would kill Gus and take over his operation. I certainly wouldn't rule out the thought that one of the cartels hired him to get Gus or that maybe Mike changed loyalties. I'm also thinking Vince Gilligan, were he inclined to kill off Gus, would do so on camera rather than off camera if for no other reason than it would be visually stunning. I think Gus is a dead man for certain; the only question is when he's gonna get it and by whom (most likely Walt).

      Of course I could be wrong...

      August 3, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. fernace

    No, I'm pretty sure it's still a lie!!

    July 25, 2011 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. liz

    I loved the episode, I didn't think that Walt could get to Gus too easy, it will be awhile. Watching Jesse suffer is heartbreaking, I don't know how he will pull himself out of it

    July 25, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bk669

    I'm pretty sure it was Mike who called Walt to tell him to "Go home."... It was another amazing episode, even if it was somewhat of a "transition" between ep1 and next week. Skinny Pete and Badger having their argument about video game zombies after interrupting their 12 step program at Jesse's urging was priceless. Almost as sweet as the strip joint flashback from last season. It did make me miss Combo even more though.... he would have loved that party. And Badger being woken up from a passout by the Roomba gunning by his head, "Did that just happen...?"..... was even more perfect. They get every detail right over at BrBa.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Aimee

    Um....excuse me, but for a single mom who is a die hard Breaking Bad fan that has to DVR the shows (to watch when she isn't quite exhausted), it would have been nice to read **SPOILER ALERT** *sigh*

    July 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Evel Knievel

      There's a thing called "stop reading".

      July 25, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • SB

      I should have thought that the first four words of the first paragraph – "Last night's episode began" – would have been sufficient to let you know what the article was about.

      August 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |

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