Breaking Bad Season 5

Has Walt Found a New Surrogate Son?
Talking television.
Aug. 13 2012 3:25 PM

Breaking Bad Season 5

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Has Walt found a new surrogate son?

Breaking Bad still.
Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) and Todd (Jesse Plemons).

Photo by Gregory E. Peters/AMC.

Matt, I agree with you, and some of our commenters, that the kid didn’t need to die. And I’m intrigued by your idea that killing him was actually the riskier move. The ambiguity, I think, will makes the fallout richer narrative material to mine. Jesse will blame himself—he was the one who stressed to Todd that no one could find out about the robbery—but maybe Walt and Mike will be angry, too. Todd (I keep wanting to write Landry, as an FNL groupie, but I’m resisting) did it to prove himself to the gang, but maybe he has done just the opposite.

Or maybe Walt will appreciate Todd for being quick on the trigger—even if he doesn’t say so. (When Mike said Walt was pushing them to off the train crew, Walt told him not to put words in his mouth.) Commenter Dawn 76 writes, “I think Todd is going to compete in the surrogate son arena—he has shown Walt’s own ruthlessness.” That tension could add nicely to the drama. We haven’t seen enough of Todd yet to care about him, but we could. It would be fun to watch actor Jesse Plemons go deep or turn sinister.

And I’ll be extra curious to see how Jesse’s feelings about Walt evolve from here. Jesse got a rush from lying under the train while it rolled over him—but, as does commenter Nick Inzalaco, I wonder if upon reflection he’ll wonder about Walt’s willingness to risk his partner’s life in order to make the weight exchange come out perfectly. (The count and the extra gallons are all that was at stake, right? Or am I missing some other reason that they couldn’t have pulled out earlier, before Jesse could have easily lost a limb, if not been pancaked completely?)

Looking around the Internet, it’s clear that fans are split over whether this episode was brilliant or ridiculously unrealistic. I get the realism critique, but I’m kind of bored by it. This show takes all kinds of liberties, and I don’t buy the idea that this is the first or worst time it has jumped the boundaries of its own universe. What stands out about this episode is the lack of bumbling, it’s true. But that is in line with the Scarface persona Walt is cultivating—and with the addition of Mike to the team. Now let’s enjoy watching it all fall apart.

I thought you were professionals,

Emily

Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and the author of Sticks and Stones

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