Breaking Bad Season 5

Walter White’s Ego Makes Me Want to See Him Fail
Talking television.
Aug. 27 2012 4:31 PM

Breaking Bad Season 5

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Walt’s ego is what makes me want to see him fail.

Breaking Bad, Season 5.
Methylamine is a tricky thing to hide

Photograph by Ursula Coyote/AMC.

Matt, I’m glad that you’re around to defend Walt for craving a little credit for his successful pursuit of excellence. He makes the best damned meth in Albuquerque, and he has the purity rating and the cash flow projections to prove it. I know that I’m hard on Walt. He pushes my buttons like no other TV character (except maybe some of the reality competition egotards I’ve loved to hate). At this point, my desire to see Walt get his comeuppance is mostly about needing to see his monstrous ego get slapped down and only a tiny bit about wanting him to pay for all the bodies he’s dropped and all the souls he’s destroyed with his meth.

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

It’s Walt’s always-bubbling-under-the-surface disdain that sets me off. When his attempts at sweet-talking Jesse back into their partnership failed, he immediately shifted into an angry, condescending tone to declare that Jesse has nothing in his life “except videogames and go-karts.” He treated Jesse like he used to treat Skyler—holding back information, making assumptions without consulting him—and Jesse’s decision to walk away, even without the millions of dollars that he’s owed, reminded me of the way Skyler simply got up and left the table when Walt started talking to her about his new work colleague. Walking away doesn’t solve the problem, but at least it reduces the irritation.

I can’t stop thinking about how it was Walt’s “You’re welcome” that got in the way of Mike being able to walk away from his post-Gus adventure. What is it about that phrase that feels so insulting when it’s uttered sarcastically? The folks at MTV’s Awkward. certainly know its power. They made it the catchphrase of Sadie Saxton, the show’s queen bitch. Check her out. You’re welcome.

I also wonder about the wisdom of stashing the methylamine at the car wash. Obviously, it’s a tricky thing to hide (oh, how I wish the laws of chemistry made the White family swimming pool, which has seen so much over the course of the show, a suitable resting place), but putting it there requires the Whites to close down their only apparent source of income. Won’t a prolonged closure have Hank and Marie asking questions?

Miriam, parting thoughts, of which I have two: I have no idea why Declan would go along with Walt’s plan. And what could Walt do to enforce Declan’s obedience? Walt has no enforcers and no organization to back him up. Declan knows that Walt has only one tangible asset: his stash of methylamine. Sure, Walt killed Gus, but does he even know where Declan lives? Could he get past Declan’s bodyguards? If I were Declan, I wouldn’t exactly be losing sleep about Heisenberg.

Daniel Wachsberger wasn’t Mike’s lawyer. Hank said, “He represents every one of these douchebags [the ‘legacy costs’ crew] except for Ehrmantraut.” Hank told Gomez to follow Wachsberger, but we don’t know how the DEA justified busting in on the epicurean attorney while he was going about his business in the safety deposit room. We know that he was distributing the proceeds of illicit activity, but did the DEA have enough proof to justify storming in on that very private transaction? Like the bathroom, it’s a place where you have a right to expect a bit of alone time. (Perhaps they looked at the sign-in sheets from when Wachsberger visited his clients in jail and noticed that he was sometimes accompanied by a paralegal called Michael Ehrmantraut. Still, I want to see how they got from Hank ordering a tail on the attorney to the scene at the bank.)

And speaking of Mike’s jailhouse visits, the “next week on Breaking Bad” epilogue gave off a very Oz vibe. There was Dennis Markowski, the member of the Gang of Nine that we saw him visit in Episode 503, resplendent in prison orange, appearing to make a deal with Hank. (More ominously, was that a shiv clattering down to a jailhouse floor drain in the final image? Does that mean Todd’s uncle is joining Team Heisenberg?) A sound clip would have us believe that Walt is going to reject Jesse’s plea for help and instead turn to Lydia. No matter how smart they are, or how strong their will to live, I don’t see how inexperienced brainiacs like Walt and Lydia can beat a bunch of cold-hearted gangsters. But I bet the major players will all survive next Sunday’s “midseason finale.” Comeuppance will wait until 2013. 

Cake pops—they’re balls of cake on a stick,
June

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