Breaking Bad, Season 5, Part 2

Walt and Jesse Return to To’hajiilee
Talking television.
Sept. 8 2013 10:00 PM

Breaking Bad, Season 5, Part 2

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Will SCIENCE! get Walt out of this jam?

Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 13
Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman and Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad

Photo courtesy Ursula Coyote/AMC

I’m crouching under my desk as I type this, and I might never come out. THIS SHOW IS GETTING TOO DAMNED TENSE! Sure, Hank, Walt, and Jesse have all been in mortal danger before. They’ve all found themselves staring down the barrel of a gun (gun-wielding twins in Hank’s case) and made it through. But this time—against an army of well-armed Aryans and in such a remote place—their chances of survival seem very slim indeed. Especially since there are just three episodes left.

June Thomas June Thomas

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

Except that thanks to the cold opens of Episodes 501 and 509, we know that Walt survives the shootout. I guess Uncle Jack and the gang are going to show him some mercy. They want him to give Todd a refresher on how to put the color back in the blue meth that is their brand, after all. But Walt can see that the power he might once have had over them—connections, know-how, money—is losing its juice over time.

I have a feeling, though, that somehow Walt is going to use science to make his escape. I gained all my scientific knowledge from the TV shows of Magnus Pyke, the guy who yelled “Science!” on the Thomas Dolby song Todd uses as his ringtone, so I have no idea what compounds he might combine to protect himself from a hail of bullets, but this episode was full of reminders of Walt’s chemistry prowess. There was that ringtone, there was the request for the meth-cooking tutorial, but most of all there was the location: As Jesse reminded Walt, To'hajiilee—also the title of the episode—was where they did their first cook back in the pilot. It’s also where Walt mixed up a few chemicals to create the deadly fumes that killed Emilio and Krazy 8 in the Winnebago. And we know that Uncle Jack is too stubborn to wear a mask, even when Todd reminds him, “Mr. White says the fumes aren’t good to breathe.”

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Then again, maybe the tribal police will show up and save the day.

How awesome was Jesse’s taunting of Walt? That’s right, it was very awesome. I loved hearing such classic Pinkman lines as “Fire in the hole, bitch!” But the back and forth between the two of them was a battle of brains. Walt is a know-it-all from way back, but in this episode at least, Jesse bested him. They each had a plan to reel in the other: Walt’s awkward approach to Andrea was a bust, but Jesse’s scheme to grab Huell paid off, big time. As he gained confidence (and sobered up), Jesse was the one who came up with the truly creative ideas—the computer-wiping megamagnet, the stealth train robbery. As Saul told Walt, “The kid is not as dumb as you think.” Meanwhile, Walt fell for Hank’s fake barrel photo and his lie about the rental truck GPS, and he gave away his location to a bunch of white supremacists. Time to step up, Walt.

Where’s the blue?

June

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