Breaking Bad, Season 5, Part 2

What Are These Things That Walt Still Has to Do?
Talking television.
Sept. 15 2013 11:28 PM

Breaking Bad, Season 5, Part 2

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Walt's unlikely act of kindness.

Walter White and Holly
Walter White and Holly

Photo courtesy Ursula Coyote/AMC

Emily, Matt: Are you still breathing?

June Thomas June Thomas

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

For me, the biggest surprise of this episode lies in Walt’s final words, “I’ve still got things left to do.” What exactly?

He’s all alone now, having dropped Holly off at the fire station. That was a good call on his part, of course: A bald, goateed man with a kid, a barrel, and an amber alert was just too big of a target. But I don’t think his decision to leave her was a cold strategic calculation. Holly betrayed him, just like the rest of his family had. Walt grabbed the baby on his way out of the house to punish Skyler, of course, and to remind her how powerful he was. But he wanted Holly because she was the last person in the family who still respected him. Hank had crossed him. Walter Jr. (who, I think we can be sure, will be going by Flynn from now on) sided with Skyler when he called the cops. But Holly still had a smile for her old dad. And then in the bathroom, even the little one turned on him when she called out for her ma-ma-ma-ma.

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I was horrified when Walt pointed out Jesse’s hiding place to the Aryans and demanded that his hit be carried out. I understand that once Jesse had aligned himself with Hank, Walt couldn’t leave him in the wind, but this was just minutes after he had begged for Hank’s life. Hank, the guy who was singlemindedly building a case against him. Besides, with Hank and Gomez out of the picture, what harm could Pinkman do to Walt? He wouldn’t go to the DEA without that connection. No, Jesse’s real crime was betrayal.

Still, Walt did commit an unlikely act of kindness when he provided Skyler with an alibi. He called the home number, the line that he knew would be picked up by the answering machine so that his voice would be amplified throughout the house so that there was no doubt the cops would know he was on the line, and he proceeded to minimize Skyler's complicity. Between his belligerent tone, his calling her a "stupid bitch," his giving her a chance to state for the record that what he does is “immoral” and “illegal”; his leaving her out of the pronouns—“whining and complaining about how I make my money”; “now you tell my son what I do”—he made himself the mastermind and her the bitch who disrespected him. This fits Walt’s egomaniacal view of the world, but it also gets Skyler off the hook.

Last week, I predicted that Walt would use chemistry to get out of his pickle. Now I think we’re going to see Jesse mix up some compounds to bring down Todd and the blue-meth chain of command. Seeing the picture of Andrea and Brock in the lab will surely stiffen Jesse’s spine. Even if he doesn’t care about his own life, he now knows for sure that Andrea and Brock are in danger again, and Jesse is at his most creative when the people he loves are in peril.

Jesus, what’s with all the greed here? It’s unattractive,
June