Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen Breaking Bad Season 5, Ep. 10 – “Buried”.
“Nobody talked. It was me. I screwed up.” – Walt
Breaking Bad has always excelled in building palpable tension and denying any sort release. But, in the back end of the last season, release is inevitable. Sure, they’re still piling on the tension tenfold (the show literally stresses me out), but from the moment Hank discovered the truth about his brother-in-law there were certain confrontations that were inevitable. And for once that gratification wasn’t delayed.
Last week was the much-anticipated face off between Hank and Walt, but this week it was Skyler’s turn to confront her family. Like Walt, I expected Skyler to jump at the opportunity to make a deal and flip on the “monster” she’s been trying to escape for the better half of the season, but I think Skylar is playing a longer game.
She played the confused, rattled wife for Hank and obliged Walt with the sympathy he was clearly after, but in the last 5 seasons Skyler has changed just as much as her husband. She is not the same woman she was in season 1 and living with Walt has given her strength and a determination not unlike his own. She, much like season 1 Walt, is out to protect her family and God help the people who get in her way. It’s not clear what her plan might be, but I trust she has one.
The confrontation with Marie clearly affected her. Having to admit to her sister that her husband was responsible for Hank’s shooting and a myriad of other misdeeds wasn’t easy. As much as Walt deserved that punch last week, Skyler deserved her sister’s slap. She has had more than a light hand in almost ruining Marie’s life, but because she understood that she took it much better than Walt did.
Of course as soon as Marie made a move for her baby those tears dried right up.
But the second most anticipated confrontation was in fact delayed, at least for now: Hank versus Jesse. Jesse is a just as much a wild card as Skyler. He has long ago lost his rose colored glasses when it comes to Walter and he can’t seem to shake this haze he’s walking though life with. He was unprepared for the direction his life took and therefore cannot deal with the consequences.
Skyler refused a deal (for now), but will Jesse? And even if he doesn’t turn on Mr. White, could his next move prove just as dangerous for him? What’s more dangerous; someone with nothing to lose or someone with everything to lose?
As easily as I can see Skyler skipping town with the kids and the cash (if she can find it, of course) I can see Jesse taking a prison sentence in exchange for bringing Walt down with him. Given the guilt he feels over what he’s done Jesse may believe he deserves whatever punishment the state of New Mexico deems fitting. It may be too easy a road to take with six episodes still left, but it doesn’t seem at all far-fetched.
While Jesse and Skyler decide how to play their hands, Walt hangs in the middle, his own next move completely dependent on what they decide. For once he isn’t in control. He’s scrambling, burying his money where it will probably never be seen again and making desperate pleas with Skyler. Do I believe he actually cares about hiding the money to provide for his family? Not really. I think he was saying what he though Skyler wanted to hear in order to manipulate her into protecting him. I think she thought that too.
Walt’s pride and ego have always been his tragic flaw and if this is the story of a tragic hero than those flaws will be his undoing. His mistreatment of Jesse and Skyler, his underestimation of Hank, and his unwillingness to listen to those who knew better will be the acts that will serve to bring him down. But it’s looking increasingly likely that this isn’t the story of a hero, tragic or otherwise. Perhaps it’s a story of a heroine who saves her family from itself; protects it from the man trying to protect it. And wouldn’t everyone just love that?
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