Page 2 of 2
The preview for the premiere showed the Mike-speeding-down-the-highway scene and pointing his gun at Jesse and Walt and I have to say, I wish I hadn’t seen the preview. Maybe then I wouldn’t have been let down by how quickly Mike became a part of the team. I, of course, enjoyed all his lines and jokes (we love him) and being the long play that this show is, there will be plenty more twists and turns along the way, but I don’t buy that he would’ve caved so easily. Walt wants to win and survive, Jesse wants a father figure who approves of him but Mike is about loyalty. He’s explicitly stated so. At the very least I wish they had at least come up with a better argument than “It’s a three-man job” because, was it really?
Walt started the show as a broken man, unable to even father or be a father to the son who came into this world without everything working. But now it’s everyone else who's falling apart. Mike’s ear still hasn’t healed and now he’s got that bullet wound in his gut. Hank’s using crutches just like Walt. Jr. There are pieces of Gus’s men all over the blown-up lab. Ted Beneke looks downright sci-fi.
The path of destruction that Walt has wrought is widening. He’s even able to inflict damage on a place that traffics in wreckage: The junkyard guy is wary of using his magnet because it’s a vital part of his livelihood. Walt pays him off and then promptly leaves the magnet at the crime scene.
Walt is feeling indestructible and all-knowing, very much in top supervillain form (Magneto was the first who came to mind).
“Because I say so,” he tells Mike.
It’s always Heisenberg who's pulling out the dad lines to the family he cares about most. Maybe he’s thinking his body is full of such a powerful energy that he will be able to blast away the cancer too, if he can just turn the dial on his brilliant mind high enough. But this kind of thinking makes you sloppy. Just as the body count numbers are rising, so are the number of living people who are getting involved. Walt appears to be assembling a motley sort of posse. At the junkyard, two workers bump fists when the laptop shatters. More men mean more muscle but it also means more potential for loose lips.
The moment that had the most impact on me last season was the episode that ended with Walt in his crawlspace, having temporarily lost his mind. He has just realized that all the horrible consequences of what he had set into motion—Jane and the plane crash and Gale and Hank—were for nothing: he was broke. The great, messy waste of it all was enough to make me want to cackle a little too. Walt still has no money but when he asks Jesse if he can have an advance, Jesse agrees immediately. It’s the perfecting summing up of their dynamic. If the tables had been turned, Walt would never have done the same, at least not so nonchalantly and power-struggle-free. Jesse keeps forgetting to actually play the chess game instead of acting like the pawn.
I had a theory last season that Walt was trying to get the audience’s attention as much as that of Gus. For the first half, none of the characters were listening to him and the camera itself seemed to be ignoring him too. He had fewer scenes while we learned more about Jesse and Hank and Gus and Mike. As he began to get his power back, the show’s camera afforded him more attention too. A similar trick seemed to happen with Jesse last night, as he lolled in his papasan chair (such a Jesse piece of furniture) and repeated his idea over and over again. He was blurry, blurry, blurry and then, as Walt finally acknowledged him, he became suddenly clear. It enhanced the supernatural aspect of Walt this episode; he has the power to render people invisible or seen. For Jesse to survive with his soul intact, he’s going to have to learn how to come into focus on his own.
Skyler goes to visit Ted in the hospital and Gilligan lets the camera linger on her face for awhile, long enough where you think he’s not going to show you what she’s seeing at all. The Ted plotline has always been a troublesome one, never quite working enough. I understand what the show is trying to do, show that in some fundamental ways Skyler is just like Walt. They are equally good and bad at the same things; both whizzes with facts and numbers but horrible at figuring out solutions that don’t lead to more problems. I wanted to love the “I forgive you” last beat but personally, I felt like it was supposed to feel more surprising and chilling than it did. He has convinced himself he just did what he needed to do to protect his family and that’s partly why he’s able to accept that Skyler paid off Ted, because she was trying to do that, too.
But as with everything when it comes to him, the bigger motivation is control. He thinks it’s up to him to decide who gets forgiven and who doesn’t, while at the same time giving himself a complete pass. If last season’s theme was surveillance, and about Walt’s all-consuming need to be seen and acknowledged, this season’s theme might be more about reflection. Walt looks at himself in the bathroom before going outside to retrieve his weapon. In his and Skyler’s bedroom, while his daughter coos in her crib, it will be his own reflection he raises his glass to in a toast. He’s no longer accountable to Gus or Tuco or even Skyler. He’s his own boss now. At least in the present day, he’s very much liking the man he’s seeing in the mirror.
Photos by Ursula Coyote/AMC unless otherwise noted.