Breaking Bad Hatewatch: Season 2, Episodes 9-10

Walt is in remission! Will anything change? Will he go back to his law-abiding ways? I’m on the edge of my seat.

Season 2, Episode 9 “4 Days Out”

Summary: Walt gets his final scan, and from a layman’s perspective, it really looks like he still has cancer. He’s worried that he won’t have enough to leave his family, so he tricks Jesse into cooking with him so the “methylamine won’t spoil.” He and Jesse cook up a shit ton of blue meth, but then Jesse leaves the keys in the ignition and kills the battery of their RV. They’re in the middle of nowhere, and Walt’s phone goes dead. They’re actually in pretty dire straits for a while, but eventually Walt MacGyvers a new battery. When Walt starts coughing blood, it becomes pretty clear that Walt’s going to be in remission, and lo and behold: he is. He’s super angry about this, for obvious (yet still irritating) reasons.

The Good

Marie’s rant about doctors thinking they’re “so much smarter than technicians.” It’s the first time her insufferability has felt remotely believable.

Jesse’s hilarious explanation of Georgia O’Keefe.“She does these vagina pictures. Or paintings. Or she just painted.” Also Walt’s (entirely appropriate) reaction–Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 8.39.22 PM.png

OF COURSE Jesse thinks the ignition is a “safe place” to put the keys. Of course.

But on the other hand, he’s also intuitive enough to realize that Walt tricked him because Walt thinks he’s dying. What a great, layered character (Jesse, not Walt).

The Bad

The lingering shots of Krysten Ritter’s butt. Like, it’s obviously a great butt, we don’t need close-up shots to tell us that.

Walt’s overall condescension. At one point, he asks Jesse if he was “dropped on his head” or whether his stupidity is “congenital.” What an asshole, and not the entertaining kind. He’s so needlessly mean to Jesse that it undermines their cute moments, like when he teaches Jesse about electricity.

Also, he tells Jesse to “really pull, not like a girl,” because he’s actually five years old.

Realistically, wouldn’t Skyler call Walt at least once? They joked about her hating his mother, but wouldn’t she at least call when she thought his mom would be asleep? I don’t really know anyone who would go four days without talking to their spouse, unless they were completely out of cell phone range.

The Overrated

This episode is kind of boring? Like we know they’re not going to die this way, so it’s anxiety-inducing, but not super tense. It reminds me of those old episodes of Stargate Atlantis (or, uh, MacGyver), where you knew that eventually he would come up with a fancy scientific solution, it was just a question of what and when.

The remission is a smart move for Walt’s character development, but it also speaks to the larger issue I have with the show: we know exactly where it’s going. I never for one second thought there’s a chance Walt would stop cooking meth, not only because then there would be no show, but also because his descent into criminal behavior has been so unsubtly drawn, that any sense of internal conflict feels superfluous to his need to prove his masculinity. I guess that’s my problem with Breaking Bad: it thinks it’s a show about a conflicted character, when it’s actually a show about a very simple character, with some denial, but ultimately only one actionable motivation. It’s similar to the “conflict” that Don Draper had for every single episode of Mad Men: the writers would breathlessly ask, and expect us to go along, “Will he commit adultery this episode? Will he??” And it’s just like um, spoiler: yes. Yes, he will.

Also, the remission was entirely telegraphed by Skyler saying he needs to “prepare for good news.”

Season 2, Episode 10 “Over”

Summary: Walt is in remission, and guess what’s the first thing he does? That’s right, he calls Jesse. Who could have seen that coming?

He actually tells Jesse he’s done with cooking, but you can tell he doesn’t really mean it. He makes a passive-aggressive comment implying that he’s not happy about the remission news at Skyler’s celebration party, and generally looks like he swallowed a lemon. What an ungrateful little shit. Then he gets all emasculated while Hank tells his war stories, and practically force-feeds his 16-year-old son tequila (TEQUILA. Not even wine) until poor, pure Walter Jr. throws it all up in the pool. Walt goes on an apology tour, and makes himself feel better by installing an expensive water heater. Then he threatens a couple of small-time dealers to get out of “his territory,” and goes back to cooking meth. Whatever.

Also, Jane and Jesse DTR (sort of), while Skyler starts flirting with her boss, even orchestrating a classic Mindy-style “drop everything and wait for him to pick it up” meet-cute. And we see a little bit more of the black-and-white flash-forwards, and there are two people dead on the street. You might reasonably think that those dead people will have something, anything to do with Walt, but alas, that would be far too interesting.

The Good

Jesse and Walt celebrating his remission and finally being friends. I still say Walt has been too mean to him this whole time, but it’s a nice payoff, I guess.

Everything about Jesse and Jane, especially Jane hiding the eggshell Jesse dropped in his batter, and Jesse looking out the window after he and Jane get in a fight, hoping that she’ll come out after him. This could all feel extraneous, since it has nothing to do with the main plot yet, but it’s super cute.

“I was a kid when I drew these. It was like–four years ago.” Aw. So pure.

The Bad

UGH. THE TEDDY BEAR AGAIN.

Screen Shot 2019-06-28 at 8.56.53 PM.png

MAKE IT STOPPPPPP.

Walt actually SMILES while his poor son is puking his guts out in the pool. That’s like Bond-villain levels of villainy. There is absolutely nowhere to go from there.

We spend a significant amount of time watching Walt renovate his house. So boring. Yes, yes, I know it’s supposed to be a metaphor for his manhood or whatever, but still–boring. He also makes somewhat sexual grunts while he’s doing the housework. It’s disturbing.

The Overrated

Triumphant music plays as Walt threatens the other meth dealers at the superstore–gross. My partner, who is doing this rewatch with me, often argues that the writers do, in fact, understand how much of an asshole he is, but then they pull this shit.

I’ve seen several recappers and commenters refer to the “dichotomy” between “nice guy” Walt and angry Heisenberg, but I honestly don’t see it. When Walt is in “mild-mannered science teacher” mode, he’s palpably angry and takes it out on everyone around him, even if it’s through condescension and passive-aggression rather than violence. Even Desperate Housewives was better at portraying compartmentalization.

Next week: The Big Bad to end all Big Bads–Gus!

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