Aug 01 2011

Breaking Bad Review: “Open House”

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Television

Well look at that. After a rocky first week, most of you appeared to appreciate the changes I made to my Breaking Bad review for the next installment, and so I don’t have to open this with a five paragraph apology. Rather I can just jump straight in using the lessons I’ve learned, and hopefully keep applying them to my next review.

I got criticized before when I said that sometimes not a lot happens on the show, but it’s hard to argue that this wasn’t the case this week, and to me this felt like one of the duller episodes of the series. I’m  not saying someone needs to get shot in the face for an episode to feel worthwhile, but “Open House” felt a bit…empty.

Perhaps that’s because the focus was off our two heroes, Walter and Jesse, and the episode centered on Skyler and Marie instead. I guess supporting characters deserve their shining moments, but their stories are a bit less interesting than that of our main pair.

Do the cameras have sound?

There was no talk of violence this week, with the only mention of Gus being the security cameras that now monitor the entire lab. And that middle finger is likely going to be as close as Walt gets to Gus for a long ass time.

Rather, the night was all about business, namely Skyler being bound and determined to contribute by screwing Walt’s former boss out of his car wash in a way that’s cheap and doesn’t hurt anyone. She comes up with the idea of getting a fake EPA guy to tell him he’s leaking chemicals, as she coaches him through the specifics of the law on an earpiece.

The ploy works (but seriously, you don’t even get a second opinion before selling your entire livelihood?), and he calls to take her up on her $879,000 offer which she bumps down to $800K out of spite. I thought the scene was a bit forced as Walt didn’t believe her power play would work, yet we all knew it would. I suppose it allowed him to finally see her as a true partner in crime, and the pair of them will be better off than Walt would alone, as evidenced by her propensity for caution demonstrated by Walt’s champagne purchase. I’ve never particularly cared for Skyler as a character, but I will admit that she is FAR more valuable to the show as a piece of the operation than the ever-suspicious and hysterical wife that she was in the first three seasons.

Saul being as useful as usual.

Speaking of hysterical wives, Hank finally pushed Marie over the edge with his incredibly dickish demands that made him go from dislikable to despicable in a hurry. She reverts back to her old vice of kleptomania, which I’ve always found to be an odd quirk about her character. It took a little while to figure out what she was doing at the open houses, but when I did it didn’t seem like it was worth taking up half the episode. Thankfully, with Hank cracking open the meth lab journal against his initial reaction to do so (as he did with the rice pudding), their plotline would appear to finally be connecting to the broader picture. It seems like it’s going to take a long time to connect these dots, and I’ll be curious to see if this police investigation turns into the major plotline of the season, or if something else is at hand.

The show doesn’t quite seem like it knows where it wants to go yet. I’m sure it does, as the episodes are already filmed, but it’s taking it’s sweet time to get there. Jesse’s story is a prime example. His plotline this episode was literally a condensed version of his story last week, and he barely appeared at all, only popping up on occasion to remind us that he was still dealing with his murder of Gale by turning his house into a fight club/brothel/crack den, and also go-karting. Because why not. I get that the trauma is real and takes time to get past, but he feels very disconnected from the rest of the show right now, which is a bummer considering how much most of us like his character.

Come back Jesse!

I didn’t watch the scenes from next week which will likely give me some indication as to where things are going, but if it’s about Walt learning how to run a car wash for forty minutes, I’m going to be sorely upset.

Rather, I hope things start to come together and move in a clear direction. Right now things feel a bit aimless and disjointed, and this slow entry wasn’t helping matters.

Am I being too harsh, or was this episode a bit of a drag? Let me know.

 





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12 responses so far

12 Responses to “Breaking Bad Review: “Open House””

  1. Jameson 01 Aug 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Good review, considering this week there wasn’t so much to go on. I do agree that the show is somewhat aimless at the moment, however this is only the third episode and Breaking Bad does what it does best by slowly building up plot lines.

    Skyler so far seems like a much more interesting character than the hysterical wife part that she has played for the last few seasons, which was starting to wear a bit thing. It seems like she doesn’t hate Walter so much as she did during Season 3 either, and I find it somewhat unnerving (but brilliant) to see how she is moving into Walter’s criminal life with such ease.

    The scene with Jesse on the go kart was very unsettling, we really saw the depth of his grief and guilt, and though this is good to watch and Aaron Paul’s portrayal is faultless, I feel like we have been down this route before. For much of season 3 Jesse grieved over Jane’s death, and I agree that we just want the old Jesse back.

    Look forward to next week’s episode and your subsequent review!

  2. C Dubon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:14 pm

    I disagree with your writing this episode off as dull and uneventful. On a personal level, and as a pyschogist, I sincerely enjoy these episodes that contribute to my own mental portfolio of the characters. In my opinion, character development is at least as important as plot development. We got to see a new angle of Skylar that endears me more to a character that I’ve hated since the first season, clearly her time cooking the books at Beneke have opened her eyes to the fact that doing what’s “right” isn’t always doing what’s right. We also found more depth in the relatively shallow character of Marie, who’s desperate cries for attention show that she’s not as complacent with Hank’s treatment of her as she led on. This theme of Marie reaching out has been subtly brought out over the course of the episodes as she desperately flirts with the Hank’s PT guy and delivery guy earlier in the season — she misses the illusion of control that she’s had for the last 3 seasons. As far as our protagonists go, we see Walt struggle and ultimately fail to find the cold, hard calculation that he thinks is nessecary to survive in the industry. He’s being played as a pawn by Gus, Saul and even Skylar with ZERO realization. All the while bouncing back and forth between the Heisenberg persona and clinging to the idea that he can and will live a “normal” life. By far the most interesting character is Jesse; a man who wants nothing more than to just feel something different from te emptiness he suffers from. Partly from Jane, partly from Tomas and mostly from his cold-blooded murder of Gail, he has lost his sense of humanity and is trying to wake himself up from the nightmare with drugs, go-karts, partying, money and even an attempt to blast the numbness from his skull with music. He truly just wants to feel and he is desperately trying anything. It’s a great show, it truly is. Not in spite of these episodes spent on character development, but because of them. The show thrives off of emotion and real feelings, this attachment and understanding of the characters are what make the moments like Gail’s murder or Jane’s death so compelling.

    PS- I promise you that the crash of the Wayfarer flight was not arbitrary and (in the opinion of a true BB fan) over-the-top. It was there to show Walt and the audience that his actions have SERIOUS consequences.

  3. Mike Mon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Everyone in the show is lost right now…except Skylar….and I have come to dislike her her even more than I did before…. Walt needs to man up….

  4. john v.on 01 Aug 2011 at 4:58 pm

    @C Dub: I agree with most of your points, but overall nothing new was brought to the table. I guess after all the action of the season finale & the opening episode and their jaw-dropping cliff hangers, a return to character development seems a little dull – albeit, necessary. And don’t get me wrong, I like that psychological element to the show. One of my favorite episodes last season was “The Fly,” which probably had the least amount of action.

    I’ve been watching the show with two friends of mine, but the one couldn’t make it last night. I sent him an email this morning that said, “you didn’t miss much. just continuing the story lines….. oh and….

    ****SPOILER ALERT****
    they got the car wash.

    Not much of a spoiler.

  5. ant2206on 01 Aug 2011 at 6:16 pm

    I think this show knows where it’s going more than any other show on TV. Everything is placed very carefully. The lab journal is set up to be received by Hank when he isn’t part of the DEA, so it becomes a personal mission for him rather than a big task force.

    Everything Walt does, from the very first episode, has consequences. The way he quit the car wash has come back to haunt him, and it allowed Skylar to take more control of the relationship – and the business. From this episode she isn’t just passively collecting money, she’s a mob wife, and is committing crimes of her own.

    The thing I love most about this show is how a quiet conversation between two or three people can grab my absolute, gape-mouthed attention, more than any action scene you could name. And it had me at least three times in this episode.

    Plus, no episode with a Saul Goodman centerpiece can ever be called empty!

  6. Ugo Strangeon 01 Aug 2011 at 9:23 pm

    I’m REALLY hurtin’ for Jesse dude. Walter keeps asking him if he’s okay but he needs to be more firm with him and come right out and say it. That boy’s life is going to shite right now I hate to see that happen to anyone fictional character or not. And what was up with The New Guy keepin’ an eye on Jesse ? Is someone keeping an eye on Walter too ? and WHERE IS WALTER JR ?! SERIOUSLY! I hope the show doesn’t forget that Walter has a son ! Because that’d be the BIGGEST “F*ck You !” to the audience ever. Either way I can feel this Season building to something REALLY big and it’s taking it’s sweet ass time getting there but when we get there OH we’ll get there !

  7. C Dubon 01 Aug 2011 at 10:41 pm

    By the way, I promise you that next episode will be more your taste. Very action-packed and very jesse oriented, as interviews lead me to believe.

  8. Arthur Reedon 02 Aug 2011 at 6:11 am

    It was a good review. And a good episode. It wasn’t a great slow episode like Fly, but it certainly wasn’t an action episode. I think it was all about building up for next week while getting some great character development in.

    Everyone who thinks Jesse is going to attract police attention (or the attention of any street thug trying to score big), and finds it almost unbelievable that he hasn’t is right. And don’t you think Gus is going to feel the same way? The fact that the new guy shows up at the end can only mean one thing.

    As to Hank and Marie, I think Hank is about to break bad in a very different way. And I think he’s going to get a wheelchair.

  9. Mark N.on 02 Aug 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Hank in a wheelchair…

    He’ll be the new “Ironside”!

  10. Skeet Bitchon 03 Aug 2011 at 1:18 pm

    You dont get it mate. Its Retards like you that want the same shit from every episode and dont learn to read between the lines and use your brain. ”The show doesn’t quite seem like it knows where it wants to go yet. I’m sure it does, as the episodes are already filmed, but it’s taking it’s sweet time to get there.” What a fucking waste of 2 sentences. Of course they know whats to come. I cant even be fucked to carry on so ill leave you with a quote i saw from someone who knows what they’re talking about, enjoy.

    ”If you’re nitpicking over episodes this good, then maybe TV’s not for you.”

  11. Braideron 03 Aug 2011 at 1:37 pm

    @C Dub: Well said! With a show like BB, it seems that episode reviews are irrelevant. Unless you know where it’s heading, how can you properly judge a segment? Perhaps a review of the season after it’s done will be in order.

  12. kiraon 04 Aug 2011 at 3:20 am

    hmm. agreed. don’t liked to be wowed, and then wait.

    this show is rolling. more and more people are showing up to watch, and now its slowing down. if its for contrast ok. but one of the traits that wowed me about vince in the first place, was his way to tell a story and when the chips fell where they may, it was character development. not, like you say, half an episode to describe marie’s problem. I definitely miss following the eye of the storm that jesse and walt live in. that was wow factor ceiling crackle.

    I really miss the harrowingly averted Trouble, with the moral dilemma weighed, and the transformations illustrated. Which I found worth waiting each 7 days to see. (Not skylars part expanded into the breaking bad formation.) Although I guess you could count acquiring the car wash as a watered down version, of averting trouble… just not very memorable. well, honestly, awkward with a twist of “…eh”.

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