Aug 08 2011

Breaking Bad Review: “Bullet Points”

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Television

It stood to reason that after last week’s rather tame installment, we might be seeing a bit of an upswing in the action department in the latest episode of Breaking Bad.

And we certainly did, which made for the best episode of the season so far, and indicates that things are going to really start picking up, as they should.

The show has mostly been about the consequences of last season, and the clean-up from the messy Gail situation appears to be endless. It has Walt forever looking over his shoulder, even considering consulting a “disappearer” to vanish from view entirely. It’s completely hollowed out Jesse, who as we’ve seen this week is more of a shell than ever, and almost beyond redemption it would seem. And finally the entire incident is getting major police attention, although Hank now believes himself to have found his long sought-after Heisenberg in the form of the musical Gail.

He had big dreams of Bollywood.

I found it funny that the most intense part of the episode was treated as a mere afterthought. The opening raid on Gus’s truck with Mike inside showed that Gus is still very much at war with his Cartel rivals, but Mike’s attitude toward the attack, a huff and a sigh, made it seem like it was happening on the regular these days, and I have to wonder if the Cartel war is going to escalate into one of the seasons major plot points.

If you still don’t believe that Breaking Bad is a brilliant show, just look at the scene which had Walt and Skyler rehearsing lines to tell Marie and Hank that Walt was a gambling addict which is how he racked up millions to pay for medical bills and car washes. it seemed silly at first, but translated into an actual conversation about their relationship and all that’s happened, a talk which was never really properly had and played out expertly in this scene.

I do however believe the gambling cover story is quite stupid, particularly if Skyler is so deadset on “realism.” What kind of gambling addict goes into a twelve step program when they’re up over a million dollars? You usually are “ashamed” of your actions and seek help once you’ve hit bottom. Why couldn’t they just say he knew how to count cards and left it at that? Then they could explain why money KEEPS rolling in, and it would sound less flimsy.

A good cover story, but poorly thought through.

Again Jesse was absent for half the episode, as has been par for the course this season, but he’s more or less been absent period. He’s just gone, even when he’s onscreen, and I’m beginning to think that his behavior wasn’t merely just to get Gail’s murder out of his head, rather this is a full-on death wish, as this episode illustrated. He appeared to be starting his own Tyler Durden-like Fight Club house, shaved heads and all, but you really saw him go off the deep end when you realized he was keeping $80K in a drawer, and then doesn’t even react when it’s lifted.

I guess Mike had him under surveillance, which is how he was able to track down the thief, as they didn’t want all that drug money in the hands of someone random. But with Jesse being driven to the desert for what is most likely not a nice picnic, he truly seems to have lost the will to live, resigned to a fate it would appear he thinks he deserves.

Is his character even salvageable? I really don’t see what’s going to snap him out of this. This isn’t Game of Thrones, so he’s not going to actually die next week, so what’s going to save him? Another Cartel attack? A Walt assault?

Maybe they’re just going out for ice cream.

But even so, if he lives, how can he really start to…live? He has no one in his life that actually cares about him. He watched his girlfriend OD, his relationship with his parents is toxic, and even though Walt is some vague sort of friend, he’s never been consistently there for him the way Jesse’s really needed him to be. When you look at all that, I kind of think, “well shit, I’d probably rather be dead too.”

I still maintain this is a strange season relative to the others. Walt has always kind of been on the rise in this show, and I remember awesome moments like him walking into a rival’s headquarters with his Heisenberg hat and a suitcase bomb. Now he’s scared or tired or both, which is how everyone on this show kind of seems now with Jesse, Hank, even Mike. The only one who still has energy is Skyler, and good old Walt Jr. who has never had a clue about anything.

A good episode, but I’m waiting for this season to transform into something more.

 





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13 responses so far

13 Responses to “Breaking Bad Review: “Bullet Points””

  1. Willon 08 Aug 2011 at 1:25 pm

    “And finally the entire incident is getting major police attention, although Frank now believes himself to have found his long sought-after Heisenberg in the form of the musical Gail…”

    Who is Frank?

  2. Paul Tassion 08 Aug 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Guh I do that at least once a week.

  3. Jameson 08 Aug 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Another good episode this week. No matter how little may be going on in any scene or episode I still love this show.

    The scene with Walt and Skylar was brilliant, laced with hints of comedy and the truth about how each of them felt was really good. I especially liked Walt’s last line “I’m sorry I put you through all of this”, and is simply adding to the script. Very well done.

    Gail’s video scene was pretty messed up too, I think there Walt really came to terms with what he has done, killing an innocent man in cold blood.

    Another good review too, well done Paul.

  4. Donon 08 Aug 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I think what may save Jesse will be Andrea and her son. She was in the first episode (I believe it was the first, when she asked him if the money was from him) and so far this season it was the only time that we have seen him caring about something other than his moral dilemma.
    Though it could have been in there simply to show him cutting ties with her as well. Hopefully the next few episodes have more Pinkman air time so we can find out.

  5. john v.on 08 Aug 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I couldn’t agree more about the gambling being a silly cover story. For that reason I thought the rehearsal scene was a little long. As would happen in real life, both Hank and Walt Jr., were like “way too go, man!” Like you said, why would anyone be ashamed of winning millions of dollars.

    I figured Mike was taking Jesse to the scene of the truck ambush from the opening minutes…. thinking maybe it’ll scare him into straightening up. ???

  6. Seanon 08 Aug 2011 at 5:05 pm

    Best episode of a (so far) weak season.
    I want more badass Walt.
    I want Jesse to grow a pair (or at least have the writers not react how he was last season).
    I want a dead Skyler.
    I want a dead Gus and Mike.
    I want a more mobile, entertaining cat and mosue between Walt and Hank.

  7. JohnCon 08 Aug 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I would like a dead Gus as well, since he’s being a bit ineffective and selfish.
    But Mike should definitely live.
    And killing Skylar or Walt Jr. is far too obvious of a drama spike. Once the writers kill off any of Walt’s family, you know they’ve jumped the shark at that point.

  8. BobaFetton 09 Aug 2011 at 3:07 am

    I WHOLEFUCKING HEARTEDLY AGREE that Skylar needs to get beheaded ASAP.

    Can’t someone cut her tongue out?

    The funny thing is that she (Anna Gunn) was great the first two seasons, but since then I cringe whenever she’s on screen.

  9. Seanon 09 Aug 2011 at 3:35 am

    I wouldn’t say it’s jumping the shark.
    Yeah, it’s definitely a plot device to bring out a more bad ass, determined Walt, and to get a rise out of the audience.
    But it could work. It would be the repercussions of being in a dangerous game Walt’s in.

  10. Arthur Reedon 10 Aug 2011 at 9:11 am

    Well, I think this was a great episode of a (so far) great season. Everybody wants action, action, action, but this show is built around slowly escalating tension that realeases only when it needs to, and then starts building right back up again without ever totally letting it go.

    I’m a little confused about where they’re going with Jesse, but I think he may actually die. Walt seems to care for him, as if he’s replaced his dysfunctional, dishonest relationship with his real son for a fatherly role in Jesse’s life. But Jesse would never be as low as he is now without Walt, and if he dies, Walt will know it’s his fault and no one else’s. If he doesn’t die, then he might kill Mike, and become some kind of rogue threat to the whole enterprise, like a man with nothing to lose, looking for a way to destroy everything that made him who he is. Mostly Walt.

    Is it just me or does anyone else think Hank actually thinks Walt might be Heisenberg? It seems possible that he’s simply waiting for the evidence to become trial worthy before he lets on. He’s studying those minerals for a reason, and it seemed like he really wanted Walt to comment on the manganese thing. I think Hank is playing stupid. Check, check, check, raise, a la “crazy handful of nothin’,” where Hank learned that Walt can lie effectively.

    As to the gambling cover, I kind of agree with some of the criticisms, but I think this plotline is all about Skylar taking some control over a situation she knows is getting messy, even if she doesn’t know the details. And it’s also about Walt’s reluctant allowance of her control. They still love each other. And Skylar wants it to appear as if he has control. Why does a card counter gambling addict quit when he’s up millions? Because his wife will totally leave him if he doesn’t.

    I think the most intense scene of the episode was Walt watching Gail karaoke and trying to pretend it was funny, and again, I think Hank set that up on purpose.

  11. Arthur Reedon 10 Aug 2011 at 9:13 am

    Sorry, “Skylar wants it to appear as if SHE had control.”

  12. Robinon 10 Aug 2011 at 6:48 pm

    I enjoyed the review, I think this was the best episode of the season. If you were interested in hearing an episode review podcast then please give mine a try http://www.thetvcritic.org/casts/Breaking_Bad_404_Bullet_Points.mp3

  13. darcion 15 Aug 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I think this is the episode that is turning the season towards how they promoted it – seems like everything is really getting going now and they’re upping the ante on action…I’m interested to see what is gonna happen with Jesse for sure.

    I love when Walter busted into Jesse’s trashy little party and confronts him about how they plan to deal with the fallout from the murder of Gale (you can watch at http://vimeo.com/27637571 ). Great song, too (“Flyentology” by El-P) that is such an intense song for such an intense scene

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