Breaking Bad Review: “Open House”

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.