Breaking Bad Review: “Shotgun”

This is an exceptionally strange season of Breaking Bad so far, and one that gets more and more curious as time goes on. That’s not necessarily an insult, though I’m not sure it’s a compliment either.

It seems like it’s taken five episodes to just get our characters to the way they used to be, but after doing so, there is still relatively little semblance to an overarching plot this season, and I just keep waiting for a moment when things kick into gear, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

The major development from “Shotgun,” the third gun-themed titled episode of the season, is that at long last we have Jesse back. But how we got him is the strange part, and it came from a source that we probably didn’t expect.

We last left Jesse despondent and on his way to the gallows, riding in a car into the desert with Mike, surely a death sentence mere minutes or hours away from being executed for being a liability. We wondered how he would get out of it. A daring escape? A rescue from Walt?

The face of a man who is about to save the day.

Both almost happened, with Jesse clenching his keys in a way that could put Mike’s eyes out, and Walt attempting to storm into the chicken shack to confront Gus at gunpoint. Neither avenue panned out however, and the ultimate plan was far from what was expected. Jesse was merely Mike’s point man for money pick-ups all throughout the county, with no execution on the docket.

At the final stop, Jesse has to step up and defend the money stash from a gang of robbers, which he does so with great presence of mind, but we learn it’s all a set up, a ploy orchestrated by Gus to do…what exactly?

It’s a very interesting strategy by Gus, and one that makes me appreciate his genius all the more. A normal criminal would kill a troublesome worker, not give him a confidence building exercise to boost his spirits, but Gus knows that it would push Walt over the edge if Jesse was harmed, as evidenced by his crazed almost-rampage in the episode’s opening minutes. But if he could somehow reform him? That would be the most valuable thing he could do.

A different kind of evil genius.

It is kind of hard to buy that this worked so well though, as to see Jesse go from completely vacant over the last four episodes to his talkative old self in a matter of minutes seemed unusual. I guess you could argue when faced with the ACTUAL prospect of death, rather than just wishing for it, he snapped out of his coma, grabbing his keys and prepared to fight for the life he pretended not to care about. But when that wasn’t necessary, he was already back “on” and the subsequent boredom got to him and made him his old hyper self again. Top that all off with a heroic maneuver to “save” the stash, and I suppose it could be enough to get him back on track, but it did seem like quite a switch flip turn around, as he has been spiraling downward for so long.

Walt was less of a focus this week, but still went through some important transformations, albeit more toward the negative as opposed to Jesse’s newfound upswing. He is now fully reunited with Skyler, as a lovemaking session and move-in date cemented the deal, but almost immediately he seemed a bit annoyed having his old life back. He gets drunk and lets his pride get the better of him, hinting to Hank he might have the wrong man in the Heisenberg case and the “real genius” is still out there.

Does he want to get caught? Or does he just like the game too much at this point? For all Walt’s proclamations about being safe and what not, it’s becoming pretty clear this season he’s embracing a lot of the danger, first buying a gun and now using it to storm into his bosses’ headquarters, allegedly prepared to use it.

One hell of a mid-life crisis.

Through Walt’s hint, Hank discovers the possible chicken shack connection, which would seem to be one of the only developments that could contribute to the larger plot of this season, whatever that ends up being. Also curious are Jesse’s new “duties” with Mike, indicating that the duo’s time together is not over, and Gus didn’t just have one Training Day-ish team-up in mind. What is he planning?

I will still say that this season is struggling to find a firm direction. There must be one, but it’s being kept purposefully vague, with nary even a hint of what exactly the conflict is going to be? What’s the major issue? Walt vs. Gus? Gus vs. Cartel? DEA vs. Gus? There are only brief hints at any of those, and none appear to be the major focal point as of yet.

However strange the journey was, it’s nice to have Jesse back, and now I’ll look forward to seeing where he and the show go from here.


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  1. Loved this episode. Intriguing plot by Gus to get Jesse out of his drug-fueled nihilism (which I really hated) and possibly set up a scenario where Jesse could turn on Walt in the future.

    While Breaking Bad’s slow episodes can occasionally lead to that slow, dragging feeling, it always tends to make the exciting episodes even more exciting. The two episodes before Half Measures, which ended with Walt running down the two drug dealers, came completely out of nowhere thanks in part to the episodes prior to the events (everything after Hank is hospitalized, including the Fly episode).

    BB’s trend of pacing is very apparent, and it works both to flesh out the characters as well as make the outbursts of violence even more awesome. Example: The first four episodes of Season 3 were almost entirely about Walt losing his family and quitting the drug business after losing what he cares about most, and I thought they dragged on more than the beginning to this season. Of course, that led to two of the greatest episodes in the show’s history, Sunset (Walt and Jesse getting trapped in the RV by Hank) and One Minute (Hank beating the crap out of Jesse, getting into the epic shootout at the end of the episode) which led to the other slow stretch of four episodes, which led to the amazing final two episodes of the season. The slow burn tactic to storytelling on TV may turn off some viewers, but ultimately I think it works to the show’s advantage, especially in the case of Breaking Bad.

    Heck, this episode may not have had much actual “moving forward” in it, but I was still a little tense in the beginning in not knowing what the hell was going to happen between Walt, Gus, Mike, and Jesse. Gilligan and his staff of writers know where this season is headed, they’re just playing mind games with us right now. All the audience can do is sit back and wait.

    Things are definitely building, and I’m eager to see what happens next.

    PS: Seeing as this is now the penultimate season of the show, I expect at least one main cast member to be dead come season’s end. Who ya got if such a thing will happen? My money’s on Hank, dark horse candidates are Walt Jr. and Marie. Tough call though, as it appears anyone could die on this show outside of Walt Sr. and Jesse (at least until the final episodes).

  2. Paul, not sure if you noticed, but I believe that Walt wasn’t exactly getting angry at his old life. Note the scene when he was drinking coffee with Walt Jr. Walt Jr was drinking coffee out of a Beneke mug, and if you remember Beneke was Skyler’s old boss, who she cheated on Walt with.

  3. Much better episode than the rest. The season has been a slow process, but they finally gave me something that i can enjoy. The process of everything was good (yeah, Jesse’s emotional switch was flicked fast) but overall it was something i can honestly say, that the show makes me like it. After all, last season was a doozy (a weak one) and this one so far has been even weaker. So here’ hoping they find a flow and follow it. (Apparently Vince, the showrunner, said BB is written like jazz. Well this is the kind of jazz that a lot people hate… slow jazz).

  4. i enjoyed the episode this week. and it didnt seem to me that jesse’s character came back too fast, he seemed bummed until the first pickup, then somewhat reserved, for the next one, then back to himself.

    might have been fast, but i think im looking into the timeline of the shows events in reality, rather than how its displayed to us.

    anyways. the thing with walt at dinner. is more or less of not getting credit. not wanting to have someone else take the credit for his work. his getting drunk could be attributed to his potential anxiety, having just bought the car wash, and moving back in. AND having jesse be in a new position at “work”

    all these things piling into his mind at once he doesnt want to think about it at one time. things will smooth out with the carwash and family. but where this goes with jesse being “the guy” is exciting.

    but it is definitely out of pride for his work that walt gives hank the thought that he hasnt got his Heisenberg man

  5. Jesse’s flip back “on” was mostly due in part to finally having a purpose again. After killing Gale, it was like killing was the price for cooking meth and Jesse’s NEVER been down with killing, he’s had to dispose of a body but to actually kill someone who wasn’t trying to kill him, that wasn’t Jesse. So Jesse saving Mike’s life (the stash) kinda redeemed Jesse, sort of his “good deed” to make him realize that he can still be useful.

    As for Walter…DAMN that man is falling apart. Geez !! This Season is gonna be BALLS TO THE WALL, I’ll put money on that. It’s building and when it’s finished OH BOY!

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