Following the Breaking Bad season five premiere (part two), we felt it our duty to conduct a Gchat to discuss #likewhiteonricin, the Skyler vs. Walt power struggle, and whether Hank actually is that dumb. Spoilers galore, obviously.
Mara Shalhoup: “Blood Money” in five words or less.
Kevin Warwick: Chekov tread lightly pine freshener. There. Nothing linear.
MS: Very stream-of-consciousness. I’ll be direct and literal and obvious: Tale of two power plays. One of them has to do directly with the air freshener.
KW: Warn me in advance on questions like those!
MS: We said no reading any recaps, but you didn’t tell me I couldn’t think about things. The Walt-Skyler power play: definitely quiet and definitely simmering.
KW: Thoughts on the flash-forward?
MS: It seems unlike Gilligan to place it too far in the future. The whole show’s been paced evenly. Gale is shot in the face at the end of one season, we pick back up with the next day in the next season.
KW: And the last scene of this episode, which we’ll get to, was quicker than expected. And really well paced, actually.
MS: Yes! Same with Hank’s discovery of the Leaves of Grass inscription.
KW: I like that they picked up with that scene.
MS: So part of me wonders if we’re trying to be tricked into thinking that those flash-forwards are further off than they actually are.
KW: But the house is so dilapidated. And “Heisenberg” is written on the wall?!
MS: Yeah, I thought about that. Wouldn’t it be great, though, if it was actually three months later? And here’s what would be extra-intriguing: Walt would have to be faking the return of his cancer. It’s a ruse to get Hank off his case!
KW: So he’s hanging in chemo for no reason?
MS: He’s convincing his wife and, more importantly, her sister that he’s truly dying in six months.
KW: He coughs when he goes into the house in the flash-forward. Is he coughing to trick the no one in the house?
MS: He’s a really masterful liar, Kevin.
KW: What’s the relationship between Skyler and Walt right now? You love Skyler.
MS: I actually loved her more after that air freshener scene culminating in the Lydia confrontation. I thought that showed her strategic resolve. She senses that Walt is trying to micromanage her (wanting to rearrange the placement of the air fresheners). And she’s letting him think he’s winning.
KW: So he can have some power, albeit worthless, or at least still see himself as a man who can make decisions? Or does it give her more power to dupe him into thinking he has power? Like, what are Skyler’s ultimate goals?
MS: She controls the situation a little easier if she picks her battles wisely. Her goals? To protect her family, sure. But also to hold her own against her husband. I had my doubts about Skyler actually being Walt’s intellectual match, but she might be.
KW: She has no choice but to adapt to his way of thinking!
MS: I think she’s trying to subvert him. There’s a chess game between those two.
KW: At some point you’re so tied into the scandal, you have no choice but to try and blend brains.
MS: I think that would be the egalitarian way to go. But I think the conflict between them will make for better TV, no? Jesse is the good guy, that’s for sure. Did you ever think that would be the case?
KW: Jesse with a conscience? He’s a good guy, I guess. But he’s not used to being one, so he’s nonsensical. I mean, trying to give away $2.5 million in two giant duffle bags is just dumb. I’m with you, Walt!
MS: Jesse is the character—perhaps the only one on the show—who changed. But he just seems weak as shit as a result of caring about the lives lost as a result of this mess.
KW: Give the money to Badger to write his Star Trek script. That’s money well spent.
MS: Please let that be what happens. My feelings for that scene are kind of like your feelings about Jesse. I’ve been the bored girl in rooms with dudes like that before. Like, “Oh my god, shut up.”
KW: By having that scene up against one with Bob Odenkirk, the load was lightened a bit. Maybe unnecessary, but pleasant. Anything to say about the ricin aside from, of course, #likewhiteonricin?
MS: That ricin has enjoyed an epic story line—and is loaded with so much meaning at this point—that it would be great if nothing at all happened with it. But something must.
KW: I suppose to kill Jesse. Or better yet. Marie! Just her. Not Hank.
MS: Now you’re talking. Those potato chips Hank was eating in the garage were probably laced with as much ricin as salt!
KW: The vial of ricin is its own character.
MS: You’re probably right about Jesse. Walt will slip it into one of his cigarettes. Full circle.
KW: Would it even matter anymore?
MS: If Jesse’s about to become a federal witness, it will matter, yes. Being found out and being convicted are two different things.
KW: The garage scene. Your theory on the GPS.
MS: Hank had to know that putting the tracker on the car of a suspected drug kingpin—a suspected drug kingpin with whom he placed a tracker on another kingpin’s car, and from whom he stole a very telling piece of evidence—would tip off Walt. Hank can’t be that dumb.
KW: He knows it’s Walt. He knew it when the tracker was put on. Walt looking and finding it only solidified it. There was no questioning from Hank.
MS: That’s good. So Hank got confirmation the only way he could: by tipping his hand.
KW: I’m glad that scene happened in the first episode.
MS: I’m all for cutting to the chase.
KW: And I can only hope next week’s episode picks up right where this one left off. Walt is heading toward the power trip again. We’ll see more of Lydia.
MS: She might be the third power play.