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Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 6 Recap: “I’m in the Empire Business”

The most awkward dinner ever, Mike getting his BAMF on, Jesse finally taking a stand, and Walter reaching new heights of insane combine to make Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 6: "Buyout" one of the strongest episodes of an already insanely strong season. So let's talk about it.

A note: Breaking Bad is a story about moral decline and the reasons people commit crime; in that spirit, we'll be using our recaps to track the moral state of the key players each week. Sound good? Then read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's recap of Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 6: "Buyout."

Walter White: "I Sold My Potential for $5,000 Dollars"

The good news: Season 5 has worked overtime to make us hate Walter. He's been repositioned as a villain, manipulating and dominating everyone around him to feed his hubris-filled scramble to stay on top. But if Walter is the villain this season, maybe "Buyout" is his version of "Hermanos" (the episode where we learned Gus's backstory) — proof that behind this seeming sociopath is a motivation that we can relate to.

The idea that Walter does what he does for his family is laughable at this point. But doing it as a way to compensate for selling his Grey Matter shares, to make up for all the potential he walked away from, the life he could have led? Yeah, that we can understand. It doesn't make his actions okay, but it's a reminder that his need to feed his pride comes from years of feeling like he was wasting his life. A very nice character touch in a season that has been focused on how far he's fallen.

The bad news: There's having an understandable need to prove your worth, and then there's walking away from $5 million so you can go build a drug empire right after your attempt to do just that got a kid shot. You say this keeps you up at night, Walter, but apparently doesn't stop you from whistling while you work.

Later, in a rare moment of honesty, Walter tells Jesse that Skyler has made him kick the kids out, and laments that his business is all he has left. Once again, we're left wondering how self aware he is. Does he understand that the very fact that he would rather keep at it than take a quick, easy, and relatively safe $5 million is exactly why Skyler wants the kids out in the first place? Walter's become so consumed with his need to finally have power and control that he simply can’t stop.

And that's why Mike should have known better than to leave Walter alone, even cuffed to a radiator, when he tries to force Walt to sell his share of the Methylamine. A man who refuses to take the $5 million and call it quits isn't going to let a little thing like a handcuff stop him, not when he can just escape by taking a handmade soldering iron to his wrist. Because yeah, he does that. Hey, did we mention he's gone a bit off the deep end?

Whatever plan Walter comes up with at the end of the episode — tune in next week to find out! — we highly doubt it will actually end with everyone winning.

Jesse Pinkman: "Yo, Whatever Happened to Truth in Advertising?"

The good news: Finally, a Jesse heavy episode and one where he stands up to Walter. It's everything we've been asking for all season, and it's as glorious as we thought it would be.

From the cold open, when he socks child murdering Todd in the face, to his over-enthusiastic attempts to be polite at his impromptu dinner with the Whites "Good work on your shopping, then" — this episode is Jesse at his finest. Aaron Paul gets to show off his considerable comedic and dramatic chops, and we eat it up.

Jesse's problem all season has been his decision to side with Walter against all better judgment, but the murder of the kid last week proves to be too much for him, especially after he witnesses that cheerfully whistle of Walter's moments after Walt pretends to be all broken up about it. So Jesse decides to sell his share of the methylamine and leave. Finally.

That alone would be enough to make us get up and cheer, but then he goes and tries to convince Walter to do the same thing, because damn it, he still cares about his surrogate drug dad. For once, instead of letting Walter drag him down even further, he tries to drag Walter up. It's clearly a waste of time from moment one, but the fact that he refuses to give up is what makes Jesse Jesse.

Well, that and the hilarious way he gulps water after Skyler tells him about her affair.

The bad news: And then at the end, he yet again intervenes to stop Mike from shooting Walter in the head, apparently convinced that Walter's mystery plan will allow he and Mike to get out while letting Walter continue to sell meth. We've been watching this show long enough to know that's a stupid, stupid move on Jesse's part.

Mike Ehrmantraut: "We're Walking Away from the Meth, Not the Methylamine"

The good news: We say this every week, but Mike is Mike. He's a man set in his ways, and that is what it is. He yells at Todd for shooting the kid, but we get the sense that while he didn't think shooting this kid was called for, he's not necessarily against killing children if the occasion truly calls for it. He wants out of the business, but unlike Jesse it's not about moral qualms, it's about having the DEA on his tail.

That said, anyone who leaves a "F*ck You" note for the DEA and then uses Saul and his ridiculous lawyering to buy himself a surveillance-free day gets props from us for sheer balls. Claiming the DEA is stalking him takes a twisted kind of genius.

The bad news: Doesn't locking Walter up and trying to force him to sell his share of the methylamine (because the buyers won't buy if they don't get all of it) violate some kind of criminal code of honor? Mike tells the buyers Walt's methylamine isn't his to sell, but apparently he has a flexible interpretation of "not mine to sell." We may think Walter selling is the right thing to do, but Mike's methods aren't entirely kosher — even if he did plan to give Walt his cut of the cash.

Skyler White: "Marie, There Are Things You Just Don't Know"

The good news: Now that Skyler has succeeded at getting the kids out of the house she's committed to keeping them there, no matter how much it breaks her heart. And, as her scene with Marie makes clear, it really breaks her heart. The fact that she's keeping her side of the bargain, continuing to go through the motions with Walter, playing wife and even bringing home dinner, speaks volumes to her inner strength.

The bad news: That said, she's still cracking around the edges, as proved by her hilariously asking Jesse if Walter had told him about her affair before swanning out of dinner with a bottle of wine. Not that we blame her — she has just found out that Marie and Hank know about Ted and think she's the source of all of her marriage's problems. Given the truth, that's got to sting.

Notable Scenes, Quotes, and Other Thoughts

  • Beautiful and haunting cold open, as per usual. Do you think the writers knew what a goldmine they'd hit when they introduced the idea of chemically dissolving bodies way back in the beginning of Season 1?

  • Todd, Todd, Todd. What to make of Todd. Is he just an overcommitted wannabe-gangster with an underdeveloped sense of empathy, or a true sociopath? Or to put it another way: Does he keep the little boy's tarantula because he feels guilty, or as a budding serial killer trophy?

  • "At the end of the day, it was him or us, and I chose us." Todd's justification for killing the boy has major shades of Gale.

  • Marie's attempts to comfort Skyler quickly transform into her own confessional, because this is Marie, and as much as she tries to be there for other people, it's always all about her.

  • Walter's reaction when Jesse tells him he wants out is very interesting. He's more than happy to see Mike go, but the idea that Jesse would leave sends him into a rage. He's got some full-on crazy eyes going when he gets in Jesse's face about it. Jesse is the one person Walter really has left, and as much as he would deny it, we think it hurts that he wants to leave, too.

  • Walter calling Mike irresponsible is all sorts of ironic.

  • Because it needs to be said: "$5 million isn't nothing." Walter is out of his damned mind.

  • Walter letting Jesse into his house is a huge power play, and the director underlines it beautifully by having him luxuriate in his recliner, sipping on his booze like a king in his palace.

  • Notable: Walter apparently still checks Grey Matter's worth every week. His obsession with what he lost runs deep.

  • Anna Gunn kills it with her reactions this week. The way Skyler looks at Walter when he insists Jesse stay for dinner is spot on.

  • Mike line of the week: "I've never seen anybody work so hard not to get five million dollars." A close second: "The last thing I need to do is listen to you." Truth.

What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below.

Read the rest of Wetpaint Entertainment's Breaking Bad coverage here.

Breaking Bad airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.

Rebecca Martin is an editor at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Twitter @BeccaMartin47.

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08.20.2012 / 10:06 AM EDT by Rebecca Martin
Related: News, Breaking Bad, Recaps

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