Breaking Bad continues its elegantly crafted mad dash to the end with the second episode of the summer, Season 5, Episode 10 Recap: "Buried" (August 18).
How do things unfold as we delve into the season, and what does the episode suggest about where the show is headed in the end? After a short recap of the episode, I'll be taking a close look at where the key characters are right now, and speculate about where they might be going.
Sound good? Then read on for Wetpaint Entertainment's recap of Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 10: "Buried."
The episode opens with an old man discovering a wad of cash left out on every lawn in the neighborhood, thanks to Jesse's guilt-fueled throwing spree the night before, which apparently ended with a dead-eyed Jesse stuck spinning on a playground carousel. Glad to see he's doing well.
Next we cut to the aftermath of Hank and Walter's garage faceoff. Both men immediately jump into action mode, calling the woman at the center of this all: Skyler. Hank gets to her first, and they meet in an appropriately tacky diner, where Hank makes it clear he thinks Skyler is an innocent victim of her monstrous husband. He offers her a way out of her nightmare, a straightforward plan of escape, in exchange for everything she knows about Walter. He calls himself her biggest advocate, but Skyler isn't buying it. She thinks her brother-in-law wants to get Walt at all costs, and asks for a lawyer.
Meanwhile, Walter and Saul are busy cleaning up after themselves. They send people for Walter's cash, they try contacting Jesse (he's not taking their calls), they strategize about how to save their skins. Saul not so subtly suggests Walter take care of Hank, but even Walter isn't willing to wack family.
Hank ropes Marie into picking away at Skyler, and she quickly realizes her sister has known the truth for far longer than Hank suspected. Suddenly, their sisterly connection is broken: Marie, furious that Skyler would keep the secret for so long, slaps her sister and then tries to make off with the baby. She eventually gives the child back after a shouting match that rivals anything this show has done for emotional intensity. "You have to get him," Marie tells her husband as they drive off. Looks like it's family vs. family after all.
Walter decides to deal with his piles of cash himself, digging a giant hole and burying it in the desert before returning home, where he collapses almost immediately, because it turns out hard physical labor isn't recommended for cancer patients. When he wakes up, he has a heartfelt conversation with Skyler, offering to turn himself in as long as she keeps the money, and even admitting he's the one who screwed up and gave Hank the key to learning the truth. Skyler, though, wants them to stay quiet.
Of course, there's a larger game afoot, as we're reminded when we see Lydia confront her new meth providers about their failing operation. She wants them to bring on Todd (remember him? Walter's momentary mentee from the first half of the season?) to be their cook. When they refuse, the answer is a firefight. Guess who's back, back again... Yep, it's Todd and his psychopathic family, tell a friend. The legacy of Heisenberg lives on, in the form of a new pile of dead bodies.
Back at their home, Hank admits a harsh truth to Marie: Once he brings his suspicions about Walter to the DEA, his career is over, because failing to realize your own brother-in-law is a master criminal tends to be frowned upon. He wants to wait until he has proof, but Marie encourages him to turn over what he knows ASAP.
The argument becomes a moot point when Hank discovers a nearly-comatose Jesse has been brought in for the oh-so criminal act of giving away cash. The episode ends with Hank entering his interrogation room.
Will Jesse give Walter up? Tune in next week to find out.
Where Our Characters Are
Walter White: "Please Don't Let Me Have Done All This for Nothing"
Present: What are we supposed to make of Walter this week? He begins the episode as Heisenberg-y as ever, leaping into problem-solving mode with the same intensity he always has. However, as the hour goes on he seems to return more and more to the man we met at the beginning of the show: cancer ridden, morally flawed, but essentially doing it all for family. He seems genuinely appalled at the idea of killing Hank, and his offer to turn himself in as long as everything he did wasn't "for nothing" sounds real. It's hard to relate the man we see curled up on the bathroom floor this week to the ruthless, manipulative drug mogul we saw last summer. Has the return of his cancer really changed him?
Future: Is the show trying to bring us back to Walter's side before his eventual downfall? It seems unlikely, given how hard the writers worked to make us hate him last summer, but it's possible. Perhaps the point is that he's fallen too far to ever redeem himself, no matter how much he wants to believe he can just be a dying man working at a carwash for his remaining months. Or was this week just about reminding us that he's not a total sociopath? Whatever. I still want to see him go down. Team Hank/Jesse/Anyone But Walter.
Jesse Pinkman: "..."
Present: It speaks to the strength of this episode that I loved it despite the lack of Jesse. This week Jesse's minimal screentime makes sense; his sudden appearance at the end is an effective — though retroactively obvious — surprise. As always, Aaron Paul manages to make total silence devastating.
Future: I have to believe Jesse is going to play an important role this season, since his relationship to Walter has been so central to the show. I'm not sure what he will or won't tell Hank next week, but I have a feeling he'll end up being key to Walter's eventual fate.
Hank Schrader: "I Can Be the Man Who Caught Him, at Least"
Present: Hank is dangerously efficient this week, but also positioned as a clear moral authority; if anything, his worldview is too black and white. He labels Walter a monster (can't argue with that), so inherently trusts that Skyler was an unwilling participant in her husband's crimes. He realizes turning Walter in will mean the end of his career, but he still wants to do it, because it needs to be done (well, and because he's obsessed). He stands in clear contrast to Heisenberg, though, interestingly, comes off as less heroic than he otherwise might because of how pathetic Walter seems in his last scene.
Future: However he goes about getting the evidence he needs, it's clear Hank is not going to back down. Indeed, his arc from here on out looks more obvious than anyone else's: Unless something drastic changes, he's going to keep chasing his white whale until he wins or it kills him.
Sidenote: It'll be interesting to see how Hank reacts when and if he realizes how active Skyler has been in the whole thing.
Skyler White: "Maybe Our Best Move Here Is to Stay Quiet"
Present: Oh, Skyler. Skyler, Skyler, Skyler. This week she decides to tap into her ruthless side just when she finally has a way out. Why doesn't she leap at the chance to escape her husband's grasp? It seems like it's the news that his cancer is back that keeps her quiet. Maybe she thinks she can get away with everything, keep the money, and get free of Walter if she can just keep evidence away from Hank until Walter dies. Seems ill advised, but hey.
Future: Suddenly, Skyler's future is not looking so hot. Marie realizes her sister has known the truth for far too long, and if she continues to refuse to cooperate with the DEA, she could end up going down with her husband, particularly if Jesse turns against him. Whatever happens, I'm excited to see her be a more active player.
Other Thoughts and Notable Scenes
- The aerial shot of Jesse that closes the cold open is gorgeous. Great sound editing, too — Breaking Bad is never afraid to trust in the power of simplicity.
- Love the classic Western face-off framing of Walter and Hank as they stare each other down one last time as Walter leaves the garage.
- I, too, would lie in the White's giant pile of cash. Who wouldn't?
- Damn, but the southwest is gorgeous. I'm going to miss the scenery once this show is over.
- Love Marie figuring it all out without Skyler saying a word. What a fantastic scene.
- "Heisenberg's standards don't matter anymore." Yeah, right. Heisenberg may be gone for now, but he isn't forgotten.
- This entire episode is one of Anna Gunn's most stunning performances to date
What did you think of the episode? Let us know in the comments below!
Breaking Bad airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.