falafel_musings: (breaking bad)
[personal profile] falafel_musings

"No one, other than us, can ever know this robbery went down..." 

God. I had a really bad feeling about Spider Kid the moment he appeared in the teaser - don't incidental child characters always end up becoming victims on this show? Yet even with the obvious foreshadowing, due to the tension of the train robbing caper I'd completely forgotten about Spider Kid till the moment he reappeared right at the end. As I'm sure the writers intended. Yeah, the writers really knew what they were doing with this episode. They got us all excited about Jesse having (another) great plan; a plan that will avoid the need to kill any witnesses. So just like the "Yeah Bitch, Magnets!" plan we think we can just sit back and enjoy another audacious Team Heisenberg caper, no harm done. They'll get us rooting for these crooks and hissing "come on, come on!" when it looks like they aren't going to get the right methylamine and water balance or when it looks like Jesse and Todd might get killed by the moving train. But they pull it off and I'm celebrating with them. And then they notice Spider Kid. And Todd pulls out his gun. And my stomach drops through the floor.     

More about that ending later. I wanted to start by saying I was also totally suckered in by Walt crying to Hank that Skyler didn't love him anymore. Wow, I just clearly need to let go of my lingering Mr White sympathies. I can't believe how quickly Walt turned off his tears. Poor Hank falling for it too. Guh. How much am I loving Hank/Marie right now? Sadly, I think they really will end up raising baby Holly themselves. I still can't decide whether Skyler will live or die, but I do fear she'll have to sacrifice being with her children to ensure their safety. Poor Junior (Flynn!) too. I really want him to get a clue to what's going on.

I was pleasantly surprised that Jesse turned out to be right about Lydia not putting the trackers on the barrels. I'll admit that I thought Mike was in the right last week (loved Lydia's "asshole!" after she was vindicated). I think since both Jesse and Hank are being so majorly duped by Heisenberg that the writers need to show they aren't always being fooled. That said, I still don't trust Lydia and I do think they'll ultimately regret ignoring Mike's warnings about her. Some blogger mentioned the use of Three Blind Mice in 5x3 and I think there's a good chance that Mike, Jesse and Walt are the mice and Lydia will be the one to cut off their tails. She seems like a jittery basket case, but I think she's perhaps a Henry Gale waiting to turn into a Ben Linus. Yeah, Lydia may end up being the new Gus this season. She's got all those leadership awards for some reason. It does seem like Walt and Lydia will form an alliance for now - certainly Walt seemed to warm to her when she admitted she tried to put a hit on Mike and his nine guys who Walt is now paying off. A lady after Walt's own heart! But I think she'll screw Walt over too in the end and Walt Vs Mike will all have been a decoy. If Lydia has the money and connections to hire a lot of muscle she could get rid of both Mike and Walt and keep Jesse (the only one who voted against killing her) as her cook and steal their business for herself. Which would be kind of awesome. So much of Walt's Heisenberg persona is about his need to reclaim his masculinity and dominance so it'd be sweet revenge to have Walt bested by a woman.

Okay back to the horrible horrible ending. We all know that an innocent kid getting killed is Jesse's nightmare scenario coming true. It could be argued that this is the writers punishing Jesse or even just giving us a new reason to sympathize with Jesse. But actually - this time - I didn't feel a big surge of "Poor Jesse!" like I did when it was Jane dying or Brock being poisoned or Jesse having to take out Gale to save Mr White. Spider Kid's death was a natural consequence of Jesse's plan that he was largely responsible for. It'd be easy to defend Jesse seeing as he went out of his way to avoid Lydia being killed and the two train drivers being killed and he was screaming for Todd not to shoot the kid. But it was Jesse who earlier gave Todd the very firm instruction that nobody apart from them could know about the train robbery. Like Lydia said, they are presenting themselves as hardened gangstas. Nobody expects them to be squeamish about killing people (that said, I still think Todd is a nut job). I think what's troubled me about Jesse in S5 is that he doesn't have to still be in the meth business. In the early seasons, it was fair to say that Jesse had no family, no prospects and no other source of income besides drug dealing to survive on. In the mid-seasons Jesse was enslaved by Gus with no real option to quit. In S5 Jesse could take his money, get out of town and start up his own non-criminal business elsewhere. Or Jesse would have that option if Walt would let him go (I think Walt would bully Jesse into staying, but it's not like Jesse has even tried to break away).

I still love Jesse but I can't pretend he's just a misled victim in all this. I think Jesse has stayed because the new business gives him authority for the first time in his life and a chance to use his intelligence which he never even knew he had. And because Jesse still loves Mr White and isn't ready to give up that co-dependency. But Jesse needs to wake the fuck up and realize he can't be a master criminal and protect the innocent at the same time. Those two things just don't go together. Of course, Jesse never intended anyone to get hurt, but then BSG's Felix Gaeta thought he could lead a mutiny without any serious bloodshed too. This is the first episode that I've felt fairly certain that Jesse is going to come to a bad end rather than be forgiven and rescued into a happy ending. I still don't think he'll die either. I've always thought BB will end with Walt and Jesse going to jail (because really, Hank's gotta win). But for Walt his time in jail is likely to be just a few months before he dies of cancer. Jesse's the one who is young and healthy and likely to do serious time for the larger part of the rest of his life. But with all the guilt Jesse is carrying around (which will be 10 times heavier after Spider Kid's death) I think Jesse will only be able to feel any peace if he's punished for his crimes. 


Date: 2012-08-13 04:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] frelling-tralk.livejournal.com
But actually - this time - I didn't feel a big surge of "Poor Jesse!" like I did when it was Jane dying or Brock being poisoned or Jesse having to take out Gale to save Mr White.

I agree and I was actually a bit surprised at all of the Jesse sympathy I've seen over the kid being shot as it's very true that he doesn't have to be in the meth business at this stage and must see the damage that it does to people And I can't help thinking that people would have been a lot quicker to blame Walt outright for the kids death being a direct consequence of his choices if he had been the one to come up with the plan Not that I'm saying that I see Jesse at fault, but nor can I really see the kid dying as a poor Jesse moment either and quite honestly I'm starting to feel like a lot of the audience are starting to forgive him a little too quickly for everything and treating him as a complete victim in all this. I guess I can understand it somewhat though because Walt has been heavily manipulating him, but at the same time maybe seeing some of the ruthless consequences to what they're doing is necessary in order to push Jesse get out of a business that he's obviously not cut out for

And yeah it is getting harder to see a happy ending for Jesse in all this :/
Edited Date: 2012-08-13 04:13 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-13 07:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] falafel-musings.livejournal.com
I can see that the audience are now clinging to Jesse as the most sympathetic protagonist left on the show, since Walt's become a monster and Mike's too ruthless and for some reason a lot of fans don't like Skyler. And Jesse was the one screaming for the kid not to be killed and I'm sure many viewers were screaming at the same exact moment. So Jesse is still relatable but it doesn't mean he isn't culpable. Jesse has learned a hundred times over that the drug world is violent, destructive and merciless. He should've got out a long time ago.

Jesse has been emotionally abused and manipulated by Walt, no mistake. But still Jesse doesn't have a gun to his head, forcing him to be in this line of work and I think it's been clear in S5 that Jesse has been enjoying the adventure and authority of his co-leadership position in the new business. Jesse wanted the respect and he wanted to have a purpose. And more than anything I think Jesse still craves love and appreciation from Mr White. Jesse isn't malicious but Jesse is naive and self involved and that's a big part of what's led to this.
Edited Date: 2012-08-13 07:49 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-13 04:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] readishmael.livejournal.com
Re: Jesse--I just posted something similar on TWoP. Trying to be better than the business while he's still in it is a recipe for collateral damage. His naivety is almost a moral failing in itself.

Date: 2012-08-13 08:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] falafel-musings.livejournal.com
I agree with your post on the Jesse thread. Jesse's attempts at protecting the innocent and establishing a moral code in both Gus's empire and now Walt's empire have backfired on Jesse and both times a kid ended up being shot (Tomas and Spider kid). I don't know if it's a moral failing, but yes - Jesse is capable of making things worse when he tries enforce morality and fairness in a criminal world that by its nature is cruel, greedy and merciless. He reminds me of a lot of morally conflicted characters in 'The Wire' who'd also try to live by a moral code while continuing in a life of crime. Most of those characters ended up dead.

Date: 2012-08-14 01:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elliotsmelliot.livejournal.com
Damn, my recording cut out just after the train heist. I even set it to record an extra 5 minutes. MY PVR hates AMC shows - I never saw what happened after Peggy told Don she was quitting or when Joan told her husband it was over. And last week it did not record at all. And this is the new PVR I exchanged with the cable company for the one that messed us with Mad Men. At this rate, I might as well cancel my cable subscription and just download! Sorry for the rant...

But I read what happened. By that point, I had forgotten about the spider kid too. Yikes. I am torn between being glad they did not get away with another heist and being worried about what comes next. I think you are right about Jesse needing punishment to feel redemption.

Meanwhile I worry about Skylar. If all she is good for is laundering the money, I can see Walt getting rid of her. He knows she is just waiting for his death. He must realize she could turn him in for a deal with the DEA. He can find someone else to run the car wash scheme. Skylar is 100 times more of a risk factor than Lydia in my opinion. Will she be his Achilles heel or will he eliminate her?

Date: 2012-08-14 07:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] falafel-musings.livejournal.com
Gah! That's so annoying! I'd throw the recorder against the wall if it did that to me. This really was an episode where the last minute was the most important moment. You can watch it in this clip if you want:



If you look at S5, they've been getting away with a lot of elaborate schemes a little too easily - the magnet plan to destroy the laptop, the plan to hide the meth cook inside houses being bug bombed, etc. Before that killing Gus and destroying the super lab. They were so close to getting away with the train heist too. I hope this will be the last straw for Jesse (you'd think it would be) but I worry that S5 Jesse is becoming like S1 Walt where he still feels guilt and wishes to avoid violence, but he's too hooked on the thrills of the criminal lifestyle to quit.

I'm worried about Skyler too. The scenes with Hank, Marie & baby Holly this week really hinted that the Shraders will end up raising the White kids. So what about Skyler? I still have the shipper fantasy that she'll run away with Saul, but yeah - I'm worried about that ricin in the electric socket. It would be the ultimate act of breaking bad for Walt to kill his wife after saying in the Pilot episode that he was doing all this FOR her and the kids. But then Walt is still doing Skyler's bacon ritual on his 52nd birthday which made me think Walt still loves her in some warped way.

I guess you didn't see the promo for next week then either? It looks like there is a scene with Jesse at the White house which is really exciting. I've been hoping for another Jesse & Skyler meeting.

Date: 2012-08-14 11:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] elliotsmelliot.livejournal.com
Thank you so much for the clip. It was even more horrific than I imagined.

Date: 2012-08-14 02:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lenina20.livejournal.com
I really, really hope Lydia doesn't outplay Heisenberg. I like her so far, but come on, telling the story of a how a character grows into a super-powerful criminal mastermind to be destroyed by a character introduced last minute who just happened to be more powerful... come on. No. If this was Lydia's story, if we had seen her become who she is... but having her be more powerful and just defeat Heisenberg. That'd be disappointing for me. But again, my reading of this show is 110% different than most people and I honestly can't see Heisenberg defeated except by Hank - but we have seen Hank journey just as much as Heisenberg, have we not? As you say, Hank has to win. Or rather, he has to complete his own story - by finding Heisenberg. I'd rather that wasn't expressed rhetorically in matters of victory and defeat, like they just killed Ben Laden again.

I must be really fucked up (or really use to this kind of narrative) but I was really rooting and screaming for that child to get killed - who knows, maybe one of these days people will stop talking about how much of a bad guy Walter White is as if this was the point: the moral faults of a villian character. I honestly don't understand how everyone saw the ff as retribution - as Heisenberg rightfully paying for the damage that he's done - as if the story so far, including and especially the chess game (...) between Gus and Heisenberg had anything to do with morality, and paying for one's crimes and whatnot. Gus lost - other characters are still playing. Were people rooting for Gus to pay for his bad actions? I don't get that. Skylar chose to move that coin with her foot, while holding her little girl with her. Jesse chose to pull the triger on a innocent man - and as you very well argued here, he is choosing to stay in the game the rules of which he knew well, since he knows that drug users die (like his girlfriend) and drug dealers die (like his best friend). So why exonerate all but Heiseberg just because he is more powerful than others?

I mostly didn't like this episode because again it felt too A-team... until the brilliant, wonderful, incredible ending in which a young innocent child was brutally murdered and all of a sudden, no one single person in the audience could find a place to which they could point their finger. It really encouraged my mad hope in this show - that's eventually going to break my heart, I know. But right now, what kind of moralist interpretation can be done? That drug trading is wrong? The what should have Walt done was he was told that the choice of not dying and live a few years more to meet his unborn daughter and be with his family was right there for his taking, if only he were obscenely rich? After a life of paying his dues to society, playing by the common rules and serving the common good did not guarantee his own survival anymore... We can't argue for every man for himself and at the same time denouce characters for their moral faults or support others for their moral virtues. I think this is why I'm loving Skyler more than Jesse these days - when she says 'we're back in' she takes full responsibility for what it means, and even if it horrifies her, she's fully aware that she's helping her husband 'bury bodies' and doing so willingly, even if she calls herself a 'hostage'. Kind of a powerful hostage, now that she's iniciating, operating and getting her way in 'deals' with her captor...

I don't know. The fact that people still hope for a en ending in which good guys triumpth and bad guys pay in a show like this... it angers me and terrifies me. That no one would try and see how this kind of narrative in which young children are killed just because actually questions the way our society functions but rather just see how our soceity's values and institutions triumph over eveil... it's scary. Like there's no freedom to even think. If there is no difference - ideologically speaking - between Lost and Breaking Bad, then what is the point? If Walt is facing retribution in that ff, then I hope a black column of smoke comes out of the trees and eats him, for the bad that he has done. Unless he repents in time, of course, and walks towards the white light.

No, please. No.

Date: 2012-08-14 10:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] falafel-musings.livejournal.com
Yay lenina! Long geeky post from lenina! *hugs*

Oh about Lydia. I didn't mean I wanted her to be the character who defeats Heisenberg in the very end. Nooooo, definitely not! Like you say, she's only just appeared on the scene. I agree that it'll come down to Walt Vs Hank in the end (or maybe just Walt Vs the World). I'm thinking more about how Walt is seemingly going to spend around a year living under a false identity in New Hampshire. So I'm assuming at some point in S5 somebody forces Walt to retreat into exile before he comes back to ABQ for his final battle (which I think he may win). It could be Walt goes into hiding because Hank figures him out but if Walt is run off by someone in the drug world it could be Lydia. Only because the Walt Vs Mike feud feels like a decoy. But maybe I'm interpreting the flash forward wrong or maybe there's some other motivation I'm not expecting for Walt to go into hiding. I think at some point Lydia might win an earlier battle. There's got to be more to Lydia than her neurotic desperation.

I honestly don't understand how everyone saw the ff as retribution

I guess it's kinda like viewers who wanted to see Tony Soprano get whacked in the end after following Tony's story and then (like Melfi) choosing not to support Tony any longer because he's a remorseless criminal sociopath after all. But Tony's death wasn't part of the show because it wasn't the point of the story. Our look into Tony's life was the point. I think the same will be true of Walt's arc. This is why I want Walt to die of cancer in the end rather than any other character killing him because Walt needs to pay or whatever. I say stick with the cancer. Walt didn't deserve to get terminal cancer when he was a good person so it can't really be called his deserved fate if the cancer kills him in the end. Cancer just IS and we knew it would kill him from the first episode. Also - the show is called Breaking Bad. Why should anyone be shocked or appalled that Walt has become a very bad man? Wasn't this established as the point of the story from the very beginning?

I love love love Jesse but I can't get behind Jesse being hailed as the 'moral compass' of the show. What? - Jesse the moral compass who robs trains, destroys police evidence and cooks & distributes 100s of pounds worth of meth? Jesse getting upset over people getting killed doesn't make him moral if he stays in the game knowing that killing people (innocent kids included) is an inevitable consequence. At the level he's at Jesse just looks naive and squeamish. Jesse being excessively beaten up, abused and manipulated makes us feel sorry for him but it doesn't make Jesse a good person. Has Jesse ever done a good moral deed on the show? Rescuing the Peekaboo kid is the only thing I can think of.

Anyway. Jesse is heartbreaking, but not a good person. I think Jesse has an unused capacity for good (to mirror Walt's capacity for bad that was unused for 50 years) and Jesse's unfit for the bad guy role he's tried to embrace. Mostly I love Jesse because (again!) he's such a picaresque hero and that's my favourite kind of hero. He's always been a lowly servant trying to survive in a corrupt world. My main wish for Jesse is simply that he survives. Jesse just needs to live to compensate me for Charlie and Felix and all my favourite Wire characters who died, okay?

Date: 2012-08-14 10:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] falafel-musings.livejournal.com
We can't argue for every man for himself and at the same time denouce characters for their moral faults or support others for their moral virtues. I think this is why I'm loving Skyler more than Jesse these days - when she says 'we're back in' she takes full responsibility for what it means, and even if it horrifies her, she's fully aware that she's helping her husband 'bury bodies' and doing so willingly, even if she calls herself a 'hostage'.

I'm just loving the contrast between Skyler and Jesse in S5. How Jesse was grateful to Walt for defeating Gus, how Jesse tearfully begged Walt's forgiveness for having wronged him, how Jesse bought Walt a fancy expensive birthday present, etc. Jesse is willingly giving Walt all that he has been trying to force out of Skyler. It's such a perfect reversal of their S1 relationships. Walt/Jesse are now happily married while Walt/Skyler have become grudging partners in crime. I've heard rumors that Jesse and Skyler may have scenes together next episode and OMG, I want that soooo bad!

Thank you so much for the long post! Your Breaking Bad thoughts are the best, really. I wish I could pay you to write Breaking Bad essays. Maybe one day I will. :)

Date: 2012-08-15 09:41 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lenina20.livejournal.com
:)

You're awesome. I agree that something's got to give to account for the ff, and lydia has the resources, but that lydia has no loyalty and will betray them has been too heavily forshadowed, the same as Skyler perhaps doing a lot more than just waiting... Maybe I'm too naive, but I do hope the curve ball is coming from Jesse, just when, as you say, things seem to be working so well between them, as, you know, Jesse is not with Walt in the ff.

Last night I dreamed that Hank caught Walt :) I really do love Hank.

Date: 2012-08-15 11:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] falafel-musings.livejournal.com
I do hope the curve ball is coming from Jesse, just when, as you say, things seem to be working so well between them, as, you know, Jesse is not with Walt in the ff.

I'd love to see Jesse manipulating Walt's trust in the same way Walt is manipulating him. What did Gus say? Never trust a drug addict. Jesse knows how to lie and play on people's emotions.

Last night I dreamed that Hank caught Walt :) I really do love Hank.

Can you upload your dream onto youtube please? Because I want to see that. I'm so Team Hank.

Date: 2012-08-18 05:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hanfastolfe.livejournal.com
Team Hank and Jesse!

I really feel sorry for Jesse. Even as Mr. White finally acknowledges him as an equal and a partner in his own right, he has no idea he's being manipulated so fundamentally. And then to see another child cut down because of the drugs he's making! :(

Todd is one ruthless SOB. I wonder if the show is setting him up to be the mini-Heisenberg, or maybe the new Victor who repeats the legend of Icarus.

As for Hank, he's really grown on me, ever since he kind of became more of a wise owl kind of guy rather than a boisterous jock type. He's shrewd, thoughtful, and seems to have a human touch which Walter's managed to lose.
Edited Date: 2012-08-18 05:32 am (UTC)

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