Entertainment Magazine

Review #3018: Breaking Bad 4.10: “Salud”

Posted on the 20 September 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Peter Gould and Gennifer Hutchison
Directed by Michelle MacLaren

Once again, I love how this show composes a scene that features just two people talking. It’s a simple thing that many shows cannot seem to do as well as “Breaking Bad” does. While the final scene wasn’t one of those, and instead provides the only sustained action of the episode, it is one of the many things that this series does better than any other. It’s not all empty dialogue, either. They move the plot along and illuminates the characters as well. “Salud” was yet another stellar episode, full of great scenes, but if I had to pick a favorite, it would unabashedly be Walter’s story about his father captivatingly told to Walter, Jr. We’ve been so concerned by all of the scheming and lying and the escalating war between Gus and the Cartel, yet that one scene, to me, was exactly what the show was about as a whole.

Review #3018: Breaking Bad 4.10: “Salud”

Respect is the primary theme for this episode. Either showing proper respect to someone (even if they didn’t earn it, per se) or having a lack of respect for someone’s wishes. The title of the episode is a respectful way of wishing good health when drinking a toast. The irony of that statement is in that final scene. Gus and Mike parade Jesse in front of the Cartel’s minions all day. Their “scientists” belittle Jesse as a child who is in over his head. He proves them wrong by making the signature blue crystal meth with a 96% purity rating (note that was Gale’s number as well from the season premiere). Not quite the level of Walter’s formula, but still good enough for the Cartel to welcome Jesse in. The employee earns a little respect from his employers.

I got the impression throughout the scenes in Mexico that Jesse has fully thrown his lot in with Gus and Mike. Gus admired the way Jesse handled himself with the Cartel, standing up to the scientists then enjoying himself at Don Eladio’s villa. Even as Gus and Mike had other, more bloody plans for the Don and the Cartel. I loved the little touches and nods towards the flashback scene from “Hermanos” throughout that scene. Gus stands at the very spot where Max died, he is alone when the girls come to the pool (subtly confirming the growing rumor that he is gay and that Max was his lover), and for all intents and purposes, he disposed of the entire Cartel in a broad, quick stroke. I had to wonder if it was the ricin or some other poison that they used here. Now, the question remains whether he or Mike survived the assault. I think they will. Gus and Mike are such great characters that offing them might dim my enjoyment of the show.

If you want something that is just not going to end well, I would take the subplot with Skyler and her involvement in trying to save Ted from financial ruin. The quiet “charity” of Walter’s drug money to Ted is a really bad idea. Trying to hide it behind Saul and a non-existent aunt giving a financial windfall was flimsy to begin with. It was compounded by the incredibly dumb decision by Ted to lease a luxury car with the money. That car is a sign of disrespect from Ted. Here he is, he doesn’t even know that it was Skyler who saved him from ruin. Now he buys a car to show off, however false it may be, how rich he is? That Skyler tells him that it was her who gave him the money links them inextricably once again. The sexual affair they had last season broke her marriage to Walter.

I was prepared to give Skyler a wide berth in terms of getting back to being likeable. After the actions with the investigation into Ted’s money last week and this now, I’m starting to believe that they deserve each other and whatever fate is going to befall them. I doubt there will be any other outcome than jail. Skyler hasn’t been a character that the writers seem to have gotten a good handle on. She’s been one of the few inconsistent qualities of the series. I hope that changes, but I’m dubious it will happen since the show has been going on this long without doing so.

With everything going on with the other main characters, Walter’s plot is quiet and more meditative. The subplot may seem slow to some, but I found the story about Walter weaves about his father engrossing and a masterful bit of acting by Bryan Cranston. I believe this is really the first time in the series that Walter has regretted any of his actions, all of the death he has caused, and openly apologized for it. That he does it with Junior in the room adds more power to the confession. He respects Junior, loves him, wants him to worship his father, and so the confession comes with no hesitation and no scheming for his own benefit.

Junior is now the sole person in the series who hasn’t really been tarnished by Walter’s destructive actions. The story about Walter’s father and how he doesn’t want Junior to have as a lasting memory of his father as a beaten up man, laying in bed not tending to his wounds was a great way to flesh out some of Walter’s backstory and also gives Walter a sobering lesson in humility. Junior should be his anchor from now on, the reason why he’s cooking the meth instead of the petty feuds he engages with Jesse or Mike or Gus. But was that story for Junior? Or was it for Jesse, as Walter mumbles off into unconsciousness, well after the fact? I certainly hope Walter doesn’t soften from this, but that he becomes more active with what’s happening on the show. He has something to fight for, a reason to survive, and it’s really the only thing he has left. He cut ties with his surrogate son in the previous episode. His wife is distant. His brother-in-law is close to busting his operation. I hope they develop more of this with what’s left of the season.

Grade: 9/10

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog