Entertainment Magazine

Review #3032: Breaking Bad 4.11: “Crawl Space”

Posted on the 28 September 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by George Mastras and Sam Catlin
Directed by Scott Winant

So I’m watching the latest episode of “Breaking Bad”, totally ready to call it a disappointment. I thought it was scatter-shot, full of little vignettes that seemed disconnected from each other. There’s the bumbling saga of Ted and Skyler’s bad-idea association with the guy. Last episode, I thought the worst the both of them might get is a stint in jail. This time, it graduated to a much less palatable option: murder. The fate of Ted was something I didn’t see coming, and really, it seems goofy enough to fit. The subplot with Skyler (which arguably hasn’t been a great part of the season) offset the darkness that settled over what was happening with Gus, Jesse, and Walt. It culminated in the final ten minutes of the episode, easily one of the best and most unsettling sequences the show has ever done. How the episode ended easily elevated my feeling about it overall; A great thing because the bulk of the episode was rather average.

Review #3032: Breaking Bad 4.11: “Crawl Space”

The one good thing about the Skyler-Ted storyline climaxing here was that Walt finds out about the connection between his drug money and the money she loaned to Ted. Sure, he finds out about it whilst in the middle of a panic, but at least that’s out there now. The subplot itself had become repetitive by now. Ted refuses to pay the back taxes to the IRS, Skyler feels offended, tries to talk Ted into doing the “right thing”, then comes up with a pretty extreme solution. Saul gets involved and his “A-team” (which only consists of the guy who conned Bogdan out of the car wash and Huell, Saul’s personal bodyguard) essentially forces Ted to pay off the IRS. This creates a problem for Walt, as the money Skyler gave Ted would have paid off the guy who makes the White family disappear. It was all set and done, though it seemed to me at first like Saul and Skyler paid to intimidate Ted for the check, then would have had the “A-team” kill and dispose of Ted. Ted probably thought the same way and made a run for it, only to accidentally trip and kill himself in the process. Done and done.

As for Gus’ operation, the episode has him taking what is, in effect, a victory tour after decimating the top of the Cartel last episode. He brags in typical understated Gus style to Don Salamanca that the Cartel is gone and he has won. Rubbing more salt into the wound is the fact that Jesse killed the youngest remaining member of the Salamanca family as Gus was escaping the compound. It is now completely clear that Jesse is under Gus’ wing. Gus is not a man you want to mess with, and Jesse got a clear idea of that in the opening scenes when talking to his personal surgeon and how Gus has meticulously prepared for every contingency. And so he has also decided to kill Walt. Jesse has taken over cooking the blue meth in the lab and Gus gives Walt an ultimatum: Stay away from the operation or his family dies. So Walt decides to run. He can’t possibly take Gus on now since he’s basically alone. Pressed into a corner, he goes to Saul to take the last possible option that was discussed earlier this season: disappear.

The final ten minutes of this episode, starting from the conversation between Gus and Walt in the endless desert to Walt laughing in the crawl space of his house, was the show at its tense and propulsive best. They’ve done so many of these sequences in the episodes already aired that I’m amazed it can still be so effective. Everything comes up at once, from Saul tipping off the DEA that the “Cartel” is coming after Hank, to Walt finding out that the money he needs for the family to disappear has gone to the IRS, it just sends Walt over the edge. His sudden switching from panic to screaming in frustration to hysterical sobbing then hysterical laughing was truly unsettling, bordering on terrifying to me. Walt has always been the one in control of the situation, always ready with a solution to get out of being cornered. The last shot of the episode is how Walt looks when he has given up all hope. What will he do next? What can he do? How does he stop Gus? This doesn’t look to end well. If the whole idea of the series is to turn Mr. Chips into Scarface, then what we forget is that Scarface dies at the end. Will Walt meet that same fate soon?

Grade: 8/10

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