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Review #3651: Breaking Bad 5.6: “Buyout”

Posted on the 21 August 2012 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Gennifer Hutchison
Directed by Colin Bucksey

It is amazing to me that Walt still feels like he’s been wronged, even as he declared himself the victor in the war against Gus. I think that is what has driven Walt in the episodes we’ve seen so far this season, and especially in this episode. We find out the source of that mindset — something that hasn’t been addressed since the first season — here, and it does speak to the stubborness that makes Walt who he is now. He’s no longer fighting a war with Gus, but he seems to at odds with nearly everyone in his life.

Review #3651: Breaking Bad 5.6: “Buyout”

His wife outright loathes his presence and is fighting a sort of cold war with him by waiting for the cancer to kill him. He’s always had philosophical differences with Mike. The only person who is truly on Walt’s side, the one who doesn’t question anything he does, is Jesse. The death of Tarantula Boy (his name is revealed here to be Drew Sharp) after the train heist changes all that. For the first time, the meth business they have built is in danger of collapse. It feels like the beginning of the end for the relationships Walt has forged throughout the series. The end may feature more death, but it could easily be the case that everyone, even Jesse, turns against Walt. Walt’s ego just won’t let him see that end as it’s coming.

Coming off the admittedly shocking ending to the previous episode, I thought that “Buyout” brushed aside that event and its aftermath by the conclusion of the first act. This was a problem to me because the show doesn’t usually take this path. Consequences from major events tend to echo or ripple through into the following episodes. Maybe that will occur in the future. For now, the crew basically scolds Todd for his hothead actions in killing the kid and sends him on his way. They could have killed him (and for the briefest moment, I thought they might decide that in the meeting) and decided he wasn’t worth the trouble of keeping around or paying off to keep quiet. Walt tends to deal in only murdering threats to himself.

Mike is being tailed and hounded by the DEA so murder is absolutely out of the question. Jesse is, as expected, wracked with guilt and one wonders if he is reaching his breaking point soon. If more innocent bodies keep dropping, he may just leave the meth business altogether. That was the consistent part throughout the episode. Jesse knows that $5 million is a lot of money, and it’s enough of a buyout to get him away from this increasingly dangerous enterprise they are both embarking on. The problem is that Jesse is tethered to Walt, and what Walt decides becomes the law in the business. He is the boss, though Walt is prone to more grandiose thinking and considers himself a budding emperor who presides over this empire on the rise. Walt is so manipulative with Jesse that he knows exactly what buttons to push to change the young protege’s mindset. Jesse allied himself initially with Mike.

When the Phoenix drug dealer wanted all of the methylamine, he had to beg Walt to sell his share. No way. The reason? Walt still expects reparations equal to the share in Gray Matter that he lost when he was younger. He sold his share then for a paltry five thousand dollars, not thinking ahead to the larger picture. The company is now worth over two billion dollars. At a one-third equal share, Walt could have made over $700 million! So Walt needs to make a lot more money. Given all of the talk throughout the episode about false advertising and fake food products, Walt’s new plan might involve a knockoff to sell to the Phoenix drug dealer at a huge markup. That may be the plan that convinces Jesse to once again align himself with Walt, one that may be fraught with deadly consequences. Keep an eye out on the callback to “Gray Matter”, though. It probably was intentional. I think it’s going to factor more as the series comes to an end.

When the episode goes outside of issues pertaining to Walt, it feels like there is no payoff. Marie and Skyler talk to each other and I was starting to get tired of how Skyler continues to show how tortured she is. I mean, we get it. Walt is holding her hostage and she frets over her children’s safety. Marie then drops the fact that Walt told her about Skyler’s affair with Ted. That seemed to steel Skyler’s emotions, and she uses that fact as something to lord over Walt in their little cold war. If Walt is willing to use Skyler’s infidelity to manipulate how Marie sees him, there’s no telling what other lies or half-truths he will say. Skyler knows that now, and I wonder how she’s going to use it against him in the future.

For now, Hank and Marie are in Walt’s pocket, but as secrets start spilling out into the open, that will change. Everyone will see the monster that Walt truly is, and there won’t be any hiding from it. Like Mike said in an earlier episode, Walt is a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off so it’d be wise for everyone around to get as far away as possible. It’s also fun to see Mike be the veteran professional that he is in evading the DEA surveillance. He is able to hold them off for as long as he can, though I get the sense that the DEA will gather their resources and hound Mike so much that even he won’t be able to stop it. This new plan of Walt’s had better work because this is becoming a thorn in Mike’s side, even as he has had to also deal with all of the chaos in maintaining their meth operation at the same time.

The warning signs are there. Even a man as cold as Walt has become felt badly for the fact that a teenage boy had to die in their operation. Walt eventually shrugs it off as the cost of doing business. It’s chilling that he would think that way, but that’s the kind of person Walter White has become now. He has notions of the meth business becoming an empire (which speaks to how Gus was able to build his drug empire over the years shrouded in the veil of philanthropy and a fast food business), and even empires fell. Emperors don’t get to sit on the throne for very long, and even now, this little meth business is under siege. That comes from the DEA mainly, but Walt has to figure out a way to deal with his wife’s hatred of him and his business partners turning against him. Walt’s lack of hubris prevents him from seeing all of the cracks that are forming around him. We just aren’t seeing the consequences of that yet. They are building up his pride before showing the fall from grace.

Score: 7/10

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