Breaking Bad recap: Everyone's broken now
If Breaking Bad’s episode eight days ago was about the fallout for DEA agent Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) from finding out his brother-in-law was the biggest meth dealer in New Mexico, then Sunday’s episode was about what happens to everyone else.
AMC’s masterful crime/family drama is winding out its final episodes over the next six weeks in a slow unraveling of the lives of every major character – as the wife, sister-in-law, ex-partner and even the baby of Bryan Cranston's high school teacher-turned meth dealer Walter White was put through major changes moments after Schrader revealed he knew the truth about his brother-in-law.
The showcase scene here was White’s wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) ultimately refusing to come clean with her sister Marie or Hank, despite getting the opportunity to blame her husband for all the lawbreaking they have indulged for years. Given the chance to tell everything to Hank, instead she realized how little he knew and how advantageous it would be for her to say nothing.
This proved that, much as Skyler has played the victim of Walt’s criminal impulses in past episodes, she has embraced her role as partner to a master criminal with a fortune large enough to fill a room-sized storage unit with cash.
Just as Skyler breaks bad, her sister leaps in the other direction, moved to try seizing her niece, once she realized that her own sibling knew of her husband’s criminal activities when Hank was shot by assassins working for a drug dealing crime family.
Still, we know from the flash forward scenes which kicked off the previous week’s episode that Walt seems to be alone in his future, visiting a now-abandoned home with no kids or wife, collecting weapons for some yet-unknown purpose.
Best of all, Hank admits what some of us figured out quite a while ago; even if he brings in his meth-cooking brother-in-law, his a career as a DEA agent is over the minute the case becomes public.
Hank might slap the cuffs on Walt himself, but he still spent years chasing a legendary drug dealer who turned out to be inside his own family – it might be easier for others to believe he was complicit in his crimes.
Hank knows a bitter truth: He’s just another bystander who has seen his life ripped apart by Walter White’s criminal ambitions.
These revelations are wrenching long-held masks away from characters we thought we knew, revealing new depths even as the show faces just six more new episodes to its final conclusion. As another juicy subtext, we see the poisonous effect of chasing after cash, from Walt's former sidekick Todd slaughtering the meth-makers who took over from him to another formerpartner, Jesse Pinkman, flailing for absolution by tossing millions in cash to strangers.
And Hank caps Sunday’s episode by walking into an interrogation room with Walt’s depressed, uncommunicative ex-partner Jesse Pinkman.
Inevitable as the decay is, this train feels like it’s nowhere near the end of the line.
Which just makes every stop that much more unpredictable and delicious.