Breaking Bad: “To’hajiilee” Recap
In another “Holy S***!” Breaking Bad installment, Walt and Jesse’s deadly chess game takes them back out to the spot where they cooked their first batch of meth.
Went to the Desert on a Horse with No Name
I could go into and the wonderful ins and outs that led up to the final fifteen minutes of the episode; most notably Walter’s clever plan to visit Andrea and Brock being trumped by Jesse and Hank’s plan to make Walter think they’d tracked down his money (tricking Huell into thinking Jesse had his brains blown out and siphoning him for information), but the main core of this episode was the end. Still, some truly excellent moments leading up to the explosive finish; including the way Brock acted around Walter. Because we still don’t exactly know how Walter poisoned him. And it’s obviously scarred Brock so much that he’s keeping it a secret without anyone really asking him to. It all just adds to the overall boogeyman persona Walter’s assumed over the the course of the show. “Froot Loops. Good stuff.”
Speaking of boogeyman/men – I think it’s safe to say that when Walt told Jack to stand down and not come out to the desert, we knew they were coming anyhow. Jack’s got too much on the line when it comes to Walt and Walt sounded way too suspicious on the phone when he cancelled the plan for them to come out and kill Jesse. Especially for someone who had just been in full panic mode. So the thing to watch for here was how this show treated this scenario – which honestly could have played out in a more traditional TV-cliche style. First thing: Walter chose to give himself up rather than kill off Hank. Jesse he was ready to kill (mercifully, quickly) but he still drew the line at Hank. Despite the fact that I buy Walter having a deeper bond with Jesse than Hank.
Breaking this down even further, Walter was willing to go down as a murdering, lying meth lord, which would of course be revealed to Junior, than kill off Hank and have to tell Junior that a terrible tragedy had befallen his uncle. There are just so many delicious “grays” here. Because you can see this as Walt turning a corner, if it weren’t for the fact that he was actively trying to draw out Jesse for slaughter.
The next part to notice here was how much Walter was screaming at the end for Jack to stop. It makes you wonder if Hank and Jesse heard Walter’s plea. Or if they heard him screaming and just thought it was Walter ordering them to kill. Either way, the appearance of Jack’s men, intentional or not, only adds to Walter’s legend as a mythical “out of the movies” evil villain. He’s cornered. The good guys think they’ve won. Walter’s in cuffs. Then men with assault rifles show up out of nowhere and shut the whole thing down. All that was missing, Keyser Söze-wise, was for Walter to have snapped his fingers. But I think it’s clear that the entire thing had Jesse freaked out more than ever before. He was paranoid about “Mr. White” enough as it was, and had finally thought he got one over on him, and then this happens. This massive shootout, wonderfully directed by Michelle MacLaren, who previously had been nominated for an Emmy for Season 3′s “One Minute.” The only thing missing in “To’hajiilee” was closure as far as the bullet spray was concerned.
One would assume that Hank and Gomey are done for. Especially after Hank made that phone call to Marie, telling her that he’d won. Of course, that would mean curtains for someone on any other show, but I trust in Breaking Bad enough to allow Hank’s fate to go either way. Because this series doesn’t exactly fall in line with traditional TV story framework. Still, it would be weird if no one died during this attack.
Seriously, you guys. This show is so great right now and it pains me that there’s only three episodes left. No other show can come close to creating the gut-twisting tension that this series can. Or make us feel so many different things. Walt’s a demon who deserves to go down. So why are we rooting for him to weasel his way out of things? Why are we okay with Hank getting killed now? Well, it’s because Hank’s taken his quest as far as he could. He put the cuffs on Walter. He read him his rights. He won, but without winning. He’s out in the desert. The law’s on his side, but his investigation is still off the books. He’s still stranded.
And look at how Jesse still tried to keep his distance from Walter, even after he’d given up and Hank had his gun drawn on him. There was almost a bit of shame and embarrassment behind Jesse’s relief. Perhaps it came from working with Hank. Oh, and did anyone else think that Walter, for a second, was going to put his gun under his chin when he stood up from behind the rock? Seeing as how it was in the spot where the pilot episode took place.
Matt Fowler is a member of the Television Critics Association. Follow him on Twitter at @TheMattFowler