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Mike Aurigemma: I hate Skyler. I hate Skyler. I really, really hate Skylar.
I just had to get that off of my chest after watching this past week’s episode. She went from caring about her husband who had cancer and really a strong female voice in the show to then wanting to become a mob wife it seemed and now, well now she is just plain going insane. The development of her character in general has seemed to be all over the place at times in this show and it looks like we are in for a lot of Skylar throughout this season. The storyline makes sense to have this start to become an issue in the show, I am just hoping they do not spend a good chunk of the last season of an amazing show trying to develop a plot that so heavily involves Skylar.
Last week I really thought the show was going places when it looked like the Mike and Walt partnership was bound for trouble right from the get go, but this weeks episode seemed to have a lot of unimportant pieces to this last seasons puzzle. There was not much shown between Walt and his two partners and to me the most intriguing thing that happened was the watch that Jesse gave to Walt for his birthday. This clearly shows how Jesse feels about Walt, but as the season goes on and Walt continues to play games with Jesse it will be interesting to see how long that sentiment lasts. This was definitely not the best episode, but I know that once I start to look down upon Breaking Bad it will drop something unexpected and remind me once again why it is a great show.
Vinny Ginardi: While I can see why some (including Mike) may not have enjoyed this episode as much because it didn’t do much to advance the plot, I felt that Breaking Bad delivered another strong episode.
First of all, the series is in a unique situation. In it’s fifth and final season, there will be 16 episodes, with the first eight shown this summer, and the final eight airing next summer. That means, overall, there are three more episodes this season than in every other season (except for the shortened season one), yet the start and finish of the season is stretched across more than a calendar year. That makes it difficult to set a pace for the season. On the one hand, the higher episode count allows for more episodes to put the plot on the back burner and focus on characters (such as this one did with Skylar). On the other hand, by basically having two separate eight-episode miniseries’, the audience might feel unsatisfied if it isn’t given more in these first eight weeks. Tricky stuff.
Anyway, back to the episode. So far this season we’ve seen Skylar as someone who is clearly living in fear. I disagree with Mike, though. I don’t see Skylar’s actions as inconsistent, but rather as a realistic progression. Yes, she did at first confidently stand up to Walt as she saw him transforming into a threatening figure (while delivering her most iconic line in the process), but I don’t think that she truly saw Walt as the monster he is until she found out that he had killed Gus. There is a difference between being married to a drug deal and being married to a killer.
While Mike (the character, not our Waiverwire writer) called Walt a “ticking time bomb” earlier this season and we saw another hint at it tonight with the watch Jesse gave Walt (another awesome ending shot), I can’t help but view Skylar the same way. She’s bottled up with all of these complex emotions and has absolutely nobody who can help her. Tonight’s episode showed us that it is just a matter of time before she snaps. With that in mind, she’s jumped up the list of characters who will be the one to inevitable kill Walt. Here are my current odds:
Jesse: 2-1 Skylar: 4-1 Hank: 12-1 Mike: 15-1 Walt himself: 40-1 Walt Jr: 800-1
Overall, this episode delivered a necessary in-depth look at Skylar. Was it this series’ most exciting episode? Of course not. But it was important and the next episodes should be more plot oriented.
Michael Cresci: I’m with you, Vinny. I’m also really surprised that this episode made you hate Skylar, Mike. If anything it made me more interested in her as a character because of the constant fear she is now living in. She seems to be the only person who can see Walt for who he truly is, the kind of guy who poisons children, manipulates his partner into leaving people he loves and blowing the faces of of Chicken Men. Walt has become a full-fledged lunatic and Skylar may be the only one who truly grasps the length of that transformation. Breaking Bad is always a slow burn as Vince Gilligan shifts all the pieces into place. One of those pieces is Skylar’s complete mental breakdown, something that makes her sympathetic for once.
Part of me wonders if anyone will kill Walt. We know he lives at least one more year (the bacon in episode 1 told us that much) and I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the people you mentioned will be killed by then. Walt could die of the cancer that Skylar is eagerly awaiting or kill everyone in his life. Nothing is off the table.
MA: Alright you guys convinced me I think I was just being blinded by my hatred for Skylar that I did not appreciate the episode as much as I should have. The fall of Walt will have to come at some point and I think Skylar has clearly made herself a legit candidate to be the one who takes Walt down.
One of the other interesting aspects that has been going on throughout this season was the relationship between Mike and Lydia. Clearly Lydia did not hesitate when trying to kill Mike, but it was a different story when the roles were reversed. She is all over the place and cannot seem to keep her emotions in check. Someone like that could become a very easy target for Hank if they feel that she might be hiding something. Did Mike make a huge mistake by letting her live in the first place? Was that a sign of weakness on his part?
VG: We touched on this a little bit in an earlier discussion but it’s absolutely worth bringing up again and expanding upon. It was a bit surprising that Mike, a no-nonsense guy, let Lyida live the first time. But it appeared that he did it with Lydia’s daughter in mind, not Lydia herself. We’ve seen on multiple occasions that Mike has a strong relationship with his granddaughter and that more than likely played a big influence on his decision to let Lydia live. Because of this, I don’t see this as a sign of weakness or Mike going soft. Let’s not forget that after piecing together that Lydia “bugged” the supply, Mike wanted to put a bullet in her head.
I do think though that it could ultimately be a mistake that he let her live though. Lydia is a nervous, uptight person who appears to want out of the operation altogether. That could lead to her giving up some of the people above her (for example, Mike) if Hank comes around asking questions. Of course this is just speculation, but that potential danger far outweighs the good that she provides.
Matt McCarthy: I for one really enjoyed this episode for many of the same reasons that you guys pointed out above me. I thought it was a very powerful episode and set the stage for the next few episodes very nicely and in a way that cannot easily be anticipated. One of my favorite things about this show is how it sets you up to be completely confident that something is going to happen (like I am after this one, but more to come on that later) and then slap you in the face with a complete 180 that makes you sit and just stare at the TV asking what just happened. The most important scene for me in this episode had to be the birthday dinner scene for Walt’s 51st. To state the obvious, I think Skylar’s attempted suicide/cry for help (whichever you want to view it as) is going to be a focal point for the season as it progresses this summer. I think Skylar made a big move and ultimately I think it is going to bite her in the coming episodes.
And the scene in Walt and Skylar’s bedroom following that where things got heated is going to set the stage for the Walt v. Skylar dynamic for this final season. Walt fully embodied the persona of “Heisenberg” that he has been hinting at all series in that scene (see time mark 3:13 for what seems to be the official change). For a long while I had faith that Walt was going to be able to keep up the separation between his two personas. But alas, he has finally cracked and his ego has fully taken over Walt and he is only “Heisenberg”, the unstoppable force. Walt made it abundantly clear that he has all the chips and will use them as he wishes.
Now my theory based on this episode: Skylar will die by the end of this summer’s section of the season. I say this for many reasons. My theory is that she has shown that she is willing to do anything (even take her own life) to keep her kids away from Walt. Walt’s outburst showed her that she really does not have any power when it comes to her relationship with Walt and I think it pushes her over the edge. I believe she will do one of two things; she will either try to kill Walt or turn him in to Hank in order to end this all. I think it goes horribly wrong and Walt catches wind of it. His only response: kill Skylar and stage it as a suicide (which will seem likely given Skylar’s antics at the pool). Even if I am wrong with this, this episode surely set the stage for what should be a fantastic finish.