As the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad began last week we witnessed the confrontation between Hank and Walt finally happen. With accusations and threats lingering in the air, fans had to wait a full week to see what would happen next. The wait is over and Major Spoilers has your recap and review! Spoilers!
Storytelling through images and color.
No look into the future!
Previously on Breaking Bad: Walt’s DEA brother-in-law, Hank, stumbled upon a clue linking Walt as the same person as the mysterious meth-lord Heisenberg that Hank has been chasing for over a year. After pouring over every piece of evidence from any case linking back to Heisenberg, Hank confronts Walt with a fist in his garage. Meanwhile, Jesse struggles with what to do with the 5 million dollars of ‘blood money’ that Walt left him.
DOES THAT MAKE YOU HAPPY?
Buried‘s opening sequence ties the episode directly back to last week’s Blood Money and sets the stage for the cliffhanger this week. An elderly gentleman follows a trail of money stacks into a park to find our very own Jesse Pinkman starring into space, spinning himself on a merry-go-round. Jesse is still completely at a loss for what has happened recently with the murdering of a child and the murder of his friend Mike at the hand of Walt. We have seen Jesse lose it before, but never have we seen him unravel quite like this, which makes the final shot of Hank walking into interrogate him leaves us wondering if Jesse will give up information on Walt.
Hank will be looking for Jesse to give up information on Walt because he needs the final piece of evidence to securely link Walt to the crimes of Heisenberg. He attempted to get Skyler to spill what she knows about Walt’s life, but little does he know that a conviction of Walt could certainly lead to her in jail also due to the car wash money laundering operation. The sequence of Hank trying to extract information from Skyler was incredibly powerful as we could see the hidden emotion and thought process etched across Skyler’s face the entire time. But, that sequence was outdone by the following conversation between sisters Marie and Skyler.
Marie, just having been informed of her extended family’s dark secrets, comes to Skyler to comfort and see just how much Skyler knows. After prodding, Marie learns that Skyler has known about Walt’s drug involvement since before Hank was shot by the cartel twins, which sends her into a fit of rage. Leaving her sister stunned with a slap to the face, Marie takes the opportunity to try and take Holly from the home. After an intense shouting match and Hank’s interference, Marie gives Holly back to Skyler and leaves the house. Marie has been a character that has never got as much screen time as the other members of the family, but her moments on screen this week were incredibly powerful and showed character development and I hope that Marie has more moments like this as the show ends.
The wild card character for these final episodes is absolutely Lydia. She came to Walt last episode trying to get him to come back for a cook to help improve on the 67% purity of the blue crystal. Walt quickly refused which resulted in her needing to take actions into her own hands and we see that this week. When the crew left in charge won’t take back Todd to help improve the meth purity, Lydia executes operation “Todd’s Nazi Uncle and Friends Kill Them All.” Lydia appears to be a sheepish, quiet person, but we have seen her willing to kill anyone that threatens her freedom and money which leaves me wondering on how she will effect the overall ending of Breaking Bad.
CRYSTAL BLUE (AND GRAY AND RED) PERSUASION
If you have been watching Breaking Bad for this long and still don’t believe in the foreshadowing that is rampant throughout the show with the use of colors then there is something wrong. Let’s just go into two examples from this week’s episode that should make you pay attention to colors next Sunday.
During the sequence of Huell and Kuby going to the storage center to retrieve the giant stack of cash we are given hints of the intentions of their visit due to the color of shirt both are wearing. Huell and Kuby had previously only been shown carrying out tasks through Saul from Skyler. Knowing that we would be led to believe that, again, both were there under request of Skyler. However, noticing the blue shirts both were wearing we get a subtle nod that both are there for Walt’s sake, since blue has been established as linking itself back to Walt in the show.
The second, and more revealing, use of color in Buried was the ensemble that Lidia wore to meet her current meth producers. Lydia was shown wearing a blue overcoat with a light gray top and skirt. Once again, blue links back to Walt, this time in the form of the highly pure meth he can produce and the creation of that is exactly why Lydia was in the desert. Gray clothing has been used to signify the empire that Walt established in the first eight episodes of season five. Gray is used because it ties back into Walt’s creation and disassociation with science think tank company Grey Matter. But, the most glaring use of color to foreshadow what would happen in that scene was the bottom of Lydia’s high heels. Looking to the bottom of shoes for clues to a show might seem like a stretch, but watch the scene of Lydia descending the latter again and see how prominent the heel bottoms are shown due to the color popping against the dreary background. Red is used here to signify the blood that is about to be shed, once again, due to Lydia’s commands.
I DON’T REMEMBER THE LAST TIME I WAS HAPPY
Buried is an incredibly telling and gripping episode from a cinematic point-of-view due to how it establishes the relationships between characters in the moment and it was shocking at points. The camera angles shown through the episode clearly painted the picture that Walt is losing control of the relationships around him as others start informing him of what he needs to do. Saul is shown in an up-angle during his conversation with Walt, telling us that Saul can, for the first time in a long time, have a say in what Walt’s course of action will be.
The conversation between Skyler and Walt after Walt collapses in the bathroom was very telling about the current, evolving state of their relationship. As Walt lies on the bathroom floor trying to explain to his wife what he is willing to do, he is continually show in a level shot, but that all changes when he stops speaking and Skyler begins. Once Skyler starts talking to Walt about how Hank has no solid proof she is immediately switched to being viewed in an up-angle while the viewer looks down upon Walt. Shifting the view in that manner tells the viewer how Skyler will be the one making this decision, and I would guess that we will she her making even larger decisions in the near future.
Changing the viewing angle for characters in this manner gave us a subtle hint and reminder as to what is currently happening to Walt. With Hank knowing about his identity as Heisenberg, Walt feels that he is losing control of the second life he has been living for over a year. Equally important is that Walt’s cancer has returned. Walt’s current two situations are ones that are, seemingly, completely out of his control and flipping how he see Walt on screen is a subtle but powerful technique that the creators are using to signify this.
THE BOTTOM LINE: WHO NEEDS FISTS WHEN YOU HAVE WORDS
Blood Money‘s defining moment was certainly Hank punching Walt, but Buried‘s defining moments are without-a-doubt the multi-layered conversations that happen between all the characters, especially Marie, Hank and Skyler. The manner in which Breaking Bad can create tension through words that is on the same level of the violent sequences is a testament to the exquisite writing and acting from all those involved. Only six episodes remain of Breaking Bad so watching how the show wraps up all the story lines and makes us arrive at the future we have seen glimpses of is a ride that certainly shouldn’t be missed.