Tuesday, September 10, 2013

BREAKING BAD: 5-13: TO'HAJILEE - REVIEW

Curator's Note: The review below contains spoilers for Breaking Bad up through 5-13.

Breaking Bad: 5-13: To'hajiilee
September 8, 2013
47 min
United States (English)

Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by George Mastras



To'hajiilee bears one of the series' most intense hours to date, a collection of efforts for the show's former sidekicks to be divided by. How can any of this end well?

Last night's episode cut between the developments of three parties (1. Walt/Heisenberg, 2. Hank, Gomez & Jesse, 3. Todd & Co.) until their inevitable confrontation in the Native American lands just outside of Albuquerque, which is the episode's namesake. Walt and Hank seemed to have switched characteristics as now Hank is the guy with the plans and the tricks that work on everyone from Huell to Walt himself. I must say, the first two acts of To'hajiilee may be the funniest episode of season 5B, which boggles my mind when you consider that there's only three episodes left and you'd think it'd all be strictly business. Huell's interrogation and Walt Jr. infatuation with Saul Goodman are still making me smile.

On the more serious note is the cat and mouse game going on between Hank and Walt, though here the cat has a rat and the mouse has the phone number for a small army. Walt has officially ordered a hit on Jesse, but wants it done as painlessly as possible - because he's like family. Walt still insists that Jess is no rat. Walt tries to lure his former partner out by visiting Andrea and Brock. At first realization I thought how chilling that was, but it ended up being fairly anticlimactic. Methinks they're going to play another role before all is said and done. But perhaps it would have been better if Andrea opened her front door to reveal Walt and that's when the scene cut, leading us to wonder what Walt said and did.

Walt is completely fooled and ends up leading the three amigos right to his stash in the desert (all while confessing everything he's done - hope they were recording) but has time to hide and place a call before they come. To his utter astonishment it's his brother-and-law and his former student/parter, who at one time hated one another more than anyone in the entire world, that exit the SUV together. 

I honestly feel that Bryan Cranston gave the performance of his career in the final 15 minutes of last episode. He hangs up the phone, after telling Uncle Jack and his boys not to come (more on that in a sec) and then struggles exceedingly regarding his next decision. What's the more challenging role to play? Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde? How about both at once? The camera slowly presses in on Walt's face while all the audio becomes but a whisper in the wind. Is this the calm before the storm? That would have been a good place to end the episode.

But then it gets better. Walt comes out of cover, drops his firearm and makes that slow march (partly backwards) to the custody of DEA Agent Hank Schrader. The cuffs are put on. Wow. Walt turns himself in, give up everything he has in order to safe Hank's life. It's Walt's first time seeing Jesse up close after this new realization. The only word he can squeeze out of himself is "Coward." That would have been a decent place to end the episode.

Hank calls Marie, telling her they "got him" dead to rights and they exchange affections. It was at that moment for me, and I'm sure for many of you, that I realized the closure abd finality of their relationship. And then, sure as rain, Todd, Uncle Jack and the rest show up and there's a stand off with drawn weapons. That would have been a great place to end the episode.

But where did they end it? Right in the middle of a gunfight. Either before or after, not during. Please! What is this, a 1950s serial where our hero's in a constant state of cliff hangers? I felt the cutting to black was disingenuous and problematic to the pacing. I hope they have a really good reason for have cutting there next week.

I'm under the impression that Vince Gilligan and his team of writers like Walt too much. Walt was able to call off the neo-Nazis while still getting their help nonetheless. Their appearance was inevitable, 5B has been leading up to this the whole time, and now it seems Hank and Gomez are sharing the same bullet-filled demise. Again, it'd be strange to start the next episode with their deaths.

There's just three more episodes in this story left. It'll be a crawl to Sunday and I'm especially thrilled by Rian Johnson's third reign in the  series' director chair for the very next episode, Ozymandias. The name comes from a poem, which you can hear Hesienberg recite a passage from in the video below.

"Coward."
- Walter White



★★★★★

CONTENT: some language and violence

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