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Breaking Bad Episode 3: "I.F.T."


This week: Walt moves back in.  Skyler objects with her entire body.  Hank starts going off the deep end.  Jesse mopes. Everyone struggles for power.  The link between Gustavo and the Death Twinz of Death is revealed.

Stacy: Common Sense Tip #1: Anytime anyone says to you, "Happy Birthday!  I've got a present for you, but it's back there, in that empty, dark room.  C'mon!"  DO NOT TRUST THAT PERSON.  Or your head will be cut off.  I don't care how much you like turtles.  Accompanying such person will be a bad decision for you.

Here the back story of Tortuga's demise was revealed, and it turns out that the DEATH TWINZ OF DEATH were involved.  Of course they were.  What took me by complete surprise is that they actually collapsed in tears after they chopped Tortuga's head off.  Sobbing in the corner, shaking with the depth of their pathos and remorse and gravity of what they had just done, that they had just taken the life of an innocent man.  An innocent man, who had done nothing wrong!

HAHA. I'm kidding, of course.  Is it botox that keeps their faces Breaking-Bad-Episode-3-Cousins-of-DEDexpressionless?  No?  Oh, right.  THEY'RE SOCIOPATHS.  They didn't even blink.

Palinode:  Tortuga was not thinking clearly in that scene. When you've been talking to the DEA and your boss shows up with a present and makes all these references to you being such a talker, what the hell do you think is about to happen to you?

When are Los Hermanos Muertos going to speak?  And when they do, will they call someone 'Friendo'? Or maybe 'amigocito'.  I dunno.  I don't know Spanish.  I just know that two guys in silk suits with shiny axes and a machete are bad news.  I mean, they chopped Danny Trejo's head off.  Think how badass that is.

Stacy: I bet their voices are high-pitched and feminine, like Mike Tyson's.

. . .

Palinode: I almost bought Walter's speech about his sacrifices for the money.  He seemed utterly heartfelt.  He was so convincing that you could tell he had persuaded himself of the truth of what he was saying.  But it seemed to me that he was rewriting his recent past in order to reset it, so that he could become the loving husband and father he so desperately wants to be. But that is only Walt's image of himself.  In reality, he is compromised and corroded.  And Skyler knows it.  Orpheus went to the underworld to rescue Eurydice, but he could not resist looking at his beloved, and he lost her.  Walt went to the underworld to save his marriage, but in doing so he destroyed it.  What was his marriage doing in the underworld in the first place?  To answer that question is to shed light on it, to see it, and all it takes to desroy is that one unblinking look. That, and I.F.T.

Stacy: Him calling her bluff and moving back in was a bold move, and golf claps for not flinching when she called the police and tried to call his bluff calling her bluff.  Everyone was bluffing!  He once again showed what a master manipulator he is, looking her in the eye - forcing her to listen to his contrition - as he shared with her the reasons he did what he did.  But you're absolutely right in that everything he said to her was revisionist.  It was true, but it wasn't.  But he believed everything he said; he was so earnest.  He really does believe that she'll accept his "truth," accept it and move forward as a family.  He really believes that he can undo everything.  He truly believes that he is pulling everything together and that everything will be okay.  But he is completely unaware of everything that is going on around him - it's so close to him, the danger, the gravity, but he's oblivious.  Since he's out of the game, he thinks he's out of the game and has escaped repercussions and vengeance. 

I'm ambivalent about this and am excited to see how this evolves, but one thing about Walt infuriates me with the intensity of a thousand suns: can he stop, please, with a cherry on top, STOP reminding us how terrible he looks in his saggy underpants.  PLEASE.  My eyes have turned brown.  They're badly burned.  I intend to sue, AMC.

Palinode: Note that they're regularly using a wide-angle lens with deep focus in the White's house to exaggerate the spaces and make the hallway look ridiculously long.  Whoever shoots this show is brilliant.  Breaking Bad uses a wide-angle lens in two scenarios: to capture the gigantic expanses of desert and arroyo surrounding Albuquerque, and to capture the gigantic emotional gulf inside the White residence.  Check out the closing images of the episode, where Walt is maybe ten-fifteen feet from his family but he looks miles away.  When people sit around and say that Citizen Kane isn't so great and how did it influence film anyway, here's your answer.  You can thank Orson Welles and Gregg Toland for shit like this.  Maybe those people won't feel so smart now.

Stacy:  With Walt claiming victory over the "domestic trespassing" incident and Little Walter Mitty completely on his dad's side, Skyler is now the unwelcome presence in the house.  The power has shifted in Walt's favor...for now.  "Welcome home," indeed. 

Palinode: My favourite thing in this episode was probably Skyler finally figuring out how to really stick it to Walt.  My least favourite thing was Jesse dead-dialing his greedy, selfish corpse of a girlfriend.

Stacy: That actually broke my heart, seeing Jesse redial over and over and over again and even though it was obviously coming, when the number was disconnected it kicked me in the gut a little.  I'm not a meth user and our lives are very dissimilar in the details, but I really empathize with what I see as him realizing that he has made a mess of things and all he really wanted - all that was really important to him - was love.  Corny, yeah, but when you fuck up on love, either intimate or friendship love, it feels like you've lost everything.  Nothing is important anymore.  I don't see him lasting long in his sobriety at all, and that's sad.  I think we're going to see him shut off, disconnect himself from feelings and we're going to be seeing some major badassery from him in upcoming episodes.  He lost what's important to him - his love and his friends.  There's nothing left to lose.

. . .

Palinode: The cut from the woman in the motorized wheelchair to the chicken barn was fantastic.  All film cuts should be that cruel.

Stacy: Agreed.  Back story: apparently the woman who played that character is Shari Rhodes, a casting director who lost her battle with breast cancer in December 2009. 

Palinode: Who is the god of the underworld here? The choices are split between well-dressed Gustavo,Breaking-Bad-Episode-3-Gus the boss man from Juarez, Don Salamanca and his bell, and of course, Los Hermanos Muertos. 

Stacy: The big reveal of the connection between all of them is the Breaking-Bad-Episode-3-Gus-Juancornerstone of this episode, because you're right.  Who is in charge?  Who will prevail?  Juan Boss Man points out to Gus privately that the cousins have a "right to vengeance," and that they may not be convinced to wait for Gustavo's business with Walt to end before they move.  It was a little unsettling to hear Gus say, "When our business is done, he's no longer of concern.  Until then, we need him alive."  Heavy, powerful words from a man who looks like someone I can take down in a library brawl over the latest Fern Michaels novel.

Palinode: And here we run into a weird difficulty with Breaking Bad.  Salon.com pointed out recently that when you have main characters like Walt and Jesse who operate in moral grey areas, the best way to have Breaking-Bad-Episode-3-Juan-Tio-Cousinsviewers root for them is to introduce people who are way, way worse.  These people have none of the inner life that Walt and Jesse display.  They are wholly given over to evil, and as such sacrifice their interiority.  They become tinged with the supernatural.  This threatens to tip the show into something slightly ridiculous and overblown, and the contrast of evil Hispanic and black criminal demigods with all-too-human white guys just highlights the show's focus on white people. And not in a good way.  And this may be my other problem with character development in Breaking Bad: the only characters being developed are suburban whites.  You could argue that it would be ridiculous to have Los Hermanos Muertos suffering panic attacks or worrying about their wives, but that's exactly my point: those aren't people.  Those are avatars of vengeance.  Who's the most fully realized non-white character in the show? Hank's partner? Or Tuco?

Stacy: I don't think there is one that is the most fully-realized non-white character.  It's unsettling, but maybe that's the point?  I literally have no idea where any of this could go. 

Palinode: There's another way to have viewers root for the kind-of-bad-guy: introduce someone else not as bad.  Take the scene from Pulp Fiction where Samuel L. Jackson's bad-ass-motherfucker faces off against the Godard-flick refugees played by Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer.  There's a significant turn for Jackson's character when he displays mercy, perhaps for the first time in his life.  Who would have pegged Tarantino for a subtle and economic character moment?

Stacy: But what about Boiled Face Man?  We don't know his story yet.  I'm sure he's just a kindly old man whose primary interest is helping people.  His intentions seem pure, no?

. . .

Palinode: This episode also introduced what I will call The Gratuitous Saul Goodman scene.  Saul Goodman shows up and urges Jesse to call Walt and get him cooking.  Jesse is non-committal and tells him to go away.  Why is that scene in there? In part it serves as a way into the later scene where Jesse is about to cook up some meth.  But I think it's just there because Bob Odenkirk has signed on for X amount of episodes.  Plus the people at Breaking Bad are smart enough to realize that Bob Odenkirk is to television what salt is to french fries.  YOU NEED IT.  Bob Odenkirk should be CGI'd into classic films.  Bob Odenkirk is the new colorization, except good.

Stacy: That would be epic.  Hey, lookee here! A quick and dirty Saul Goodman photobomb into the classic film, "The Wizard of Oz," and not at all indicative of my actually fairly decent photoshop skillz!  Saul-goodman-breaking-bad-photobombs-wizard-of-oz

. . .

Palinode: I seriously thought Skyler was going to be fired, until it became clear that other things were afoot. 

More on Skyler: when she refers to Walt's death as 'the situation resolving itself', you know she's done. Her bond with him is dissolved. Porking the boss is like a ritual divorce. Why is Skyler always wearing blue (and showing off her rack)?  She's sky-blue and Walt is white, like clouds in the Albuquerque sky. The plane crash? Happens in the sky. Walt is left with a plastic eye, an emblem of what he cannot see.

And I also know why Skyler's rack is always hanging out of her dress. It's because the show loves me.

Stacy: Here's what I cannot believe about Skyler and Ted kissing in the breakroom and the subsequent propositioning of Ted: Coffee Break Lady.  Is she a complete moron?  How does she just go into the cupboard, completely free of any suspicion or any side-eye to the two sexually charged tingling bodies smelling of passion and sex and copy toner?  Idiot. 

Skyler arrives home well after dark to Walt cooking a pot roast for the family, and for Louis, who charitably carts Little Walter Mitty around whilst his parents are having affairs and cooking meth.  Yay, Louis!  You win a pot roast!  She's sweaty, a little rumpled, clearly something is on her mind.  Walt blathers on about how great he feels having been honest and...ohhhhh...you know it's coming, you can feel it as she slowly walks over to the island on which Walt is preparing the salad...and just as you're about to burst, she levels her gaze and meets his eyes and without blinking says, "I fucked Ted."  SNAP!

Palinode: Skyler is also saying, Do you get it now, Walt? Do you understand the equivalency of our betrayal?  I fucked Ted. You fucked meth.  But I doubt Walt will get it.  Infidelity and crime are part of the underworld, the other side of the psyche that lives in permanent night time.  Walt and Skyler have both crossed over, and now that's where they live.  Skyler understands this.  Walt, now the clueless sap, thinks he can move back into the daylight.

"I fucked Ted" must be the best line in the history of best lines.  I expected Skyler to say something like "I slept with Ted" or "I had sex with Ted" or "Ted and I are in a relationship now".  But no.  She just sucker punched Walt and left him in his apron.  The subtext: Ted put his penis down there. Now you can serve us some fucking pot roast.

Stacy: And then she takes the salad into the dining room and sits down to eat.  "Kids! Dinner!"  BURN.

. . .

Palinode: How did this episode stack up to last week's for you?  It didn't pack the same punch for me, mostly because no one was actively trying to kill Walt.

Stacy: It was kind of meh, but I actually didn't mind the meh-factor because I trust these writers and something is a'brewin.'  I liked the episode precisely because it didn't pack a punch - it's like the calm before the inevitable shitstorm that seems to explode in the next episode.  Everyone is going to get served in the next episode.  I can't wait.

Palinode: Well, Skyler and Walt Jr. and his friend are going to get served ... SOME POT ROAST! I predict that this will be the trigger that pushes Walt back into the exciting and lucrative world of off-label chemistry.
One of the things I really liked about this episode - and you said it yourself - is how it sets all the pieces in place. Walt is emotionally ruined and marked for an axey death.  Jesse is set for another round with addiction.  Hank is set for disintegration.
Say, what was the name of the meth they were cooking?  Wasn't it Blue Sky or something like that?

Stacy: Yeah, Hank...Hank is going to implode.  I don't anticipate good things.  Not without anger management. 

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I only started watching Breaking Bad very recently, maybe two-thirds of the way through last season, so (not realizing Danny Trejo had been on before) I decided that "IFT" also stod for "It's Fucking Trejo!"

Danny Trejo makes everything more awesome.

Also, these are so my favorite Breaking Bad recaps. You guys rock!


How badass do you have to be to cut Danny Trejo's head off? You have to be a Ninja Pirate riding atop a Zombie Unicorn. While drinking Brawndo.

And even badassnes like that coul not compare to these badass recaps. You two are The Death Brothers of Death and/or Breaking Bad recaps.

Bravo. Well done. Jazz Hands. Hokey Pokey.

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