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Breaking Bad: Episode 4 "Mas"

Episode-5-Jesse-Pinkman-Aaron-Paul This episode was about temptation – the lure of “Mas”. Skyler is tempted by the promise of luxury, or at least comfort and material ease. Walt is tempted by Gus with the shiny new lab. Jesse is shown giving in to temptation wholesale at the strip club. And of course, the consequences of giving into temptation are shown when Hank tracks down a connection between Jesse, the RV and some fake boobs. Fake boobs will get you every time. 

Especially fake boobs with star pasties.

Palinode: At first, the big question in this episode seemed to be “What does Skyler want?” We saw several Episode-5-Ted-Skyler Anna Gunnscenes in which she begins to regret her impetuous decision to sleep with Ted, but whether her regret is occasioned by sympathy for Walt or the promise of Walt's money, it's hard to tell. It's likely that Skyler doesn't know quite know where her motivations lie, and that grey area was interesting. In fact, it lent a new energy to Skyler's situation, as we see the pull of the money begin to exert itself over her imagination. She places a towel underneath her feet to remove herself from the luxury of Ted's home, but is she envisioning a heated bathroom floor for her and Walt?

Stacy: She has no idea know her motivations lie and it's driving her crazy.  The first telling moment was her stepping on that heated bathroom floor.  It seemed as though she were melting into Ted, his lifestyle... except when Ted was around her.  It almost seems as if she wants to keep this large orbit of distance between her and the rest of the world.  She always looks constipated, deep in thought.  And then she finds the bag of money in the dirty room in which Walt sleeps. It seemed that she was frustrated until she saw the bag of money in the closet.  I really thought she was going to take a stack.  It was as though the viewer could actually see the wheels turning in her head and hear her thoughts, "I deserve some of this." She tasted a bit of luxury in Ted, but her heart isn't there.  Her vagina is.  Her heart, though she really seems to be resisting it, is with Walt. 

Palinode: I thought Anna Gunn (Skyler) really stole this episode - so much so that I felt as if her story was being tied up, and that made me pout like a sad bulldog pup.  I couldn't tell where her affection for Walt ended and those prickles of desire for the money began. "I deserve it".  Yes.

Stacy: You got that, too?  I can see where that seed would come from.  The anger has died down, the excitement with Ted, Walt's presence in the house.  It's like she's angry, but now she feels like she has endured so much and she should get a piece.

Palinode: I loved the towel she put under her feet.  It was like an effort to clear her head and remove herself from the life that Ted is promising her.


Palinode: Regarding the episode's title: "Mas".  It seems like this might be the turning point for the season.  The first episode was "No Mas," when all the characters turned their back on meth and crime and Fat Stacks, as Jesse would put it.  Joseph Campbell would say they're refusing the call to adventure. Then Joseph Campbell would be all like, "Come on dudes, let's blaze and fucking... go to Vegas and... shit... don't feel so good... ah just hold my hair back you bitches".  I think that's from Hero With A Thousand Faces.

But anyway - from No Mas to MAS.

Stacy:  Ah, yes.  Things have changed, but it's amazing to me that Walt is still blind to what is going on around him.  He really thinks he ended things in that first episode and now everyone is changing, wanting more, more.  He's changed.  He says "no mas," but you can hear how hollow it sounds.  The seed is planted in him, in Sklyer, Marie, Hank.  Everyone wants more.

Palinode: One of the scenes that fascinated me the most in this episode was the dinner scene at Casa White.

Stacy: That, for me, was the moment she realized what she was doing, turning her back on Walt, her idea of family. She has been so prohibitive with the baby and Walt, but not only did she let him comfort Holly, she watched on as if it really hit her that this was her family, that Walt is more than a drug dealer.  Er.  Drug manufacturer, sorry.

Palinode: The dinner scene seemed so strange because the only the table was lit, with the entire background in darkness. Usually that house is lit to a cruel degree with all those wide spaces and that ominously long hallway.  But what did you make of the column in the middle of the frame that separated Walt and Skyler? It was almost like they were in entirely separate frames. But Holly's bassinet is hiding behind the column, and when Walt reaches to pick her up, he reaches into that black gulf between himself and Skyler.


Episode-5-Jesse-Pinkman-Skinny-Flashback-Strip-Club Palinode: I liked the way the episode called back to an elided scene from the first season, and more significantly, how what we didn't see back then has such dramatic repercussions in this season. And now that we see Jesse in his idiot-junky persona again, it's impressive to realize how stupid Hank was being in giving his life savings over to him. What was he thinking? Jesse took the money and did exactly what you'd expect a brain-addled tweaker to do – spend it on strippers and champagne. At one point Gus says that Walt's decisions couldn't be bad ones if they were done in the spirit of providing for his family, but the episode goes to great lengths to show that Walt has been making bad decisions from the very start.

Stacy: I didn't see the first season, so this blew me away (and hoo, he does NOT look good with hair).  Episode-5-Jesse-Combo-Stripper What a damn fool, giving him all his savings!  And yeah, he blows almost all of it on boobs and a good time, just so he can look like a big man with class.  I loved this scene so much.  Not because of the hoots and booty, obviously, but because it hearkens back to a time when he was rolling with his homeboys, innocent in his stupidity.  And Cheeto.  How I miss Cheeto.  Cheeto was just like a puppy.  He just wanted some ear scratchins and someone to treat him well.

And I agree; the episode was all about calling him out for his decisions. He has lost complete control of himself, his life, and he still doesn't know about the Devil Twins of Death, creeping around after him.  He almost has no choice but to start cooking again.  And there was Saul, that delightful creep.  How I love him for turning his back on Jesse when Walt told them about his deal with Gustavo.  LULZ.  Jesse has gone from no control over his compulsions to gaining strength in sobriety and facing this business like a professional.  Which is odd to say, but if there's one thing this show has taught me, it's that the businessmen succeed.  Only the folks with their shit together enough to run a tight ship can survive.  And I kind of mean that literally.

 Palinode: Saul goes wherever the wind blows.  And by "wind blows," I mean "money is".

Stacy: And he is not shy about it, either.  I wonder what this season will hold for him.  I'm a little scared for him, to be honest.  He has been "MAS" from the beginning, but he has, in a sense, lost control over himself, too.  He wants money and he's not seeing things clearly.  And where is Boiled Face Man?

Palinode: I predict that Saul will eventually discover that Boiled Face Man does not really work for him.  And that discovery will go poorly for Saul.

Episode-5-Walt-Saul Bob Odenkirk Bryan CranstonShould Boiled Face Man get a spinoff? In fact, should every character in this show get a separate spinoff?

"Hank" - The DEA man discovers that he's got a whole new family he never knew about - in Vermont! Wacky antics and small-town atmosphere make for a crazy cocktail as Hank's psyche slowly disintegrates.

"Through The Desert" - Walt Jr. and Holly try to survive a post-nuclear apocalypse.  Walt Jr. carries Holly in a sling around his neck, but the radiation has left him weak, and the hitching of the baby's chest as she cries for milk doesn't even stir tears in him anymore.  Watch for a cameo from Heather Locklear!

Stacy: I wonder if Marie is going to get a little something on the side.  Maybe a stockboy at the pharmacy.

Episode-5-Hank-Shrader Bryan Cranston Dean NorrisPalinode: Yeah, whatever happened to Marie and her kleptomania and her all-consuming narcissism?  She's been reduced to the role of worried wife lately.  Speaking of which, Hank is seriously losing it.

Stacy: Hank is dead inside.  Hank is going to lose his shit and get suspended or something and he's going to try to do what they all do in the movies: chase the bad guy himself.

Palinode: Another thing I liked about this episode: Gus finally figured out how to get Walt cooking again.  First by showing him the coolest meth lab known to humanity.  But more importantly, by taking Walt's image of himself as a good family man and reorienting that image to serve Walt's dark side.  He allows Walt an out from his impossible situation by saying "You will always have your children, and they will always be family, and you will continue to provide". Gus has lead Walt into a literal underworld, stolen him away like Hades took Persephone. Clever Gus.

Stacy: Gus is brilliance.  The way he turned Walt around with such ease was incredible.  He gave Walt a safe place AND it's under Gus's nose.  Walt now has a reason to back up what he always wanted to be: a provider and a man who did what he had to do.  And that is character, right there, what he has always been after.  Not money, not family.  He wants to be a man, dammit.  A MAN.  All of his jealousy over Little Walter Mitty's idolizing Uncle Hank, the ease with which he lied, coming onto the principal.  That's all he wants: to be a man.  And Gus sealed all of that for Walt. 

I like your comparison to the underworld.  It's so true.  It's safe for Walt, safe for Gus.  Now Gus knows exactly where Walt is at all times and he can manage that.  As he indicated to the Juarezians a few weeks ago, Gus "isn't finished" with Walt just yet.  And now the clock starts.  3 months.  3 million.  MAS.

Palinode: 3 months. 3 million. And then Walt is no longer under Gus' protection, and the Deth Twinz of Death will take their shiny axe to him.


Palinode: I'm kind of hoping that it doesn't happen that way.  I want Hank to hold on to his job.  I want the van, the blue meth, the photo of Combo and Jesse, and all those little clues to keep him on the trail.  Hank belongs to the day - to justice, order, etc. But if he takes the day's work into the night, the consequences can be comic (spying on half-naked old trailer dwellers) or dangerous (getting into a serious fight in a shady bar).

Stacy: What a classic scene - Hank climbing onto the roof like Mission Impossible and getting caught by an old couple playing cards in their pantaloons. 

Is it wrong that I want something to happen so he has to take himself (or be thrown off of) the trail?  But he's too close.  That last DMV hit on Combo's mom's junk-ass RV is one huge step to Jesse.  Huge.  Because Hank is going to bring him in and what is Jesse going to say now?  Will Boiled Face Man intervene?  Will The Force of Gus help Jesse, if only because they need him to shut up?  This could be a big storyline.

Palinode: The Force of Gus. I like that. Also: pantalooooons.

If I recall correctly, Hank tried to bust Jesse before over the Tuco incident, but couldn't make anything stickEpisode-5-Jesse-Pinkman-strip-club Aaron Paul

because the grandfather wouldn't talk (well, not that he can, but you get the idea).  So now Hank is going to go after him like a frenzied dog.  This is going to be awesome.  I predict a scene where Jesse call Hank a bitch and Hank goes apeshit on him.

Stacy: Jesse has too much information for Walt to stay mad at him.  Way too much.  And you know he'd roll in a second if he wasn't partners with Walt.  And now that he has been cut out of the business, there's some real danger there.  Walt cannot let him stay angry.  The other way this could go is Gus having Jesse killed.  Anything could happen at this point because Jesse is a loose cannon and could bring the entire operation down with what he knows.  He knows everything.

Palinode: That's true. But I think that Walt has finally managed to alienate Jesse with his cruelty.  Before they had this bond of mutual antagonism, but now things are in dangerous territory.

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Washington "Blue Magic" Cube

I loved your recap. Sunday night has become so busy for me in cramming in Law and Order and Breaking Bad and Treme.

I worried about Hank linking Jesse to that RV, but I think Jesse is an important character in the series, and they couldn't easily write him off to an od or shootout or prison, no more than getting Walt ratted out and him no longer cooking. His mad skillz are what the series is about.

I've told friends re: Skyler's high and mighty over drug money. Heck. I'd be proud if I was with a meth cooker. Good skill set and money making. She's gotten on my nerves over time, especially during that whole "I'm pregnant" diversionary thing. Who cares? Show us a tortoise head. I half wondered if she was going to take that money to bail her boss out of his cooking the books.

I love Saul. Love his office in that cheesy strip mall with the broken asphalt talking out of both sides of his mouth. Great character that you can really chew the scenery with.

Hank is a blustering bully with toad guts. No true courage. He's like a door ramming penis out playing cowboy and indians but the minute a real bullet hits instead of the "tow tow tow" of the fantasy, he's running for cover.

The one scene that truly moved me was the lady with the stolen RV, and just the simple answers she calmly gave Hank. "I guess I didn't get around to reporting it stolen." Her son was dead! The tender, loving protecting mother. The shrine bedroom. In that very small scene she had, that actress gave that character tremendous dignity in her small life sorrow.

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