Breaking Bad – Buyout

by deerinthexenonarclights

Breaking Bad always makes very clever use of its cold opens; using those short few seconds to tell entire stories, try out crazy techniques and evoke complex emotions. Seeing just what the first few seconds of an episode has in store for you, how they are experimenting this week, is for me often the most fun part of the show. I don’t know though if I could ever use the word ‘fun’ to describe the beginning of Buyout (The titles this season have had a very strong business bent to them no?). After last week’s crazy freight (not to be confused with a certain long dead character) based caper showed off one of the shows most enjoyable modes – executing the intricate and insane plan to perfection – this week’s highlighted what is possibly its most unique: consequences.

Gilligan and co. have made it their mission never to forget a single word that they have written for the show and to then recycle all the plots, props and even pieces of dialogue that they can remember as often as possible; lending the show a sort of rhizomatic structure, ever spiraling outwards and inwards all at once. Consequences, there are always consequences to crime and this constant recursion is a way of showing that within the story; and yes, even the fun crimes have consequences. So while they could easily come up with a new crime for the trio to commit each week the writers instead spend an episode chasing the ripples caused by the previous one, in particular the corpse that it left behind.

Undercutting completely the joy and accomplishment of the train robbery is the task that awaits the trio when they return to Headquarters and the scene is stunningly shot to show that: silent, sombre, sullen and literally chilling this week’s cold open was spectacular, despite being so small and so simple. The three men in the shed work together on an engine; it should be a bonding experience, the great male ideal, but for most involved there couldn’t be anything worse. We see them disassemble the bike because even Breaking Bad can’t bear to show what they will have to do to the kid after, but we know exactly what it will be, a process identical to what we see, and we know this because we’ve seen it before, because the second episode of the show was dedicated solely to it and we also don’t forget. The scene was so much more effective for its subtlety, simply showing that hand was enough after all that build up, that is an image I won’t soon forget.

So it might then seem a little strange but Buyout was the funniest that the show has been in quite a while. It had all of the clever quips and comedic visual beats of your average episode, but on top of that there was the dining scene. The idea of him being there was funny and fascinating enough, but juvenile Jesse sitting at the table, watching mum and dad fight was just hilarious and Aaron Paul nailed the almost Allen-esque mannerisms that the scene required just as well as he does the mournful guilt. That I laughed that hard only a hairs breadth away from the cold open, entertained even with the knowledge of the dead boy as fresh in my mind as his body either says something about the shows strength or hints that maybe I too would be whistling four days out.

It was what came before then that most interested me though, the conversation that the two men have on their couches. Not the one in the tented house, though that one is of interest to; fake caviar was shown for too long to be coincidental, I suspect this is a clue to Walt’s plan, to synthesize some artificial methylene for the out of town men. What I’m really talking about though is the later talk at Walt’s house, during it Walt is given some moments that help explain his current state, even if they do little to actually empathize, let alone redeem his character. Hearing him admit that he is no longer in it for the money but to – as he says in a very Plainview-esque speech, slumped upon his suburban throne, scotch in hand – ‘build empires’ contextualizes his character somewhat.

For so long I’ve been thinking that it was simply greed that drove him – that he wanted more money, more power and more respect since he had lived with none for so long – but that speech introduced alongside it the idea of a legacy. Walt, like so many tragic leads, has sullied his life in order to maybe strengthen his standing after it; if he’s going to die – and he surely will – he wants to cause a splash on the way down, for his life to have mattered, even if why it mattered was meth. Walt will die by the end of this season, of that I am sure, but Heisenberg and the Bountiful Blue? That legend will live forever.

I will ask for nothing, nothing in this life. I will ask for nothing, just give me ever-lasting life.