Breaking Bad Precap, Episode 511: Only Six More Chances to Save Walter White From Himself

AMC/Grantland illustration Breaking Bad

Lesser Reported Evidence of the “Sin-Eater” Theory

Andy Greenwald:

• Walter knows a lot about science.
(As a child painstakingly sewed 1/8th-scale voodoo dolls of Francis Crick and James Watson. Burned them behind the family garage.)

• Walter is extremely good at preparing breakfast.
(Used an empty bottle of Mrs. Butterworth’s as a makeshift bong in 1978.)

• Walter sports a bald head and a sinister goatee.
(At a minor league baseball game in 2003 — go Isotopes! — spilled an entire beer on a guy who looked vaguely like Anton LaVey.)

• Walter is a fluid and accomplished liar.
(Bought memoirs by Stephen Glass and Jayson Blair. Never read them.)

• Walter is able to throw an entire pizza with the precision and velocity of a Frisbee.
(Did not Avoid the Noid.)

• Walter is able to single-handedly dig a hole large enough to stash multiple barrels full of money.
(When Flynn was little, once accidentally backed over a Constructicon with the family sedan.)

• Walter is the best-hung man in Hollywood.
(Once stabbed James Woods to death in a bar fight.)

Did the Skyler vs. Marie Standoff Not Hurt Enough the First Time? How About Now?


Color Your Very Own “What’s Jesse Pinkman Thinking?” Decision Wheel!

Shea Serrano: Jesse hasn’t done very much talking these last two episodes. Build the What’s Jesse Pinkman Thinking? wheel and use it to figure out what’s going on inside his brain at any given moment.

What's Pinkman Thinking?

A Few Questions

Jonah Keri: I’m really starting to understand Greenwald’s stance that rooting for plot lines to happen, rather than waiting for them to happen, is counterproductive. That’s what you get when you predict Episode 2 will end with Jesse spilling the beans to Hank, then you see Hank walk into the interrogation room to grill Jesse, then loudly exclaim AHA! at your television.

So, rather than straight predictions this week, a few questions:

• Marie has always been a secondary character, a passive, clueless non-observer of everything going on around her. Could she eventually play a bigger role in this thing than her “sic ’em, Hank!” position?

• As keeper of the Saul avatar flame, I have to ask: Could Vince Gilligan be so nefarious that he’d spread rumors about a Saul Goodman spin-off and enlist the great Bob Odenkirk and half of Hollywood to do the same, just to create some misdirection before one of the greatest supporting characters in recent TV history gets Belize’d? That might be a little too far afield. Setting “Heart and Saul” (you’re welcome) as a prequel to Breaking Bad would of course solve this problem.

• It seems to be a foregone conclusion that Hank will lose his job the minute news breaks that his brother-in-law is Heisenberg. Maybe. But what if Hank truly did nail Walt? Would results trump process? Could this become the equivalent of the Kansas City Royals making a miracle run, followed by Dayton Moore getting a contract extension, and everyone forgets about The Trade?

• What’s the tally at these days?

Showrunner Tweet of the Week


Breaking Good

John Lopez: Maybe it’s the fumes from all this unventilated Breaking Bad coverage, but with each episode, my foolhardy desire to call the ending only increases. Now, while I still wouldn’t mind seeing Walt having a family BBQ Shawshank-style on an anonymous Mexican beach, the smart money’s remains on his death. But Walt going out Pacino-style screaming “Say hello to my little M60” just doesn’t feel right to me. First, he’s got hair again, which according to the Grand Unified Theory of Bad Guy means he’s not bad anymore: i.e., bald equals Kurtzian psychopath; hair/mustache equals Sesame Street guest star. So … sure, Walt dies. But could Walt die a good guy?

See, as much as I love the Hank-Walt Showdown, the joy for me has always been in its Bugs Bunny–outsmarts–Elmer Fudd element. Hank’s episode-closing grin last week was exactly the same look Elmer gets when he plugs the other end of Bugs’s rabbit hole. But how satisfying would it be for Fudd to actually bag that Wascally Drug Lord? Are we really rooting for the DEA? Sure, if you’re sipping homebrew by your pristine suburban pool, maybe the War on Drugs doesn’t seem like a total failure. Listen, Hank’s a fun guy and I’d totally order his hipster beer at my local gastropub, but remember that the real-life feds are the same geniuses who sold assault weapons to drug lords/”informants” who then used them for more than just tortoise target practice. Or read this story about the DEA wiping out the most responsible marijuana collective I’ve ever heard of and try to keep that warm, cuddly feeling alive. The real bad guys here have always been the cartels who combine Goldmanesque amorality with a warlord’s respect for life. But Gus wiped them all out, right? Who’s left?

Which brings us to Lydia and her new right-hand man, Todd “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Matt Damon.” You want to talk breaking bad — at least Walt has a hint of remorse for his monstrosities! He knows he’s selling his soul; that’s why he begs Skyler to keep the money. Lydia can’t even be bothered to look at the corpses of her former business associates. What better training to run a soulless international drug cartel than working at a soulless international petrochemicals company? And after Skyler pulled the Ferocious Mama Bear routine at the car wash, the only other person who can help Lydia is Jesse. You think Mexican drug lords are ruthless? Try working for Lady Macbeth over there, cowering in her power pumps while Todd liquidates her employees with those puppy-dog eyes. I don’t quite know how it adds up yet, but I’m still willing to believe, or hope, that Walt has come back, M60 and ricin pill in tow, to rescue Jesse and blow a gaping hole in Lydia’s profit margin, even if that means some kind of redemption-earning death. I mean, isn’t it possible that after all this time, Walt might finally be breaking good?

Did You Want to Learn More About the DEA Agent With the Mind-blowing Mustache?

This is your lucky day.


Where’s Walt Jr.?

Mark Lisanti:

Answers to “Walt Jr.,” “Flynn,” “Hey, these pancakes aren’t gonna destroy themselves, kiddo.”

Oh, right, a prediction: Walt Jr., a.k.a. “Flynn Heisenberg,” teams with Lydia to restore the meth business to its former glory. Walt returns from his lonely New Hampshire exile, machine gun in tow, to confront this formidable new enemy and, if possible, bring his son back over from the Crystal Blue Side. But just in case that’s not going to work and things hurtle unavoidably to their logical and tragic conclusion (Breaking Bad‘s always been about the tension between fathers and sons), Walt has retrieved the ricin, which, as we all realize by now, would be indistinguishable from the powdered sugar atop Flynn’s beloved pancakes.

And here you thought Hey, these pancakes aren’t gonna destroy themselves was just another stupid #breakfastjoke. For shame.


The Scrappy, Resourceful Belize Tourism Board Took Murder and Made Murderade

And from our mailbox:


Nope, Winter Sun

Sean Fennessey: Dear AMC,

I have a very exciting idea to share with you, something I think you’ll enjoy. But first, please watch this two-minute video of a rhinoceros defecating, 20 times in a row.

Have you completed 20 consecutive viewings? OK, now you understand. Because you are committing televisual blackmail every week that you force viewers to endure approximately 22 minutes of Low Winter Sun before getting the chance to see scenes from next week’s episode of Breaking Bad. It is not the fault of loyal viewers of one of your finest programs that you have developed and produced a subpar series. This space was the most valuable real estate imaginable — eight straight weeks of addiction-available viewers hanging on the closing moments of every episode. We were in your hands. You have opted to use this opportunity to defecate in our lap.

Sure, I could DVR the latest episode of Low Winter Sun and fast-forward to the relevant previews. But I refuse to contribute to your DVR tracking data; I will not be a statistic in your mission to mediocrity. Instead, I will toil in my ignorance, anticipating without specificity. How will Walt feel when he wakes up the day after his big dig? Not sure. How will Hank cope with his big secret? Search me. Will Lydia appear in Episode 3? I HAVE NO IDEA.

Oh, right. About that suggestion. Like most teases, this one won’t seem terribly rewarding: Cancel Low Winter Sun.



Breaking Band

Steve McPherson: Jesse didn’t do a lot of talking in last week’s episode. Mostly spinning and staring into the dead space behind Detectives Kalanchoe and Munn, actually. But I’d like to think he was doing a lot of thinking. One of the things the first two episodes of the second half of Season 5 have done exceedingly well is depict the very physical effect that dawning understanding can have on a person, as when Hank’s mental wrestling match with Walt’s identity sent him through a fence and up onto some poor dude’s lawn or when we watched Marie slowly pick apart just how deep Skyler’s part in Walt’s deception ran.

I’d like to think what Jesse was mulling over was getting his music career back on track.

Back in Season 2 we learned he was the drummer for seminal Albuquerque (I’m gonna say) rap-metal (nü-metal? post-grunge?) band TwaüghtHammër when he was forced to crash with his former bandmate Paul Tyree after his parents kicked him out of his aunt’s house. That’s where the shadow history of Jesse’s long road back to the stage begins in earnest, as he sees how his life choices have steered him away from his true passion. Later on, he misses his chance to collaborate with noted Peter Schilling fan Gale because, well, because he kills him.

Yes: For Jesse, Breaking Bad is the story of his gradual descent into addiction and slow climb to recovery, all while being manipulated, abused, and generally having the shit beat out of him. But the real question is, will he ever find musical fulfillment?

But we know two things he probably doesn’t. One: Skinny Pete is a hell of a piano player. Two: Before he was Todd Alquist, the genial, brightish towheaded killer, he was Landry Clarke, the genial, brightish towheaded killer who played guitar and sang for Crucifictorious. You think you can just walk away from killing a drifter? People might think Breaking Bad is a prequel to Malcolm in the Middle, but it’s actually a sequel to Friday Night Lights. Sure, Jesse has to settle some creative differences with Todd, but if he can, you move Badger to bass (not a very good guitarist; see above clip of Skinny Pete), put Todd on guitar, Skinny Pete on keys, and Jesse on drums.

But I think Jesse has seen too much to just go back to the wide-eyed, youthful naiveté of TwaüghtHammër. All the markers we’ve seen in the promotional shots for Season 5 — the sunken eyes, the scrubbly beard, the plaid jacket — point to something more in the outlaw country vein, with maybe just a touch of the Southwest. Picture Calexico with a lot more casual profanity.

Filed Under: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston, Vince Gilligan