BREAKING BAD “The Thirty-Eight Snub” Review

BREAKING BAD “The Thirty-Eight Snub” Season 4 Episode 2 – After last week’s throat slashing, things are really beginning to spiral out of control for the characters in Breaking Bad: both those who were in the room when Gus cut Victor’s throat, and those on the periphery, those who have no idea why their life has fallen to pieces. The audience, of course, knows that there is a rot seeping, and that rot, that cancer, stems from Walter White.

Walter is the reason Hank was shot. Now Hank has to endure routine humiliations every minute of the day: he cannot walk around his own house without a physical therapist urging him on, sweat running down his face; he cannot sleep, and spends his nights studying rocks. He cannot abide his wife, the only witness to every single one of his mortifying moments of life: she has to pull down his pants and push a bucket under him and wipe him clean and empty his excrements daily. Marie can see how much he’s suffering, and her hopeful, encouraging, pitying face is like a mirror, reminding him that he’s confined to a bed, not hunting bad guys or smoking cigars, and he needs someone else to wipe his ass.

Every time she gives him an encouraging cheer or raises her hand for a high five, it’s like he’s reminded how far he’s fallen. No one else is this close to him: the physical therapist did not know him when he was the tough guy cop. Walter and Skyler and his other friends and family rarely see him. And on her part, Marie is completely stuck: she’s loyal and does her best to be upbeat and she genuinely celebrates Hank’s recovery, but his humiliations have created an ironic gulf between them: it’s like each time she helps him out, every time she encourages him it just pushes them further apart. With all of the guns blazing and meth making, I have to say that this is my favorite storyline. Vince Gilligan, his writers and Dean Norris and Betsy Brandt are really getting their hands dirty exploring these themes of mortification, loyalty, love and despair.

In Skyler’s world, Walter is also responsible for the ridiculously high price of the car wash. Savvy Skyler does a stakeout of the car wash, draws up a generous estimate for the price of the business and offers it to the owner. The owner, however, still harbours animosity for Walter, who left his job without notice and by breaking a bunch of air fresheners and “grabbing himself”. Therefore he has his own price for Walter White: a cool twenty million dollars. This was definitely the lightest storyline, but it was a little gem of its own if only to show how savvy a businesswoman Skyler could be.

Meanwhile, Walter and Jesse have their own storylines brewing: Walter gets himself a gun and Jesse has himself a party.

The Emmys better start etching Aaron Paul’s name onto the statue for 2012. No one else stands a chance. You could say that nothing much happened for Jesse in this episode: Skinny Pete and Badger came to the house, snorted up some coke, threw a three day party and ordered some uncut pizza. There was a minor interruption when Jesse’s old flame from rehab (and the sister of the kid who killed Combo) showed up with her son and a wad of cash. From the bottom of the pit he helps her avoid falling in-hopefully. And then he sinks right back to the bottom. Killing Gale, watching Victor die for something he did, has certainly taken its toll on him. Nothing spelled out just how lost he is than the way he sat against the giant speaks pumping into his head, alone, in the chaotic mess of his house.

Then there’s Mr White. We open the episode as Walter buys a gun for “defence”. As Jesse is barely making it through the day and Mike is keeping to grips with the help of alcohol, Walter is busy preparing pre-empting Gus’ retribution. Unlike the other violent opponents from Walter’s past, Gus is just as smart, if not smarter, as Walter. From creepy phone call in the middle of the street to Mike’s furious fist kick action at the bar, Walter is clearly in over his head.

Random Thoughts:

Badger: “I think I’ve, like, got this cat. I think I’m supposed to feed it.” Oh Badger, I’ve missed you.

The directing on this episode was brilliant and cinematic, especially the party scene and the one shot from the sky as Gus warns Walter to leave.

This episode was more about character sketching than usual. Watching this show on a week-to-week basis instead of in one marathon is certainly an odd, if not torturous experience. To say I can’t wait for next week is a huge understatement, especially given what little I’ve heard from those who’ve seen the third episode.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.

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