TV Review: BREAKING BAD 5.06 - "Buyout"

Contributor; Seattle, Washington
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TV Review: BREAKING BAD 5.06 - "Buyout"

You can understand and maybe empathize with how someone like Jess Pinkman could come to be the way he is. Some suburban life worn down by his parents' expectations and his own unwillingness to try and bam, you're in your mid-20's and a one-time junkie turned drug dealer.

The same goes for Mike, a former cop turned enforcer and fixer for a drug dealer: there's a trajectory that that goes from one bad decision for a broken-down cop to a life of pragmatic compromise. Morals don't enter into it: this is just what he does to put something aside so he can grow old and die comfortably.

But even after this week's episode of Breaking Bad, where Walter gives Jesse no less than two reasons why the former high school chemist won't be getting out of the drug business anytime soon, it's clear that there's no straight set set of circumstances that could lead to a Walter White. This man, this would-be kingpin is the result of a horrible alchemy of rage, impotence, and missed opportunities, now shored up by successes in the drug game and the murder game. With "Buyout," we learn more about Walt, but we're no closer to explaining him.

I wanted to break down this week's episode, which sees Jesse and Mike attempt to sell off their share of the methyl and quit the meth business, by some of the key quotes from the episode.

"It was him or us!"

After the shooting last week, I really didn't expect Walter and company to pull the trigger on go-getter employee Todd (Jesse Plemons), and the early scenes of "Buyout" were really about Jesse, Mike, and Walt's reactions to this new variable. Of course Jesse wanted him gone (as in fired) but Walt and Mike's pragmatism won out.

Contrast Jesse and Todd: the latter is a way more put-together version of Jesse who also happens to be a little bit of a sociopath. I think the Jesse that was willing to sell drugs to a recovery group might not have had as much of a problem doing what Todd did (maybe), but now Jesse is the kind of guy that can't work with Walter while Todd might be the perfect employee/collaborator with Mr. White.

And you can see all of that effort to find the best in Walt just melt away in the cook scene where Jesse catches his kinda-sorta mentor whistling after just telling the younger man that he was having trouble sleeping at night after the shooting. Even Jesse can see that Walt is broken inside.

"F*** you."

...while Mike is simply fed up with the whole thing. Sick of being tailed by the DEA, sick of working alongside Walt, and being in business with dangerous men. Personally, I loved that this one little scene showed Mike just wiping his hands of the whole thing.

He wants out.

I have to wonder with this scene, though: are the DEA just that bad at keeping tabs on Mike or is Mike just that good at throwing off a tail?

"I'm in the empire business."

In the earlier scene where Mike and Jesse announce their buyout plans, we know that: first, Walt's not going to take it well and second, Walt's not going to be able to convince anyone of anything.

But in this second scene, I have to wonder what makes Jesse think he can change Walt's mind, which is, as we learn in this scene a pretty messed-up place.

We've heard a bit about the falling out between Walt and his college business partners, but this makes it explicit that leaving 2.5 billion (with a "b," mind you) has given Mr. White something of a complex. But between this and the wrenching dinner scene where Walt confesses that cooking meth is all he has, I'm more convinced that we can come up with reasons for Walter, but nothing will ever really be there to explain him away.

Also, can I say that Skyler is just fearless now? With the kids out of the house and seemingly nothing to lose, she's just going to keep chipping away at Walt.

"Everybody wins."

I don't get why at any point Mike would ever leave Walt alone, but here we are. Mr. White has hidden the methyl and has Jesse and Mike in his pocket with whatever his plan is for the Phoenix-based dealer, and I suspect it can only end in trouble. Walt can't end up even: he has to end up ahead and it's really only a matter of time before the people around him stop underestimating his capability (for evil, for screwing up, and so on).

As we head onwards toward the last two episodes of the season I'm calling it now: Walt's about to make his play and one of our principal characters aren't going to make it out alive.

So what did you think of the episode?

Breaking Bad is in its fifth and final season and airs Sunday nights at 8 ET on AMC.

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Peter MartinAugust 21, 2012 2:53 PM

Good review, Charles. Two things stood out for me: (1) In the dinner scene, when Walter is finally alone with Jesse, I think Walter was lying when he claimed that the meth business was all he had left. Yes, he wants to build his "empire," but he wants it all: he wants a fortune, he wants to be recognized as a genius, and he wants his family. And he's convinced he can have it all. (2) Mike is smart, and didn't want to leave Walt alone, but he was stuck: He needed to make that meeting to give himself enough time to make his deal with the Arizona kingpin, and he couldn't trust that Jesse wouldn't be won over by Walt. Mike's mistake was in not doing a better job of securing Walt.

Charles WebbAugust 21, 2012 3:01 PM

Thanks, Peter!

It still stuck out at me, though, that Mike wouldn't hogtie Walt or something more substantial: Walt's a wily one and there was no good reason not to put him in a trunk or something for the duration.

And interesting theory about the dinner table conversation. Personally, I think this is one of the rare times where Walt is doing a little real talk and I suspect he knows that he's not going to be able to get anything back of his old life.
Ben UmsteadAugust 21, 2012 9:24 PM

Solid stuff, Charles. I'm certainly of the same mind on much of the episode as you are. It's one of those "building bridges" episodes.

As for Mike, you could see that finally, finally after all the shit with Gus, then Lydia, the DEA, and now how Walt is, well the guy is getting tired, clearly; I could just see a certain exhaustion from him (not his typical annoyance and subtle surly gruff), way before he and Jesse approached Walt about walking. It made sense to me that he was in a bit of a bind, wasn't going to trust anyone to sit with Walt, and stumbled a bit in how he detained him.

Charles WebbAugust 21, 2012 9:52 PM

Thanks, Ben. Does it make me a bad potential drug kingpin if, as Mike, I would have just killed Walt outright and been all like, "Where's Walter? What happened to Walter?"

pointbrake101August 24, 2012 12:12 PM

First off, let me just say how much I have enjoyed watching Walter become the bad guy. Jesse is the hero here. He is starting to notice little by little that Walt is turning into everything that Jesse is against. I have a bold theory, this show is going to end with Jesse putting a bullet in Walter White's head. Just this season alone, we've had 2 moments from Jesse where he is just thinking, what the hell is wrong with this guy. When Walt was talking about Mexican henchman guy that Fring killed, Jesse had his first moment of "I think that Walter is not what I thought he was." Then there is the whistling after liquifying a pre-teen's body. Etc. Etc. I am calling it now, Jesse will find out about the Brock, and he will be the one to kill Mr. White.

pointbrake101August 24, 2012 12:16 PM

Oh and not to mention, he let the "Love" of Jesse's life choke and die on her own vomit...the question is, how would Jesse ever find out any of this. I don't know, but basically this show has had one theme. Walter is breaking apart his own family and killing off or hurting anyone that Jesse is connected to.

Charles WebbAugust 24, 2012 12:28 PM

I'm not even sure it's necessary for Jesse to find out about Brock--given Walter's current trajectory, I think it's a matter of Jesse finding out about the next horrible thing that Walt will inevitably do that will ultimately turn him against Mr. White.

The only thing that gives me pause about Jesse being the one to deliver the coup de grace: we've already seen the two of them at odds and as enemies last season, so I'm thinking it may be something else that does Walter in.
FrickenGeniusAugust 13, 2013 2:15 AM