There are television shows for which episode names are an inconsequential necessity, and others for which they are a way to exercise one's mastery of puns. And then there's "Breaking Bad," whose episode last night titled "Open House" was about literal openness and figurative irony - last night was all about deception. I'll begin with the latter, and focus first on the main offender Marie. If anyone had doubts that this was essentially a Marie-centric episode, let me direct you to the overwhelming amount of purple that permeated her every scene (even Walt wore purple in his scenes!): her pants, a painting, a realtor's shirt, her own shirts (three in fact), her grocery bags, the sheets, the dish cloths and her kitchen appliances. Purple people-eater alert!
The women ruled "Open House," with Skyler's incredible wit and resourcefulness coming into full bloom as she nearly single-handedly schemed to bring down Bogdan ("Saul did a little something … throw the guy a bone!" Walt says, laughing). My friend Martha, with whom I watch the episodes, commented "I do believe Skyler is going to be the brains of the operation." All too right. Walt still is only thinking about and caring about himself. In the (fantastic) meeting with Saul, Walt doesn't care what kind of business they buy, and doesn't support Skyler until she lets slip that Bogdan said something about Walt. "What do you mean he said something rude about me?!" he demands, immediately latching on to Bogdan's carwash as "the one we have to get" as soon as Skyler repeats Bogdan's words. Knowing Walt as she does, I'm surprised she didn't let that loose before - the most sure fire way to get Walt to do anything is to attack his ego and pride (see: "Walt angrily flips off the security camera, Act I").
And then there's Jesse. Oh woe is Jesse. Both of the "Open House" themes came into play with him last night. His home has literally become open as a scummy hell hole for the local drug trash to camp, fight, fornicate, steal and light up, much to Jesse's misplaced relief. He jams to the chaos, and his trick of throwing money into the air and watching, dead-eyed, as the fiends scramble and fight for it was stomach-turning. Jesse is also deceiving himself that he can, in any way, deal with what he's feeling by himself. He hasn't ever dealt with anything - not Gale, not Jane's death, not disposing of two bodies via acid, his drug abuse, living in fear of death every day. Yeah, it's a lot to handle. I hate seeing Jesse lost at sea, and am not sure what will happen (or who it will be) to bring him back.
One final note before I launch into some of the great smaller moments of the show below: the editing this week was superb. Yes, editing. You know, the award category we forget because they finish it up before the telecast starts? Last night it was phenomenal. Not only were the song choices and cuts perfection (the realtor beginning to rage as she looks at the missing spoon spot, then jumping to a red-eyed Jesse flying around the go-kart track? Brilliant). The cuts between Skyler and the surrogate (anyone else gets flashes back to "Arrested Development"?) were so perfect there was not even the slightest pause between her giving the directions and him repeating them. Even touches like zooming in on the bubbles going down the drain as Skyler calls Saul, and then raising the camera up from the ground level outside of Bogdan's carwash … these are the sort of things that set a show like "Breaking Bad" apart from almost any other television out there today - it makes story about a former high school teacher who manufactures meth into art without glorifying a single thing about the drug trade.
Next Week: Skyler works to get their cover-story straight while Mike discusses someone's reckless behavior with Gus (Walt? Jesse?). The investigation into Gale's death heats up, and Walt may finally get to use his gun.
Musings and Miscellany:
- I think being a speech surrogate would be a terrible and confusing job.
- Gale's ghost comes a haunting! And not just with the coffee machine - I just love the lightning bolt cover of the Lab Notes, it's so Gale. Only he would put something so dorky as the cover to the manual for a large-scale meth operation.
- The "wait four rings! Four rings!" scene with Walt and Skyler was hilarious and true (for anyone who has tried to appear nonchalant via phone pickups). I love their new relationship - there's still affection there, and the way they play off of each other (like during the champagne scene or in regards to Walt's black eye) is so perfectly, well, marital.
- As noted early, each character arc in "Open House" got a literal open house moment - for Walt and Skyler it was two subtle moments: Skyler fighting to enter Walt's apartment and then again when Saul let his lackey in to use the toilet (he leaves the front door open, inexplicably).
- Saul: "What about terrorism? Just say 'Oh Mr Hoover! I think I've seen some Islamics coming and going, in turbins, in vans over there!'" Walt: "Saul, Bogdan is Romanian." Saul: "Well, whatever … we're just spitballing here."
- I can never get enough Saul scenes, and this week Bob Odenkirk was in full theatrical mode.
- Why would Marie steal a photo of strangers?
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