'Breaking Bad': Making that feeling last
One of the true delights of "Breaking Bad" is the teaser -- that is, the scene that precedes the opening credits. There are no rules for it. Some days it's just an image or a series of images, no actors needed. Some days it's dialogue. Most often, it presents a question that the rest of the episode then proceeds to answer. But then sometimes it's just plain fun -- a narcocorrido music video, for example, or even a commercial for a fast-food chicken chain.
Well, Sunday's teaser becomes more interesting the more you think about it. In brief, it was Jesse's "perfect moment," that one moment when everything was right in his world and if he'd have died right then, well, that would have been OK. But what's interesting about Jesse's perfect moment is that unlike Walt's moment, which we saw last week, Jesse's may not have actually existed.
First, let's briefly remind ourselves: last week's teaser was a close-up of a fly as Skyler sang a lullaby in the background. Much later in the episode, that teaser was revealed to be Walt's moment, the one about which he lamented, "Oh, if I had just lived up to that moment, and not one second more. That would have been perfect." Instead he went out into the night and things spiraled crazily beyond his calculations.
This week, we opened with Jesse (Aaron Paul) and his dearly departed Jane (Krysten Ritter), presumably at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. And Jesse just couldn't understand why O'Keeffe painted so many doors. "Why not a door?" Jane reasoned in the car afterward. "Sometimes you get fixated on something and you might not even get why. You open yourself up and go with the flow, wherever the universe takes you. ... That door was her home and she loved it. To me, that's about making that feeling last."
Jesse then uttered a romantic line that dripped with cheese, and Jane granted him a kiss even while acknowledging the cheesiness. She then crushed out her cigarette in the ashtray of Jesse's car, the same lipstick-smeared cigarette Jesse fixated on last week. The whole thing was very sweet and a nice payoff. And, for the record, this episode was titled "Abiquiu," which is the name of the New Mexico town in which O'Keeffe lived and painted for much of her life. That door in Abiquiu was her home that she loved, according to Jane, and the same can now be said of how Jesse remembers Jane.
But upon further review, the whole teaser seems like it may have actually happened only in Jesse's mind. I say this because after watching the show I looked back to Season 2 and rediscovered an important line in the context of this teaser. In the episode titled "4 Days Out," in which Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse found themselves stranded out in the desert after the RV's battery died, at one point Jesse said, "Why couldn't I have just gone to Santa Fe?" Earlier, Jane had convinced him to take the trip there to see O'Keeffe's work. But before they left, Walt ordered him out to the desert to cook up more meth instead.
Two episodes later, once Jesse and Jane had begun using again, Jesse at one point tried to rouse a drug-addled Jane by suggesting that they make that trip up to Santa Fe. "Sure," she said, before loading more meth into a pipe. Not long after, she was gone.
And so while the flashback teaser has been introduced this season -- first with Tio and the young cousins, and then with last week's fly lullaby -- what we seem to have here is either a scene that Jesse merely imagined, a storyline continuity flub by the writers or, well, me just really over-thinking things.
Regardless, Jesse's imagination did end up taking him to some dark corners this week. Wanting to prey on recovering addicts in his therapy group, Jesse romances a girl named Andrea (played very well by Emily Rios) in an attempt to get her to buy his meth. "Just a little gas in the tank and suddenly ... everything is interesting," Jesse says of the blue stuff that's going around, before taking Jane's words from the teaser and using them on Andrea: "I wish I could make that feeling last." Jesse, though, soon discovers that she has a kid, which is when his conscience returns.
Still longing for some sort of familial connection, Jesse always softens up around the little ones. And so when Andrea asked if he was holding, he questioned her as a mother and so began a bit of a tiff. Once they made up, she told him about the boy her family once took in, who ends up being the boy on the bike who last season killed Combo in that shocking sequence -- which, by the way, happened to be another "Breaking Bad" teaser. I'll admit to being a little leery of the coincidence here. And yes, I realize TV shows act as their own little worlds where one must sometimes suspend disbelief, but every once in a while a TV world just seems a little too small, and this was one of those instances for me.
That being said, there was a real payoff to suspending disbelief here, because the closing sequence with Jesse returning to that same street corner did get the heart beating a little faster. And what do we make of Jesse's purchase, not to mention the look on his face as he quickly walked away? Was this guilt? Anger? Perhaps even a death wish?
The other question that had no definitive answer was the meaning behind Gus' statement, "Don't make the same mistake twice," when breaking bread with Walt. Was he talking about Jesse? It wasn't -- pardon the pun -- crystal. That whole dinner scene -- the music, the knife, the suspicion -- was excellent, but then again, we have yet to see a scene between Walt and Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) that isn't superb.
Meanwhile, Hank (Dean Norris) wants no part of going home until he's able to walk again, and from the looks of it that means he might not be home for a while. His injuries, his pride and certainly his imperfect insurance plan continue to give Walt a very good excuse to keep cooking for a long, long time (nice job, writers' room).
And how about Skyler (Anna Gunn) continuing to throw her weight around in all of these illegalities? She wants to help Walt take over the old car wash in order to help launder the drug money, and she admitted to never turning in the divorce papers because a wife can't be forced to testify against her husband -- "so there's that."
As Walter's eyes continue to try to find her love again, Skyler just gets more and more interesting as she continues to look the other way.
-- Josh Gajewski
Photo: Skyler White (Anna Gunn) continued to get more involved in her husband's illegal activity during Sunday's "Breaking Bad." Credit: AMC.
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