'Breaking Bad': The after math
"I hide in plain sight, just as you."
Gus Fring just has a way about him. He speaks softly, eloquently, succinctly. His face is generally void of expression, as are his clothes and even his car (the guy drives a Volvo). His dark eyes are always blinking behind those thin-framed glasses, but those eyes seem to see everything. And in these simple ways, Gus Fring is infinitely interesting.
Played always with wonderful restraint by Giancarlo Esposito, Gus is the embodiment of phrases such as "less is more" and "beware the quiet ones" -- phrases that could also describe this latest episode of "Breaking Bad." Titled "I See You," we spent most of the hour in the hospital, awaiting word on the critically injured Hank (Dean Norris) as well as the fallen assassin (Daniel Moncada) who helped put him there. As such, the quieter episode was mostly a breather, a come-down of sorts, from last week's wrenching "One Minute." But then the food arrived.
"Hey, you like Pollos Hermanos?" Gomez asked Walt.
"Uh, on occasion," he answered. Time to eat. ...
"Men like your husband are the thin blue line between us and these animals. I only wish I could do more." Gus' words, said to Hank's wife, Marie (Betsy Brandt). The owner of Pollos Hermanos had come to deliver his chicken and his sympathies, along with a $10,000 reward for any information about Hank's case. Gus, of course, was the animal in the room. Well, one of them at least -- Walt (Bryan Cranston) sat nearby, listening mainly, squirming internally. He was doing the math.
"You knew," Walt later said to Gus when they reached relative privacy. "You knew my brother-in-law was with the DEA."
"I investigate everyone with whom I do business."
"He is not a problem for us, for our business. ... Being here, is this some sort of message? ... This attack on my brother-in-law, I don't understand it, I don't know what it means. Please, if you have some knowledge that you can share with me. ... I fear for my family."
"I'm sure they'll be fine," Gus assured. "I'm told the assassin that survived is gravely injured. It's doubtful he'll live. Now, thank me and shake my hand."
And with that, these two men who both blend into walls, who "hide in plain sight," as Gus so eloquently said, shook hands amid the police officers and looked into each other's bespectacled eyes. The two of them, they're always looking, pondering, measuring, and it's that unspoken action bubbling beneath that always plays so well in scenes such as these; note the few extra seconds the camera spent on Walt's pondering face as Gus walked away from him.
Immediately thereafter we were in the hospital room of the flat-lining assassin, and then a few minutes later we ended in Hank's room, the heart monitor beeping slowly but steadily as we cut to black, beep-beep-beep. Both of those bedside scenes extended that key "Breaking Bad" element of unspoken emotion, the faces of Gomez, Walt, Walter Jr., Skyler and Marie telling us all we needed to know. Hank's face was the only one we didn't see, in fact, the camera glimpsing only the top of his bald head as Marie came down to kiss it. This was either a creative way to give Dean Norris a day off or a nice touch of visual storytelling, as we didn't need to see Hank; the story was in the eyes of everyone around him.
-- The hand of Gus, the master puppeteer, reached down even to Mexico, where Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda) was also conveniently extinguished. But the threat doesn't end there. Before Juan met his doom, he told Gus by phone that he, too, has connections: "My brother is police chief," he said. "When I get proof and the others find out what you've done, maybe we come pay you a visit."
-- Before he died, how disturbing was that scene in which the assassin crawled out of his bed, his two amputated legs trailing blood on the linoleum floor? For me, that ranked right up there with some of the most unsettling scenes of the series' history (dissolved body, anyone?).
-- On a lighter note, Jesse (Aaron Paul) found himself back at the lab, waiting for his partner, filling up his time by filling up his lab suit. Yes, filling it. With air. For fun. Everything with Jesse was a funny reprieve from the seriousness of the hospital, especially when Gus' underling walked in on the air-suit stunt, prompting a quick little jig from Jesse in order to let the air out. The whole thing was completely ridiculous in a very funny way.
-- Speaking of lab assistants, it's a testament to actor David Costabile, I think, that I'm so sad to see him gone. Of course, he may yet factor into the story -- especially now that he's seen Jesse with his own eyes and knows something is seriously amiss. In one of the most awkward bromance breakups in television history, Walt had no good answer for his sudden change of heart. "I'm classical, but you are more jazz," Walt attempted to reason at one point, and will someone please put that on a T-shirt for me, possibly alongside the faces of these two men? "I require classical," Walt said. Burn.
-- And before turning it over to your comments, it must also be said that one of the more interesting moments of the episode came when Skyler defended Walt to Marie. Yes, defended him. Even with all that she knows. "Do you ever think about everything you have put him through?" Marie said, not even knowing the full extent of his connection with Jesse; it's a little more than a little pot. "Marie, stop," Skyler said. "Don't blame Walt, it's not his fault," even though it pretty much was. Still, Skyler's sympathy had its limits. "Do you know who that was?" Walt later said to Skyler, getting off the hospital phone. She grinned and walked away from him, not even allowing him the chance to lie to her once more. Take that, smart guy.
-- To that end, I'd also like to say that the entire supporting cast around Bryan Cranston has just been stellar this season. With two Emmys already in his pocket, Cranston's brilliance is of course no longer a secret. But Anna Gunn deserves a long look from Emmy voters this season, while Aaron Paul, nominated for his fine work last year, has only gotten better.
-- Josh Gajewski
Photo: Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) talks to Walt on the phone during Sunday's episode of "Breaking Bad." Credit: AMC
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