If it's crap ... We'll tell you
We're Broken Badly
Season 5, Episode 3 "Hazard Play"
One of the greatest things Breaking Bad pulls off are the reveals. Fring has everyone's blood type and medical history, Walt poisoned Andrea's son, and after Sunday's episode Mike is the coolest fake paralegal in the world. We open up with Mike's character in his continued expansion talking with Dennis, the old manager at Gustavo's laundry front. In "Madrigal" we learned that Mike has connections with the majority of Madrigal employees and in teaser for "Hazard Pay" we learn he has a duty to them as well. Now that Gus is dethroned Mike is filling in, keeping his former co-workers in check and taking care of them. It's apparent that him and Dennis have a past together, and fulfilling his "tough love" persona through both straightening out Dennis while assuring him his bills will be payed all over the quiet hard-rock sounds from a seemingly simple lawyer's iPod. It was a fairly brief scene but certainly a great one for Mike as a relatable figure. After seeing his perfect balance of professionalism and loyalty over the series, one almost feels an obligation to be on his team.
This episode wasn't quite as quirky as "Live Free..." but not as serious as "Madrigal" either. There was a great balance here, in addition to some classic BrBa underlying dramatic themes. This was displayed perfectly in the plot A storyline of getting the band back together. Last time Walt and Jesse were producing Blue Sky is was in a superlab under the stern guise of Fring and his associates. In season 5 there's no RV, no tough decision-making, and no following orders. It's time for Walt and Jesse to play boss and there's no two ways about it in Walt's mind. From the moment he tell Odenkirk's character to grow a pair it's more than evident Jesse Jame's killer thinks he's Jesse James. It was truly a nice switch to see Saul going from having Huell on heavy duty nap-guard to seeing that the fourth amigo is much more logical and safe that Walter, a fellow voice of reason. And while Mike is laying down his law you can see it eating up Walt from the expression on Cranston's face. All of us, including Saul were surprised Walt was calm and cooperative, that is until we heard him give the chilling line "He handles the business, and I handle him." Can anyone really "handle" the likes of Mike, Walt? Their relationship seems to be going south despite Mike agreeing to work with them. As both of them see it in different ways, there's only room for one sheriff in town.
The numerous scenes of the four amigos "house hunting" was endlessly entertaining. The overarching humorous tone made it feel like a ensemble montage from a sitcom, while the details holding down this criminal activity brought an uncanny grittiness to the situation. Despite Saul's blessings the crew had to reject Danny's laser hub and the food plant. This episode's writer Peter Gould, did a great job of showing how much smarter Jesse is getting- while still leaving plenty of room for all of his tortilla loving traits. Logistics are what gets in the way, even seemingly for the Vamanos Pest venue, but low and behold the master fly-killer himself finds it to be the perfect cook-spot. On paper Walt's idea is equally creative as it is genius. (Though I can't help but wonder the house-to-house element has to have some negative product, besides the illegal substances that is.) All in all the whole team seems to agree it's a pretty solid plan, no vote is needed. Walt and Jesse playfully take delight in their "Yes, sir/No, sir." position over the Vamanos crew, though this surely takes a darker turn for Walt throughout this episode. Vince and crew are definitely setting something up with Plemon's new character "Todd". He's trying to get connections where and when he can find them, time will tell how Walt will react to this. Lastly after getting Badger the Great and Piano Pete to assist as much as they can and want to (it was only a few months ago when these guys where stoner buddies, after all), we get one of the series best cook scenes yet.Then the climax of this arc does what this how does so well, and anytime an epic Walt/Jesse side-by-side shot is introduced the chefs are in the kitchen. The direction and visuals were sultry and dangerous, sexy and sinister. Steamy in that kind of "is mom going to pop around the corner on this scene?" kind of way. It's Bad to be be back.
Halfway of watching this one yesterday I thought to myself, "This is Gunn's year." From the moment she walks into the White's bedroom after Walt moves back in on his own accounts Anna takes Skyler's character to a new place. She's terrified but making baby steps towards doing something. She's out of the bed and facing the monster, it will only be a matter of time before the strong sides of Skyler come out. Her feelings on this terrible domestic situation are brought to life in the car-wash scene with her lovely sister. This was the funniest and most beautifully consistent I've ever seen Marie. Her analyzation on the ethnic washer's work ethic had me on the floor and showing she's a detail oriented control-freak like more than one character in this series. Skyler, on the other hand doesn't find any of her behavior very amusing this particular day in what leads to breakdown which beats out the "Bit by a Dead Bee" "Walt's missing"/I stole the tiara" moment of truth. Skyler's meltdown was very natural and showed one of the many lives Walt continues to screw up this episode. Skyler's character is going somewhere before these eight episodes close. I dread it will have to do with her unprofessional smoking habit and the ricin, or she may spill from all the pressure when we look at her face over the classic bullet effects from the White's Scarface night.
A lot of this episode was exposition, and as amazing as it was executed I think the most prominent scenes involved Walt and Jesse's thought processes and relationship. Walt might still be riding in the backseat like in the Pilot, but that doesn't mean he's in the same place. Moments in "Hazard Pay" I really thought some good parts of Walter are coming back. I was hopeful when I heard his box factory story and watching him congratulate Jesse like a best friend giving girl advice at summer camp. Both of these later showed that Walt is really only focused on his business and if that business can fuel his hubris. I am really starting to believe that Walt enjoys lying and pinning things on others, especially after watching him tell this horrible lie on Skyler. It's simply terrible to see Walt ruining the good thing he recognized Jesse had going. Andrea sweeter than ever, poor Brock recovering from his ailment and Walt looks at this, ignores his part in it, and seeks to destroy it to better himself. It's all even worse seeing Jesse more faithful to Walt then ever, almost oblivious to any manipulation or slandering of the DBAA policy. It's a great continuation of the role reversal for Jesse, having him cause very relatively no conflict in this episode while Marie is sent home distraught, his wife is more than horrified and a Mario Kart loving budding family is torn apart. Mike sticking to his guns par usual takes some cash away from Walt, and this may have just ignited the time-bomb further. It turns out WW isn't really here at all, as seeing the last three minutes of the episode. And when he utters those words,"Maybe he flew too close to the sun; got his throat cut." Someone made a mistake, and they're about to pay.
Another near 10/10 in my humble methdead opinion. Can't wait to see what's going to happen to Mike/Todd/Jeese? after that comment Walt made. It's going to be great to see Hank and Skyler dig deeper into the plot as well. What did you all think of "Hazard Pay"? Thanks for reading, see you for the next cook!