Breaking Bad recap: The Empire Business

Jesse and Mike want to take the business in a certain direction, and Walt disagrees. This leads to a frank exchange of ideas
Ep. 06 | Aired Aug 19, 2012

COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER Walter missed out on one chance to make a billion dollars. He's not likely to pass that up again. Little does he realize that the Billionaire Adventurer's Club has a specific rule in their charter which clearly states, "No Meth-Lab Billionaires." (The rule says "Billionaires," plural, so they're allowed to have one -- which is why Richard Branson is a member.)

Ursula Coyote

By now, we are all familiar with the Breaking Bad disposal method. Take something you don't want people to find: A body, usually. Stuff it into a plastic barrel. (Plastic = mandatory.) Pour in gallon or fifteen of hydrofluoric acid. Stir it all up into a nice blood soup. It's a familiar dance, at this point, with the basic rhythms dating all the way back to the show's second episode. The sixth episode of Breaking Bad's fifth season opened with a disposal scene. There was no expository dialogue, no sound at all. Walt, Jesse, and Todd arrived back at Heisenberg HQ. They fished a kid-sized motorbike out of the dirt patch in their truck. They slowly disassembled the bike: Wheels, gears, screws. Then Todd went back to the truck and dug into the dirt patch. He found a tiny little dead hand. One more body turned to stew. Afterwards, Todd walked up to Jesse and lit up a cigarette. "Say," he said, "You guys didn't tell me this stuff smells like cat-piss!" Jesse, in a thoughtful mood, punched Todd in his fat Landry face.

Todd tried to make his case to the Dome-Headed Trio. "I didn't see any other way," he said. "I saw a threat and took care of it." Something in Todd's diction made him sound almost ex-military, and you could tell that Walt had a certain respect for his decision. Todd didn't react without thinking; he reacted with brutal logic, and Walt respects logic. (To a certain extent, Breaking Bad could be looked at as the story of Walt's evolution from Normal Spock to Mirror Mirror Spock. In this metaphor, Jesse is Captain Kirk, Skyler is Dr. McCoy, and Junior is, I dunno, Nurse Chapel.) I also loved Todd's exit line: Explaining that he wanted to be involved with the team, he said, "I'm motivated, and I've got connections." He almost sounded like a man walking out of a job interview, or like a drummer who'd really love to join the cool kids' garage band. Jesse was having none of it. When Todd was gone, he called him "Ricky Hitler."

But Walter reduced the problem to three possible choices: Fire Todd and continually pay him for his silence; Fire Todd and break out the hydrofluoric acid; or keep the baby-killer on the payroll and demote him back to pest control. Mike and Walt voted for option C, although Mike volunteered to give Todd a stern talking-to. You see, Todd is really just an employee who acted out of turn, and the first rule of management is to open up a meaningful dialogue with employees who make mistakes. So Mike meaningfully told Todd, "Next time you bring a gun without telling me, I will stick it up your ass. Sideways." Todd walked out to his car and pulled out the little boy's captured tarantula, regarding it with awe, as if he knew it symbolized something but just wasn't sure what.

Meanwhile, Skyler was visiting her beloved children at her sister's house. Marie was happy to play Cool Aunt Surrogate Mom. Marie joked, "I could just keep Holly here forever!" It was really interesting, because when she said that, a dog suddenly poked its head through the window and did this:

Marie could tell that there was something on Skyler's mind. Call it a sixth sense. Or maybe it was because Skyler couldn't seem to start crying. Really, Skyler looked like a wreck. Marie begged her to open up. She promised to keep a secret. Skyler looked right on the cusp of telling her everything. It would have been so easy. But Skyler is still loyal, or maybe scared of being punished for own role in Walt's enterprise; maybe she just doesn't want her sister to despise her. Regardless, Marie changed the whole course of the conversation. She said Skyler had to forgive herself for Ted Beneke, that chisel-faced silver fox. "So, Walt told you," said Skyler. Let's give props to Anna Gunn here: I loved the subtle shift in Skyler's face, from aimless melancholy to outright rage. It was like she suddenly remembered how much she hated the foul creature that used to be her husband.

NEXT PAGE: A serious business decision

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