Confrontations and Alliances: Breaking Bad 05×10 ‘Buried’ Review

A family is torn apart as battle lines are drawn

You have to get him

After the speculator Walt vs. Hank garage scene last week I would not have been too surprised if Breaking Bad waited a few more episodes for further confrontations between the core characters. I thought maybe it would take a breather.

I was wrong of course because this is Breaking Bad with only 7 episodes left; this is a show that isn’t messing around when it comes to the final act of its tale.

So we got Skyler vs. Hank which all started out pretty calmly and exploded rather rapidly, partly because Hank had misread the situation entirely, partly because Skyler is in shock and trying to process what it means now that Hank knows the truth.

If Hank had discovered the truth about Walter a season or so back then the meeting in the diner could have gone differently but a lot has changed and even if Skyler doesn’t know the full extent of what her husband has done (and probably doesn’t want to) she has become a lot more involved in the business. She knows she could easily go to jail; she isn’t the complete innocent that Hank initially assumes. Of course Hank would assume that because he genuinely does care for his family, his immediate demand to Walter last week was that the children be sent to his house. Hank cares for Skyler but he is also motivated by revenge and guided by panic.  He comes on just a little bit too strong in the diner scene and little too eager to get Skyler to tell him everything but his world has been turned upside down and I think a part of him just wants someone else to talk to about it – the other part wants to destroy Walter White as quickly as possible.

This though sets of Skyler’s survival instinct. I don’t think she really cares too much about Walter’s long term future but she knows his fate will be linked to what happens to her family and so she attempts to keep her husband out of trouble and let her family live another day.  Also there has to be a part of Skyler that is still somewhat terrified of Walter, he did after all emotional abuse and threaten her for the best part of a year – Hank may want to keep her safe but I doubt Skyler is convinced that even the DEA could win against Heisenberg.

Whilst I’ve dreamed of Skyler and Hank teaming up and taking down Walter for quite some time, looking at it now I can see why that now seems unlikely but I can’t say I’m disappointed not when their chat ends with Skyler screaming “Am I under arrest??”

Then of course just as Skyler is recovering from her meeting with Hank she has to face her own kin in the form a slap and a living room custody battle. I’ve thought of many likely scenarios that Breaking Bad would have to face in these last episodes but Marie’s reaction to everything was never really one of them. So the Marie vs. Skyler confrontation wasn’t something I really thought about too much but boy was that was really something.

Much like the earlier scene with Hank, Skyler doesn’t really say a lot and again it starts calmly with Marie comforting her sister. It’s only when Marie realises just how long Skyler has known and how much damage Walter’s actions have done to Hank that she flips. The slap is brutal but it’s nothing compared to the tug of war between Skyler, Marie and baby Holly. Holly screaming as Skyler faces a mother’s worst nightmare of a child being taken away makes for a very uncomfortable and upsetting struggle between the two sisters.  In many ways you can completely see where Marie is coming from, of course she wants to take her niece to safety and of course she is furious at her sister for everything that has happened. At the same time though Skyler has been through a hell of a lot and seeing her desperately trying to hold onto her daughter is heart wrenching.  Hank steps in and defuses the situation but the damage is done, I can’t imagine seeing the sisters share a meal or a joke ever again.

This is when the alliances form. Marie is disgusted by everything and is now as determined as her husband is to make sure Walter pays for what he has done.  Skyler meanwhile in possibly the most touching scene between the Whites in a very long time promises she won’t give Walter up. She buys him and the show more time – yes these episodes are rushing along without a care in a world but Walter being handcuffed and put in DEA custody two episodes in would have been just a bit too soon, by the end of next week? Perhaps but I’m starting to think he might not end up arrested at all, that any kind of justice that Walter White gets served will not be the legal kind.

Yet the family meltdown currently happening with the Schraders and Whites is only one side of the brewing war. As mentioned last week as much as Walter might like to think he is out of the business that business still exists and there is definitely a building sense of dread surrounding Lydia and company.  In ‘Buried’ we see Lydia terminate her partnership with Declan in a very efficient and brutal way (I think Heisenberg would be proud) and team up with Todd and Uncle Jack. Now Todd is a very strange character in many ways, he existed in S5a as muscle for Walter, Mike and Jesse and then became a useful resource with his Uncle mob connections. Todd can be impossibly polite at times but you know also a child murderer – an unknown danger that could be serious threat.

Even as the main story moves from that of cooking of meth to the consequences of being found out, there is still a story to be told about the cost of deciding to give up your empire. Walter White and by extension his family might will be causalities in whatever Lydia and Uncle Jack have planned. Lydia may come across as nervous and uptight but she has no qualms about issuing assassination orders and Uncle Jack well he just seems like the sort to enjoy a bloodbath for the sake of one. Beware Walter White, beware.

As the episode closed another alliance could well be in the works though a lot of bad blood and previous acts of violence would have to be forgiven for it to be truly successful. The thought of Jesse and Hank taking down Walter has been on my wishlist for sometime but will it fail from the start like Hank and Skyler or has Jesse finally reached such a point of desperation that he could turn on his once beloved Mr White?  It really is hard to tell because Jesse is in a near catatonic state right now. It’s clear that he wants to do some good with his Robin Hood act but is he brave enough to truly doing the right thing and give up Walter? And would he want to have an ally in the form of Hank?  For Hank it’s an opportunity, a glimmer of hope that he can help bring Walter in before his career is in tatters but Jesse lacks any real motivation right now because the depression has taken hold and he has nothing to live for.  Once again it could be easy for Hank to misread the situation because like with Skyler he doesn’t have the full story, he doesn’t know the terrible acts Walter has committed against Jesse.

We have to wait until next week for the outcome but whilst Hank may not be able to get Jesse to help him straight away I definitely think Pinkman has a huge part to play in any downfall of Walter White. That is one confrontation that could destroy them both.

Further thoughts

+ Is Walter White redeemable at this point? I say absolutely not but is he finally feeling regret and sorrow at everything he has done? Looks like it. Maybe it’s the cancer speaking, the fact that even with his monster sized ego he must realise the end is nigh but Walter certainly seemed full of regrets in his talk with Skyler.

+ Walter even admitted to screwing up! Blimey. But then is he making the same mistake yet again by showing off just how clever he is with the lottery/GPS numbers in plain sight? He can’t seem to help himself.

+ Huell and Kuby with the big pile of money was truly wonderful. Can they please meet up with Skinny Pete and Badger?

+ Where is Walt, Jr? Now the obvious answer is school but I’ve been reading too many Breaking Bad theories on various sites and I’m starting to believe the one about Walt, Jr getting hooked on meth with his friend Louis. Please be safe Flynn.

+ Michelle MacLaren directed this episode which is why the cinematography is more beautiful than ever – I mean just look at the scenes when Walter buries the money absolutely gorgeous.

+ More than words: Skyler hardy says anything in her meetings with Marie and Hank but Anna Gunn says it all with her eyes and body movements. Jesse meanwhile only has two brief scenes and is silent in both, again Aaron Paul’s portrayal of depression continues to impress.

+ Death Count:  So far all of the main characters are safe which is making me increasingly nervous as you know the bodies will start dropping soon. Declan and company though are goners, bye bye we hardly knew you but we know you did not care about the quality of your product.

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