Barbed King: Some Thoughts on Breaking Bad 5.9

Pretty sweet return for Walt and company. I’ve been around the internet in the last day or so and it doesn’t seem like anyone was disappointed by the episode, despite all the hype – it’s just one of those shows that won’t let up. Ironically, Breaking Bad is the reason I could never make it as a full time television blogger, cause it’s so much better than anything else I’ve seen that I’ve lost some interest in consuming a whole palette of TV. Kinda like if I were the Bachelor being courted by a bunch of my high school crushes and Jessica Alba, I just wouldn’t be able to form the meaningful relationships with all the deserving people because one just stands so far out. Anyway, there are enough recaps online for anyone who wants plot summary, so I figured I’d just give some random thoughts and make a trivial prediction.


Some things are just better discovered on toilets.

#1. Trackers have a terrible track record

There are a bunch of examples of bugs and trackers not doing their job throughout the last couple seasons. In 4.8, “Hermanos,” we see the first bug, that Hank and Walt use to try to get Gus. This immediately backfires when Walt tells Gus it’s there and he simply removes it from his car every time he wants to go somewhere shady. In the next episode, Walt bugs Jesse’s car which Jesse doesn’t discover, but Walt ends up beaten and bloodied after confronting him. At the end of season 4, Walt places an ultimate bug under Gus’s car, a fucking bomb, which Gus somehow manages to avoid (once but not twice). In season 5, Hank’s folks attempt to place a tracker on a barrel of methylamine, but Lydia discovers it before anything bad happens. Which brings us to last episode, where Walt discovers Hank’s bug on his own car and uses it ultimately to confront Hank in a scene some have described as “intense.”

I’m not sure what the point of ineffective bugs is when it comes to the overall storyline, but I’d say it shows how Walt is just way better than everyone else at cat-and-mouse. Via bugs, discovering bugs, and even the threat of bugs, Walt is able to take advantage of Hank, Jesse and Gus, ultimately killing the latter with a certain something under a certain wheelchair. If these trackers are meant to represent who’s onto who and who has maximum information, it’s hard not to see Walt as the runaway winner when it comes to subversive tactics.

#2: Is Badger’s Star Trek Monologue Worth Anything?

Gilligan went a little overboard in allowing four minutes of screen time to this dude’s blazed ramblings, but I guess the scene ended up being a fan favorite. Badger’s talking about this pie eating contest where Chekov is able to eat infinite pie because Scotty beams the pies from his stomach out into space. Just the kind of story that calls for some half-baked high-school-English-class caliber analysis and speculation.

So let’s see: I think we actually see this “pie ejection” later in the episode when Jesse is throwing all his money into random yards. This would make Jesse Chekov in Badger’s Trek parallel, who is on track to win the pie-eating contest until his partner slips up on the controls, ultimately “launching Chekov’s guts into space!” I guess if we saw it through, this would involve Jesse doing the right thing, and Walt fucking him over and getting him killed. I’m not convinced – I feel like Walt is going to sacrifice himself to save Jesse at the end but that’s not really based on much either.

#3. This is the most Gus-like we’ve seen Walt


I’ve seen this theme all over the internet about how Walt takes a quality from everyone he kills throughout the show. It’s got a couple holes, but he eats sandwiches sans-crust after killing Crazy 8, he tells Lydia to ‘take yes for an answer’ in 5.8 after hearing that phrase from Mike earlier, and some other trivialities like ordering his whiskey on the rocks after Mike dies. I don’t love this theory because there’s no evidence to account for what he takes from Jane, Gale, Tuco (none of whom Walt directly kills but all of whom can be traced back to Walt pretty easily). So there’s some confirmation bias and convenient neglect of data that spurs this idea on.

In this episode, though, we clearly see how much of Gus Walt has taken on, from the way he talks to Lydia at the car wash (hiding in plain sight, much like the way Gus used to talk to him at Pollos) to finding a mat to rest his knees on as he’s about to puke, like Gus did in that reallllly good scene in Mexico. The biggest parallel I saw between W&G here, however, was Walt’s absurd intuition that his car was unsafe with what seemed like not even close to enough information. The fact that his Whitman book was missing somehow tips him off that his car might be bugged just like Jesse’s reaction to Gus about Brock gets Gus to avoid his car on suspicion of a bomb. Though I’m not sure how I feel about how realistic that writing is, we’re meant to see how good at the drug game Walt has become by rising above his adversaries. It’s kinda like in Goldeneye when you get your opponent’s weapons when you kill them, or in Scrabble where you get points for your opponent’s tiles if you go out first.

Random Prediction of the Week: I’ll give some credit to my brother for this one cause we talked about it last night. I’m saying that Todd is not totally responsible for the poor 68 percent purity Lydia alludes to. We’re made to think that Walt left his operation in the hands of Todd, but it’s hard to imagine, given what we know about Todd and his consummate criminal professionalism, that he would do this bad a job at taking over the cook. In Mexico, Jesse is able to break 90 percent purity and this dude couldn’t even pass chem in high school. Either 68 percent was referring to something else or Lydia was just trying to be manipulative to get Walt back in the game, but it’s just not like Todd to fuck up that bad. See you next week.


4 thoughts on “Barbed King: Some Thoughts on Breaking Bad 5.9

  1. Awesome approach, and some pretty compelling predictions and parallels drawn here. I really like the narrative significance you were able to derive from what initially seemed like an unnecessary rant by Badger.

    Very good stuff. I hope to read more!

  2. Pingback: D-bag Break-in: Thoughts on Marie, Jesse, and unsuspecting badassery in 5.10 | Tube Top Television

  3. Pingback: Which Stage Of Walter White's Transformation Are You | Sharing Interesting Stuff, Updates News & Free Tips

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