Breaking Bad Recap, 5×13: “To’hajiilee”
THINGS ARE HAPPENING
A little bit of trivia for you before I start this week’s recap — “To’hajiilee” is the name of a Native American reservation near Albuquerque that’s home to members of the Navajo nation and which features prominently as a location in many Breaking Bad episodes, particularly where Walt and Jesse cooked first for the first time and where Walt’s now hiding his money. Its name is interpreted as “Bringing Up Water From a Natural Well.”
Todd and associates are cooking meth with Lydia — you can tell it’s Lydia under the gas mask because she’s wearing a deep blue trench coat and looks very concerned about everything. She’s also the only one other than Todd who actually gives a crap about the safety protocols, because Todd’s uncle has no problem yanking his own gas mask off to look at the product. It’s 76% pure, we learn from Todd’s testing (by contrast, Walt’s was at 99% during the height of his reign), which is better than it had been under Declan. But it’s also not blue, and Lydia’s not happy about that. The uncles suggest that it might be blue under certain lighting or that they could just fix it with food coloring, but it’s a half-assed explanation at best.
Notice that Todd’s gloves are the exact same color as Lydia’s coat? That has to mean something.
Speaking of which, Todd’s obviously got some kind of an older-lady-crush on Lydia, as later he brings her tea and appears really keen on making it exactly the way she asks. She’s clearly leaning into the crush here in a really creepy maternal way. She thinks he has a lot of potential and appreciates all that he’s doing her her, but her buyers “expect a certain threshold… a continuity.”
As Lydia walks away, Todd continues to harbor his crush, gently tracing the lipstick print she made on his mug (it’s sort of red — an omen, maybe?). Then his phone rings with basically the greatest ringtone ever (“SCIENCE!”), and it’s Walt. It’s official. He wants Jesse dead.
We come back to Hank after the commercial break. He’s pacing under a bypass, highlighted by the blue of the sky — an interesting juxtaposition against the very not-blue meth we were treated to in the last scene.
Gomez drives up and sees Jesse waiting in the car; he wants to know why they’re risking everything to try out “Timmy Dipshit’s” plan. Aw, Gomez! Jesse maintains that they need to hit Walter where he’s really weakest — where his money is. Trouble is, they don’t know where it might be. They do know, however , that Saul Goodman and his henchmen will probably have a pretty good idea. So Gomez and Hank put together a plan — which Hank is explaining to Jesse while he throws a pile of meat on his kitchen floor. Meat that looks a lot like brains, actually. Are they planning what I think they’re planning?
Hank arrives at a safehouse where oh, look! It’s Huell waiting for him. Huell has no idea what he’s doing here, so Hank
lies explains: Walt has ordered a hit on him to tie up all the loose ends and keep his money secret and safe. Bill Burr’s already gone missing, Hank says, and he figures that after Saul gives Huell up, he’ll be next too. Huell is skeptical right up until Hank shows him a picture on his cellphone — it’s Jesse, lying in a puddle of brainmeats with his mouth open and eyes vacant. Yep, they were totally planning what I thought they were planning.
The ruse works — Huell is freaked and tells Hank everything he knows about the rental van full of money barrels that Walt took out into the desert with a shovel. He also says that the van was covered in muck and dust when Walt came back. Hank puts two and two together and thanks Huell for his time, but also tells him not to make any calls or leave the safehouse because he might get killed. Interesting way to keep somebody silent, but if Huell was freaked enough to spill the beans, he’s probably not going to risk calling Saul.
Now we’re with Walt again as he explains the situation to Todd and crew. Walt still seems very unwilling to talk about the details — presumably he just wants Jesse to vanish in a puff of smoke or something, but clearly that’s not going to happen. Jack happens to call it “rat patrol” and Walt gets upset. “Rat patrol? No, he’s not a rat. He’s just… He just won’t listen to reason. He’s angry. He’s not a rat.” He just wants it to be done quickly and painlessly without Jesse knowing what’s happening.
However, Jack’s not satisfied with money this time. He wants Walt to cook for them again so that they can get Todd’s abilities up to snuff (Todd, by the way, is the only person in the scene who’s bathed in red light — definitely a bad omen). Walt reluctantly agrees to one more cook, and says he knows how to flush Jesse out.
There’s another break and we cut to NO FUCK
It’s Brock. It’s fucking Brock eating cereal and being adorable and god damn it Walter you son of a bitch.
The doorbell rings and Andrea opens the door to find the worst human being on the planet on her stoop, and he wants to talk to her. She invites him in and he descends on the home like the awful vampire he is. Good think Brock can see through his shit, because he’s pretty indifferent to the idea of being nice to Walt.
Anyway, Walt tells Andrea that he’s having a hard time getting ahold of Jesse and knows that he’s using again. Then he suggests that the reason Jesse won’t return his calls is because they had an argument, and maybe Andrea will have more luck getting ahold of him. Naturally, she calls him because she’s a good and descent person and oh my god no ugh fuck she leaves a message, everything sucks.
Walt leaves and immediately calls Jack and the gang. So now they’re staking out the house to see if Jesse shows up — though Walt stipulates that if Jesse does show, they take him out away from Amanda and Brock so they never find out. Yes, good for you, Walt. That makes you so much less of an evil monster, except it doesn’t at all because that’s what you are.
Except surprise! Jesse never hears the message at all. Instead Hank listens to it and sees right through the scheme. “Nice try, asshole,” he says, which should be the official motto of the show now. He goes back inside to talk to Gomez and says that while there is no GPS in the rental van anymore, Walt doesn’t actually know that. Oh boy, more clever ruses on the horizons! This is more fun than an episode of Death Note.
Jr is working the cash register at the carwash and it’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life. He even even tells the customer he’s working with to “have an A1 day” and aaah you are the sweetest please don’t die because of your stupid asshole dad!
We find out that he’s only doing it because Skyler doesn’t want him to leave, since they don’t know whether or not the
danger awful gas smell is gone yet. Except it’s not — the danger, I mean — because who shows up next but Saul Goodman, all covered in bandages and bruises. Jr recognizes him immediately from the commercials and acts the most excited, whereas Skyler also recognizes that something is amiss and moves Jr aside to take Saul’s order.
That’s not going to stop Jr from being the most awkward adorable little dude ever with the biggest smile on the whole frickin’ planet. “I like your commercials!” He says real loudly. Saul replies with his trademark ‘better call Saul’ line, and Walt suddenly appears in the doorway with Holly, his eyes wide. Jr continues to be the sweetest and asks what happened to Saul’s face. “What happened to your face!” he asks. “Have an A1 day!” Seriously, I’ll be said if Jesse dies, but if anything happens to Jr then I will be completely devastated.
Outside, Saul talks to Walt about what’s been happening. He can’t get ahold of Huell and he’s worried that Jesse might have gotten to them. “Are you wearing a bulletproof vest?” Walt interrupts. Of course Saul is. Would you expect anything less? Either way, Saul is worried and Walt is convinced that nothing’s wrong with Huell. You know, right up until he gets a picture sent to his cellphone of a barrel filled with moneyohSHIT
Jesse follows up with a phone call. “Got my photo, bitch?” he asks.Walt immediately races out the door and jumps into his car, barreling (pun intended!) down the highway to get to his precious money. In the meantime, Jesse regales him with a story about how he forced Huell to give up what Walt did with the money and then used the totally fictitious GPS on the rental van to retrace Walt’s steps. He says he’ll start burning the bills a little at a time until Walt gets there, and will light them all ablaze if Walt hangs up.
I think this is the longest and more intense glimpse we’ve seen of the real Walt in a long time, the Walt “who knocks” — not the one who manipulates everyone around him with quiet politeness but who instead threatens and makes real shitty excuses and does whatever he needs to stay afloat. He spends the whole car ride explaining that he knew Brock would be fine when he poisoned him and that Jesse owes him because of all those people Walt killed to keep him alive, and at some point he notices that Jesse isn’t saying anything back and starts freaking the heck out.
Finally he gets to the area of To’hajiilee where he’s buried the money and jumps out of his car with the key still in the ignition — a nice parallel to Jesse running out of his own car to set the Whites’ house on fire. He wanders around searching for Jesse a while until he finally figures out that the whole thing was a fake-out. Then he sees dust in the distance like a car coming and panics, assuming it’s Jesse come to murder him in the desert. So of course he calls for the most horrible back up ever, Jack and the rest of the white supremacist gang, and gives them the exact coordinates until he sees the car and AGH IT’S HANK
And just like that, Walt gives up. “Forget it. Don’t come,” he says. “It’s off. Don’t come.”
The next ten minutes are basically the most tense that a television show has ever made me in my entire life. Hank is shouting out for Walt to come out peacefully, which he does for some inexplicable reason. He is instructed to walk towards them with his hands up and then gets on his knees with his hands behind his head so Hank can handcuff him. While this is happening, Jesse remarks that this is the first place they’d ever cooked.
Hank mirandizes Walt and asks if he understands his rights, to which Walt calls Jesse a “cowards” — presumably because Walt’s frustrated that Pinkman’s a rat after all. Jesse responds by spitting in Walt’s face and the two lunge at each other for a hot second until the two DEA agents can get them under control. Hank plans to take Walt in and get a search team to comb over the area for the money and tells Gomez to wait for him. But first, he’s going to make a phone call.
Did I mention that most of this scene is almost completely silent? Breaking Bad uses a lack of background music to rack up the tension a lot, and it works so well here. Seriously, the eerieness and wrongness here is palpable. It’s too easy. Certainly it doesn’t feel very triumphant or anything.
The slightly askew dutch angles aren’t helping, either.
And it’s about to get a whole lot worse –we cut to Marie at home, getting Hank’s phone call. He tells her that he’s gotten Walt for good this time, and that he loves her. Oh, no. Hank, don’t you know what kinda show you’re in? Don’t tell anyone you love them because that’s exactly when something horrible happens to you! You’re alone in the desert!
Speaking of which, remember how Jack was supposed to give up and not come? Yeah, of course he’s not going to do that. As Don Cheadle said in tonight’s Talking Bad, “If guns come out, guns get used.” And the gang doesn’t want to lose their best cook after finally getting him back. So they show up with all of the guns.
And that‘s when the terrifying music kicks back in.
So we’ve got Hank and Gomez shouting at the gang to stand out, and Jack is yelling that they need to see badges, and Walt is losing his mind trying to get Jack to stop (because I guess he’s still real against the idea of killing family still — or maybe he just knows that killing two DEA agents would once again make the case against him a huge priority), and Jesse’s in the other car basically terrified, and it looks like he’s about to get out and maybe do something when
Oh my gooood bullets are flying everywhere what the hell everything is awful someone’s gonna get shot and
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