Breaking Bad S2E5: “Breakage”

Directed by Johan Renck  |  Written by Moira Walley-Beckett  |  47 min    

8.8 / 10

In season two, Hank Schrader has become one of my favorite characters. He’s been both a welcome source of comic relief and a tough-guy everyman that we can pin some verisimilitude upon. Nevertheless, the tough-guy persona is just that — a persona. Cracks in the armor are beginning to show.

After he was conspicuously absent from last week’s episode, “Breakage” puts Hank back in the spotlight. He continues to struggle with PTSD after killing Tuco. He’s also just accepted a promotion that will soon put him in El Paso on the front lines against the cartel. All this added stress has him wound up tighter than the home-brewed beer bottles that are exploding in his garage.

At the end of the episode, he defiantly throws the trophy of Tuco’s grill into the Rio Grande.

Breaking Bad S2E5 Breakage

Compared with other pantheon TV shows, Breaking Bad has a relatively small ensemble. The setting is much more intimate and determinate than, say, The Sopranos or The Wire. It often seems like the entire scope of the series is focused on Walt and Jesse, with only Skyler and Hank adding secondary support.

But whereas many dramas fall into the trap of becoming too expansive, Breaking Bad’s small-scale efficiency helps it to become even more engrossing. It’s pretty clear that the series’ endgame will lead Hank on a collision course with Walter. However, that moment seems to be coming later rather than sooner. For now, Hank needs to be interesting on his own terms. “Breakage” accomplishes just that — humanizing his character while also keeping him separate from the main storyline.

Instead of growing outward, Breaking Bad is expanding inward. And Hank is becoming an important reason why the series is already so great.

Breaking Bad S2E5

Although Hank somewhat steals the show, the rest of “Breakage” focuses on Walt and Jesse’s latest dilemma: a dwindling supply of drug money.

To remedy this situation, Jesse proposes that they have to “become Tuco.” That is to say, become dealer, distributor and supplier. In other words, build their own enterprise.

Unfortunately, Jesse is forced to enlist the help of Combo, Badger and Skinny Pete — three of the dumbest characters ever to grace the small screen.

Things seem to be running smoothly — another eye-catching meth montage is always good news — until Skinny Pete gets robbed by a couple of crackheads. Jesse first shrugs it off as “breakage,” the cost of doing business. But Walt won’t accept another lazy excuse: “Do you think Tuco had breakage?”

Walt hands Jesse a gun and tells him to “handle it.”

The drawback of becoming dealer, distributor and supplier is that you also have to be judge, jury and executioner.

Skinny Pete

Season two of Breaking Bad has so far operated on a setup-payoff format. Once again, “Breakage” is a semi-transitional episode that positions next week’s “Peakaboo” as an anticipated show-stopper.

But even though “Breakage” is transitional, it’s still wildly entertaining. Very few shows can compare to the consistent level of quality that Breaking Bad delivers each time out. Even though you can’t wait for what happens next, you hate to see the current episode end.

Chemical Bonds

-After the cold open, we begin the episode with Walt vomiting into the toilet. It’s another uncomfortable scene that lasts a bit too long. Walt braces himself on the inner rim of the bowl. Even worse, he reaches into the water to see what’s clogging the toilet — a pack of cigarettes.

-Not very important but still somewhat newsworthy: Marie has finally apologized to Skyler for shoplifting.

-Jesse seems to be trending upward after hitting rock bottom last episode. Case in point: he buys a new car and a new apartment. He might not have enough to afford the Chevrolet El Camino, but at least his landlord seems cool.

-“Breakage” marks the first appearance of Jane Margolis, played by Krysten Ritter.

-Who’s worse: Skinny Pete or Badger? Both of Jesse’s deadbeat friends are among the most annoying television characters ever created. But I’d have to say Badger is almost like a Breaking Bad Jar Jar Binks. Everything he touches turns to shit.

-This is the first episode I remember in which Jesse calls Walter by his abbreviated first name. Usually, he calls him “Mr. White” or “yo” or “bitch.” The emphasis makes the statement so much more intense:

“We do things my way this time, or I walk. You need me more than I need you, Walt.”

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