Breaking Bad 4.03 "Open House" Review

A column article, Shot For Shot by: Jason Sacks , Nick Hanover, Jamil Scalese
The Comics Bulletin All-Stars continue our team review of one the best shows on TV, AMC's instant classic Breaking Bad.

This week, Events spiral out of control at Jesse's house. Skyler asks for Saul's help regarding the carwash. Marie returns to an old past time and in the process a friend asks Hank for help.

Breaking Bad airs Sunday nights at 10PM EST on AMC, the home of just about every great show you might want to watch.

Oh, and be warned that there are SPOILERS below.

Nick: To me, last week's episode of Breaking Bad concerned the dissolutions of the teams that we've gotten used to in the series. Hank and Marie, Walt and Skyler, Jesse and Walt-- all of these pairings were broken or in serious disrepair in this episode. Granted, the latter two teams have had issues for some time, but this episode really showed the way each half of the duos went their own way, working without the other or even actively against the other.

Jamil: Last week was definitely about advancing the narrative of each of those relationships and bringing them to the next logical step. It's amazing how far the Walt/Skyler dynamic has evolved from the traditional suburban family life to builders of a criminal empire.

Jamil:Skyler was the true star of this episode, even if a lot of screen time was given to Marie’s reinvigorated petty theft storyline. From her assertion that it to be "this" carwash to her heavy handed negotiation tactics we saw a side of Sky that has been simmering under the surface since the middle of last season.

Nick: Skyler might have taken the spotlight in this regard, showing off the full scope of her stubborn attitude and cold calculation. Many fans have been irritated by Skyler since nearly the beginning but regardless of where you stand with her, you can't say she doesn't demand a certain respect. Skyler's business sense paid off handsomely, even if her reasons for wanting to pursue a property owned by someone who did not want to work with her were suspect. I feel that some of the fan issues with Skyler have more to do with people being unused to seeing a strong, independent wife on a show like this. A woman unwilling to back down and just let her husband's ego get in the way of practicality (although admittedly Skyler's pursuit of the car wash came with its fair share of pride on her part) tends to rankle some viewers.

Jason: My favorite aspect of the Skyler storyline is how she out-thought Saul. It was great to see her creative and ruthless side of her coming out. Sky really is growing on me more as she becomes more ruthless and conspiratorial.

Jamil: I am in that camp that once abhorred Skyler, and I even considered her a more dangerous and a larger nuisance than Crazy 8 and Tuco back at the outset of the show. You are right when you say that the original authority that made her such a challenge for Walt in previous seasons now gives her the instant authority to do what she is doing now. To bring it back to our collective passion - this is like Dr. Doom joining the FF. We know he's a legit contender and force to reckon with and even though we're a little weary with him on board, there is a certain sense of relief that such a capable and powerful force is on the hero's side.

Jason: Walt and Jesse are now being watched. A video camera now watches every move that the two make while in the lab. The noose feels like it's tightening around the men, as there's yet one more place for the two to hide out. Of course we expect no less from Gus - and could this in part be a reaction to Mike's beating of Walt and Walt's incautious attempt to form an alliance with him? Typically for Breaking Bad, we aren't privy to why the camera is placed at the lab, but we can definitely speculate. Perhaps this is another way that Gus is keeping Walt at arm's length and monitoring him from afar. To continue with Jamil's analogy, this is yet another way that the relationship is breaking apart - though obviously the relationship between Gus and Walt was as fractured as could be.

Jason: I found it very interesting, by the way, that we don't see any follow-up to last episode's beat-down. There's emotional fall-out but there's no reaction except for the ambiguous addition of the security camera. Is Mike loyal to Gus or not? It's another mystery inside of many other mysteries on this show.

Jamil: Gus and his plans for Walt are the cattle driving this stagecoach. I am also extremely curious about what Mike did, if anything, after he left Walt on the barroom floor. Where the whole meth manufacturer/dealer relationship goes is anyone's guess. What is Gustavo's next move? Is he looking for another cook? Is he content with having his current team work under the pressure of fear? What's with that guy sitting in the car outside the White residence? It's funny how the last two episodes have had so little momentum in what is the main crux of the show and yet both have been killer

Jamil: Walt and Jesse only get a minor scene in this episode, and it consists of some head nods and go-kart invites, but it signifies the disrepair in their always chaotic relationship. These two are very far apart right now, they've barely had a conversation since their rendezvous at the laser tag joint. Walt is so concerned with protecting himself he is blind to the damage to his former student. Jesse is where he is because Walt put him there. Throughout the series Walt has routinely pulled Jesse deeper into the darkness of crystal meth, and has kept him alive to suffer the pains of doing evil things. He's a long study on how Walt is poison to those around him.

Jason: The storyline with Marie shoplifting and pretending to be another woman is of course an attempt to distance herself emotionally from Hank and his illness. She's so damn convincing in all of the open houses! I almost wanted to believe her in a way. Marie seems so needy. She's always seemed the character in the Walt family of the show who most seems lost and unmoored. Even when Hank was feeling hale and healthy, he was never the most attentive of husbands, and Marie suffered a good amount of loneliness. Now we get to see her under extreme pressure and she's acting out in a way that seems sure to blow up on her.

Jamil: The Marie theft storyline was a surprising turn for me since I thought that character arc was long dead. Her theatrics took up a large section of this episode, and while the performance was great I felt like it didn't jive with the larger picture. Smartly, the creators managed to reign it in by tying it directly into Hank owing the homicide cop a favor. It probably felt out of place because it's so long overdue; Marie has been ignored as a character for awhile, and that made it so invigorating to watch her play all those different roles. I especially like the new conflict because it forces interaction with Hank, and made him deal with an embarrassing situation to compound the shame of his injury.

Jason: As we probably all expected, Hank is now being called upon to help investigate Gale's murder. I've always expected the series with some sort of confrontation between Walt and Hank, and we now see the wheels of that confrontation once again rolling into motion. This investigation has the potential, of course, of reinvigorating Hank. That, in turn, puts the viewer in a very mixed position. We want Hank to get better, but that risks Walt and Skyler in a major way. Another division in relationships - though Walt and Hank have never been close, and their storylines haven't overlapped at all this season.

Jamil: Hank flipping through the pages of Gale's notebook was a great way to close the episode. The seesaw of Walt and Hank's long-term relationship is fascinating -- when Hank is close in the Heisenberg case we cheer for the typically heroic D.E.A agent, but hope he stops short of nabbing the lead. On the other side we like when Walt scores a big victory, but realize he must be punished for what he's done. I expect that give and take to play heavily into the future of this season, and lucky for us Hank stopped staring at geodes.

Jamil: My favorite moment of this episode, and possibly favorite cameo of the series, is Bill Burr as the water quality official. Burr is hands-down, no argument, my favorite comedian and it was so odd seeing him as the mouthpiece for such a strong female character like Skylar.

Jamil: Especially when you consider that routines about the relentlessness of women are his bread-and-butter. The scene as a whole was spectacular and the car wash saga is sure to open up a bunch of new avenues for the writers.

Jason: Finally, Jesse continues his descent. How low can he go? If only Walt had agreed to go go-karting with him, who knows how Jesse might be handled everything! His existential crisis just gets worse, which makes him maybe the most interesting character on the show. Will he end up as the weak link because he just doesn't care anymore? Could any of us do anything different from what Jesse does?

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