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Recap | Breaking Bad: ‘Buyout’

Midway through this week’s episode, Jesse asks Walt if they’re in the meth business or the money business. I would argue that, among other things, they’re in the “making problems disappear” business.

And what a problem they had to make disappear, after Todd, the new recruit, shot that kid in the desert in the closing seconds of last week’s episode. The opening scene in “Buyout” was tough to watch, as they prepared to dissolve first the kid’s dirt bike and then the kid himself.

After the job is finished, Todd seems remorseless, tossing out a casual “shit happens,” and Jesse clocks him. Despite Jesse’s protests, Mike and Walt decide that keeping Todd, child-murderer, on the payroll is the best decision for the group — it certainly beats adding him to the hazard-pay list or increasing the trio’s body count.

But being partly responsible for the death of a child is too much for Jesse to handle. Walt basically justifies it this way: Hey, at least they’re self-sufficient now, so why worry about dead kids? They can do some soul-searching in a year, after they turn all that methylamine into methamphetamine and make a gazillion dollars!

Walt then returns to his work, happily whistling, completely oblivious to what a jerk he is. This is the final straw for Jesse, who can no longer participate in the business of making problems disappear and then pretending as if nothing happened.

It comes as a surprise to Walt when Mike reveals that he’s out of the business because of that pesky tail the DEA has had on him recently. Walt is fine with this — after all, with no Mike, Walt is the only one in charge, right? But when Jesse says he’s out, too, Walt snaps. He gets desperate, pleading with Jesse to stay. Here we see the old Walt, except instead of thinking his way out of a sticky situation with people much more powerful than he, he’s sliming his way through a pitch to keep Jesse involved — which ultimately leads to Jesse asking exactly what kind of business they’re in.

Jesse and Mike seem set to sell their two-thirds of the stolen methylamine and cash out their end of the business, but they hit a snag: Mike’s contact wants to buy the entire supply of methylamine, all 1,000 gallons, to get the blue ice off the street. Walt, of course, is unwilling to give up his share, even if he will receive a guaranteed $5 million, and get to walk away from the drug business for good. Because why have $5 million when you could eventually have $300 million? Why cash out now and secure your family’s future and, hey, I don’t know, make money at your totally legit carwash and maybe regain your wife’s love and have a freaking soul, when you can continue your illegal business-with-a-body-count and rake in more money and power than you ever thought was possible? Walt’s greed is unreal.

Jesse visits Walt at home to try to convince him to take the money and run, but Walt isn’t biting; he wants more. He wants the whole world, and even that isn’t enough. To paraphrase Mike, “I’ve never seen anyone try so hard to get out of earning $5 million.”

Mike decides Walter has no choice in the matter: The deal is going down, even if Mike has to tie Walt up to make it happen. But Walt is so dead-set against giving up his share of the methylamine that he gives himself third-degree burns while MacGyvering his way out of captivity. Of course, after Walt escapes and moves the methylamine somewhere (we don’t know where yet), he tells Mike he has a plan.

Whatever it is, it better be good, because Mike is definitely done. Did you see how serious he looked holding that gun to Walt’s head after discovering the methylamine was gone? And Jesse is done, too — he doesn’t want to dissolve any more bodies in barrels full of hydrofluoric acid.

It’s interesting how Jesse, perpetual screw-up and drug addict, has now become the heart and moral center of the show, one step away from being the protagonist, while Walt continues to devolve into full-on villainy. We want to see Walt die as much as Skyler does, don’t we? Aren’t we hoping the cancer returns, or that Jesse puts a bullet between Walt’s eyes?

In perhaps the most awkward dinner scene ever, Skyler pours herself laughably huge glasses of wine and shoots hate looks at Walt while Jesse nervously makes small talk about those delicious homemade green beans (Albertson’s deli, Skyler informs him). When Skyler sarcastically asks if she may be excused, Walt shoots her a look so vitriolic that I believe he may just kill her before the series is over.

Because I don’t believe anything is going to stand in Walt’s way. As he tells Jesse, he isn’t in the meth business or the money business, he’s in the empire business.


  • edotwoods

    I totally shouldn’t have read this, since I’ve only watched half the first season, but now maybe I’ll get back into it. 

  • Lewis Shepherd

    Well written!

  • Demoncat4

    nice recap for it looks like walt has become hooked on the power and the money so much that his greed is blinding him to the down side of the trade. would not be surprised if jesse either puts a bullet into him or becomes a rival or turns walt in before the finale 

  • Nic

    Are they making Walt completely unsympathetic so they can easily kill him off in the end? Yep.

  • Dave

    Yeah Walt is pretty much now a full on megalomaniac.  His selfishness, arrogance and extreme egotism have him locked into a world where only he and what he wants matters.  At this point we’re on a road to just see what KIND of crazy bad things happen – no happy ending is possible.  And I wish they would stop putting the baby in a pink bear outfit or hat!  The potential foreshadowing there is SO discomforting.

  • VoltronShakespeare

    Skyler’s a crybaby who can’t do what needs to be done. All she has to do is turn Walt in to Hank, and he’ll surely work her a deal where she is spared jail time and can live happily with her kids while he rots behind bars. But does she do that? No. She chooses instead to mope and whine and smoke and drink and complain and make excuses. All these childish cries for help instead of helping herself and her family. Why aren’t you shitting all over her for being such a hypocritical and weak character? And Jesse too. He’s not nearly the pathetic example Skyler is, but he’s fine with cooking meth and being a criminal. He’s gotten over killing a man in cold blood. Now just because he’s disgusted about a kid getting shot(as anyone other than a supervillain, i.e. Walt, would be), he’s a saint and the moral crux of the show? Are you kidding?

    Walt may be evil, but he’s the most interesting character in the show. He’s also the only person that’s true to himself, who knows what he wants and does everything he can to obtain it. Everything he does makes sense when you look at his character. And it’s obvious they’re setting him up to fail, but it still kills me how much you hate and shit on Walt. Yes, he’s the bad guy. But he’s an interesting bad guy. Unfortunately, all you ever say is blah blah ego this, blah blah scumbag that. All your recaps sound the exact same, Gomer. How about mentioning the correlation between the story he told Jesse about Gray Matter and his desire to build a legacy and be remembered, no matter in what field or under what alias? How about a little insight instead of just spewing the same stuff? Are you capable of that?

  • Claude Gaudette

     The one element of Breaking Bad fandom that I am really sick of is the contingent that keeps calling Skyler a bitch for not standing behind her deluded, egomaniacal, increasingly sociopathic, meth manufacturing husband. Why, when you add up all those traits it’s a wonder she can restrain herself from just blowing him 247! Walter may be the protagonist of the show, the one we’ve followed through all kinds of intense trials and tribulations (and as such the one that we still find ourselves invested in, despite himself), but he’s not the hero anymore. You could make a case that he never was, but at least in the beginning you could argue that his horrible decisions were the actions of a desperate man in over his head. But not anymore. 
     Skyler may be DEEPLY flawed in her own right, but she actually is trying desperately to protect her children, not just saying she is to rationalize her sins. The fact that she can’t seem to find a way out of this horrible mess (yet) just shows how good Walt has gotten at using head games and intimidation to make her feel trapped. Skyler has shown in the past that she’s a smart person, but she’s not someone who ever expected to be in a life or death struggle, psychologically or (one day soon perhaps) physically with the kind of monster that her husband seems hell-bent on becoming.
     Walt’s smug declaration that he is in “the empire business” (coming on the heels of his dissolving an innocent child’s body in acid) is the final nail in the coffin of Walter White, Misguided Family Man. All that’s left is Heisenberg, and all that Heisenberg has earned from Skyler is fear and disgust.  

  • Somer Sherwood

    “Gomer”? Really?

  • NedStarksHead

    I actually agree with the reviewer. Jesse IS the moral fiber of the show and has proven time and time again to have a conscience. He certainly has NOT gotten over shooting a man in cold blood, and unlike Walt, he will carry the festering regret of that for the rest of his life. Keep in mind that Walt is a father figure to Jesse, and anybody under the extraordinary circumstances that were posed at the end of season three might have done the same thing as Jesse. However, Jesse hasn’t once been able to justify those actions to himself (Walt is the one who tried to convince Jesse that shooting Gayle was the only way). Hell, we had an entire season and a half of Jesse trying to cope with his own actions. He’s not cut out to be Tony Montano (want to talk about correlations?) like Walter White. The Grey Matter story was obviously Walt’s way of justifying ALL of his own despicable actions, sort of like a terrorist justifies bombing a school bus. So what of it? Do you honestly think that any sane person (hopefully yourself included) would agree with Walt’s little affirmation? A “legacy to be remembered” is worth killing a innocent child over? I don’t believe Walter White is an evil man; however, he’s able to compartmentalize his actions like a sociopath, and he has an ego like a goddamn supernova. Just in case you didn’t get it, the writers even threw in that little scene of Walt whistling while he worked like everything was as peachy as a Georgia sorority house. WTF? Seriously? Exactly what Jesse was thinking.

    As for Skyler, I tend to agree with you that I have no love for her character. But there again, I can finally empathize with her. Like Jesse, she was willing to play ball to a certain extent. She even partnered up with Walt for a spell and was willing to turn a cheek–to an extent. Once Walt made clear to her that his “empire building” wasn’t about the money (or even about not getting caught… Walt actually WANTS to get caught which even puts him in the realm of psychopathic tendencies) she was suddenly trapped in something much bigger than she had imagined. Furthermore, she’s scared for her children. A lot of couples stay in loveless relationships for years just to spare the kids, so the situation with Walt and Skyler is that times a hundred. So even though I think she’s an annoying character, I can see where she’s coming from. 

    So your arguments intrigue me because I am diametrically opposed to them. I guess one thing that we can agree on is that Breaking Bad is the best show on television. It will be sad when it’s all over.