Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Walter White Wednesday 28

We're wrapping up Season 5A now, with only one more episode to go.  In many ways, this season has been darker than previous ones, but the darkness is personal.  There's no big drug kingpin pushing Walt around, no homicidal Cousins sitting quietly with deaths-head boots - there's just Walt with no one to stop him.  Don't be fooled - from this, the terror springs.

This week's title - "Say My Name" - indicates Walt's desire to cement his identity as Heisenberg, his version of Billy Badass.  In the cold open, he brokers a deal with Gus' Phoenix counterpart and wins.  Not only does Walt now have access to Declan's distribution network, Declan will be moving the blue meth (not the trash he's been making with food coloring to fool the public.  Honestly, what's needed here is regulation in packaging).  Walt compares his 99.1% pure product to Classic Coke and Declan's 70-ish% pure meth to some off-brand cola.  Declan threatens to just kill Walt there in the desert and Walt coolly responds, "Do you really want to live in a world without Coca-Cola?"  Now THERE's some product placement!

Anyway, Declan backs down - he's a businessman, and there's heavy coin to be made here.  Walt doesn't get that and instead thinks he's won, missing the point that his "win" only lasts as long as his usefulness outweighs his liabilities.  But Walt doesn't understand, or care, about that and revels in the moment, demanding that Declan "say my name."  There's a certain sexual undertone here - when Walt tosses the bag of blue to the desert sand, I thought of a john flipping a $20 onto the dresser.  "Who's your daddy, baby?"

I suppose we should let Walt enjoy that, as it's the last thing that goes right for him for the rest of "Say My Name."  His children are gone from the house, his wife can barely stand to be in the same room with him (long gone are the pot roasts for dinner - it's strictly microwave-in-a-box now), his distribution network is out of the business (and when Mike's out, he's well and truly out), and Jesse has made a decision that Walt can't shake him from.

Yay, Jesse, by the way.  Walt tries it all - bullying, wheedling, guilt - and the tactics just aren't working anymore.  Jesse wants out and if he has to walk away from a cool $5 million, well, by God, that's what he's going to do to get clear of Heisenberg's riptide.  The weight of the sins on Jesse's soul have finally anchored it to his conscience. So Walt brings in another young, eager-to-please lab assistant - Todd the Child-Killer.  (By the way, the horn-heavy song "Goin' Down" that plays over this cook scene is by The Monkees.  That just made me smile.)

The DEA finally gets to Mike, not through a jail rat, but through the lawyer Mike's using to deliver the payoffs to Gus' men.  Mike had prepared for the need to disappear and Walt delivers his "go bag" to him.  When Mike does what the viewer has been wanting to do for many, many episodes and calls Walt out on his greed and ego wrecking an established "good thing," Walt has a tantrum.  With a handgun.

So no one else is going to die now that Walt's in control, huh?

Season 5A wraps up next week.  We know that Walt wants the names of the "Fring Nine" who could possibly turn on him and that he can get them from Lydia. Is Walt willing to pay for a killing spree as part of the cost of doing business?  Is the "breaking bad" that began in Season 1 complete, in which case cancer would be a sunny park compared to the sheer emptiness that looms inside Walt now?  And what about Jesse?  Who knows far too much and has cut all ties with Heisenberg, who owes him five million dollars?

Stay tuned.  I know I will.

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