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TV Review: Breaking Bad 5.13: To’hajiilee
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Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 13 Review

Breaking Bad
Season 5, Episode 13 – “To’hajiilee”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by George Mastras
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Laura Fraser, and Jesse Plemons
Air date: September 8, 2013

Full-on spoilers for this week’s action-packed Breaking Bad are below. You’ve been warned.

In his mind, the only thing that kept Walter White (Bryan Cranston) from fully descending into hell was a Batman-esque, one-premise code: Family was off-limits. For so long, Jesse (Aaron Paul) was considered family that Walt could never imagine sending him to Belize. He fought hard and long to make sure that Jesse ended up safe, but after last week’s episode that rule was broken and all bets were off. Jesse has always been far smarter than anyone ever gave him credit for and uses this to his advantage. I was half right last week when I said that Jesse would come for Walt at the car wash. So much of Walt’s motivation to cook was always about the money. There’s no way all that green would disappear.

Jesse strikes at Walt in a manner so similar to that of how Gus Fring met his downfall: through a team-up with a person he’d least suspect, attacking a sense of pride that could never be forgotten. Gus’ downfall came from a Hector/Walter team-up, in which Walter successfully leveraged a years’-old feud between the two men to his advantage. Here, it’s Hank and Jesse, teaming-up to attack Walt in a spot where his hubris would always get the better of him – his money. “I’m in the empire business,” Walt snarled to Jesse last year. It’s results of that empire that dissolve the man.

It’s fitting then, that the circular methodology used to bring Walt to his knees is the place where it all began: To’hajiilee. Those Cow House mountains would serve a dual-propose: the secret origin of Heisenberg and the final nail in his coffin. There’s so much that happens in the silence of those moments between Hank, Jesse and Walt, each of which is BRILLIANTLY played by their respective character. Look at Jesse’s face, baffled and overjoyed that the ‘devil’ has been caught. Look at Walt, who displays every emotion possible (while giving DC Comics’ Lantern emotional spectrum a run for their money) while he hides behind that rock. And then look at Marie and Hank (Betsy Brandt and Dean Norris), overjoyed that the good guys final won.

And then the trucks arrive.

Someone should have just queued up the “Rains of Castamere”, because there’s no way Hank is getting out alive. As Todd (Jesse Plemons) and his Nazis arrive to protect their business asset, we’re reminded that Walt may have had control over Jesse, but he’s never had control over these men. They’re the Joker to Walt’s ‘Batman.’ They’re men without rules who would see the world burn to make sure they can get their money.

So it’s here, that in the ruins of Walt’s empire in the middle of To’hajiilee that the fire that will burn the rest of the show down starts. It’s spreading. There’s nowhere to go.

All Walt can do is watch as the flames close in around him and try to survive.

Quick Thoughts:

Breaking Bad color theorists: look at Walt as he’s leaving Brock’s – he’s wearing beige. Look at him again when he shows up at the car wash after having given the order to kill Jesse – he’s wearing blue, signaling that he’s ready to cook again.

– I don’t think Hank is going to make it. First, most characters who make a passionate, ‘I love you’ call to their significant other don’t last too much longer past said phone call. Secondly, for Hank to cheat death for a third time would be a tough pill for me to swallow. Especially in a show like Breaking Bad that deals so heavily with consequence.

– Fairly sure we just got our last ‘Better Call Saul!’, which is a total bummer. The opposite of that? Junior’s (RJ Mitte) entire interaction with Saul (Bob Odenkirk) while he’s at the car wash. I love how RJ Mitte sells his eagerness to meet the local town celebrity. “Don’t drink and drive, but if you do, call me.”

– Funny how the women involved in Walter White’s business dealings have a thing about protecting their brands: Lydia (Laura Fraser) is very keen on making sure that the blue color returns to the crystal, while Skyler (Anna Gunn) tells Junior that ‘Have an A1 day’ is all about branding.

– Good God I’ll miss Michelle MacLaren. The fantastic director has provided so many great action moments throughout the show, it’s fitting that her final episode is easily the show’s most tense. Look at how perfect that scene in the desert unfolds: pretty much in silence for maximum effect. Look at how far of a distance there is between the brother-in-laws as Hank forces Walt to embarrassingly walk towards him. Look at how the camera zooms in such a dramatic effect that it makes a tense scene even more so. It’s so fitting that MacLaren’s episode seemingly ends as during the middle of the action sequence and not at the end of it. It’s a perfect mic-drop for MacLaren.

– That being said, I’m very interested to see how Looper director Rian Johnson will end that scene when he directs next week’s episode. Remember: Johnson is responsible for “Fly” and “Fifty-One,” which are quiet hours for the show. It doesn’t seem that the same will happen this time around.

– Never would have thought it would have been Huell to full on bring down the house of cards onto Walter White. I think that body armor will do a better job of protecting Saul that Huell ever did.

– Walter White might be the devil to Jesse Pinkman, but Todd is very much the devil to Walter White. Look at how he’s sitting, shrouded in red, over Walt’s shoulder when he meets with the Nazis.

– Speaking of Todd, the 80s came to roost with both his interaction with Lydia (“Oh Sherry”) and his ringtone for Mr. White (“She Blinded Me with Science”).

Three to go.

Hope you’ll join me next week.


  1. Will

    Great review as usually, Michelle MacLaren is directing two episodes of GOT for this season and of course she directed two action packed episodes from last season of GOT (Second Sons, The Bear and the Maiden Fair)

    Comment by Jim Watari — September 10, 2013 @ 12:48 pm

  2. She’s actually over filming both of her episodes right now. She’s doing 4×04 and 4×05, I think. I felt that Bear and Maiden Fair was a much stronger outing than Second Sons, but part of that was a script issue, I think.

    Eager to see what she does this season.

    Comment by goodmanw — September 10, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

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