Lydia straight-up takes corners by force, Marie attempts a heist that would make the ‘Ocean’s 11′ guys blush, and Skyler finally, once and for all, breaks bad.
If this is what ladies’ night on ‘Breaking Bad’ looks like, sign me up for another round, please.
Let’s not bury the lede: “Buried” was breathtaking from start to finish, one of the best ‘Breaking Bad’ episodes ever, and arguably an all-time great hour of television.
Skyler White has been a long-running target of disdain from fans and critics alike. I’ve always defended her, but that doesn’t mean I consistently enjoy her presence. Skyler’s served as more of a mirror, reflecting the damage (both visible and moral) that Walt has inflicted on those he claims to be protecting. An important character in the narrative of the show, but not one with a particularly compelleing narrative of her own.
Whatever moral tightrope Skyler has attempted to walk since she first learned Walt’s secret, she’s long since fallen in to the raging waters underneath (or, the deep end of the backyard pool). But since Walt has traded in his Heisenberg hat for a beige sweater and front row seat to the air freshener display, Skyler’s been tolerant, borderline cordial to the man she just months before solemnly wished death upon. And with that stated goal suddenly in sight, she chooses to push for the finish line, rather than bow out of the race early and throw herself at the mercy of her brother-in-law, pleading ignorance.
The great mistake that Hank makes is the same mistake a good portion of the ‘Breaking Bad’ audience has made: underestimating Skyler. Hank underestimates how complicit she’s been in Walt’s operation, actively laundering the money for a good chunk of time now. He underestimates her selfishness, how she’ll put herself and her family over justice to Walt’s many, many victims. And he underestimates her resolve, treating her like she’s a scared child caught up in something she doesn’t understand, rather than a partner with every bit as much to lose as Heisenberg himself.
“He’ll be dead before I can prove it,” Hank laments about Walt, revealing his own selfish desires while accidentally clueing Skyler in to an alternate way out. Hank lays his cards on the table, unaware that the woman he believes to be a damsel in distress is anything but. By the time Hank finishes explaining just how little evidence he has on Walt, Skyler’s solved the moral calculus, defiantly yelling “Am I under arrest?!” like she’s waiting for Hov to step in and finish the verse.
Hank caps off his string of bad moves by employing Marie as a Trojan Horse to get Skyler to talk. Yes, Marie is Skyler’s sister; but on the other hand, we’ve all gotten to know Marie over the years, and Hank should have known where this would end up. Marie starts off sympathetic to her sister, but as she realizes the depth of Skyler’s lies, that sympathy turns into a hearty slap to the face and truly painful, slightly terrifying attempt to steal baby Holly that Hank eventually thwarts. A deeply uncomfortable scene.
Still, left to fend for herself, Skyler did an out-of-this-world job of protecting herself and Walt. ‘Breaking Bad’ is as much about making the audience question our own morality as it is about the characters questionining their’s, and I found myself rooting so hard for Skyler this hour knowing full well that she’s now locked in to a dark, dangerous path.
And Skyler turned out to be the true hero of the hour, as Walt embarked on a sad quest to provide meaning to whatever the hell he’s done over the last 14 months or so.
What’s the opposite of deeply uncomfortable? Purely joyful? Because that pretty much sums up Huell’s decision to flop, in all his mighty girth, on top of Walt’s mountain of money. Kuby joins him, of course, and the two eventually haul it all to Walt, who spends all day digging a hole to bury the fruits of his life’s work in the middle of the desert.
Thinking Skyler’s turned on him, Walt returns home wary of her, but promptly passes out on the bathroom floor. When he wakes up hours later, Skyler’s right there by his side, as he always wanted her to be. “Please don’t let me have done all this for nothing,” a defeated Walt whimpers, begging Skyler to keep the money after he turns himself in. In what is simultaneously her greatest moment of triumph and darkest moment of evil, Skyler informs Walt of just how little evidence Hank has on him, and advises him to “keep quiet.”
What brilliant work by Anna Gunn this hour, playing the blurred lines between victim and criminal, being in distress and being in control, panicked and calculating. A performance by Skyler that would make Heisenberg himself proud.
Meanwhile, Lydia’s had just about enough of the 60% purity garbage her post-Heisenberg cook has been sending her, so she demands a factory inspection. Turns out the regional drug lord we met earlier this season has replaced Todd with his own cook, and well, maybe if he knew what Lydia was capable of he’d have thought differently. After he refuses once more to reinstate Todd, Lydia pulls the trigger on an ambush, led by, of course, Todd. Flanked by his father and their crew, Todd & Co. massacre the drug dealers, leaving the desert strewn with bodies for Lydia to gingerly walk through in her high heels.
With her supply problem solved, Lydia seems to have no more reason to pursue Walt. Skyler has chosen her side, and she’s picked Walt. Hank has no actionable evidence on him, and as he explains to Marie, the second Hank reveals that his own brother-in-law is Heisenberg will be the second his DEA career ends.
There’s just one wildcard left between Walt and quietly dying in peace: Jesse.
As one might imagine, wantonly throwing millions of dollars around the city is a good way to get law enforcement’s attention. Jesse is taken in by the same agents who questioned him a couple seasons ago, and when Gomez tips Hank off to this, suddenly Hank has new avenue to bring down his white whale.
The hour ends with Hank stepping in to the interrogation room. Will Jesse talk? Jesse hates Hank’s guts for nearly killing him a while back, but right now it doesn’t look like Jesse is feeling much of anything. He’s certainly not feeling any loyalty to Walt, and while Walt’s covered his own tracks well, Jesse might be a different story. Will Hank be able to pin a charge on Jesse, and if so, will that be enough to compel Jesse to turn on Walt?
All questions left to be answered. I can’t wait. Just hook the last 6 ‘Breaking Bad’ episodes up to my veins, please.