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Monday, September 9, 2013

Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 13: Reinforcing Our Brand

Posted By on Mon, Sep 9, 2013 at 3:48 PM

Saul is not having an A1 day. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AMC.
  • Photo courtesy of AMC.
  • Saul is not having an A1 day.

Branding is the cornerstone to any successful enterprise. It's a motif seen throughout "To'hajiilee," which could brand itself as the "Holy hell..." episode we've been waiting for this season. Just as the A1 car wash has professionalism, Saul Goodman has shadiness, and Blue Sky has potency, Alburquerque's up-and-coming operation -- Uncle Nazi & Co. -- has its signature batshit terrorism.

We've caught glimpses in past episodes of the callousness of Todd's Uncle Jack and his band of white supremacist cronies, and it became clear that once they were entrenched in Lydia's business plans, no one would be able to simply cut ties with them. Can you send a break-up text to a neo-Nazi gang? "You're so awesome at murdering meth cooks and shanking prisoners, but I've met someone else."

If anyone knows what a staggering cormpromise he's had to made by utlizing Uncle Jack's services, it's Walt. First, I want to commend Jesse, Hank, and Gomey for their brilliant plan to lure Walt, from the fake photo of Jesse (and his brains) dead on a floor to piecing together Huell's details of the night he and Kubi delivered Walt's money. Hank's doctored photo of a barrel full o' cash was as effective as sending a parent a pic of their kidnapped baby. It hit Walt in a way that only his Heisenberg fortune can. I'd say the money is equal parts inheritance for his family and what Walt uses to make it rain in his Heisenberg fantasies. Both love and pride (and storage unit silverfish) infuse those stacks.

But after Jack and his team show up To'hajiilee with their arsenal, Walt's money is the last thing on his mind. Not only was it a terrible omen that Jack wanted Walt to trade off a meth cook instead of cash for killing Jesse, but the sheer fact that they showed up even after Walt told them not to come signifies that Heisenberg is no longer a feared entity. Jack needs him to teach Todd how to get the purity and color back to Blue Sky and -- mirroring Gus Fring -- will likely eliminate him once he's passed his knowledge on.

There really is no concept of "too far" with Jack and his crew, which means everyone should be worried. Hank, Gomey and Jesse have the most immediate concerns, obviously, since we leave the episode in the middle of a firefight in which they are desperately outnumbered. Marie, so happy for Hank making the big arrest, might be left utterly alone in the world. Andrea and Brock's home has been ID'd by Jack's crew. Lydia is already the recipient of lewd stares from Jack's right hand man and bizarre affection from Todd. And of course, if Walt doesn't start cooking, his family will likely be targeted. From his panic at the thought of losing his money to his tears when he realizes he's caught, Walt is suddenly being forced to a crossroads. Though he calls Jesse a coward while he's being cuffed, we see that he quickly crumbles under Jack. Walt is no longer the one who does the knocking; he's the one who needs to start running.

Other Highlights:

Todd's flirting skills: Seriously, whose idea of spitting game on a lady is offering to have her Czech business associated murdered? I'm just glad he didn't tongue the lipstick mark left on her teacup. I do think that his "She Blinded Me With Science" ringtone is dedicated to Lydia and the image of Todd drinking from her cup means she's gonna have to hire an even crazier Nazi gang to take this Nazi loverboy out.

Omniscient Brock: Who doesn't love that mean side eye that Brock continues to give Walt whenever they meet? I don't know how Brock knows, but he clearly does. He's somehow managed to say, "I know you poisoned me with Lily of the Valley, Walter White" just with his eyes. Do you know how hard it is to communicate that exact phrase? In an ideal world, Brock will somehow ensure that Walt gets his comeuppance.

Breaking Bad airs on Sundays at 9:00 pm on AMC.

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Sylvie Kim


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