Breaking Bad: “Salud” Review

Character heavy moments, and one hell of an ending lead to me changing my trousers one amazing episode

**Warning this review contains spoilers from the tenth episode of Breaking Bad **

So remember when I was pretty harsh on this season of Breaking Bad? Saying that they had to pick up the pace and what have you? Well today I eat my words. This week’s episode of Breaking Bad comprised of everything that makes this series great. The bold and sometimes heartfelt character moments; the intrigue; the mass murder: you know the usual. This week’s episode followed along the same lines of “Hermanos”, as lines are drawn that will forever shape the rest of this series.

The episode begins in some dusty dessert with Jesse, Mike and Gus on their way to meet the cartel. “You can do this” Gus tells Jesse as they board a plane. It’s always interesting to see this little father, son duo that has emerged as of late between Gus and Jesse, and this episode made it more prevalent than ever. This was clearly seen once they entered the cartel meth lab, where things weren’t quite up to Jesse’s standards. “Stop whining like a little *female dog* and do what I say” Jesse snarkily tells the lab assistants after inspecting their equipment and seeing that it wasn’t up to standard. In this instance Jesse knew he was a scientific bada$$, and took full advantage of the situation. They wanted him, not the other way around, and so he justly put them in their place, just as Walt once did to him. I also couldn’t help but notice the little half smile that came on Gus’ face when Jesse set them straight; just like a good old proud papa seeing his son go out into the world for the first time to make meth. How sweet.  However, Jesse came to prove that he was more than just talk, as he came to make the purest meth the cartel ever saw. As people congratulated him, like a boy graduating from school, Jesse was informed that he would now be working for the cartel…permanently. The look on Jesse’s face was all together more shocking than the revelation itself. I always knew this was going to happen, for Gus had to find away to pay back his dept to the cartel permanently, and Jesse was the perfect way out.

Photo Courtesy of AMC
 While Jesse was dealing with the whole Cartel situation, Walt had to come to face his biggest threat… his son. It is unsurprising that the series has shifted away from Walt simply being the man trying to provide for his family, as he was in the first season. However, it was nice to see them return to this once again, especially after everything Walthas been through in the last few episodes.

After missing Walt Jr’s birthday, where he got a crappy, super safe car that no kid wants, Jr. decided to pay a visit to his still recovering dad (due to the events of last week’s episode), where Walt gracefully met him in his underwear. I couldn’t help but laugh at this scene (mainly because it’s Bryan Cranston in underpants-comedy gold), but also because it shows in some ways just how much, and how little, Walt has changed. After all this is how we met good old Walter White in the very first episode of the series. After lying to Jr. about what happened, telling him that it was due to gambling, Walt broke down and began sobbing like a child. “I made a mistake,” Walt tells his son as tears roll down his eyes, and for the first time this season I felt that he was being sincere. For perhaps one last time, Walt got to be the man he once was-an honest hard working man, who lived the perfect suburban life with his normal family. This hit me hard, and made me realise just how far Walt has come as a character, unfortunately for worst. There was an especially touching moment when Walt told his son about his father, and how people painted this supreme picture of him. Yet, all that Walt got to see as a little boy was an empty shell of a man before he died. 

Ultimately Walt did not want to be remembered by his son as he was now, but rather as he once was. As Walt Jr. peers at his father, he tells him that this was the best time to remember him, because this was when he was most real. Now I will admit to getting emotionally attached to characters, and this well, it hit me hard. Every once in a while Breaking Bad reminds about why Walt did this, and what the repercussions mean to his family. This episode nailed it spot on.  However, as Walt Jr. lays his father back down to sleep, Walt whispers one thing that changed the mood of the conversation. “That’s’ good Jesse” he whispers to his son as he falls asleep. This got me questioning not only the conversation that he had with his son, but also if he deems Jesse more of a son than his own? This would be unsurprising as Walt and Jesse have a bond like no other. They are like father and son, and as much as it saddens me to say, Walt Jr. is but a third wheel in that relationship. Never the less, it was an interesting moment that got me thinking about the whole father/son relationship that has been throughout this series, and just what it means for each character.

Photo Courtesy of AMC

It is of no surprise to frequent readers how much I praise Skyler. She is smart, conniving, and sultry when she needs to be. Yet after last week’s issues with Ted Beneke being audited, I thought there was no way she could get out of that situation. Turns out I was wrong, followed by being immediately right. You see Ted magically received money from a relative. Well as it turns out he didn’t have one, and it was Skyler’s meth money. This would not be an issue, if she didn’t open her wide trap and tell Ted after she saw what he was doing with it. Although Ted may have been stupid with his money, why the hell would Skyler tell him it was hers? Pride? Because he was being idiotic and spending it on meaningless luxury items? Who knows but now Skyler has dug herself a whole, and as much as I like her character, I in no way feel sorry for her; mainly because I know she will find some clever way to get out of it and can’t wait to see what crazy thing she does next. Never the less, everything had worked itself out, and now she is back at step one, with only herself to blame. Oh my, what a mess!

Photo Courtesy of AMC

The entirety of this episode was building up to the meeting with the cartel, and to say it was interesting would be a slap in the face to Gilligan and his gang.  As Gus looks down at the pool were his former partner was killed some years ago, the cartel leader emerges to thank his loyal ally.  As Gus peers out at the man, a clever shot shows a tree separating them both, branches covering Gus on both sides. Being in English I’m going to assume that this was symbolic and meant that Gus was trapped on both sides with nowhere to run, but who knows. Maybe that’s just me being pretentious.  Never the less, the fear in Gus’ eyes was immense as he went to hug the man whom he now had to hand his cook over too. As they hugged the deal out (that sentence felt weird to type out), Gus offered the man a bottle of expensive tequila. Being a clever man who must watch his back, the cartel leader offered for Gus and Jesse to drink first, Gus without blinking took the shot, but disallowed Jesse to drink saying that he has an addiction. I froze there and then, realising what Gus had done not only to the cartel leader, but to himself. Just as a party broke out in honour of the glorious occasion, Gus casually excused himself and went to the washroom.

Never has a bathroom been so classy, as Gus calmly closed the door, turned the water on, put a towel on the ground near the toilet, and well yeah you get it.  As Gus returns to the pool area to see Mike strangling the cartel leaders right hand man, and the cartel leader falling to the ground, Gus grabs him, looks into his eyes and tosses him into the pool. As Gus yelled forth to the survivors that their leader is dead and that they should flee I got chills down my spine. This is Gus, in all his form, and all those that oppose him shall feel his might. However, soon after this proclamation, Gus drops to the floor, the poison still in his system. This was an intense scene as Mike and Jesse scrambled to find a car, Gus in hand. However, as soon as they reached one, Mike gets shot and falls to the ground, and Jesse is forced to do something that he swore off from. As Jesse kills a man for the second time, another part of him dies, but he has no time to think about it as he hops in the car and drives off. Wow what a way to end the episode!

Breaking Bad has been just as much about the action, as it has the character moments, and this episode perfectly balanced the two. With great, emotional sequences, as well as some intense ones, “Salud” comes out being one of the best this season let alone this entire series. I will undoubtedly have to eat my words once more, as I’m sure what’s in store for the remainder of the season is sure to be crazy, and may just lead to the best season of this series.

The Good:  Seeing a lighter side of Walt, Jesse being awesome, Gus (he should just have his own category)

The Bad: Skyler making some poor decisions and an unfortuante lack of Hank

The Ugly

Overall: 10 out of 10