Thirty Eight Snub features two memorable scenes. No one can forget Walt receiving a fist to the eye and a half a dozen kicks to the midsection from Mike the Cleaner. Mike is a man of few words, and speaks only to avoid trouble and make his job less complicated, but when Mike speaks, his words are heard and heard loud:
“Do yourself a favour and learn to take yes for an answer.” -Mike
The other unforgettable scene featured Walt purchasing a gun from Lawson. The dialogue in this scene was reminiscent of a Tarantino film or a Elmore Leonard novel: “Some call it a moral right, I do include myself within that class … If you’re not a convicted felon, you might be best advised to bear your arms within the confines of the law.”
Remember Walt is not a professional criminal and whether he is disposing of a body or the simply buying firearms, it is always a challenge. You have to admire the great realistic, small details during the transaction.
Despite those two great moments, what really drives Thirty Eight Snub isn’t Walt’s actions, but rather Jesse and his new found penchant for self-destruction. Jesse has always been the heart of the show and watching him deal with the guilt of murdering a man is heartbreaking. This episode is a dark, terrifying, and depressing ride for Jesse.
The production values are of course top notch. Director Michelle MacLaren and cinematographer Michael Slovis shoot one of the most stylish episodes, full of unusual camera lenses, angles and extended montages. The episode even comes with its own Roomba-POV shot during the party sequence.
Finally, worth mentioning is Saul’s commercial, playing on the barroom TV: “Have you recently lost a loved one in an aviation disaster? Have you suffered injury, shock to the senses, or property damage due to debris or, God forbid, falling body parts?” It is nice to know that Saul is still taking advantage of the lives lost at the hands of Walt back when the plane crashed.
Season 2, Episode 7: Negro Y Azul
Directed by Félix Enríquez Alcalá
Written by Vince Gilligan & John Shiban
“Tortuga means ‘Turtle.’ That’s me: I take my time, but I always win.” -Tortuga
‘Negro Y Azul‘ appears on this list simply for having the biggest “WTF” moment of the entire series so far. This is the episode that featured the cartel folks decapitating Tortuga (well-played in a brief cameo by actor Danny Trejo), and placing his head over an actual turtle, wired to explode. At this point we haven’t met Gus anywhere yet, but the introduction of the Cartel makes us realize just how over his head, Walt is, and just how relentless and dangerous the drug lords can be. It’s always refreshing to take the show out of the suburbs from time to time, and showing us just how far Walt’s actions can reach.
Season 2, Episode 9: 4 Days Out
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Vince Gilligan & Sam Catlin
4 Days Out is another memorable episode in an astounding series. Here we have a take on Flight of the Phoenix, with travelers stranded in a desert, low on supplies and desperately trying to find ways to survive. In this episode, almost everything stops while our heroes are left to solve a life-or-death situation. This is a survival tale, and in the crisis both protagonists slowly bond closer to one another. Finally Jesse is made to understand what is driving Walter, and how far he’ll go to provide for his family even when he is gone. He gains a newfound respect for Walt and promises to watch over his family when he is dead. The episode forms the bond between the two, and no matter how often they’ve argued, it was that moment in which Walt felt the need to look out for Jesse as though he were his own.
When we come to the end of the episode, we begin to understand what Walt’s character is really feeling – frustration and fear. In the final scene Walt stares into his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He doesn’t like what he sees, and begins punching the towel dispenser until it’s so badly deformed that all he can see is his distorted reflection. And judging by the dent in the dispenser, Walt is unsure of who he is and who he is slowly becoming.
The episode also boasts the best cinematography of any episode yet by two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer John Toll (Braveheart, Legends of the Fall), with images of the bright orange desert light, wide angle shots, shivery blues from within the RV and tall green grass on the horizon. Also worth noting is the great use of music throughout the series. In this particular episode we are treated to two notable songs: ‘Good Morning Freedom’ by Blue Mink, and ‘One By One’ by The Black Seeds.
Season 1, Episode 3: And the Bag’s in the River
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Vince Gilligan
This is the episode in which Jesse and Walt clean up the mess caused by Jesse’s chosen method to get rid of Emilio’s body. The episode recalls such films as Very Bad Things and Shallow Grave, in which a group of men are left to find the best way to get rid of a dead body without getting caught. However, the method with which they methodically dispose of the corpse bears similarities to another hit TV show, Dexter. Meanwhile, Walt still has has the dilemma of what to do with Krazy-8, who is still chained in the basement and seemingly recovering from his attempted poisoning.
Season 1, Episode 6: Crazy Handful of Nothin’
Directed by Bronwen Hughes
Writen by George Mastras
In the traditional Breaking Bad vein, we open up with a great juxtaposition of the beginning versus the ending. Episode 6 of season one introduces Tuco, a big-time drug dealer who doesn’t quite do business in the expected manner. It’s left to Walt to sort it all out and thus we see his physical transformation as he gives birth to his alias Heisenberg (as in the Uncertainty Principle). Bald, desperate and determined, Walt puts his chemistry skills to work, flinging an exploding compound called fulminated mercury in the air, blowing the roof off Tuco’s crib, and walking away with 50 large in a canvas bag.
The episode not only officially makes Walt a rising drug lord in one of the show’s biggest WTF moments, but also offers us the first scene in which we the audience sympathizes for Jesse, who takes a major beating. Jesse is the heart of the show and without him, I’m not convinced it can be a success. His odd chemistry with Walt is what keeps the show lively. Otherwise I’m not sure how much an audience can endure of such an unlikeable protagonist such as Walt. You also have to love the symbolism of that poker game. Hank folds on Walt’s bluff, just like Hank did when he arrested Hugo for Walt’s crime. We quickly get the sense that Walt is always one step ahead, but for how long?