‘Breaking Bad’ – Season 5, Ep. 3 – ‘Hazard Pay’ Recap and Review

Spoilers for this week’s episode below.

Compared to Walt and Jesse’s previous shaky business plans, this season is again wasting no time in getting the two cooks back to doing what they do best. After securing resources and distribution on Mike’s end in last week’s installment, we finally get to see the manufacturing side of things. After much deliberation with Saul and the passing up of a few locations that would have certainly been interesting, especially the laser tag arcade, Walt comes up with the perfect new place for them to cook. Producing meth in Gus’s lab is now clearly a long gone opportunity and they need to settle for something similar to the old RV cooks. While it’s not quite as back to basics as that, they settle on the idea of yet another mobile lab, taking advantage of the space and time afforded by a bug bombing business that is willing to turn a blind eye. It’s without a doubt one of the most clever schemes that’s been devised on the show.

Unfortunately, the days of splitting millions of dollars two ways are long gone. As Mike says to Walt, “killing Jesse James doesn’t make you Jesse James.” It’s doubtful Walt will ever really make it to that level—even at his best, it has always been clear that he wasn’t exactly made for his new profession. In this same scene, Mike counts out the money three ways only to take a crushing amount of it back. Walt takes these business costs to heart, made very clear by his questioning of the need for “mules” and the titular hazard pay for Mike’s crew. He floats a question to Jesse about the message that Gus was trying to send when he killed Victor, raising the idea that this new business plan may not last very long at all.

The scene of Walt watching Scarface (1983) with his son and daughter has been the most overt reference to Walt’s rising gangster character arc and also shows one of the possible outcomes of the series finale. After being shown only a brief glimpse of the machine gun Walt buys, it’s easy to imagine it being put into play in a climactic showdown. That, however, may be too obvious for a show like this. After all, season two provided teasers of body bags and broken glasses in front of the White residence only to have the mid-air collision reveal come out of nowhere. It’s all too hazy at this point to try to unravel what that scene really means. Skylar’s distancing from Walt and onset of depression will surely factor into it. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a chain of events has already begun that will result in her either leaving for good, dying, or flipping as an informant to the DEA. Her meltdown with Marie is only the beginning and Walt’s confession about her affair with Ted is bound to have even more fallout for her now that she’s already been pushed so far.

Also of brief note:

  • Badger and Skinny Pete return to provide help buying Jesse some equipment. Pete’s piano ability was a huge surprise.
  • Did Jesse really break things off with Andrea? Seems a bit sudden, especially having happened off camera.
  • At first I was expecting an awkward sit down dinner with Walt, Jesse, Andrea, and Brock similar to last season’s awkward dinner with Hank and Marie. Guess it really is going to be awhile until the Lily of the Valley reveal takes place.
  • Walt is almost 51. It’s more than a year down the timeline until the scene from the beginning of the premiere. Expect a huge time jump, probably before next year’s final 8 episodes.
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One Comment

  1. Thank you again for your discussion of the show. My thought was that the showing of Scarface was Vince's tip to the fact that he's said in numerous interviews that he conceives of the series as How Mr. Chips Becomes Scarface.

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