Breaking Bad Episode 3 Recap: Desperate Open-Housewives


It’s time for Breaking Bad Season 4, Episode 3: Revenge Of The Me-th. (Instead of Sith. No? We’re off to a flying start.) Taking a brief break(ing Bad! Already got the titular line in) from Walt and his Walking Tall quest for revenge, this week’s episode opens with poor Marie, who, alienated from her own mineral-filled household, has taken to inventing personas and backstories for herself and attending random open houses:

Fake Marie proudly introduces herself to a variety of quirky real estate agents and rattles off fascinating made-up details about her fantasy life: her genius kids, her NASA husband, her Peace Corps brother, and her dog who is literally Mozart. And, for added ‘vague lashing out at world that’s dealt her a rough hand,’ she’s reverted back to stealing random objects, and not just any random objects, but super-conspicuous Puerto Rico spoons from the center of giant openly-displayed spoon collections. Is the blatantness of her thievery an intentional component to this thrill-world she’s created, or did she just really, really want that Puerto Rico spoon? Judging by how much glee I get by typing the phrase “Puerto Rico spoon,” I’m guessing it’s the latter.

Meanwhile, back inside the geode where and Marie now live, Hank’s stir craziness is reaching new levels of asshattery:

In Hank’s defense, any self-respecting fantasy football participant knows that those magazines are completely useless and dated, plus they rarely if ever mention minerals. Everything else Hank says to Marie, though, is increasingly baseless and demeaning — it’s not even passively aggressive so much as doubleplusactively aggressive — and he immediately rejects his wife’s compassion and sends her flying right back into her weird open-house Narnia:

Marie’s constant obvious stealing shockingly catches up to her, however, when Chazz Palminteri realizes she’s been making up these stories the whole time:

(Sidenote: When I was looking for a Usual Suspects screenshot for that pic, I Googled “Usual Suspects Coffee Cup” and this was one of the first results. Bingo!)

The real estate agent from Die Spoonhaus chases Marie down and confronts her about her thievery, and Marie launches into ultradefensive mode, simultaneously playing dumb, acting shocked, calling the agent fat, appealing to her DEA husband, and issuing this idle threat:

The Marie saga concludes, for the time being, with Hank calling in a favor to his police buddies and getting the real estate agents to agree not to press charges. With her lone (albeit insane) outlet now closed, Marie can no longer keep her denial at bay and finally breaks down crying on the police station bench:

Awwww, cheer up, Marie! You’ll always have your really great Randy Newman song.

Meanwhile, back in Walt Disney World, Walt and Skyler are discussing alternate money-laundering options with Saul Goodman after Skyler’s offer to Romanian Carwash Man was insultingly rejected. Saul keeps pushing for a nail salon option, and Walt points out the obvious that there’s dozens of other car washes out there, but Skyler refuses to be deterred in her quest, proving that she like Walt has also careened through the logic guardrail and plunged into Ego Canyon. Excuse the purple prose there, I’m shooting for a Newberry Medal.

So to recap (sorry to bring “recapping” into this Recap): Walt’s been seduced by his current lifestyle long past the point of acting out of logic or his family’s best interests, and as we saw in the gun-dealer scene in Episode 2,  he’s so insulated by lies that he’s incapable of telling the truth even in inconsequential situations. Skyler now has joined Walt, both in his literal criminal campaign and in his acting rashly out of ego-driven reasons, not just out of necessity or self-defense. Hank is understandably miserable but has taken his misery to the highest, most childish exponential degree, and thrives off willfully demeaning his wife and sole caretaker. Marie, shattered by Hank’s coldness, has resorted to living a fantasy life and pointlessly stealing. And Jesse remains a complete shell of a human being.

Is there anyone remotely good left on this show? Only one person – Skyler’s Baby:

“That’s why they ain’t callin’ it no Breaking Good, Irish!” – Pop Culture Hobo

Skyler finally has a eureeka moment when rinsing soap down the drain (what is this, Matlock?) and calls Saul to rig a fake scenario in which the car wash gets busted for environmental noncompliance. Saul sends one of his cronies to explain to Mr. Carwash that he needs to upgrade his filter for $200,000 or he’ll be shut down, and when the dealer grows confrontational and demands to know which laws he’s broken, Skyler totally Professor X’s the dude’s mind:

While Skyler awaits the phone call of the now-desperate car wash owner, Walt turns into Billy “Mr. Wrong” Zane from Titanic and keeps repeating “There is NO way he’s going to call, Skyler, it’s been A COUPLE HOURS. Let’s just pack it in and admit you totally fail…[Phone Rings] WHAAAAAA????”

Sklyer’s plan completely works and they buy the car wash for the reduced price of $800,000. In the ultimate twist of full-circle irony, Skyler’s descent into Walt’s criminal world now brings the two of them closer together than they’ve been in years, and they celebrate by posing for a late-night soul CD compilation:

Their laundering-honeymoon is short-lived, though, when Walt jokes about the cost of the $300 champagne and Skyler flips out, saying that buying $300 champagne is the exact type of act that would undermine their money-laundering efforts. She’s totally correct, too — has Walt never seen Goodfellas? It’s on network tv all the mothersfather time.

Following some more scenes of Jesse being a broken husk of a human, the episode concludes with Hank — apparently bored by the excitement decline in his tv programming from Porn to Bowling to C-SPAN — reluctantly picking up Gale’s folder of lab notes to give it a look:

(Full Disclosure: I made that Photoshop for the Season Premiere Recap but Fuller Disclosure: It’s my favorite)

So we’re three episodes into Season 3, and everyone’s lives are complete lie-encrusted criminal death spirals completely bereft of love or genuine pleasure and each with the sole motivation of merely continuing to be, at any cost. And as subtlety dark as this episode was, it didn’t even feature Gus or Mike — just imagine how devastating this show’ll be when it gets those guys healthy and back into the lineup.

Yeesh – they should just cut to 15 minutes of Yo Gabba Gabba after every episode before one of us just quits on life. Just as long as none of their episodes involve that giant eye thing completely joylessly go-karting around just to see if his body’s still capable of feeling.

Episode thoughts, reactions, questions, theories, favorite/least favorite parts, crushing sadness, or stuff we missed? Leave ‘em in the comments! (They’re actually working this week.)

See Also: Breaking Bad Season Premiere Recap: Horrible Boxes

Breaking Bad Episode 2 Recap: Ain’t No Party Like A Gun-Meth Party

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