“Buried,” the second of the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad, opens as an older man discovers a large pile of cash in his driveway. Shocked at his lucky the man spots another small bundle of cash in the neighbors yard. And then he spots another. Soon the man has followed the trail of money to a small park, where he spots a despondent Jesse lying on his back, his feet dangling off the side of a roundabout, slowly spinning in a circle and staring up at the stars. We’re left with the image of Jesse slowly circling, round and round, much as his own guilt has been swirling around his mind.
But before we get into Pinkman’s next move, we’re taken right back to the Schraders’ garage, slowly opening just moments after Hank and Walt’s intense conversation at the end of the previous episode. Walt exits swiftly, as Hank watches him slink away to his car, a resolute look of defiance on the DEA agent’s face… he’s gonna nail this bastard. And for all of Walt’s bravado at the end of their garage confrontation the moment Hank closes the garage door panic sets in. Walt races to his car, not even pulling away from Hank’s house before calling Skylar at the car wash. However, the garage door opens again and Walt pales at the sight of Hank on his cell phone. It’s clear – Skylar is talking to Hank. Walt’s panic kicks into high gear, assuming that she’s making a deal behind his back.
It is immediately clear that Walt’s assumptions are incorrect, as Skylar agrees to meet Hank at a local diner. They have a close embrace as we realize Hank is still in the dark about Skylar’s involvement in Walt’s crimes. He thinks he’s there to help her get out quickly and quietly with the kids. Throughout the scene he refers to Walt as a “monster” and an “animal” on multiple occasions, perhaps an attempt to bait Skylar into opening up about her husband. He tells her the best way for him to help her is to have a record of everything they discuss, pulling out a tape recorder and setting it between them. He pleads with her to give up her husband but she refuses, careful not to admit to anything or confirm what she’s slowly realizing are only Hank’s suspicions.
Then Hank lets it slip that Walt’s cancer is back. Skyler’s shock is evident, leading Hank to believe Walt was lying about that as well. Switching tactics, Hank attempts to appeal to Skyler’s sense of family by bringing Marie into the conversation, telling her, “No one in the world is more important to me than your sister. So believe me when I tell you that your best interest and mine are the same.”
Skyler calls his bluff, telling him that if her best interest is truly his intent, then he should let her call a lawyer; when he resists, Skyler realizes all he’s looking to do is take down Walt, and she leaves. She doesn’t get very far: a few scenes later, she’s at home when Marie shows up. It seems Hank’s sent her to appeal to her sister, to try and convince her to talk to him. Marie asks just the right questions, wondering how long Skylar has known about Walt’s behavior – Gus? The gambling story? She wants to know how far back this goes. Skyler’s eyes well up with tears as Marie sees right through her sister’s lies for the first time and comes to the awful realization that Skyler’s involvement goes as far back as Hank getting shot. The revelation is too much for Marie; she slaps her sister and storms out of the room. Skylar’s left momentarily stunned until she hears the cries of her child. A small argument between sibling erupts with the baby’s fate at stake, until Hank (perhaps in a show of good faith to Skyler?) orders Marie to leave the child alone and leave with him.
Hank and Marie share a moment in the car; it’s mostly filled with a heavy silence (as many of this show’s best moments are), but it’s broken when Marie turns to Hank, encouraging him to “take him down.”
Walt knows the end is near, so he spends the remainder of his day taking care of business. We’re reminded in this episode that this whole sordid affair began over money, and for Walter White, that’s where the heart of the issue still lies. Now more than ever, with the cancer returned, Walt is determined to keep his stash of cash safe and sound. To accomplish this he turns to Saul Goodman, who in turn sends his two best men Huell and Kuby to move the money from the storage unit.
Special props to the writers for continuing to find comedic moments amidst all the torrid conversations and tense staredowns. Part of what keeps the show grounded is its sense of humor (life is full of little funny beats), and it was on full display tonight, as Huell and Kuby stare down at the enormous pile of money in the center of the storage unit until Huell lays down on the money, convincing Kuby to do the same. “Mexico, all’s I’m saying,” Huell says out loud. “The guy hit 10 guys in jail within a two-minute window — all’s I’m saying,” Kuby replies. Yeah… best not touch the one who knocks’ money.
Saul smartly advices Walt to ditch his cell phone and ignore all calls from Skyler, further feeding into Walt’s incorrect belief that his wife is ratting him out to her brother-in-law. Huell and Kuby pull up in a white van containing six black barrels filled with money. Saul is handed a bag of money with instructions to pay his men and “find Jesse,” and then Walt’s off in the white van.
He arrives a few hours later at the site of his original cook with Jesse where he buries all the money in a big hole, then memorizes the latitude and longitude (34°59’20N, 106°36’52W, which leads to Albuquerque Studios) of the buried cash before heading back home. At some point along the way home, he stops and plays “34 59 20 106 36 52” on a lottery ticket, which we see him hang up on the refrigerator before heading into the bathroom to shower off the grime of his dig. Shortly after stripping down to his underwear, and listening to Skyler assure him she didn’t make a deal with Hank, Walter collapses face first onto the tile.
Walt wakes up about five hours later, and in a particularly emotionally raw moment, he asks Skylar if she’ll be happy once he’s dead from the cancer. This weak and sickly Walter is sentimental in a way we haven’t seen since the very first episode (and before his cancer diagnosis). His insecurities are all apparent as he confesses to Skyler that he assumed she already made a deal with Hank, begging her to promise him that she’ll keep the money for the kids. It’s heartbreaking to see him so vulnerable, something we haven’t seen from him in ages, and for a moment it seems like Walt is preparing to give himself up to the DEA. Surprisingly, it’s Skyler who appeals to Walt’s darker side, insisting that if he confesses to his crimes they’ll never get to keep the money. She’s met with Hank and he made it pretty clear that all he has is a hunch and no actual proof that Walt’s done anything wrong, leading her to believe their best course of action might be to just stay quiet.
While Walt and Sky seem to have a temporary plan to keep a low profile and let things blow over, there are forces at play in the meth making world that could yield dangerous results for Walt and Jesse. Lydia has taken it upon herself to confront her current meth makers – Declan and his gang of merry methheads. She wants to use Todd as the cook, but before they can debate her on the matter, there is a problem. They command Lydia to say in the lab/bunker and rush upstairs. She sends a message from her phone, and then hides and covers her ears. Gunshots ring out above, and after a few moments, the bunker is opened and Todd appears to give her the all clear. Lydia used Todd and his Uncle Jack to take over the business… violently.
The last scene between Hank and Marie opens with her watching him pore over the mountains of paperwork he has on the Heisenberg case. She encourages him to return to work and enlist the help of his DEA friends to take down Walt, but Hank explains his reluctance, “Look, the day I go in with this, it’s the last day of my career, Marie. I’m going to have to walk in there, look those people in the eye and admit that the person I’ve been chasing the past years is my own brother-in-law. It’s over for me. Ten seconds after I tell this story, I’m a civilian. Then how can we help Skyler when she comes to her senses? When I go in there, I’m bringing proof. Not suspicion. I can be the man who caught him, at least.”
Clearly Hank is concerned about looking like an idiot to his colleagues, but is personal embarrassment enough of a reason to ultimately suppress important information? Marie correctly points out that if the DEA discovers Hank knew about Walt and never said anything he would be breaking the law. Not one to commit a crime, Hank returns to work that day. At first he doesn’t say anything about Walt, but he does ask his partner Gomez to cancel a planned meeting and gather the troops so he can address them.
Although Hank returned for what he assumed would be his last day of work he is instead gifted by the appearance of Jesse Pinkman – arrested in the park shortly after the opening teaser – sitting silently in a police interrogation room as the arresting officers enquire about the duffle bag full of money found in Jesse’s car. Fortune has smiled upon Hank, who works some charm with the arresting officers and secures himself some alone-time with Jesse, and it is on that note, as the door to the interview room slams shut, that the episode ends.
- With the lack of Skyler and family in the flash-forwards and the horrible condition of the White house, we’re officially on a death watch for the White family. If I had to place my money on the potential murderers, it would be Uncle Jack’s clan of lunatics that shot up the meth makers tonight. Do you think they’ll come looking for Walt and find Skyler and Walt Jr. instead?
- Speaking of which, where was the lover of all things breakfast this week? Speeding around town in his flashy new car, no doubt!
- When will Hank and Marie realize Hank’s rehab was paid for with meth money?
- Did anyone notice if Walt had one of the black barrels he buried in the desert in the back of the truck in any of the previous flash forwards?
- Do we really have to wait a whole WEEK to see the conversation between Jesse and Hank?! ARRGH!!