Breaking Bad: “To’Hajiilee” Comes Full Circle

Way back when the cast of Breaking Bad was doing its first read-throughs of the final eight episodes, Aaron Paul took to his Twitter to express the following about “To’Hajiilee”:

So am I, Aaron. So am I. There was a little bit of shouting at the television, a couple of incoherent texts to my brother, and way too much nail-biting. This episode lived up to and exceeded Paul’s assessment.

This week’s cold open picked up a few minutes before where last week’s episode left off – just from the other end of Walt’s phone call. Lydia is observing Todd in his lab along with his uncle and one of his men. Though the finished product is purer than it had been with Declan at the helm, it’s still only at 76%, or about 20 percentage points fewer than what Lydia and her European customers grew used to. Lydia, clad in a blue coat, expects the blue stuff, and so do her buyers. Jack suggests that they add food coloring to the mix, something Walt’s competitors used to do way back when. Todd and Lydia chat and after his weird attempt at seduction (?) and she heads out. Todd watches her go while running his finger over the lipstick stain on her mug. Again, weird. His phone rings and, as expected, it’s Walt requesting his uncle’s service.

Soon, we’re back at the Schrader residence. Hank and Jesse meet up with Gomie below an overpass and head back to Hank’s. They ‘re trying to figure out how exactly they can catch Walt with no physical evidence when Jesse suggests that there may be a ton of it hidden somewhere: money. Jesse doesn’t know exactly where it is, but he might know somebody who does, and he certainly has an idea of how to get it out of him. It involves brains. Maybe they’re faking Jesse’s death to throw Walt off?

They use one of Gomie’s men to bring Huell into protective custody, and they want him to talk. This is where the brains come into play. It turns out they did kind of end up faking Jesse’s death, just on a smaller scale. Hank shows Huell a photo of Jesse laying in the floor with blood and brain matter splattered around his head. We know this is just a ploy, but Huell doesn’t, and he immediately buys exactly what Hank’s selling: Saul sold him out and he’s going to be Walt’s next kill. His fear causes him to spill everything he knows about the money. Hank and the crew finally have something to go on.

Now, we’re back with Walt and Todd’s guys. Walt actually describing how he wants Jesse to meet his demise was sort of jarring at first. Then you realized who exactly was speaking. Still, he wanted it to happen as quickly and painlessly as possible because even though they’re discussing Jesse’s death here, Walt still wants to protect him. He still sees him as a son. This is merely the lesser of two evils; in Walt’s mind, it’s the only solution. It’s kind of like Harry Potter and Voldemort – “Neither can live while the other survives.” Jack agrees to help Walt, but only if Walt will help him. They end up trading murder for meth; once the job is done, Walt will return for one cook – maybe that’s why his blue shirt returns in this episode.

Walt, though, has no idea where Jesse is. He does know what might lure him out of hiding. I sort of had an idea of what his plan was, and after the next commercial break, I was proven right. Walt showed up at Andrea’s house just as Brock is sitting down to breakfast. Brock is definitely a little wary of Walt. Does he know he’s responsible for his hospital trip? If he does, he hasn’t said anything, so Andrea welcomes Walt and willingly hears him out. Jesse’s been using again, Walt said, and he’s concerned. Maybe Andrea can talk him down? We learn that Jesse has been calling to check on them and that they last spoke two weeks ago. Walt thinks word from Andrea could help Jesse, so she gives him a call on his “new” cellphone, specifying that Walt is with her. Walt hopes that this will be enough to lure him to Andrea’s house, where we soon learn Todd’s men are waiting. The plan is to hit him quickly and out of sight from Andrea and Brock.

Jesse never hears that message. Hank has his phone, listens to the voicemail, and knows right away it was an attempt to harm Jesse. Meanwhile, Hank made a trip to the car rental service Huell referred him to. He hoped the van had a GPS tracker that would take him to the spot where Walt buried the money. Unfortunately for Hank, they were removed from all vehicles several months ago. He doesn’t have to tell Walt that, though. The lightbulb goes on, Hank has a plan.

Back at the car wash, Skyler is showing Walt Jr. the ropes. He asks to go home, but Skyler, who has blue cuffs peeking out of the arms of her top, refuses. She still feels unsafe and doesn’t want to leave him alone, but he doesn’t know that. Saul and his bruised face walk in and Walt Jr. is starstruck. It’s hard to remember that they haven’t had any interaction. To Walt and Skyler, Saul has been the third musketeer in so many of their schemes, but to Walt Jr., he’s the local celebrity with the catchy commercials and the billboard across the street. Walt meets Saul outside. He has questions about his bodyguard and Jesse. Walt tells him about his plan. Saul has to remind him that Jesse is much smarter that Walt makes him out to be, but more on that later.

When Saul leaves, Walt gets a picture message on his phone. It’s what looks like a barrel full of his money. Before he has time to register what he’s seeing, the phone rings. “Got my photo, bitch?” Walt panics, bolts past Skyler and Walt Jr., and starts driving. Jesse tells Walt that he’s going to burn all of the money if he hangs up the phone. This should have been Walt’s first clue that something was up, but he was too blinded by rage. Or was it fear? He stays on the phone and pleads with Jesse to preserve the cash for his family’s sake which, to Jesse, is laughable. “You’re gonna talk about kids. You’re seriously gonna go there,” he says. Jesse is sort of the voice of the fandom at this point, calling Walt a “lying, evil scumbag” whose only talent is manipulating people. Walt can only respond by calling him stupid, something he has said and implied many, many times. But Walt’s the “stupid” one in this situation. He lets his emotions interfere with his normally sound, logical thoughts, and he realizes this much too late. He’s already pulling up to the burial spot when he understands that this was just an attempt to find the exact location of the money, and that by staying on the phone with Jesse, he led him right to it.

Walt is horrified. He removes the battery from his phone – again, too late – but soon puts it back in to call Jack. He gives them his coordinates, and they look like they’re preparing for war when really, they only have one target: Jesse. Once the SUV pulls up and Walt spots Hank and Gomie along with Jesse, he tells Jack to forget it. After a few minutes, he walks out from behind the rock he was using as his hiding place surrenders. We learn that this place, To’hajiilee, was the first place Jesse and Walt cooked. Did Walt ever in his wildest dreams imagine that he’d be back here under these circumstances? Probably not, because when it came to meth, Walt never fancied himself a failure.

Hank reads Walt his Miranda rights, and all he can do is stare at Jesse, the rat, the “coward.” Walt makes his feelings clear, and Jesse spits in his face, causing a fight. Any allegiance Walt felt towards Jesse is gone now. Hank puts Walt in the truck and calls Marie. His last words to her, “It may be awhile before I get home. I love you,” feel very ominous. Almost on cue, a car and a pickup truck pull up to the four men. Much to Hank’s surprise, Jack, Todd, and some of their cohorts get out, guns drawn. Walt tries to get Hank’s attention, but he and Gomie bring up their own weapons. The tension leading up to the first shots is insane. It is definitely one of the most panic-inducing minutes of the entire series. Todd’s men are the first to shoot, leading to a full-fledged firefight. Walt, handcuffed, squirms to avoid bullets inside the car. Hank and Gomie have nowhere to go but behind it. We have no clue how Jesse is faring.

The screen goes dark.

It seems so unlikely that any of “our” guys are going to emerge unscathed, but we’ll learn everyone’s fates in a week. Is it next Sunday yet?

About Sam Sciarrotta

Hi there! I'm Sam. I like baseball, Bruce Springsteen, tomato pie, and most other things. I'm looking at you, but I'm thinking about Breaking Bad. 2012 college graduate and budding journalist.

Posted on September 9, 2013, in AMC, Cable, Drama, Primetime and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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