When Breaking Bad premiered the second half of its fifth season, I’m sure there were few people who expected that final scene between Walt and Hank would end with both parties becoming fully aware of the other in such a volatile fashion. It was a scene I won’t soon be forgetting, particularly Walt’s thinly veiled threat of Hank needing to tread lightly. With this week’s episode, “Buried,” the game is truly afoot. As soon as Walt leaves Hank’s garage, he’s immediately in panic mode, trying to get a hold of Skyler. But Hank is thinking along the same lines and already has Skyler on the phone and arranges to meet her at a diner. We’ve only just begun the episode and already the pieces are moving across the board, though neither player’s strategy is quite clear just yet.
The episode spends a lot of time focusing on the motivations of each of our main players, giving everyone a chance to declare their allegiance. Hank, in his meeting with Skyler, betrays his motivation, not only to the audience, but to Skyler as well, seriously jeopardizing her use to him. And that’s just it; Hank is looking to use Skyler because what Hank wants more than anything is to take down Walt. He’s enraged and embarrassed that the man he’s been chasing all this time has been right under his nose. Just the way he repeatedly slanders Walt, calling him a bastard, a monster, and any other horrible name he can think of, demonstrates how insulted Hank is by all of this. But by not letting Skyler get a lawyer and immediately asking for a statement against Walt, Hank makes it clear all he wants Skyler for is evidence. He doesn’t care about the familial relations between them if he can get to Walt through her. He wants to take down Heisenberg no matter the cost.
And poor Skyler – I’m not often sympathetic of her character, but you could really see how torn she was. First of all, taking that meeting with Hank must have meant she was at least considering the idea of turning on Walt. But when Hank doesn’t seem interested in protecting Skyler’s freedom in the best way possible, Skyler flees the diner. The turmoil she’s feeling is so apparent, especially when Marie eventually confronts her. She cries and cries and attempts to apologize for her lies and protecting Walt, but only succeeds in making an enemy out of Marie. And when Marie attempts to take baby Holly, Skyler seems to make her choice abundantly clear. If there is even the most remote possibility she could lose her family, then Skyler will fight anyone – even her own sister – to protect them. As for Marie, she now has a personal stake in all of this. She wants Hank to take down the man who made her sister into a liar and a conspirator. She wants revenge just as Hank wants victory.
When Walt, after spending the day in the hot desert burying half a dozen barrels filled with all his drug money, returns home, he passes out and Skyler takes care of him right on the bathroom floor. He wakes up and says he’ll turn himself in so long as Skyler promises she won’t give up the money, that she’ll use it after Walt is dead and provide for their children. This is what Walt wants: to protect his legacy. And Skyler wants her family to stick together; she tells Walt Hank doesn’t have anything on them and all they have to do is stay quiet and they can all stay together. She’s chosen Walt. It’s absolutely beautiful that it has come to this: the Whites versus the Schraders. It’s been a long time coming and it seems so fitting these two families would square off like this. At the moment though, it doesn’t seem like Walt and Skyler are in any danger. That was until the final few minutes of the episode.
The cold open showed Jesse off in his own little world, spinning on a merry-go-round. An old man, who followed a trail of money, finds him. At the end of “Buried,” Jesse is held in custody for tossing around millions of dollars and Hank is the first to get wind of this. Suddenly, he might have something to use against Walt. All Hank has to do is find out what Jesse’s wants. We know what everyone else wants, but what about this kid, who went around throwing away a bag of money because he simply didn’t want it? I was a little angry when the screen cut to black as Hank was entering the interrogation room, but I suppose the episode had to end at some point. At the very least, it kept the tension going and now I’m practically dying to see how this conversation between these series-long enemies will play out. If there’s one thing I know about Breaking Bad, it’s that it delivers.