The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence: A Breaking Bad Recap for the Episode “To’hajiilee”
As someone who grew up in an area where hunting was an important part of the culture, I can tell you that it’s illegal to kill an animal over bait. You’re not supposed to set a bait trap for deer or other gaming prey. If they’re eating some grass or clover that grows naturally, it’s one thing, but throwing a bushel of apples on the ground and shooting the first deer that stops to eat them is against the law.
Hank and Gomez aren’t worried about the law. And they’re willing to shoot over bait.
Jesse, who spent the last episode spilling his guts about the greater Heisenberg operation, came up with a brilliant plant to hit Walt the one way that matters most to him. And up until last night’s episode, I really, really believed that might mean Walt Jr.
What a fool believes…
See, Jesse knows it’s got very little to do with the family. Walt is in the “Empire Building Business”, after all, and his money is the foundation of that business. Hank quickly works out that he’s buried it after not-quite-arresting Huell and convincing him, very dramatically, that Walt has already killed Jesse (“Why is there what looks like a brain in our garbage can?” Marie asks. I halfway wanted Hank to say “Why, it’s stage-setting, of course!”).
Meanwhile, Walt’s trying to bait a trap of his own. He thinks showing up at Andrea’s house will draw Jesse out, but he doesn’t know that Hank has Jesse’s Hello Kitty burner phone. The message never gets through to Jesse and the one card Walt had to play has been rendered useless.
And that’s when Walt does something drastic.
Todd’s Pruncle Jack and his merry band of Neo-Nazis have been given the order to sit on Andrea’s house and wait Jesse out there. As Walt paces around Albuquerque and consorts with Saul and crew, a picture message arrives - a barrel full of money, uncovered.
Walt doesn’t have the sense to figure out that, like the picture of Jesse’s brains on the linoleum floor of the Schrader Homestead, this one is also a dupe. If Walt had called Jesse’s bluff, even briefly, he’d have avoided what came next.
In a frantic, breakneck drive out into the desert, Walt gives away his hiding spot. But then, Jesse already knew where Walt would go - he’d buried the money in the same spot where they did their first cook together. Walt got sentimental in the course of building his Empire Building Business and gave Jesse all the tools needed to destroy it.
Hank and Gomez make their arrest. Walt doesn’t get a chance to use that “Chekhov’s Gun” he’s been squirreling away for the past year. Jesse spits in the face of the only man who ever really cared about him, the man he betrayed, the man who has but one word for the pupil he couldn’t bring around: “Coward.”
After a brief scuffle and a slapping-on of cuffs, Hank makes a call to Marie. They’ve bagged their elusive prey over the only bait that would make him give up his comfortable shield of innocence. They’re heroes, cowboys of old. And, much like the purveyors of justice in a “lawless land”, they’re set upon by a posse of outlaws.
Pruncle Jack, Todd and the rest of their crew show up armed to the teeth. Jesse knows the score and so does Walt. Walt screams for either side to see reason, to put down their guns. But all Hank sees are a bunch of killers, ready to kill. And all Jack sees is his payday in cuffs in the back of an SUV.
And then everyone does what comes natural.
Not for nothing:
- My grumbling about the pace of last week’s episode and my hoping that the final four would be much more dynamic? Yeah, I’ll shut up now.
- When Walt makes his Mario Kart-esque dash toward his hiding spot, he spills his guts about EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING!!! He confesses to murdering the dealers, murdering the murderers, poisoning Brock, conspiring to kill Gus, making the meth…he confesses to every last thing. Jesse already knows this little list of accomplishments Walt’s reciting, but Hank and Gomez must certainly have been listening in, right? Assuming they survive the shoot-out, the two have all the info they’ll ever need to throw Walt under the jail.
- I like Walt Jr.’s little starstruck moment with Saul Goodman. If you only knew, kiddo. If you only knew.
- Brock’s side-eye at Walt leaves a pretty decent question hanging out there - how did Walt poison Brock? Was it candy or something? Brock’s got to have a memory of that, right?
- Todd’s got a thing for Lydia. Todd, you are creepy. And she’s out of your league. Let it go. And don’t drink after people, that’s how you get herpes.
- I’m a bit surprised at how emotional Huell gets at seeing Jesse’s “brains” splattered all over the floor. Surely he’s seen a dead body before, right?
- Pruncle Jack, Todd and Co. want Walt to show them the secrets of the mystical blue meth. Another beginner seeks out the council of the Wizard of C10H15N. And what makes Walt thing they’ll let him live after that?
- At this point, one of two things happen: the Nazis kill Hank and Gomez and the investigation dies, having been somewhat of a secret anyway. Marie, grief stricken, reveals the secrets of Heisenberg and Walt makes a break for it. Skyler and the kids are forced to abandon their home and move far away, penniless. Or, option two: Gomez and Hank survive, prosecute Walt and put him into protective custody awaiting trial and his turnover of Lydia and the Nazis. Option one’s more likely, option two’s a lot more interesting. I wonder if Hank’s used up all nine of his lives yet…
(Illustration by me after not getting much sleep at all last night, so it stinks, but hey, whatever.)