'Breaking Bad' Recap: Walt's Unhappy Birthday & Skyler's Desperate Death Wish

Breaking Bad(Warning: as always, spoilers ahead.) Okay, can we start right out by acknowledging that tonight's Breaking Bad -- focused though it was on the dynamic between Walt and Skyler -- was unusually brutal to watch? I mean, no one choked to death on their own vomit or had their carotid artery sliced open with a box cutter, but STILL. Every tiny moment (Skyler wrapping that dental floss around her finger, for instance) was so chock-full of dread and tension I felt like tonight's episode really should have come with a complimentary Xanax, courtesy of AMC.

Now. Let's talk about Skyler, shall we? Because I'm starting to wonder if she isn't the time bomb Mike referenced a couple episodes ago.


I have to confess, I've never liked Skyler -- which is yet another reason this show is so goddamned amazing, because my view of her has changed enormously since this season began. As the show has taken Walt to a depth of evil from which he cannot possibly return, my allegiances have shifted, and I've stopped pulling for him altogether. Instead, I have hopes that Mike will make it out (I sincerely doubt that will happen), and I REALLY want Jesse to have some sort of happy ending (this seems marginally more likely, but Breaking Bad is anything but predictable -- or sympathetic to its audience).

And now, of course, I'm rooting for Skyler. Because she's in the same place Walt once was, many episodes ago: she's tragically in over her head, she's deeply fucked, and she's desperate to save her family.

The opening scene to tonight's show revealed just how helpless she's become, as Walt and Walt Jr. pull up in their shiny new cars. Remember when Walt bought his son a new car before, and Skyler made him take it back? The moment you saw Walt Jr's new ride tonight, the reality of Skyler's position is made clear: there's no way in hell she's making Walt do anything now.

I don't know what was more brilliant, the scene where she slowly walks into the pool (and the fantastic visual of her floating beneath the surface, having finally escaped her situation if but for a few glorious moments), or the point where -- backed, horribly, into a corner by Walt -- she finally snaps and said that all she can do is wait ... hold on, and wait.

"For what?" asks Walt.

Skyler's wide-eyed, her hair is a hot mess, she seems a thousand years older than she did last season. "For the cancer to come back," she says. Boom.

And like that, I'm Team Skyler. (Well, maybe that happened after that oddly desperate and awful scene where she was forced to break up Walt's bacon for his birthday "51," and by the way, just how oblivious is Walt Jr, anyway? I mean, before he got shipped off to Aunt Marie's house, was he completely unaware of how screwed up his mom was?)

In conclusion: genius episode. Not a ton of action happening on the meth business side of things, other than the interesting possibility that Uptight 'N' Nervous Lydia somehow had her shit together enough to plant a GPS on that chemical can, but the focus on Skyler and Walt was amazing and terrible and pure Breaking Bad awesomeness.

Also, that was an interesting final scene, don't you think? The sound of the clock where Skyler was chain-smoking, the faster tick of Walt's watch ... tick tick tick, ticktickticktick. Time's running out. We know, based on the first episode, that his cancer is in fact returning -- and that very bad things will be happening on his next birthday. But who's the catalyst of his downfall? Who's the bomb? Is it Walt, or is it Skyler?

What did you think of tonight's Breaking Bad?

Image via AMC

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