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Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad is a drama about Walter White, a chemistry professor who is diagnosed with lung cancer. He enlists the help of his former student Jesse Pinkman to manufacture and sell methamphetamine. AMC 2008-???

66
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Viewer
75
/100

Episode 4 - Down

21 October 2013

Credit AMC

Synopsis: Walt tries to get back in Skyler and Junior’s good graces by making breakfast and being attentive. Skyler isn’t buying it though and keeps disappearing with no explanation. Jesse’s parents kick him out of his house and he can’t find anywhere to stay. He ends up sleeping in the RV and then breaking out of Clovis’ yard.

The Good: This was another solid hour of consequences from “Grilled” and again I would sympathise with those who don’t enjoy slow paced storytelling. It certainly wasn’t as beautifully drawn as “Bit by a Dead Bee” but it was logically written and stayed ever true to the characters.

The White marriage reached a total impasse and the details were excellent. As Walt busily cleared up the breakfast that he had made you could see Skyler softening. However as soon as he proffered a detailed and clearly well rehearsed explanation for how she could have been mistaken about the second cell phone she just walked out. She spent the next couple of days not communicating, hoping that her sullen silence would force Walt into telling her the truth. Finally he did insist on clearing the air and again had clearly prepared his defence for any accusation of infidelity. Once again Skyler defied TV wives everywhere and saw through this. She demanded to be told the truth and Walt once more refused to tell her. At the end of her tether Skyler turned to a cigarette, quite the modern sin for a pregnant woman. A fellow mother-to-be even gives her a reproachful look to underline just how frustrated she has become (she could have smoked out of sight).

Again the writers deserve so much credit for the Skyler-Walt interactions. We know what both characters are thinking at each stage of the episode and it makes you wonder how she would react to the truth. Clearly Walt thinks she would not handle the news well and is defiant in his deception. As she drives off the final time he yells “D’you know what I’ve done for this family!?” On one level he clearly thinks she would appreciate what he is doing and yet he is destroying their shared trust because he thinks the truth would end the marriage. 

Jesse’s story was more of a straight line downwards as he reaches absolute rock bottom covered in toilet water, with a gas mask on, asleep in the RV. The consequences from “Grilled” were at work again as Mrs Pinkman was scared enough by Hank’s visit to go see Jesse’s basement and kick him out. Jesse is dragged kicking and screaming from his home and soon finds that no one will take him in. We see one of his old band mates who, despite missing the single life, is actually committed to his new family and awkwardly has to push Jesse out the door. It was a fairly literal look at the life Jesse could be leading if he had stepped away from the drugs world but effective nonetheless.

When Walt and Jesse finally get together in the RV they are both at boiling point. Walt takes out all his anger on Jesse and while Jesse is beaten down enough to take it for a while he then snaps and nearly chokes Mr White out. In another literal but nice moment Walt offers to cook Jesse the breakfast that his own family rejected. They have both alienated their real families and are now stuck with one another.

The C plot saw Walt take Junior out for a driving lesson to try and get back to their normal bond. It doesn’t go well and Junior has asked to be called Flynn in a move which suggests he was ashamed to be named after a man found naked in the local grocery store.

The Bad: I wouldn’t say anything was bad but I would sympathise a little with those who felt two solid episodes of fallout were a bit slow. I have total faith at this stage that these episodes are what make the dramatic moments work as well as they do.

The Unknown: It wasn’t explored how Junior’s cerebral palsy would affect his driving nor why he chose Flynn as a pseudonym.

Again we saw the teddy bear in the pool but this time he was pulled out and placed in an evidence bag next to others. One had some glasses in it. The implication seems to be some sort of major crime scene.

The endless misfortunes of Jesse were fine but it did seem like the producers were going for laughs with it. His frustration was played in such a way that you could laugh but it didn’t really work that way if that was the intention. The subtlety got overwritten soon afterwards as he fell into the chemical toilet which felt too broad for me. I had no problem with any of it as straight dramatic moments though.

Best Moment: I really liked Walt and Jesse meeting in the super market. Walt would undoubtedly be under close watch and he has no cell phone. It also smoothed the one knot from last episode as Walt gives Jesse some of his money to help take care of expenses.

The Bottom Line: This was less beautifully put together as “Bit by a Dead Bee” but was as logically written and moves the characters forward in sensible ways.

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  • Why did Walt give Jess half the money?

    Viewer score: 80 / 100

    Posted by avidkayaker, 21/10/2013 2:46am (5 years ago)

  • This is the episode that got watchers wondering whether the only purpose for Walter Jr. was to eat breakfast. It bacame a running joke hereafter. Skylar's behavior during Walt's confrontation is both frustrating and superb. As a husband, it frustrates me. However, putting myself in her position, I would probably act the same way. Make him say it, whatever it is, and we'll deal with it. Otherwise, he is a confirmed liar. I felt sorry for Jesse in his dealings with his parents, but then again, he kind of got what was coming to him. As for his explanation of needing cash from Walt, he should have told him he needed cash to fix and park the RV. That might have convinced Walt to offer more than $600 when he needed about $2,000.

    Favorite moment, "Why are you blue?"

    love the pod casts Robin. Keep up the good work.

    Viewer score: 74 / 100

    Posted by Mike Brown, 08/01/2013 12:51am (6 years ago)

  • This is a difficult episode to watch, the declines of Walt and Jesse is both riveting and depressing television.

    I agree that Skyler is veryy well written through this story arc, seeing her smoke at the end hit me with a variety of emotions.

    Another winner in a season full of them.

    Viewer score: 70 / 100

    Posted by Ben F., 29/12/2012 11:55pm (6 years ago)

  • While I agree that both 'Dead Bee' and 'Down' are fallout episodes but I love that Breaking Bad is not prepared to skip over the baggage left behind by their big dramatic moments, like so many other shows would do. I'd give both episodes a solid 74. I felt both episodes were necessary and they did do different jobs; ep3 dealing with the complicated logistics of Walt and Jesse's lies while ep4 deals with the emotional consequences. I'd agree that ep3 might be the neater of the two, though I preferred 'Down' because it felt more personal and character-focused. My best moment was Walt and Jesse's fight in the RV followed by the simple yet touching moment where Walt offers Jesse breakfast. Earlier in the episode Walt cooking breakfast for his family was his way of apologizing for putting them through an ordeal. So Walt making that same gesture for Jesse seemed like Walt was accepting responsibility for putting Jesse through an ordeal too (it was Walt who insisted they work with Tuco) and maybe it was the beginnings of Walt and Jesse developing their own surrogate family bond.

    One last thing, I was interested in your comment on the 'Grilled' podcast that you rated Breaking Bad slightly less than other shows on your site simply because it wasn't a science fiction show. I'm an big SF addict too yet I would currently call Breaking Bad the best TV show I've seen, despite its real world constrictions. Vince Gilligan is a former SF writer for the X Files and I think he finds so much horror and strangeness in reality that BB can feel like an extraordinary scifi show just by utilizing things like the wonders of science or scary underworld of drug rings. BB has its magic and its monsters as much as any SF show and for me they are all the more powerful because they exist in the real world. Breaking Bad reminds me a little of Stephen King's non-supernatural stories which are often more haunting and moving than his sf/horror genre books because they delve into the true darkness that exists in our own world and our humanity.

    Another note on SF shows - have you ever considering recapping the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series for your site? I personally found that show to be superior to both Lost and Buffy.

    Viewer score: 74 / 100

    Posted by Kelly, 27/12/2012 10:16am (6 years ago)

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