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Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 10 Review: Buried
Breaking Bad’s new episode, Buried, opens with a moment of the show’s spot-on social observation. In this case, an old decrepit man who is leaving to travel somewhere late at night. Again, typical of the show’s opening scenes, it’s a non-sequitur considiering what happened last episode: Walt practically threatening Hank after Hank realises who Walt is and what he has done. Yet here we are: watching a random old man get into his pickup truck and start her up. Until the old man notices a wad of cash on his driveway. $100,000, I’d reckon. He finds more on the sidewalk. The trail leads him onto a playpark opposite his house, where, spinning idly on a play roundabout with a vacant expression, he finds Jesse Pinkton who has at last completely lost his mind. Such is the opening scene of Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 10 – “Buried”.
This is one of my alltime favourite episodes of the show, as it is thus far, for one simple reason:
In this episode we finally see a Shakespearean-scale battle of motives and goals clashing repeatedly and dramatically.
- All Hank wants to do is put Walt on the defendant box as soon as possible
- All Walt wants to do is give himself in and make Skylar keep the money
- All Skylar wants to do is for her and Walt to play it safe because otherwise they’ll both go down
- All Marie wants to do is keep Skylar’s kids safe
- All Jesse wants to do is… Well, exist. He’s pretty much traumatised into stupor by this point.
- All Lydia wants is to kill the hell out of drug cartels and run things her own way… A bonafide Walter White. And she probably wants revenge.
Every scene in Buried is electric with these clashing motivations.
The immediate fallout of Hank and Walt’s altercation in Blood Money leads to a Western-style hanging-hand shot. The two men stare at each other, sizing up what the other will do. In one of those unbelievable stomach-dropping moments which the show does so well, Walt tries to call Skyler, and she’s on another call, then Hank emerges with his phone to his ear. Walt immediately realises who Skyler is on the phone to. I don’t know how many of these instances are premeditated by Vince Gilligan et al., but they are pitch-perfect. The audience is rooting for both sides- somehow, we want Walt the villain to come out on top, but also want Hank to get justice and retribution for the case which has consumed his life. Since the first season, since the “not all shards of the plate are present,” moment, Breaking Bad has been a triumph of tension like this.
And things only escalate in this episode. Hank immediately meets with Skyler and in another scene of brilliant acting from Dean Norris, struggles to make her record everything she knows on tape. From Hank’s trembling lips as he concedes that they can take it slow, to Skyler’s heartwrenching sob-frown as she runs out of the restaurant, the scene is dramatic and beautifully knife-edged in the most tragic way.
There are a couple of other standout scenes in the episode before it’s thrilling, cliff-hanger resolution. I love the bit when Huey and Kuby, previously seen together when Ted breaks his spine, have a lie down on Walt’s meth-cash. Before they can move it and Walt can bury it in the desert- a brilliant return to the locale of Season One Episode One. Brilliant.
Lydia comes into her own this episode with a real Walter White-esque piece of deception. In a meet with the guy from the drug cartel who she has been dealing with anew, he shows her his underground-bus Meth lab. Again, even at this late stage of Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 10 the show somehow succeeds at making something as seedy and dull as a meth lab into a fascinating, compelling location in crime fiction. Walt and Jesse drove their Winnebago into the desert? A professional cartel bury it in the desert sand. Anyway, Lydia sets up the cartel, and while hiding inside, she has her men off the cartel in an ambush. It’s pretty incredible.
I wonder what she’s going to pull in the coming episodes. Perhaps she leads to more of the “blood” which Vince Gilligan has referred to in interviews?
In other news, Walter White’s cancer is back, and in a chemotherapy fallout he collapses in their bathroom after burying his money in the desert. Must be heat stroke and chemo-stroke. It’s a pretty savage scene, with Walter and Skyler having an intense heart to heart about their next course of action. Walter stays there for the rest of the episode.
Which leads me to think: where’s Walt Jr? I can’t recall seeing him all season, barely at all. Did he go to college or something? What did we miss? He seems to barely be living at home.
Another fantastic element of this episode, is the division of family; the division between Skyler and Marie. They are now totally at odds. Possibly my favourite scene is where Marie, alone with Skyler, confronts her sister about the truth of Walt’s situation. Skyler obviously doesn’t deny it. But after Marie panics and tries to get Skyler and Walt’s infant child to her home in safety, we know a wedge has been pushed between the two which is irreconcilable. Marie wants to put Walt in jail. Skyler wants them to keep living, out of the game, low.
Then we’re given the episodes final scene. After seeing Jesse mind-numbed and depressed in the playpark, he suddenly appears somewhere else. Hank, at the DEA’s office, is told that Jesse is in custody. Being questioned. Hank wangles his way past two officers into the interrogation room, where Jesse sits staring into the distance, the wall taking his vacant and numbed attention.
And there it ends. I watched this episode with a friend, who exclaimed at this moment, “that’s it. He’s going to confess. He’ll definitely confess to Hank. It’s all over for Walt.” I couldn’t find anything to disagree with.
Again, motives are going to clash- Jesse clearly wants out of the game, but does he hate Walt more than he wants out of the game? And how is Hank going to play his cards in this room? Everything could be about to accellerate very fast.
Buried is another taut, great episode. Frankly it feels to short. Episode 9, Blood Money and this episode, Buried, felt like they could have done with another scene or two before the climax. I’m sitting here wishing this show was on an HBO or BBC one-hour-per-episode slot right now. But despite my greed for more Breaking Bad, I can’t deny that it keeps things more taut than ever before. We only have five days to wait to see how everything turns out, now. Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 10 “Buried” is another triumph for Vince Gilligan and his team, for this wonderful show that is Breaking Bad.