Breaking Bad: Hazard Pay, Season 5 Episode 3
Taking a closer look at Hazard Pay: Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 3
In the previous episode, Mike tells Lydia “Now, I don’t know what kinda movies you’ve been watching, but here in the real world we don’t kill eleven people as some kind of prophylactic measure”. On “Hazard Pay” we find out what kind of movie Walter White is watching. In an interview with Huffington Post, creator Vince Gilligan says “it was so fun to get to use the clip from “Scarface.” It almost didn’t happen, because using a clip from a famous movie with famous, Oscar-winning actors like that can be a very expensive proposition. But [“Scarface” studio] Universal was very cool about it, and I hear through the grapevine that Al Pacino was extraordinarily cool about it. He could have charged us out the wazoo to use his likeness, and I think he was just very cool about it.”
In the third episode of the season, Walter and Jesse get back to meth-cooking while Skylar tells her sister to shut up!
• ‘Vamonos Pest‘ – Using a pest control company as a front for their new business, Walt and Jesse cook meth in a tent covered house that will be fumigated. This reminded me of the real life phenomenon of grow-up houses where sophisticated criminals grow large amounts of marijuana plants in residential homes; tampering with electrical meters, altering ventilation or plumbing, and blackening windows to conceal illegal activities. A couple of advantages to Walt’s plan is never cooking in the same house which makes it near impossible to locate the ever-changing base of operations. Secondly, the chemicals used in fumigation are extremely hazardous. It’s unlikely any person would knowingly enter a house believed to be full of lethal gas; so Walt can be reassured he can cook in secret. Do you think their new set-up is a stroke of brilliance or an accident waiting to happen? What if they miss spotting a nanny cam or their ventilation system stops working or the pest control guys rat on them? On a side note, in some ways Badger and Skinny Pete remind me of minor characters in a Shakespeare play: imparting comic relief, moving the plot forward, and highlighting or providing a counter point to the protagonist’s plight.
• ‘Skylar’s Breaking Down’ – Skylar’s characterization and storyline has been met with mixed fan reaction. Skylar may not be one of the four amigos, but as mentioned in my Season 5 premiere episode post, she’s made her fair share of unethical choices: from laundering drug money at the car wash to cooking the books for Ted Beneke’s company. Ever since she’s learned that her husband was the mastermind behind the assassination of Gus Fring, she’s been withdrawing from daily life and putting up a defensive, psychological wall to numb her emotions and to subside the fear. Several factors lead to her nervous breakdown this episode. If it wasn’t creepy enough to share a bed with a remorseless killer; Walt announces he’s moving back in and later, she over hears him mutter “everyone dies in this movie” while watching Scarface. Even at the car wash, away from Walt, Skylar can’t escape from her living nightmare when Marie brings ups the ‘chicken man’, thanks her for Hank’s health care plan (paid for by the drug money) and proposes a celebration for Walt’s birthday. It must be hard for Skylar to come to terms that just a year ago, her husband was a mild-mannered high-school teacher diagnosed with lung cancer. When Marie tells Walt she won’t leave until she knows why her sister is distraught, Walt reveals a kernel of truth to defuse the situation while casting himself as the forgiving victim of Skylar’s marital indiscretion.
• ‘Yes, Sir. No, Sir.’ – Walt’s initial reaction to the unexpected visit from Andrea and Brock is not regret or a crisis of conscience for poisoning a child that almost died. He’s thinking .. “Crap! How can I get away with this? How can I separate Brock from Jesse?” By subtly capitalizing on Jesse’s fears of a long-term commitment with Andrea and suggesting he would eventually need to reveal his drug activities to her, Walt manipulates Jessie into breaking up with his girlfriend. As a result, this reduces Brock’s chances of implicating Walt and increases Jesse’s dependence on Walt. From Jesse’s perspective, he knows how drugs have destroyed Andrea’s family and would not want to be revealed as some low life meth-cook and killer. The last thing he wants is for Andrea, a former addict herself, and Brock to have any connections to the crime world he is living in.
• ‘Legacy Cost’ – As predicted there was immediate conflict in the three-way partnership of Walt, Jesse and Mike. Walt made an agreement to allow Mike to handle the business end; an agreement he does not intend on keeping. Walt sees himself as the leader and brains of the business, not as an equal member of the partnerships. The giant wads of cash on the table was a great way to clearly show how the money was divided and emphasize the amounts owed. Walt feels entitled to the money. He doesn’t believe he owes anything to anyone. Ironically, he unknowingly was responsible for the DEA finding and freezing Gus’s offshore bank accounts or “hazard pay”, but says the legacy cost should come from Mike’s share of the money. What do you make of Walt’s comment to Jesse that he [Victor] flew too close to the sun and got his throat slashed? A warning about Mike over stepping his bounds? This is a reference to the cautionary parable of Icarus, whose lofty ambition resulted in tragedy. Will Walt realize that he’s not indestructible or infallible? Or is Walt destined for a big down fall which is hinted at in the opening scene of “Live Free or Die”?
• ‘Best Quotes from the Episode’
Walter: “He handles business and I handle him.”.
Mike: “Just because you shot Jesse James, don’t make you Jesse James.”