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Breaking Bad Recap: ‘Box Cutter’

July 18, 2011
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I don’t know about you, but after 9/11, I have never been able to look at a pair of box cutters the same way. Breaking Bad used the ominous implements to great effect in the fourth season opener, aptly titled “Box Cutter”. It’s been a hell of a long wait, but once again, it was worth it. This was a spectacular episode, and raises the bar ridiculously high for the duration of the season. You don’t need a blow by blow; you already saw the episode, so let’s jump to some highlights.

Yep, Jesse did it all right. I was sure that he had shot Gale at the conclusion of Season 3, but then I started second-guessing my thoughts when a bunch of competing theories emerged on the Breaking Bad internet threads.  Jesse shot Gale in cold blood. Granted, it was to save his ass (and Walt’s), but still.  With Gale ready, willing, and able to take over the lab duties, Jesse and Walt immediately become dispensable. The only way to rectify that situation was to off Gale. It was a matter of self-preservation.  Jesse appeared to be completely shell-shocked throughout most of the episode (when they are in the lab), but curiously nonplussed when they are at Denny’s, I worry a bit about where his mind is. He seemed like he has cracked, which would be a reasonable response.

The entire sequence that took place in the lab was unbearably tense. Once Gus entered the lab, casually changed into a uniform and never uttered a word, you knew that someone was going to pay, dearly.  You knew that someone was going to get it with the box cutters, but I didn’t expect it to be Vincent, and I certainly didn’t expect it to be so violent.  That is one of the most gruesome scenes I have ever seen on television. It was bad enough that Gus slashed his throat, but then to actually lift his chin up so the guy would bleed out faster was visually sickening and cemented his status as a psychopath.  Chilling. Excellent acting by Cranston and Paul as the two of them try to squirm away from the sludge of blood creeping toward their feet.  I was really confused as to why Gus chose to off Vincent, who seemed well on his way to being a decent cook, but I’m guessing he was pissed that Vincent showed his face at the crime scene, and he wanted to terrorize Walt and Jesse at the same time. Point made, loud and clear. I think even steely Mike was a little shocked.

So how about Skylar settling comfortably into becoming a lying manipulator?  It’s a slippery slope, and she has begun the slide.  In order to break into Walt’s apartment (trying to gain clues to his whereabouts) Skylar pretended to be locked out of her apartment and car, without vital medications, with her infant child. She staged everything to fool a good-hearted locksmith into letting her inside. To me, when she passed off her daughter Holly to the man, she passed off her days of being a wholesome character, for good. I think we’ll see a lot more of her dark side this season.  It just came so easy to her. Anyone notice that Anna Gunn got a little makeover?  Skylar was sporting a lovely, light new do.

Hank is still bedridden, and just to place emphasis on how helpless he is, he has to tell wife Marie that he needs to go number two, and we witness the utter humiliation of Hank being assisted with the task. His days are spent bidding on rocks and minerals on eBay, a far cry from his days in the force.

Despite the fact that this was a brutally serious episode, we got little vignettes of humor here and there; the matching Kenny Rogers t-shirts (Walt leaving the “large” sticker prominently on front), Walt and Jesse assuring Mike that they know the acid will dissolve the body, Walt quizzing Victor on the chemical interactions during the cooking session. I also liked how Walt pleaded to Mike to “let us cook” as though it were a cauldron of spaghetti, and the juxtaposition of the blood and ketchup.

The episode (directed by Adam Bernstein) was beautifully shot, and I loved the color scheme in the basement. The faces were bathed in eerie blue light, the jumpsuits were bright orange, and the blood was bright red. Really nice color palette for such a black episode.One quick question. Does anybody know whom the actor was who called 911 about Gale’s murder? I swear it looks like Tobin Bell (Saw), but I can’t find any mention of a cameo. At any rate, how did you like the first episode?  Are you excited for the wild ride?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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