Breaking Bag: Paste's Breaking Bad Mailbag (9/13)

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Josh and Shane will be running a Breaking Bad Mailbag each Friday so we can all get our BB fix before the new episode airs. To get in on the action, send your questions, theories, rants, and whatever else to BreakingPaste@gmail.com—or leave them in the comments—and stay tuned for the email exchange recaps on Mondays.

Welcome back, fellow fanatics. We’re three episodes away from watching Jesse drown Walt at the A-1 Car Wash—or however this thing is going to end—and the conspiracy theories are spiraling out of control. Here at Paste, we’re happy to be the official home of the Breaking Bad lunatic fringe, so please enjoy another week of questions and answers.

My wild theory is that Todd’s brood are not such bad shots; they’re not trying to hit Hank and Gomez. Maybe Walt called them in to bust him loose, and the shooting is part of the ploy—a dangerous ploy, granted, since the DEA boys don’t know it’s for show. Could even give Walt a chance to yell something noble-sounding when there’s a break in the gunfire (perhaps with the good guys out of ammo) like,”It’s me you want, spare the others!” And he rides away with the bad guys, owing them a major favor.

Also, during their little skirmish, could a handcuffed Walt—taking a page from Huell’s playbook—have been able to shove something in Jessie’s pocket? A lottery ticket, maybe?
—Culley S.

On paper, I like the idea that the Peckerwoods have some master plan, but come on, Culley, did you see that SUV? It was riddled with bullets. I’m using italics, Culley, because they shot that vehicle to pieces. If they were trying to spare Walt, they did a piss-poor job. In any real universe, Walt would now have so many holes in his body that he could be sold at Ikea as a novelty sieve. There is no rhyme or reason to the Peckerwood methodology here, because the truth is that the Peckerwoods aren’t too bright. Remember, this is the same brilliant group who thought they could just dye the meth blue and fool the Czech connoisseurs. They don’t strike me as the types to really think things through.

As for Walt slipping something to Jesse, I refuse to entertain that notion unless one of our other tinfoil-cap readers emails with the same idea. One person does not a conspiracy theory make…
—Shane

Does anyone else suspect that when Walt & Jesse got into that scuffle, that perhaps Jesse gave Walt the key to the handcuffs? I know it seems far fetched, especially seeing as when the shoot out happens, Walt made no attempt to un-cuff himself if he had the chance, but that’s in the back of my head. I dunno, there was a look shared between Walt & Jesse before Jesse spat on him, like an unspoken understanding that perhaps they might in some small way, still have each other’s back. We know Walt gets free….but is it Jesse that helps him out of this one?
—Michele S.

THERE IT IS! THAT’S TWO! WE’VE GOT A CONSPIRACY THEORY! I’m calling this the Homeland Hypothesis, after that time when Brody slipped a razor to the terrorist after fake-fighting him. But Josh, I’ll leave this one to you, because I’m too excitable right now. And I’m steadfastly ignoring the question of why Walt would be trying to help Jesse after he just tried to have him killed.
—Shane

Last week, I was emotionally steeling myself to lose Hank and/or Jesse during that shoot-out. So many episodes have ended with an punch to the gut like that. But I can’t imagine Gilligan opening this next episode with everybody dying. So I don’t know what to expect? Which way is up? Who’s killing who?

Also, no. Nobody slipped anybody anything.
—Josh

The dumbest thing Hank did this week is, surprisingly, not taking his time on the phone with Marie and endangering his self, Gomez, Jesse, and Walt when Uncle Swastika and his merry band of Peckerwoods showed up to murder them in the desert.

No. No it was not.

So what was it?

At the end of the show, after Walt surrenders and before the Peckerwoods show up, Hank starts gloating to Walt about how awesome his little plan was. He says to Walt, and I quote, “How did you like my barrel photo? I took it in the back by the barbeque grill. You know, where we used to cook out with the family?”

The WHAT? What is a “barbecue grill?” This sounds like an abomination. And I, as a person living in North Carolina, simply won’t stand for it. Barbecue is something you eat, not a device on which to cook meat. (Rhymes!!) Shame on you, Vince Gilligan, for allowing this egregious error to slip out of the writers’ room and into my earholes. I’m sure to have nightmares for weeks.

Glad I got that out of my system.
—Kinsey B., Raleigh, NC

I include this email only to note how crazy North Carolina people are about their barbecue. I don’t have the exact statistics, but I’m assuming Kinsey is one of roughly 156,000 state residents whose nights were ruined by Hank’s barbecue reference. I live in Durham and follow a lot of NC people on twitter, and based on their endless barbecue-themed debates, I’ve learned that there are apparently about 20 culinary regions within the state, each one with its own distinct take on barbecue. The difference can probably be measured in total ounces of vinegar per piece of pork, but these people, God love them, care more about barbecue than the French do about wine.

By the way, this is a barbecue grill. It exists. Get used to it, Southerners!

Back to Breaking Bad? Back to Breaking Bad!
—Shane

If you’ve never seen the Kevin Bacon movie Death Sentence, shame on you. However, I’ve been getting the feeling for a while now that that’s where Breaking Bad is headed rather than toward Scarface.

Long story short for those who haven’t seen it (spoiler alert), Kevin Bacon’s son gets killed by a gang and he goes systematically ape shit to get revenge.

At this stage in the game, I think we can all agree that Mr. Lambert is coming back from New Hampshire to deal with Uncle Jack. The only question now is why? He sure as hell isn’t coming back for Jesse, but what if he’s coming back to get revenge for the death of his family?

I’m betting Uncle Jack has more men at his disposal than the half dozen that came out into the desert for the shootout. What if a few went to the car wash and took Skyler and Flynn hostage? And what if Walt stupidly calls their bluff and refuses to cook for them and they kill his family? (Skyler’s phone call in the “On the next Breaking Bad” sure did sound like one coming from someone being held at gunpoint, didn’t it?) Somehow he gets away and uses Saul’s guy to make himself disappear just long enough to grow enough hair and collect enough money to buy enough guns to take out an entire gang.

The icing on the cake of this Death Sentence theory? Here’s a quote from Season 4, Episode 8 (“Hermanos”):

“To hell with your cancer. I’ve been living with cancer for the better part of a year. Right from the start, it’s a death sentence. That’s what they keep telling me. Well, guess what? Every life comes with a death sentence, so every few months I come in here for my regular scan, knowing full well that one of these times—hell, maybe even today—I’m gonna hear some bad news. But until then, who’s in charge? Me. That’s how I live my life.”

Apologies for blowing your mind.
—Kerrance M.

Josh, I’m too easily convinced by well-formed guesses like this one, so I’m going to turn to you once again for a dose of sobriety. But I will say that the remainder of this show seems like it has to turn on the rednecks wanting Walt to cook, right? Of course, this whole desert shootout scenario has to be resolved first, and it’s not exactly a minor plot point. Still, Kerrance’s theory makes sense to me, except for one point that I’m compelled to bring up again: IF THEY WANT WALT SO BAD, WHY ARE THEY SHOOTING AT HIM?!
—Shane

The obvious reason that the Peckerwoods are shooting the car is because shooting cars is cool! I mean you’ve got a big ol’ gun in your hands and the car is just right there asking for bullet holes. Peckerwoods are the honey badgers of Breaking Bad—they don’t give a shit. Again did you see how Todd shot that gun? I don’t think they’re trying to kill Walt—I think it’ll be explained away as Hank and Gomez being sort-a-kind-a near the car.

As far as the Peckerwoods going after Walt’s family, I think there’s a very big chance of this. Future Walt looks like a man with something to avenge, and I’ve suggested before that this might be his family. Now, I think it might be something he cares about equally—those barrels buried 50 yards from the pick-up truck.
—Josh

I am sure that the goal for our star is to break the Guinness book of records for number of appearances in tighty whitey underwear in Television shows.. However I am going to pitch for a series of captain underwear..based on the fine literary character of the same name just to defeat this dubious distinction he is seeking.. Unless Walt agrees to cook one more time and wear boxers.
—David N.

Recently, we saw a re-cut trailer hit the Internet that made Monty Python and the Holy Grail look like an actual drama. That, plus David’s question, got me thinking- what if we wanted to make a trailer that made Breaking Bad look like a porn? What scenes would we include? Walt in his tighty-whiteys is an absolute must, as is Skyler’s lackluster handjob in season one. All the times Gale looked adoringly at Walt and told him some story about the stars or poetry or anything else have to be included, and we’d need a montage of Jesse yelling the word “bitch!” over and over. What else? The underwear video game scene? The more I think about it, Breaking Bad doesn’t have a ton of sexy moments, does it? Josh, what am I missing?
—Shane

Most of it would take place in Jesse’s hollow pleasure dome—those all nighters where everyone was enjoying themselves but our shellshocked hero.
—Josh

Walt will blow up the Nazis as soon as they try to make him cook against his will. The M-60 is for Gretchen and Elliott.
—Theodore T.

The idea of Walt just randomly going after Gretchen and Elliott, who have totally disappeared from the show, made me laugh out loud. Those smug bastards had it coming! Well done, Theodore—funniest prediction yet.
—Shane

Hank’s teary and triumphant phone call to Marie gives me the sense that he isn’t going to survive the shootout. Both Hank and Marie believe that their nightmare is over and things will finally be all right, which suggests things will certainly not be all right (at least for them); one (pretty obvious) pattern I’ve noticed in BB is that whenever a character thinks things are going his/her way, the shit hits the fan. Also, the way Hank ended the phone call by saying, “It’s gonna be a while before I get home; I love you,” got my impending-death radar pinging at a pretty rapid clip. And this was before we even knew for sure that Todd & Friends were going to show up despite Walt calling them off.

Then again, that phone call could be an intentional misdirection—Gilligan and crew making it seem like Hank’s going to get shot up (if anybody’s firing actual bullets, a dubious assumption considering the lack of hits) merely for the pleasure of proving us wrong next week. Anyway, I kind of hope Jesse and Walt both survive to the end of the series, move to a beach in Mexico, and open a bar or a surf shop (or any business that can operate out of a bamboo-and-thatch-based structure).
—Dan L.

I definitely think that Hank is headed for that big DEA office in the sky. If there was any doubt, he’s next week’s guest on Talking Bad.
—Josh

Totally agree with Dan about the impending-death radar. Mine was buzzing so loud that it malfunctioned, and I woke up on the floor in total confusion several hours later. It was almost corny how clearly it televised that something was about to go wrong. It was like in those World War Two movies when some minor soldier shows up before a battle and starts talking wistfully about all things he’s going to do when he gets home. You know that dude is about to meet a Nazi bullet.

If Walt and Jesse open up a bar in Mexico, I want it to be called “¡La Hacienda Heisenberg!” Exclamation points are not negotiable. Also, every drink should be named after people he’s killed. The Tuco Sour. The Singapore Fring. The Rusty Gale. The Flynn and Tonic.

That’s right, I’m rooting for Walt to kill Flynn! What of it?! (Just kidding.) (Or am I?)
—Shane

Really hoping that Hank doesn’t die… he doesn’t deserve it. I’m not invested enough in Todd and Jack to carry this through to the end. I’m not convinced that Walt “broke good” or tried to save Hank (as if). He’d told Jack, “If you want me to cook for you, you’d better get here”, then he gives a meek “don’t come”. Oddly, he doesn’t mention the Feds or DEA are on site, perhaps the ONLY thing that might’ve actually kept Jack from coming for his cook.

And apparently Hank and Gomez just fell off the back of a cabbage truck. The idea that two seasoned federal agents wouldn’t assume that Walt might’ve been with someone, been followed or called someone after the phones disconnected doesn’t make much sense. Even Gomey (or Hank) not calling in backup after Walt’s confessions in route, or during or immediately after the cuffing is implausible to me. And I don’t even want to get into the whole “not showing their badges” to prevent a shootout where they were outnumbered.
—Felicia K.

See, if we use the word “deserve” in the context of another great show, Game of Thrones, where characters deserve to die when they fail to play the game with the requisite diplomacy and patience (see Robb Stark at the Red Wedding), then Hank absolutely deserves to die. Aside from the barrel gambit, which was a desperate ploy, he hasn’t made a smart move in about three seasons! I agree that he should live if we’re looking at this from a moral perspective, but if life or death is decided by brains, Hank should consider himself lucky to have lived this long.
—Shane

There’s definitely an overriding morality at play in Breaking Bad where bad actions lead to bad consequences—judgement comes for all the villains. The innocents aren’t always spared, though. Evil affects everyone. I wouldn’t be holding out hope for all “the good guys” here.
—Josh

There was another thing I noticed that people haven’t mentioned. There’s a distinct camera shot before the gunfight that shows Uncle Jack noticing Jesse Pinkman in the other car. And then they shoot a ton of bullets into the vehicle with Walt in it. Todd knows that Jesse is almost as good as Walt when it comes to making meth. Do you think they’re considering taking Jesse? And that ending scene, where Walt has the gun and is going on some suicide mission, do you think he might be going to free Jesse? It would be an interesting way to end the show—sort of a last hoorah to the Walt/Jesse partnership.
—Sidath W.

I actually noticed that shot too, but if they want to “take” Jesse, it means going around Hank and Walt and Gomez, which feels impossible right now. But I have a feeling the next email will offer a more plausible idea…
—Shane

Try this ending: Hank and Gomey are wounded in the shoot-out. Walt jumps in front of the advancing neo-Nazis and tells them to spare the DEA agents. In return, he will give them Jesse (or, possibly, himself) as a full-time hostage/cook. Having found his long lost conscience, the last episode has Walt, with a machine gun, going into Lydia’s meth lab to rescue Jesse who has spent several months cooking for the neo-Nazis. Redemption!
—D. Scott S.

The first part of that theory, with Walt offering himself to save Hank, feels super, super likely to me. It’s the only thing that gets him back in the cooking game and spares Hank’s life. (Hank may die, but as someone mentioned before, it feels too early for that…he goes in the last or second-to-last episode, not before.) The second half is more speculative, and our success rate at making even the most immediate predictions is so bad that we should probably just keep our cool and see what happens.
—Shane

I think Sideth and Scott might be on to something. I didn’t really think about there being two meth cooks in the desert. I’d love to see the series end with Walt coming to Jesse’s rescue. That might be the only thing to “save” Jesse.

Wait…dang it. I just got my hopes up for something happy to come out of all of this. I think that’s going to be a big mistake.
—Josh

Thanks to all for reading and writing in. If you want to get in on the mailbag action, drop us a line at BreakingPaste@gmail.com, and make sure to check in Monday for our email recap.