Breaking Bad: Fly   Rewatch 
November 14, 2014 8:38 AM - Season 3, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Walt becomes obsessed with a contaminant in the lab and refuses to finish the cook until it is eliminated. A frustrated Jesse attempts to get Walt back on track.

Directed by Rian Johnson, who had previously directed Brick and The Brothers Bloom, and who would go on to direct Looper and the S5 episodes Fifty-One and Ozymandias. Johnson is scheduled to direct Star Wars VII and IX.

Donna Bowman, AV Club: "One of the most distinctive hours of television we're likely to see this year."
Alan Sepinwall, HitFix: "Simple episode. Cheap episode. Brilliant episode."
Todd VanDerWerff, HitFix: "An episode about going mad without ever quite realizing you're doing so."
James Poniewozik, TIME: "The most unusual and very possibly best episode of Breaking Bad so far."
Myles McNutt: "A gripping, fascinating pivot in a truly fantastic season of television."

Quora: Why is Walt obsessed about the fly in his lab?

"It's all contaminated."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
On a show that excels at the bottle episode, this is perhaps the best bottle epsiode. It reveals so much about Walt - that there is still a small, niggling bit of conscience, that he is seeing the growing danger around him, that there's this minor annoying thing that means everything is going wrong...That the one little thing means everything is contaminated - Walt, his life, his family.

And Jesse is placed in a precarious situation by Walt, with only Walt to rely on. Which kinda describes the whole show.
posted by nubs at 10:23 AM on November 14, 2014 [5 favorites]

And Jesse is placed in a precarious situation by Walt, with only Walt to rely on.

This is one of those weird little things that I can't help but focus on, but the fact that he was in such a literally precarious situation--standing atop that swaying ladder for what felt like an eternity--and in the end he didn't fall down (when it just seems foregone, obvious, undebateable that he's going to fall) just flattened me.
posted by psoas at 10:45 AM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

"He's got mad skills, I'll give him that.."
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:24 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I *love* this episode: the writing, the direction. The humor. The transition into bleak introspection; the dual tensions of "is Jesse going to fall?" and "is Walt going to confess?"

For me, the "contamination" is all about Walt dealing with the fallout from One Minute and I See You: the realization that Gus holds all the power and that he has no compunctions about wielding that power ruthlessly. The fly is the only thing left that Walt can control; and even that is a struggle.

Interesting also that Jesse is again more savvy than Walt: Jesse already recognized several episodes ago that they had become indentured to Gus, but I think it's only here that it has sunk in for Walt.

Walt's Sudeafed soliloquy is mostly a showcase for Bryan Cranston's acting, but I think Aaron Paul steals it from under him with that quiet "But I miss her though. God, I do."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:07 PM on November 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Linked from Myles McNutt's piece: Breaking Bad The Sitcom.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:07 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Too small a thing to bother the mods with, but this one slipped though my proofread:
Johnson is scheduled to direct Star Wars VII and IX.
VIII and IX. VII is JJ Abrams.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:21 PM on November 14, 2014

I'm glad there's other people out there who love this episode - I was entranced with it the first time I saw it, but so many other fans of the show have a dislike for it. And I guess I can see the complaint - there's no major movement in the plot, there's just Walt and Jesse chasing after an obsession.

And yet - there are secrets in the room, secrets that Walt has, that Jesse has, that the viewer has (I remember feeling like the audience was the only one clued in to the danger Walt was in, that Walt was oblivious - because we had seen so little of Walt to this time) - and they make the tension amazing. It's a moment where we pause the action to check in with our two main characters and where they are going and if they know it. And how well they know each other.
posted by nubs at 12:52 PM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, this is one of those episodes I think of as "are you with us?" If you're just there for the plot, the blood and guts as it were, you probably aren't really (maybe you're one of those weirdos who idolizes Walt instead of understanding he's essentially the villain of his own show). This is a show about the meta aspects, or if that's too much for you, a sort of tuning fork for the emotional plotline.
posted by dhartung at 12:29 AM on November 15, 2014

I wasn't one of those weirdos who idolized Walt the first time I saw this, but I didn't like this episode much the first time around. I did really like the ending, when it got more serious: the near-confession, the suspense at the ladder shifting with Jesse on it (and setting up a ladder on two wheeled objects? No. Terrible idea).

Watching it this time, I liked it a lot more--I still liked the suspense towards the end, of course, and the poignant story Jesse tells about his aunt as a way of not-really-asking Walt about his health, but I was laughing hysterically at most of the beginning (Walt answering Jesse's question about what the hell he's holding: "This is ... uh ... I made it."... Jesse saying "on three" and then smacking the hell out of him on one).

Jesse is placed in a precarious situation by Walt, with only Walt to rely on. Which kinda describes the whole show.

Yes. Exactly. And Jesse trusts him way too much! Even as Walt's passing out, drugged, Jesse trusts him to keep the ladder from moving. It's a dubious proposition even without taking into account that the ladder's set up on wheeled objects.
posted by johnofjack at 5:58 PM on November 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I still love this episode.

On this rewatch I noticed: clocks. We see the laundry staff clocking in; Jesse notes bitterly "surprised he doesn't make us do that." We see them clocking in again to mark passage of time.

But it's very apparent from this episode that Jesse and Walt are indeed on the clock: Walt's alarm clock signals the start of the cook day, the timer in the lab counting down hours to the next step. Delivering product is literally a deadline: "Failing that? We’re dead. There is no more room for error. Not with these people."

And the Sudafed monologue is all about Walt considering what would have been the perfect time to clock out.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:07 PM on January 12, 2018

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