Breaking Bad: Cornered   Rewatch 
December 16, 2014 8:47 AM - Season 4, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Skyler makes an unsettling discovery. Walter, Jr. pushes his dad into a questionable purchase. Jesse offers Mike some unexpected help.

In which Walt delivers the defining speech of the series:
Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn't believe it. Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going in to work? A business big enough that it could be listed on the NASDAQ goes belly-up, disappears. It ceases to exist without me. No. You clearly don't know who you're talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks.
Here's the monologue read by Samuel L. Jackson [background]; read by Gilbert Gottfried [background]; as written by other authors; as originally shot; as one of Bryan Cranston's favorite moments:
It's the first time he really owns up to it—not only to himself but also to his wife. "I've accepted my change, now you have to. If there's someone knocking on the door, that's me knocking. I'm the one who knocks.” Now he's going into that next phase. He's boasting about who he is and he’s beating his chest and howling and being very animalistic male, king of the jungle kind of thing.
Skyler visits the Four Corners Monument in the Navajo Nation: "the only place in the United States where four states intersect at one point."

Gus's slow seduction of Jesse continues. Alan Sepinwall, HitFix:
Jesse so needs a reason to feel good about himself that even if Walt figures out that the whole thing was a set-up - which Walt the genius almost instantly does - Jesse won't want to believe it. And the more Walt tries to argue his case, the further he pushes Jesse away. Because Walt is so smart, he's often right in arguments, but he has this gift for being right in the most abrasive way possible. As with the confrontation at Jesse's house two weeks ago, Walt has lost all sense of which buttons he can and can't push with his partner, and his insistence that this whole situation is all about him is, while almost certainly right, such an arrogant-sounding statement, and so dismissive of Jesse, that it can't help but increase Jesse's feelings of loyalty to Mike and Gus.
"I like to think I can see things in people."

The episode was directed by Michael Slovis, Breaking Bad's DP for series 2-5; he had previously directed series 3's Kafkaesque, and is slated to direct the first two episodes of series 5 of Game of Thrones.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
the defining speech of the series

The height of his delusion. He's able to kill remorselessly, so he is indeed literally dangerous, but the bluster about the whole business depending on him is a complete crapload. The hinky thing about it is that up to this point Gus buys in to Walt's claim that I Alone can cook properly (despite both Gale [RIP] and Victor [RIP] having demonstrated in different ways that there are other options) ...and I now wonder if the upcoming flashback to Gus's Hermano-en-Pollo being murdered was a signal that Gus finally remembered that the business can survive without a wunderkind cook and encouraging Jesse to cook solo, making Walt redundant.

Holy run-on.
posted by psoas at 1:10 PM on December 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Ah, this is one of my favorite episodes. After hearing Walt's "one who knocks" speech for the first time, I thought it would be a long time before I would see such great TV again. Then minutes later, Skyler: "Someone has to protect this family from the man who protects this family." Wow, and wow again. I was enjoying the series a lot up to then, but that's the moment I became a FAN.
posted by Corvid at 4:22 PM on December 16, 2014 [4 favorites]

Yeah, Skyler's line was pretty killer, but this also signifies her choice to double down on sticking with Walt, contrary to what I suspect most sensible people would go for.
posted by psoas at 4:44 PM on December 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah I think its worth noting that this is Walt talking about who he wants to be, not who he is. Right now, he's almost powerless and he is flailing with anger at the one person he retains some amount of power over: Skyler. But even she doesn't buy his act.

Of course, the one thing about Breaking Bad, that really defines the show, is that everything changes.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:03 AM on December 17, 2014 [6 favorites]

[Administrative note: scody's original 2-episodes-per-week pace was set to get to the finale before the start of Better Call Saul, presumed to be sometime around March. But now Better Call Saul has a premiere date of Feb 10, about 7 weeks away, and we have 23 episodes of Breaking Bad to go: 7 more in S4, plus 16 in the two halves of S5. That's three-and-a-bit per week; so to get to the finish line in time, I'm going to up the pace to posting an episode every other day.]
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:18 PM on December 17, 2014

Oh, and usually I note Emmy nominations/wins, so: Anna Gunn was nominated for the 2012 Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Emmy for her performance this episode, losing to Maggie Smith for Downton Abbey.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:35 AM on December 18, 2014

Interesting that Skyler flips a coin twice, supposedly going for whatever answer the fates give her, and she refuses to heed the answer each time, finally moving the coin with her foot to where she wants it.

Also, the authors seem to like puns in their titles (Shotgun, Cornered, and Face Off leap to mind from this season).

I liked Jesse's solution to the problem of how to get into the house, though Mike (being wiser and more experienced than Jesse) realizes it's likely to cause problems of its own, so is there to save Jesse's bacon.
posted by johnofjack at 5:51 PM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Because Walt is so smart, he's often right in arguments, but he has this gift for being right in the most abrasive way possible.

"To keep your marriage brimming, With love in the loving cup, Whenever you're wrong admit it; Whenever you're right, shut up." - Ogden Nash

Contrast Gus’s handling of being a genius who can see five steps ahead, with Walt’s. Gus “sees things in people” while Walt sees himself.
posted by rongorongo at 1:18 AM on September 2, 2022 [1 favorite]

Walt said he was the one who knocks but … he didn’t knock. Jesse did.

And he has enough sense not to make that speech to anyone more familiar with his actual situation.

And Gus would have no need to make such a speech.
posted by bunderful at 9:05 PM on April 15, 2023

« Older Movie: Only Lovers Left Alive...   |  Murder, She Wrote: Trial by Er... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments