Breaking Bad: Bug   Rewatch 
December 22, 2014 8:27 AM - Season 4, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Skyler's past mistakes come back to haunt her. Gus takes action to thwart his rivals. Jesse seeks Walt's help, with mixed results.

"After everything you've done for me? What you've done for me? You've killed me is what you've done. You've signed my death warrant."

The Walt vs. Jesse fight. Stunt coordinators Al Goto and Jimmy Romano on setting up that scene.

Logan Hill, Vulture:
That surprise sucker punch of a scene caught me off guard entirely. Did anyone see that coming so soon? Technically, it’s a bold example of how very theatrical, in the best sense, this show can be. Like so many of Breaking Bad’s best scenes, it takes place in just one room, with two actors. The scene is lit artificially like some Wooster Group production of a Greek tragedy: Perfect circles of light are scattered about a dark floor as bare as a stage. The effect is elemental: just two men in a room, clashing forces, nowhere to hide.
"What does it matter? We're both dead men anyway."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (8 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
"What? You don't have enough cancer?"
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:29 AM on December 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm puzzled by all the love for this fight scene. It seemed long and boring to me. It strikes me as a lazy way to advance a story -- anytime the writers can't think of anything more interesting to do, they have a couple guys smack each other for a while. I love this series in general, but my one complaint is: too much time wasted on tedious fist fights.

Skyler's ditzy bimbo act is great fun, though. So many doors!
posted by Corvid at 1:23 PM on December 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

too much time wasted on tedious fist fights

I disagree with this. Breaking Bad uses physical violence really quite sparingly; and usually when it does it is nasty and brutal and there are serious consequences.

The fight here isn't trivial or lazy; it's significant. It's a fracturing of Walt and Jesse's relationship -- Jesse finally reaching a breaking point with Walt's controlling behavior. That's something that Gus has been working towards for several episodes now, and something that Walt will have to overcome in the next few episodes.

There are immediate consequences to this fight in the next episode: the lovely scene with Walt and Junior, "at least last night you were real."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:20 PM on December 22, 2014 [4 favorites]

The fight scene: this tension between Mr. White and Jesse has been building since season 1, it is the expression of their dynamic and emblematic of how Walt will destroy any relationship he's in, even if he cares deeply about that person.

Witness Walter accidentally calling Walt Jr. "Jesse" - Jesse is the physically perfect son he never had. Walt, with his perfectionism, might not be able to accept the disability of his progeny, but unable to ever let this break into his consciousness. Added to this, Walt Jr. obviously reveres his uncle (Hank) and looks up to him, which is incredibly threatening to Walt and undermines his status as 'father' and 'teacher'.

Jesse was rejected by his parents and of course, although *he* cannot admit it, needs Walt's approval ("Your meth was just as good as mine," Walt tells Jesse when he's beaten up and landed in the hospital. This changes Jesse's mind and he decides to 'get back in bed' with Walt and produce meth w/him again.)

It is high stakes between these two, and they've reached rock bottom in the relationship when they resort to a physical fight. It is *very* significant and well-placed in the storyline, and I don't find it lazy. If anything, the writers resist doing the lazy thing and then utilize a trope (The Big Fight Scene) when it makes sense in the drama and between the characters, not just to add a sensational scene.

posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:33 AM on December 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh! There was also a strangulation scene in the RV a few seasons ago - whereby Jesse throttled Walt for a few (harrowing) seconds. That was a precursor to this scene, I suppose, which again seemed to fit well in the storyline at that time.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:36 AM on December 23, 2014

The weirdest thing about this for me was that when I first saw it, I dozed off at the end of this episode and I missed the fight. Didn't think anything of it. Then when I was watching the next episode, Walt's torn-up face is front and center; I keep thinking "This isn't still from when Mike kicked him around in the bar, right?" and finally go back and rewatch the end of this episode. JESUS. (Also, this season is chock-full of Walt getting his ass beat and is thus the best season.) I'm still shocked that Jesse retains enough regard for Walt that he remains the obstacle to Gus finishing him off, but the man has demon magic in him.

Skyler's ditzy bimbo act is great fun, though.

As with many performances of this type, the most worthwhile part of it is that as soon as they're away from the IRS guy, her normal face snaps back into place with something close to an audible click. Plus I strenuously disagree with the Vulture review about her transformation being "too sudden" and "too contrived" - I've known tons of women who have learned to quickly switch into a fake persona as occasions demand; it's a fairly basic social survival skill, especially if you've had to work retail.
posted by psoas at 12:47 PM on December 23, 2014 [3 favorites]

I loved both the fight scene; it seemed like most of the fights I've seen and/or been in: desperate, ugly, and vicious.

Also, Anna Gunn just nails it in that scene with the IRS guy. She takes it right up to the edge of unbelievable but doesn't quite cross it, and, as psoas says, that scene outside immediately afterwards is great, when she's still in the bimbo outfit but is clearly being Skyler rather than the character Skyler had just been playing.

Aside from Gunn's acting in these two scenes, and Gus's throughout the show, I hadn't really thought much about how body language helps establish character until I started watching Orphan Black (another case where body language can help determine which character Maslany is playing, regardless of outfit).
posted by johnofjack at 6:12 PM on December 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Skyler's handling of the audit is fantastic. I love how she took Ted's dismissive comment "You're a cashier at a car wash" and turned it into a solution. She took the misogyny that she's had to endure, like people assuming she is bad at her job and slept her way into the accounting job, and turned it back on them to use their assumptions against them.
posted by Monochrome at 1:49 PM on August 10, 2019 [2 favorites]

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