Breaking Bad: Crawl Space   Rewatch 
December 27, 2014 9:15 AM - Season 4, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Walt takes drastic action to protect his secret and Gus. Skyler's efforts to solve Ted's financial problems hit a wall.

"This is about you and me doing our best to keep Huell happy."

AMC content: Q&A: Christopher Cousins. "To me, Ted is one of the loneliest characters I’ve ever played. That house is a lonely place to be, his bedroom, his office, everything. I think, I can identify with that sometimes."

"Stay away from Pinkman or else you'll do what? Kill me? If you could kill me, I'd already be dead."

James Poniewozik, TIME:
What a stunning reversal that the only thing that has kept him alive is the decency of Jesse Pinkman. Jesse hasn’t forgiven Walt, not by a long shot, but even more powerful than the scene in which Walt comes begging to him is a scene in which they’re not even together yet are linked: Walt realizing, bound at Gus’ knees, that the reason he is still drawing breath is that after all that Jesse remained at least that loyal to his undeserving ass.
"If you try to interfere, this becomes a much simpler matter. I will kill your wife. I will kill your son. I will kill your infant daughter."

Scott Wampler, Collider:
Take a look at that shadow that passes over the entire scene when Walt starts talking about whether or not Gus can kill him. It’s a cloud passing overhead, but it rolls into the scene, darkening everything and seeming to go on forever, off to the horizon, until it seems to cover all of New Mexico. The symbolism’s clear: Walt’s troubles are now everywhere, his death written on every wall.
"Skyler, where is the money?"
"I gave it to Ted. I had to. For us, for the family."

Brent Koepp, Paste:
It’s hard not to dedicate most of your thoughts to the end of the episode. It was quite frankly, one of the most skin-crawling, uncomfortable, magnificent endings I have ever seen to a television episode. All the tension and frustration that we have felt over and entire season rushed forward. As Walter White broke down into tears which eventually turned into maniacal laughter, there is this sense of finality to the fact that he has lost complete control over everything. From the pulsating music to Walt’s laughter echoing out in the hallway as Skyler reaches for the phone to console Marie, the last few seconds of “Crawl Space” were disturbing. The final shot of Walt laying in his crawl space, completely lost in his madness as the camera pulls away, looked visually like his coffin.
Composer Dave Porter, interviewed in HuffPo, on the music underlying the scene:
There was one shot in particular that made me think "this is Breaking Bad's version of a psychological horror film." After Skylar has told Walt what's become of their money, she leans back from the overhead light and into the shadows, overcome by fear. Something about that particular moment really spoke to me. So the cue begins with a dramatic frenzied percussion ensemble as Walt rushes into the house and starts gathering the money, but flares out when Walt screams at Skylar. Then, as Skylar backs away, a dull monotonous thud appears. Other sounds slowly pile on, some of which I've fed into a delay with the feedback turned all the way up, so that each repeat grows louder and ultimately most distorted as the camera pulls up and away, leaving Walt in the crawlspace laughing maniacally. Ultimately the cue just completely takes over everything at the end of the episode, becoming a wall of noise.
Bryan Cranston was nominated for the 2012 Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his performance in this episode, losing to Damian Lewis for Homeland.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (4 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Brent Koepp is korrect: I've lost some of the initial gut-wrenching emotions that go with that final scene, upon re-watching, but it still packs a wallop of a punch. Skylar's stunned face as she sees him losing it, backing away; wow. Great stand-in for the audience's reaction.

Looking forward to Vince Gilligan's other projects including Better Call Saul.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:01 AM on December 27, 2014

This is one of my favorite Breaking Bad episodes, along with Ozymandias and Dead Freight (and two of those show everything falling apart for Walt).

I too had that sense in the closing scenes that the episode had turned into a psychological horror film, and I really liked that. Something about the timing of Skyler backing away, horrified, with that music thrumming approaching doom, Walt laughing maniacally over the message from Marie, panicked and crying, wondering when it will all stop.... The scene hasn't lost much of its punch for me because, even though I have little sympathy for Walt, I do like it when he's shown forcefully just how much he doesn't actually control, and it seems natural to me that his many foolish (antisocial, proud, arrogant, egocentric) choices endanger all the people caught in his wake.

I think one of the defining characteristics of Walt's life (at least, after the cancer diagnosis) might be his delusion that he can control what happens, including how his family will think of him and whether his family will be in danger. I'm not sure if this delusion is a reaction to what happened with Gray Matter or an extension of it--his sudden departure from that company seems a bit like wounded outrage, seems rooted in a failure to realize that he cannot control others and also that he cannot control himself.
posted by johnofjack at 8:59 AM on December 29, 2014 [2 favorites]

Man, I did not like that last scene. I felt like the maniacal laughter was way out of character. Plus (and I get the narrative reasons for it, nonetheless) I just felt cheated by them dangling the prospect of the disappearance service and then it just being swept away.
posted by psoas at 3:54 PM on December 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

God I looove that ending so much. There are a lot of moments in Breaking Bad which would serve as great places to just stop watching the show, and this is one of them. I'll mention my favourite ending for Breaking Bad when it comes up, but this is just terrific. In this moment, Walt, who has been po faced as his life has collapsed around him, gets the joke and gives up (at least for now, anyway).
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:59 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

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