Breaking Bad: Buried   Rewatch 
January 26, 2015 9:34 AM - Season 5, Episode 10 - Subscribe

While Skyler's past catches up with her, Walt covers his tracks. Jesse continues to struggle with his guilt.

"Maybe our best move here is to stay quiet."

Donna Bowman, AV Club:
In “Buried,” Breaking Bad methodically sets out to answer the most crucial subset of those thousand questions: What do these characters want? And while on the surface this episode is just moving the pieces into place, its singleminded attention to motivation provides just the kind of revelations that prime the engines for the stretch run. Each character chooses a personal victory condition—a definition of “winning” that sets their course but also traps them inside of it.
Maureen Ryan, HuffPo:
So the lines have been drawn, and what Walt, Hank and Marie want (or don't want) is fairly clear right now. And that's why, for my money, Jesse and Skyler are the most interesting characters on the show, in part because it's hard to guess which way they're going to jump. Jesse has nothing to lose, and Skyler has everything to lose. Walt may have to give up his money and Hank may lose face at work, but ultimately, those are really just checkmarks in "wins" and "losses" columns. The contours of the "Breaking Bad" contests involving pride and ego are a little easier to see, at least at this stage. For Skyler, however, all bets are off: She lived by the rules and was deposited in Hell anyway, and that makes her unpredictable.
Andy Greenwald, Grantland:
The truth is raining down like pieces of Wayfarer 515 and the wreckage is just as gruesome. Last week Hank and Walt dodged the debris with busted noses and macho bluster. But Marie and Skyler just let it all crash into them. There were barely any words, just Skyler’s nodding head pushing the knife in deeper and deeper. Yes, she knew about Walt when the DEA had them all under lockdown. Yes, she knew when the two cartel cousins shot Marie’s husband to hell. Marie’s entire existence has been about putting a bright, purple smile on even the most hopeless situations; whatever pain she kept for herself was subsumed first in the illicit rush of petty thievery and then in the micromanaging of her husband’s rehabilitation. Over the course of this single one-sided conversation, every bit of optimism and sunshine was stolen right out of her.
Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture:
The writing in the Hank-Skyler coffee shop scene belongs on anyone’s list of great Breaking Bad moments; it just built and built and built to Skyler’s escalating repetitions of “Am I under arrest,” keeping you on tenterhooks the whole time about whether she’d turn state’s witness or lawyer up. [...] I also got the sense that she was reacting to Hank not just as a sister-in-law would react to her brother-in-law, but as any intelligent but scared woman would react to a beefy man who was trying to bully her into doing something not just because it was the morally correct thing to do, but to satisfy his own wounded vanity and indulge his redemption fantasy. Ironically, in this scene Hank reminded me of Walt — or Walt-as-Heisenberg. He just came on too strong. He let his desperation show. If he’d been able to manage a somewhat lighter touch he might have gotten what he wanted. And now it’s too late.
Anna Gunn's NYT op-ed: I Have A Character Issue. "Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become a kind of Rorschach test for society, a measure of our attitudes toward gender."

Responses from James Poniewozik, TIME: "In the era of the billion megaphones, the most obnoxious shouters and simplistic complaints end up defining the discussion." Andy Greenwald, Grantland: "Let’s not let those responsible for creating these limited, frustrating women off the hook in the process." Maureen Ryan, HuffPo: "Why does it surprise anyone that some viewers feel comfortable heaping scorn on female characters when so many shows treat the women on screen with indifference, confusion or even disdain?"

Vince Gilligan, interviewed at GQ:
Consistently one of the hardest things we were faced with as writers on the show was figuring out Skyler, Walt's wife - particularly figuring out why she would continue to stick around. We wanted her front and centre on the show but we knew that there was a very good possibility that she would not stick around for Walt's misbehaviour, and would most likely call the police. We had a great deal of headaches in the writers' room trying to ensure that she would believably not call the police on Walt. That was a bit of "inorganic storytelling". In a perfect world, you let your characters organically tell you their wants and needs and desires and you try to write accordingly - you try not to bang square pegs into round holes, creatively speaking. But every now and then - for instance, if the character of Skyler is telling you, the writer, that she really wants to call the cops and end this madness, and you know as a writer that if she does that, your series will quickly come to an end - you have to be a bit inorganic, unfortunately. Those were some of the hardest moments: not having her bring the series to a quick and violent end.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Matt Zoller Seitz really nails it in that pullquote.

Funniest moment

Saul arguing his case on Belize: "It's an option that has worked very well for you in the recent past...!"

Second funniest moment:

Scrooge McDuckin' on the money.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:54 AM on January 26, 2015


Mexico.

All's I'm saying.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:54 AM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I gotta do it.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:37 AM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was surprised to see Skyler show such tenderness to Walt after he collapsed on the bathroom floor. It seems easily believeable that she has decided at this point that it's in her best interest not to cooperate with Hank, and to help Walt try to avoid arrest. It would make sense to me if she just stepped over him as he lay on the floor, and maybe asked (coldly), "can I get you anything?". But the extreme tenderness feels out of place. Why does it make sense for her to be so sweet here?
posted by Corvid at 12:21 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just remember that “I Hate Skyler White” is not the world. Anyone up for starting a “I Have Complicated, Mixed Feelings Toward Skyler White” Facebook page?

I find it so interesting the anger that Skyler/Anna drew during this show (and apparently, this final season). I liked the character; I found myself wondering what I would do in her situation and there is no easy answer when you discover you're married to a drug kingpin. And as is so often the case, if you keep silent about something, you become complicit - secrets long held become too embarrassing and compromising to speak of.

Skyler is so compromised by this point in the series it's hard to know what is real and what is just a face she is wearing and has worn for so long to survive. We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.

But the extreme tenderness feels out of place. Why does it make sense for her to be so sweet here?

Because love and hate is complex; Walt is Heisenberg, but also her husband and the father of her children.
And, at least my read of things is that they've had a period of reconciliation here from when Walt got out of the business to Hank figuring things out.
posted by nubs at 12:50 PM on January 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think it was finding out that Walt's cancer was back that made her rethink talking with Hank about all of it. There's a lot happening on her face when she hears that, and right after it, and then (as Matt Zoller Seitz says) I think it really sealed the deal when Hank grabbed her arm.

This interaction really struck me:
[After Walt comes to, on the bathroom floor]
Skyler: "It's true. The cancer's back. Is this it?"
Walt: "Does that make you happy?"
Skyler: "I can't remember the last time I was happy."

I think Gunn is right that people see Skyler as Walt's antagonist, but still the hate for her doesn't make sense unless the haters consider the show a power fantasy: Skyler's the voice there constantly questioning Walt's fantasy. She has said repeatedly that his actions will harm the family and, of course, she's right. He endangered them, caused them to lose their home and end up in poverty, destroyed Skyler's relationship with Walt Jr., severely damaged her relationship with Marie, and resulted in the deaths of Hank, Gomez, and almost 200 other people. And, sure, Walt Jr. has a tidy sum waiting for him once he turns 18, but the kid's going to have some serious problems, just like Holly will. I don't think you can grow up the son of a notorious criminal without carrying some baggage from it (not to mention that Holly, in public school, would be subjected to a great deal of bullying--which a number of teachers and/or administrators will, out of unthinking childish vindictiveness, turn a blind eye to).

The series seems like a spiritual brother to the much more cartoonish (and, for me at least, much less interesting) Falling Down: a man's wounded ego at being unable to provide for his family leads him to start lying to them; his narcissism and thwarted sense of entitlement builds to a simmering resentment, which turns into unfocused rage; he becomes a ruthless scofflaw committing guiltless murder and causing a lot of collateral damage before eventually causing his own death.
posted by johnofjack at 5:05 PM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


The standoff in the beginning is so much a Western: Hank and Walt 10 paces apart, square off, hands at their waistbands, very slightly twitching their fingers; they're both about to draw.

MZS's review, quoted above:
The writing in the Hank-Skyler coffee shop scene belongs on anyone’s list of great Breaking Bad moments; it just built and built and built to Skyler’s escalating repetitions of “Am I under arrest,” keeping you on tenterhooks the whole time about whether she’d turn state’s witness or lawyer up.
I don't think I see it that way. It's less about her deciding whether to cooperate, much more about her dawning realization that Hank's actually much like Walt: that he's manipulating her to get what he wants. And I think the turning point there, where he loses her, is the moment at which he mentions "my ability to control the situation." Very much a Walt line.

(Also, Hanks opening awkward hug felt very much like an echo of Walt's creepy I-forgive-you hug.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:17 PM on January 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


And, an, yeah, reading the entirety of the MZS pullquote he arrived at the exact same conclusion:
Ironically, in this scene Hank reminded me of Walt — or Walt-as-Heisenberg. He just came on too strong. He let his desperation show. If he’d been able to manage a somewhat lighter touch he might have gotten what he wanted.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:04 PM on January 29, 2018


Also: the glance that Kuby and Huell exchange when Walt says that the money in the barrels is "close enough".
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:11 PM on January 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


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