At its core, “Breaking Bad” has always been about family. Walter White became Heisenberg to support his family. Walt has done some truly horrible things, all ostensibly for his family, even as that family threatened to tear itself apart. After all the drugs, murders and ruined lives, we find in “Buried” the line Walt refuses to cross. No matter what, he refuses to kill Hank. He might not be blood, but, in Walt’s mind, he’s family, and that means everything.
However, the great irony of the show is that all Walt’s actions have only driven the family further apart. “Buried” doesn’t move the plot forward as fast as last week’s “Blood Money,” but it spends plenty of time reminding viewers of that fact. While the last 20 minutes have plenty of forward motion, much of “Buried” is spent showing just how doomed everyone in this show is.
Of course, Walt is doomed on several levels. Not only is the cancer back, but it’s only a matter of time before his secret identity becomes public knowledge. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Walt actually wins in the end. And it’s increasingly clear he’s bringing his whole family down with him.
Based on her actions Sunday night, Skyler seems to be siding with Walt in the nascent police investigation. Given her complicity in nearly all Walt’s crimes, it’s hard to imagine that she won’t be coming down alongside him.
As much as Hank has shifted into the role of the “good guy,” he’s acting much more like Walt than ever before. His first meeting with Skyler in the diner is straight out of Walt’s playbook. He feigns compassion toward Skyler, but it’s immediately obvious that he sees his sister-in-law as a game piece first and a family member second. As Skyler says, what Hank wants is to catch Walt at all costs, and it’s likely to consume him.
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We already knew from last week’s episode the Jesse is deeply broken, but “Buried’s” shot of the once-lively young man laying empty and emotionally dead on a playground underscores just how much Jesse has lost. While he may not technically be a member of the White family, it’s clear that Walt views Jesse as something of a surrogate son, and that means he’s doomed as well.
Jesse may be the fan favorite, but given his ruined state in tonight’s episode, it’s starting to look like he might not make it out of “Breaking Bad” alive. Still, that doesn’t mean he won’t have a part to play in the coming episodes.
“Buried” ends on one of the most exciting moments of the show. Hank is walking into an interrogation room, ready to question Jesse about the money he’s been spreading around and (presumably) about Walt. I wrote last week that Jesse was the wild card this season, but he might be about to throw his hand in with Hank and finally turn against Walt. Still, we’ll have to wait until next week to find out for sure.
Of course, there are developments in “Buried” outside the oncoming Hank/Walt showdown. We see Todd and Lydia completely destroy Declan’s gang and meth operation over their substandard product. Lydia seems to be becoming the new, much more neurotic Heisenberg, and somehow her ties with Walt will resurface. At the moment, it’s unclear exactly how.
Even as “Breaking Bad” heads toward its apocalyptic end, the show still retains its signature black humor. Funny moments are rarer now than in earlier seasons, but Huell laying down on the bed of money Sunday night is one of the most amusing moments the show has ever produced. But, even then, there’s a stark reminder that Walt is a monster. After Huell suggests stealing some of the money, his associate Kuby reminds him that Walt once murdered 10 men in two minutes.
It’s hard to imagine that season-one Walt would ever become as ruthless as Huell suggests, but here we are. After setting out to provide for his family after his death, Walt has likely damned everyone he’s close to. More than anything else, “Buried” shows that Walt’s family, the only thing he still holds sacred, is coming undone. Family members are forming sides against one another, and, as the saying goes, a house divided against itself cannot stand. Every member in the family is coming down sooner or later. Now it’s just a matter of time until that house falls.