‘Breaking Bad’ Season 5, Episode 3: ‘Hazard Pay’ Recap

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Aaron Paul Bryan Cranston Breaking Bad Hazard Pay Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 3: Hazard Pay Recap

If there was one characteristic that Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has exhibited throughout the run of Breaking Bad, it would be that of control. Even while things frequently spiraled out of control, Walt never lost his grasp on either the gravity of the situation, or its potential outcome; he tended to apply the appropriate pressure (often by the skin of his teeth) in order to keep pursuing his goals – and eventually those of his future ex-employer. Now, as Walt slips into the role of being his own boss, the vision of his enterprise is being directly contested by Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), who has somehow seized control of the business as a mere stipulation of being part of it. It’s apparent that, for Walt, this simply will not do.

Mike’s always been a fascinating character in the series, but until recently he’s been running around the fringes of Gus’ El Pollo Loco meth-distribution network, making sure all the cogs and wheels are in perfect working condition. Now, we get a better glimpse of just what a cleaner like Mike has to deal with, and that means doing more than putting bullets in people. The fallout from Gus’ death continues to be a labor-intensive ordeal – especially now that Chow and Chris lie dead because of the panicky behavior of Lydia (Laura Fraser). In order to keep the bodies from piling up, and increasing the already intense law enforcement scrutiny, Mike has to make sure those who were paid to keep their mouths shut actually get their hazard pay. That means a lot of trips to correctional facilities to reassure guys like Dennis, a former employee of Gus Fring’s laundry.

Mike’s assurance that no one is going to flip, and that all mouths will stay sealed, rests on the somewhat flimsy premise that Walter and Jesse (Aaron Paul) will be able to get their meth lab up and cooking before someone’s mortgage payment comes due. With that, Breaking Bad does a special edition of House Hunters, where the trio is shown various potential locales by Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), only to reject them on a variety different shortcomings they each possess. As a real-estate agent, Saul isn’t too bad – even going so far as to push the laser tag/arcade business he tried to convince Walt and Skyler (Anna Gunn) was better suited than the car wash to launder their money.

Walt is always a step ahead, however, and while everyone else is focusing on the limitations of a permanent base, he comes up big with the idea of making the meth lab mobile once more. By hooking up with Vamanos Pest, Walt’s plan is to cook in the houses scheduled to be tented and fogged, thereby giving him and Jesse a convenient, private location to get business taken care of that has little need for round-the-clock security. The only wildcard seems to be the employees, but given that they’re prone to pulling a little B&E, from time to time, they’re more than willing to keep their mouth shut for a chunk of the drug money. Still, despite the no-eye-contact clause Walt and Jesse seem to have in their contract with the boys of Vamanos Pest, Todd (Jesse Plemmons) seems to have a bit of an ambitious streak in him, letting “Yes, sir” and “No, sir” know that he took the liberty of disabling a nanny cam in the first house they set up to cook in. Though he remains chillingly unresponsive to the news, it’s clear that Walt may soon have a use for a young go-getter such as Todd.

Walt and Jesse’s first cook goes off without a hitch, featuring the now patented Breaking Bad montage that has become a welcome mainstay of the series – except this one comes complete with a close-up of a framed photograph of the nuclear family who have unwittingly allowed their house to be the location of a major crime. After the successful cook, Walt and Jesse hang out on the couch together and share a congratulatory beer. The conversation soon turns to Jesse’s home life with Andrea (Emily Rios) and Brock (Ian Posada), where Walt feigns some fatherly back-patting about the nice family Jesse has secured for himself, which then turns into yet another example of just how masterful a manipulator Walt has become.

Jonathan Banks Aaron Paul Breaking Bad Hazard Pay Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 3: Hazard Pay Recap

If Mike has his hands full making sure Gus’ associates keep their mouth shut, then Walt’s need to secure any potential security breach means planting the seeds that will lead to the end of Jesse’s provisional family. Jesse’s happiness comes a distant second to Walt’s assurance that nothing will infringe upon the newly acquired faithfulness he’s seen from his partner. It is with measured callousness that Walt throws doubt into Jesse’s mind about where his relationship is headed, and how true it can possibly be if she doesn’t know everything about the man she’s with. Sure, like Jesse says, Andrea knows he does something (illegal), but she has no idea to what lengths he’s gone to do what he does. Jesse gets the picture; right now, ignorance is bliss, but eventually he’ll feel compelled to tell Andrea about himself, and that means bringing up Gale – what kind of woman would forgive the cold-blooded murder of a guy that can make such a good cup of coffee?

Walt’s manipulations don’t end there. His need to divert attention away from the truth and protect his operation means sacrificing the relationships of those closest to him – whether it’s Jesse and Andrea, or Skyler and her sister Marie (Betsy Brandt). While she’s not directly a threat to Walt, Marie is tenacious enough a busybody that letting her sniff around the changes in her sister’s behavior too long will eventually lead to trouble; Marie’s not the type to let a reemerging smoking habit and verbally violent outburst go without some serious prodding. So, in an effort to keep Marie’s finger from pointing at him, Walt manufactures a reality where Skyler’s conduct is tied directly to her infidelity with Ted Beneke. “I don’t want anyone to think less of her – or me,” Walt says, deflecting another budding problem before it happens.

That just leaves the problem of Mike, and his guys he has to “make whole.” A problem Walt believes is something Mike brought to the table when he joined the group. Mike, however, takes a moment out of cutting three huge stacks of cash into three smaller stacks (and one very full duffel bag) to let Walt know he sees things differently. These guys wouldn’t need to be made whole if Walt hadn’t killed the guy they were working for. Right now, Walt’s all about asserting his dominance in this new business, and continuing to pay toward costs he sees as frivolous doesn’t figure in to the plans he has for this criminal empire.

After brushing aside Jesse’s declaration that he broke things off with Andrea, Walt leaves with a portent for Mike by reminding Jesse of what happened to Victor: He was “taking liberties that weren’t his to take.” Victor “flew too close to the sun, got his throat cut.”

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Breaking Bad returns next Sunday with ‘Fifty-One’ @10pm on AMC. Take a look at a preview below:

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  1. loved last nigt episode .. i was sad that walt didnt talk more with jesse about his break up as i thought that maybe after all this time they had a better relationship then that ..

    • He never cared about Jesse. And all those little “moments” of friendship theyve ever had are just means to an end. An end that soley has Walters interest at the fore front.

    • What? He manipulated Jesse into breaking up with her so why would he talk to him about it? It’s what he wanted. They have no friendship, Walt is using him and couldn’t care less about him.

      • in the past season walt has shown that he cares for jessie .. he did murder those guys for him and he has refused to kill jessie or let jessie be “dealt with” before .. so i find it hard to believe those feelings are gone .. but yeah i dont like this “new” walt at all .

  2. Walts manipulation of Jesse has officially become pure evil. It’s not just tying up loose ends, it’s making sure that Jesse has no one else but him.
    I have to once again give credit to Vince Gilligan and the writers for putting that scene with Walt at the diner at the beginning of the season premire. Because no matter what I try to predict is coming next I think about that scene and my theory’s fall apart.
    And I can’t stop thinking about what Walt is going to so about Skylar???
    I think it’s clear that he isn’t doing this for family anymore. So how does he handle the biggest loose end of them all? As scared as she is she could decide enough is enough and tear it all down with a simple visit to Hank.

    • I’m amazed at the almost slow and methodical turn of Walt from sympathetic cancer victim/survivor into this purely manipulative and conniving meth cooker/kingpin.

      As you point out, Ep 1 of the season makes it even tougher to figure out how everything is going to play out for Walt and his entire family (and circle of influence)…

    • I think his manipulation of Jesse officially became pure evil when he watched as Jane choked to death and did nothing to stop it. I don’t blame Walt for her death – never have, never will – because if he wasn’t there to witness it, she still would have died and the outcome would have been the same. But, I do blame him for not helping – that was cold-blooded and was only because she was becoming a thorn in his side by coming between him and Jesse.

  3. Brilliant, simply brilliant. Mobile pest control lab……thinking out of the box ftw.

    You could also see the fumes coming out of Walt’s ears as Mike whittled down his 360k stack to a mere 137k. I’m honestly not seeing the problem though….even if they only did that twice a month that is STILL over 3 mil a year for working a 4-6 days a month? Sounds good to me!

    • The main problem is that Mike didn’t inform any of the other two of the trio about his expenses for keeping Mikes “soldiers” silent before cooking the first meth batch.
      Don’t forget Mike did try to kill Walt wery hard and didn’t manage it several times, even worse, when Walt asked Mikes help to “deal” with Guss and refused him, Walt managed killing Gus without Mikes assistance.
      Mike doesn’t want to admit that in some ways he isn’t as capable as Walt. In a way, Walt is a Fisical representation of Mikes moto – “No half measures”. You could say that now Mike slowly is becoming afraid of Walt – What Walt wants, he gets.

  4. the situation with skylar is not gonna end well thats for sure ..

  5. God do I love this show. This episode was a perfect way to transition from cleaning up the past and moving to the future. It was also nice to see Marie again since she has been absent for the first two episodes. And god things are getting bad for Skylar. I fear for every character on this show. I’m thinking heads are going to start rolling.

  6. So, when the DEA and FBI checks the visitor lists for all their lock ups and sees Mike’s ugly face show up about ten times in the camera claiming to be a paralegal, this will not tip off the DEA quicker than anything else…I liked the concept of this idea but not properly thought out since Mike is a suspect and this is the quickest tie-in for RICO than anything else they have done…

  7. Best part of the episode:
    When skylar realized she’s married to a bald Tony montana :D

  8. Great, great episode and an excellent start to this season. I see the suspense and tensions already beginning to build up and you know that something HUGE is coming for the mid season finale.

    You know they are building up something big for Skyler, and to me it looks like she either may try to kill herself or try to kill Walter and get killed in retaliation by Walter.

    Also the truth will eventually come out about Walter’s sinister manipulations against Jesse and that will likely build up the final couple of episodes.

    Additionally, during this episode Jesse asked Walter if he was okay, I believe that they are subtly hinting at Walter’s cancer resurfacing and that his cancer will play a bigger role in the second half of the season.

    How I would like to see it end:
    - Walter kills off the bald guy (business side) first half of the season.
    - Walter’s wife dies tragically first half of the season or 10-12th episode
    - Walter’s cancer resurfaces by end of first half
    - Hank and the cops begin to suspect Walter second half of the season
    - Walter’s son begins to suspects hank after mid season finale and Hank comes clean to him
    - Jesse finds out the truth of about the new drug Kingpin aka Walter White and plans action to take him down in the last couple of episodes.
    - Walter in a frantic, crazy mode in the last couple of episodes
    - Lots of deaths, and Solomon the lawyer makes it through and narrarates the final episodes

    • Loved this episode. It’s interesting to see all the roots being laid out for something big. The moment I’m looking forward to the most at the end of it all is some sort of stand-off between Walt and Hank. It’d be great to see the look on Hank’s face when he realises! I also think that Walt Junior is going to play a bigger part in all this than we realise… maybe torn between his loyalty for Hank and love for his father.

  9. In my eyes W. Whites only evil action is to cook the meth, everything else is just going through stresslull motions with unreliable thugs.
    Jesse few times too many was wery keen to abandon Walt for sharks, and even participate himself, such a person can’t be trusted and if anything then controlled with an iron fist.
    The same can be said about Mike (the reasonable one), who always runs on a blade by getting himself in retardedly bloody situations, allowed or even comanded his thugs to kill Andreas brother, not to mention of manipulating Jesse in abandoning Walt in hope to kill Walt.
    So walt isn’t even a fraction as evil as most of the badasses of these series, he just acssepts the situation.

    • i definitely agree with this. Jesse has done his fair share of things against Walt behind is back as well. Their relationship is sort of even to me but they always have that basis of keeping each other live.
      Skylar is no longer innocent either, she doesn’t annoy me much tho but she needs to go all in lol.

  10. While watching “Scarface,” Walt says, “Everyone dies in this movie…”

    Most likely over-analysis, but just sayin’……

    • By the way, that line was ad-libbed by Bryan Cranston.

  11. I don’t like the way Walt has turned full on villain this season. There’s zero redeeming qualities to him he’s just…one dimensional. His next action will involve taking out Skyler and Mike. I’m guessing he fails which is why he has to go on the run with that huge gun.

  12. Wow. The last thing Walt says to Jesse at the end of the episode sent chills down my spine. Perfectly executed and I can’t help thinking that the comment wasn’t made just for Mike. I think Walt was warning Jesse about his loyalties and liberties as well. Walt wants to completely run Jesse and he can’t do that if Jesse is trying to mediate between him and Mike.

  13. I don’t like skylar one bit

    if there is one thing that ruins the show for me it’s her. the constant ‘what about me’ dramas and the way she handles anything, from extra-maritals to money laundering is just so agitating.

    in saying that, I see her being the one to take walt down a peg. yes she has the goods on him and could spill all to Hank, but she is frightened, cornered by a monsterous hubby. to me there looks like only one way out for the woman, or she’ll at leaast die trying.

    • Thank you! I couldn’t agree more, Skylar has just been an annoying distraction for far too long.

    • I absolutely hate skyler, i always have, she has a need to be the one wearing the pants in her and walts relationship and everytime that she doesnt get to wear the pants, she does something stupid.. so yes i see her going to hank or offing herself (please god!) because she seems pretty messed up right now.

    • I thoroughly dislike Skyler as well. She took Walt’s money, albeit for what she thought were good reasons, and virtually screwed them, on at least 2 occasions. She is a thorn in his side that I think he won’t put up with for long. I liked how, after the conversation with Marie, he walks down the hallway just a bit… and for a moment I thought he was going to go to his wife, ask her what was bothering her, maybe work through it like a loving husband would. But instead, he just takes a bite into a nice big red apple. Ahh… perfect Walt. Just perfect. With as much control as he demands in all the other areas of his life, having an unpredictable, emotional wife having sudden outbursts with a direct line to the DEA – I just don’t see that as something he’s going to leave open, in the wind so to speak. He’s gonna get a grasp on that one soon enough.
      In the promo for episode 4, it seems like he’s taunting her – with the bacon at breakfast. Was that just me, or did it really look like he took a little stab… just sayin’…

  14. I loved the whole addition of the Vamonos Pest portable meth lab. However they cook the meth whilst the house is pest ridden (in this episode it was infested with cockroaches), then they fumigate the place after the cook. Does no one remember the fly episode in season 3 and the ‘no contamination’ rant over one fly.

    • I

      • I remember that Walt was under drugs then, but Jessy as a full blown halfwit what he is was following Walts directions no mater what (problem is, he is following orders of others the rest of the time), not a single fly is allowed in this “Red Cross” aisle. :D
        You could say that his ego was on steroids that time… :P

    • good point. Walt is very proud of his product. but maybe the quality control was for Gus’ sake? he did start cooking in an RV and underwear after all…

  15. loved this episode, walt has totally changed in to a tony montana type figure so it was very fitting he was watching scarface, judging from the first scene in the season premiere, walt may go out like tony montana, all guns blazing, that would be a amazing finale, perhaps the best scene for me this episode was when walt told marie about skylers affair with ted and once she had gone, he calmly went and ate a apple, the way walt stands and his demeanour has changed this season, i love itttt, he is a real bad ass now and i cant wait to see where this season takes us

    • I totally agree!! I didn’t read all the comments before I replied, but I basically loved the same scene. That apple was such a bad ass touch to him not really giving a $hit for the well-being of his loving, supportive wife. Hahaha… OH I love this show!!! I thought at first his cancer is back, and causing him to act a bit meaner… but I think at first he got off on the power, but now he’s got a grasp on control, and he really is that “No Half Measures” motto personified. Iron Fist and what not…

  16. C’mon! Remove Skyler in some way, already!