WARNING: POTENTIALLY MASSIVE SPOILERS
ABSOLUTELY DO NOT READ UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN S5E10 ‘BURIED’
We are now only 6 episodes away from the end of Breaking Bad. There has been a lot of speculation about whether Walt will have to face justice, whether he will get away with it, or indeed if there is any way he can possibly redeem himself for his past crimes.
‘Buried’ saw a small glimmer of love returning between Skyler and Walt- something which had been missing for the last few seasons. Skyler was no longer just a hostage to Heisenberg, but seemed to be re-discovering the man she married. Hank’s discovery that Walt is Heisenberg has driven the pair closer again, cementing a peculiar Bonnie and Clyde dynamic. Coupled with Skyler finding out about Walt’s cancer returning, the relationship between the pair has turned a very distinct corner, and offers new possibilities for potential outcomes for the series. Indeed Walt almost regained our sympathies with his pleas to pass the money on to the children, or everything he had done would have been for nothing. Maybe it wasn’t all about power. Or maybe that is Walt trying to justify Heisenberg’s actions.
The real switch began in episode 9 when Lydia visited the car wash to try and re-enlist Walt/Heisenberg as cook, which saw Skyler warning her to never darken their door again. Skyler took on the protective mother hen/gangster’s moll role, and seemingly finally accepted her role in Heisenberg’s world. Love her or hate her, Skyler’s attitude towards Walt usually reflects how the audience is feeling, and we all definitely took a warm turn this episode.
What was particularly fascinating about ‘Buried’ was the continuing ascent (descent?) of Lydia into power. The exact nature and extent of her involvement in the Madrigal empire had been blurred somewhat, with the inference that she had been a cog in Gus Fring’s machine. What has become clearer is that she wasn’t just a cog, but the power supply, bringing Heisenberg an OCEAN of methylamine, and that she is playing an extremely canny game. When Mike visited her home intending to shoot her, he found himself sucked in by her pleas as a mother that she didn’t want her daughter to think she had just disappeared, so he let her live. Later he berated himself saying this had been pure sexism on his part, and if she had been a man she would have been dead. That seems to be the game Lydia is playing. By virtue of her age, sex and class (and let’s face it, she’s hot) she has been able to get away with far more in the world of drugs barons than Heisenberg ever had, although they both play the outsider card.
Her exit from the car on her visit to the new meth lab site was a case in point. Her first action on having her blindfold removed was to check her hair- appearance is everything- despite knowing that she was about to obliterate every man standing. Teetering in the desert sand in her Christian Laboutin heels, she looked completely out of place, and of no threat to the gang she was meeting, so without thinking twice they let her down into the new meth lab. Of course minutes later they were all dead, while she remained shielded from the gunshots in the lab below the sand. Getting Todd to shield her eyes from the dead bodies as she walked back to the car, Uncle Jack exclaimed what we were all thinking, “You gotta be kidding me!” However, this is all part of Lydia’s facade. She has so far maintained an appearance of having fallen into the whole world accidentally, and being slightly bumbling and naïve, with her mis-matching shoes throwing the DEA off her case at one point – “She’s wearing odd shoes, how together can she be?” Now she has Todd, who we already know will do ANYTHING to keep in the game, as her man at arms, and he is all too happy to play the knight in shining armour to her damsel in distress. Lydia is no damsel in distress though, she is pure femme fatale, and could either prove to be the fly in Walt’s ointment, or a potential ally in his escape from the eyes of the law. Lydia is as big a player as Heisenberg, and their mutual family motivation may well be a deciding factor in how it all plays out. Whatever happens, the women in the world of Breaking Bad are coming to the fore.