Breaking Bad – “Caballo Sin Nombre” – review

amc breaking bad caballo sin nombreWalt and Jesse both make strides toward getting  their shit together again in this week’s episode, but with mixed results at best.  Jesse, who has been crashing on Walt’s couch, gets his aunt’s house back from his parents with a little help from lawyer Saul Goodman.  This is a cold and calculating Jesse that has emerged with his new found sobriety.  The scene where he reveals to his parents that it was him behind the massive price slash on the property is a great “fuck you” moment but also quite chilling.  He’s miles away from the Jesse we’ve known in the past two seasons.  In fact, you could almost make the case that Walt and Jesse are going through some major role reversal shit right now.

Walt’s attempts to make things right with Skyler have not been so successful.  When Walt Jr (no longer wanting to be called “Flynn” in a show of solidarity with his father) shows up on Walt’s doorstep, Walt spruces up a bit and picks up a pizza before dropping Walt Jr back at the house.  When Skyler won’t even let him join them for dinner, Walt chucks the pizza on the roof in a fit of impotent rage.  Skyler’s quick-divorce blackmail has been prompting other pathetic lashing-out moments lately.  He blows up over a traffic citation and ends up maced in the back of a squad car, and drinks himself into a popcorn-covered stupor before lamely packing a suitcase and simply moving back into the family home – a move that, unbeknownst to Walt, nearly gets him killed by the mysterious Mexican twins (who we discover are out for revenge for Tuco’s death and also have Gus from Pollo Loco’s number in their cell phone).

But though Walt may be taking action (stupid, misguided action) in his domestic life, he’s still holding fast to his “I can’t be the bad guy” pledge, a comment which raises the eyebrow of Saul Goodman.  Saul has his P.I. bug Skyler’s house, possibly to dig up some dirt on the soon-to-be-former Mrs. White and possibly…well, I honestly don’t know what Saul has in mind.  Any guesses, BB fans?  What I can guess at is since Gus called off the twins, that Walt will be forced back into the meth business next week.  Gus’ll probably work it out so Walt will pay the twins for Tuco’s life in product instead of blood.  That would mean that Walt will be extorted by both his wife for a divorce and the twins for more meth.  Walt can barely handle the pressure and guilt right now so I’m guessing he’s only going to get more irrational in the weeks to come.

But enough speculation: let’s talk about the meat of what we just fucking watched because whoo-boy was that shit tasty.  There was the fantastic scene where Skyler calls her boss out on cooking the company books, asking him what he would tell his kids if he were ever caught.  He says that he would make sure that they knew that whatever he did, it was all for them (no doubt something for Skyler to chew on).  That moment is followed by a brutal scene where Walt is asked outright by Walter Jr what he did to get thrown out of the house.  Walt’s answer is so vague and awkward I damn near had a panic attack during the scene.

Then there’s issue of what this week’s title, which translated means “A Horse with No Name,” which is the America song Walt sings during the beginning driving scene and the ending shower scene.  The song (which I was convinced as a kid was a Neil Young tune) is one whose meaning has been debated to death.  The belief that “horse” refers to heroin and that’s it about drug use would make some sense for the show, but not necessarily for this episode.  The desert imagery obviously works for BB‘s New Mexico location -especially in the first scene – but why play the song at the end of the episode then?

The lyrics at face value only are essentially about a dude riding a horse with no name through the desert, first appreciating the nature and stillness or whatever the fuck.  Then he suffers in the second verse from sunburn and thirst.  In the last verse he reaches water, though he realizes that the ocean is simply the desert with “a perfect disguise.”

Looking at it this way, I think it’s meant to mirror Walt’s arc – or at least Walt’s perception of what his arc is – in this episode.  In the beginning he’s hopeful, singing along to the radio, thinking he can overcome all his mounting problems.  Then throughout the episode we watch him suffer a billion fucking indignities – i.e. he’s baking in the desert.  But when he finally just says fuck it in the end and moves back into the house, he thinks he’s reached the ocean (and, you know, he’s taking a shower so there’s that water whole connection), though he doesn’t realize that he’s still in the desert, that it just has a perfect disguise, seeing how he doesn’t know how close he came to death and how he’s too fucked up and deluded to realize how restraining-order-issuing-pissed Skyler will most likely be.

I said after last week’s bleak-as-shit episode that I was sure more suspense and hilarity would ensue soon enough, and with this episode I was proved right as they fucking come sooner rather than later.The final scene with the twins going through the house with the fireman’s axe was as agonizingly intense as anything we’ve seen so far on the show.  The way all three threads – Walt’s, the PI’s and the twins’ – came together for the final scene in a scary-as-fuck way was a thing of pulpy beauty.  And as far as the funny business goes, it’s hard to beat Saul telling Walt that there’s other fish in the sea…like women from the Czech Republic and Thailand desperate to come to America.  And Hank got in some characteristically lame jokes about Marie’s sushi in an effort to lighten a tense family dinner.  But the funniest moment for me?  As Homer Simpson might say, “Mmmm, roof pizza.”

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I’m pleased as fucking punch at how shit’s going so far this season.  Next Sunday cannot come quick enough for the Nerd.

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Nerd of Noir

I love crime/noir fiction, comics and movies. I think my opinions are web-worthy. Then again, what asshole doesn't think that their opinions deserve a blog?

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About Nerd of Noir

I love crime/noir fiction, comics and movies. I think my opinions are web-worthy. Then again, what asshole doesn't think that their opinions deserve a blog?

4 Replies to “Breaking Bad – “Caballo Sin Nombre” – review”

  1. the breaking bad website has the first five minutes of the next episode (the third) already, and in it, it is pretty clear that there is no chance in hell Tuco’s cousins would simply accept meth as repayment for their cousin’s death. these are drug cartel lords who have enough money to give away a fucking mercedes. do you really think they are going to just let the murder of their relative blow over for a little bit of smack/?

  2. and why should tucos uncle, don samanco or whatever, give a shit about getting money or drugs? he cant even move for christ’s sake.

  3. Gus, to me, is as scary as the Cousins. I’m wondering if Saul’s PI will be involved in helping take care of the Cousins.