Breaking Bad Review: Empire State of Mind

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What "Buyout" lacked in momentum, it made up for with a few memorable moments.

Perhaps the slowest episode of Breaking Bad Season 5, the installment didn't shock or present the viewer with anything new: as expected, Jesse took the 14-year old's murder very hard, while Walt merely acted affected by it for the sake of his colleague.

Skyler is still a confused, crying mess; Walt a manipulator; Mike a genius DEA tail shaker who is growing more and more tired of the drug game.

We were treated to some serious upheaval within this trio's business world, along with Walt finding yet another unique way out of a seemingly impossible situation. And we were left wondering just what he has in mind to ensure that "everybody wins." But, overall, the episode really just drove home the point that Walt is in this for ego above all else. It did little to advance the overall plot... yet it left us with a few terrific scenes.

Mentor and Protege

There was Todd in the car, staring creepily/smugly/contently at the spider.

There was Marie thinking she was comforting her sister, only for Skyler to realize just how helpless of a situation she is in. An affair? Marie really has no idea.

There was Walt whistling a happy tune, minutes after claiming to Jesse that he hasn't been able to sleep at night following the death of the young boy.

There was Jesse at the White's dinner table, one of the funnier few minutes in series history, thanks to his awkward rambling about green beans and car washes.

There was Walt admitting to Jesse that he has nothing in life except the meth business, likely as honest as Walt has ever been with his protege, while still coming across as a) entirely self-centered; b) totally delusional in blaming Skyler for taking the kids away; and c) manipulative in angling to earn Jesse's sympathy.

Still, he was sincere in his reasoning for wanting to build this empire. It's about ego and bitterness and spite and regret. Even if Walt wouldn't couch it in those terms, he essentially admitted as much when he told Jesse about Gray Matter Technologies. That saga initially created the feeble, sorrowful Walter White we met on Season 1, and it's contributed greatly to the kingpin who that science teacher has morphed into since.

It's safe to say Walt isn't selling for anything under 2.16 billion. Or whatever Gray Matter is worth that week.

You often hear an episode is considered "filler," that it's mostly just serving as a slow build-up for whatever chaos is about to ensure. That's generally been the case for the duration of this modified eight-episode season.

Thanks to the acting and the cinematography and the tone and the story and the opening scene of the season and the good will Vince Gilligan has built up - we know some major, machine gun-related craziness will eventually go down - it's hard to really complain about an installment such as this, which is planting the seeds for a lot more suspense down the line.

Still, taken on its own, "Buyout" wasn't an especially tense or intriguing episode of Breaking Bad. Even with the impressive scenes listed above. Which says a lot about the show and its awesomeness, really.

What did everyone else think?

Buyout Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (64 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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