The first half of Breaking Bad‘s final season demolished the last of Walter White’s rationalizations for his drug career: that he was doing it all for the love of family. If that was ever true, it’s not anymore; rather than give up his throne of blue crystal — even when he could easily afford it — he allowed himself to be estranged from his children. And as this episode shows with quiet brutality, he has poisoned his marriage. He forces Skyler to stay in a sham marriage in the belief that in the end, he will win, just as he has in his drug career. But in the depths of her powerlessness, she finds a way to strike at him. She can’t deny him a joyless 51st birthday party, cooperation in his drug business or even sex. What she can do, she says, is “wait … for the cancer to come back.” Breaking Bad is known for its spectacular visuals and violence, but sometimes the most chilling thing it does is quietly smolder.
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