If ‘Blood Money’ is the first round of a heavyweight fight, ‘Buried’ is the two minutes immediately after the first round, stretched out over 47 minutes while other plot lines took baby steps forward. Bookended by our only two Jesse-related scenes of the episode, ‘Buried’ is largely an episode of window dressing and table setting – but an entertaining one at that.
The only point where ‘Buried’ really suffers is Marie’s confrontation of Skylar. Yes, their screaming match is uncomfortable in that way it always is when two women enter the upper register during an argument, but let’s be honest: Skylar and Marie’s relationship has never provided much dramatic fruit for Breaking Bad to this point; and although there is certainly meaning to their scenes in the White home, it doesn’t quite have the effectiveness the slow, drawn-out conversations suggest it should. Anyone getting bitch slapped on television is awesome; but outside of that, their scenes are a lot of screwed-up, tear-stricken faces, half-sentences, and telling looks. Does it work? Mostly, but it’s not really because Marie and Skylar are strong sister characters (although their bull-headed natures in their own lives have certainly provided at least an abstract genetic connection between the two).
Skylar’s scenes with Hank and Walter were much more fascinating to watch, if only for the presences in the room with her. ‘Buried’ is a title that not only speaks to where Walt put his money, but where Skylar (and Jesse, but we’ll get back to him) finds herself in the episode: buried under the weight of impending doom and being unable to do anything but watch her family shatter, thanks to the decisions her and Walt have made over the past year of their lives. Skylar runs away from Hank and essentially shrugs her shoulders at Walt and says “let’s play dumb”; though the focus is on Hank and Walt on a macro level, ‘Buried’ at least establishes that Skylar’s drowning right along with the rest of them, with no idea what to do next.
Walt’s indisposed for most of the episode digging away, so the events in ‘Buried’ are largely relegated to background characters like Lydia, who relieves Heisenberg’s replacements of their duties by putting a lot of bullets in the back of their heads (while burying herself in a bunker, then refusing to look at any of the gore she ordered when she walked back to the car). If there’s been one thing established in these first two episodes, it’s that the sight of her black heels is not good for anyone (the soles of them are red; she’s literally walking murder) – plus the news that she’s employed Todd and his very efficient crew as her mob squad is certainly going to bring some heartache to Walter in the future.
But outside of the fantastic Lydia scene, ‘Buried’ is largely content to let nothing happen; after such a punishing first round (especially for Walter’s face), both of our angry white males retreated to their various corners of Albuquerque, the closest thing to “keeping quiet” that Skylar will probably get for the rest of Breaking Bad.
Which leaves our one wild card; and oh what a wild card Jesse is. When the episode opens, he’s found by a local homeowner on the playground, spinning around on a (VERY GREEN… hint, hint) merry-go-round, staring up at the night sky. When we see him 45 minutes later, he’s under arrest and being questioned by our favorite bro feds about the millions of dollars he was throwing around the neighborhood. And he says nothing… what is Jesse’s plan – or even his next move? The episode ends with Hank walking in to “have a few words with him”; shutting the door and leaving us with the same darkness we saw throughout most of the episode.
Everything in ‘Buried’ is covered in shadows and dim lighting; it suggests the gray area the characters of Breaking Bad find themselves living in (or for Saul, every day of his working career). Things aren’t clear for anyone; Hank can’t find the smoking gun he needs to bring in Walt, and he knows doing so will probably end his career with the DEA. Skylar thinks being quiet and burying the money is the best idea for the time being; but her and Walt both know (along with us, having the vision of glimpses into the future) that peace isn’t going to last long. In Saul’s office, Walt reminds us the importance of family – and now that the White family is broken, things are bound to spiral out of control quickly as lines are drawn, and the game of cat and mouse grows more deadly.
- other colors to note: the old man drives a red truck to find Jesse (never a good sign); Lydia is wearing a blue coat (METH); Huell is wearing a blue t-shirt when he lays down on the stack of money (being meth money and all, it’s a fitting image).
- what was that coordinate for Walt’s money? 18.104.22.168.36.52 – and he’s got the lottery ticket to remember it by.
- Lydia: “I don’t want to see.”
- who the hell is the guy rocking the Fu Manchu in the DEA office? He needs to be a part of this Saul Goodman spinoff, if it ever happens (please don’t).
- Walt: “Does that make you happy?” Skylar: “I can’t remember the last time I was happy.”
- will Walt try to send Hank on a “trip to Belize”? If he does, that will be one of the final signs that Walt’s been lost forever; once you’ve turned on family, there’s really nothing left. How much of a “monster” is Walt – and how much of one does he really want to be?