Breaking Bad, "Caballo Sin Nombre": pizza on the roof

Quick Take: Breaking Bad, "Caballo Sin Nombre"
"I can't be the bad guy." - Walt

breaking bad - the cousins

Review: Breaking Bad, "Caballo Sin Nombre"
(S0302) The opening scene again portrayed the conflicting dynamics swirling (broiling?) around Walter White (Bryan Cranston) beautifully. We have a mild mannered, middle aged guy driving a sensible as heck hatchback (a car that's almost a character on the show by now, isn't it?) down a gorgeous and remote southwestern desert road. He's pleasantly humming along to "Horse With No Name" until a cop pulls him over for a legitimate if nitpicky infraction.  

Walt proceeds to freak out, and utter and complete meltdown, and ends up in the back of the cruiser, pepper sprayed to the 12th degree, crying, snot dripping ridiculously down his reddened face. It's as though there's a monster that was borne of his transformation into a drug lord/criminal mastermind, and it's not as easily tethered as it once was, particularly when Walt must interact with polite society.

My theory is that the monster wants to be recognized, and is enraged that it can't be given its due respect, if not deference. Respect is a really big deal to Walt, isn't it. Respect and pride. It's not enough for him to be pulling off insane feats of criminal mastery while also covering it up from the police, his family, and his brother-in-law DEA agent. He also has to be respected. And, let's face it: being feared a nice little bit doesn't put the monster off all that much at all, thank you very much.

There are other dynamics swirling, of course. A nasty pair of Mexican cousins, for instance, who wiped out a truckload of illegal border crossers for seemingly being recognized (who now know that "Heisenberg" is WALTER WHITE, ding ding ding!). And then there's the domestic wake that Walt's dealings have left behind. It's a testament to how great RJ Mitte is as Flynn, er, sorry, Walter Jr., in that you feel the pain and confusion of the kid's situation deeply. Mom is leaving dad. Okay, it happens. But no one will tell him why and, further, mom has ordered dad away from the family. I mean… that sucks.

And meanwhile, Jesse Pinkman, recent rehab grad and self-proclaimed "bad guy," pulled off a breathtaking power move by hiring (Better Call) Saul to lowball/extort his parents into selling Jesse's aunt's house with knowledge of the very meth lab that Jesse and Walt themselves ran out of the basement.

The episode ends on an ironic (Walt humming "Horse With No Name" in the shower) and sinister (the Mexican dudes sitting on his bed waiting for him with a bright and shiny ax) note, mixed with a mighty big twist. Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), it seems, has more reach than we could have even imagined. Enough even to save Walt from an ax-y death with one word: POLLOS.

Other thoughts on "Caballo Sin Nombre":

  • This is an amazingly shot show. Between the New Mexico countryside and the nifty far away/close up shots in this episode, plus lack of music soundtrack it feels like a gritty and realistic indie film.
  • Still strange seeing Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) wearing "civilian" clothes and not speaking super bling bling hip hop-ese, isn't it?
  • "You don't write, you don't call?" – Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). Odenkirk brings such a marvelously seedy, corrupt, yet somehow effervescent vibe into the mix, a perfect tonic for what can be a dark-bordering-on-grim show.
  • When Walt tells Saul that he doesn't want to be the "bad guy," that he doesn't want to cook up a new batch of crystal blue meth, it's the old Walt pleading for his old life back. Fascinating that he doesn't look all that convinced, isn't it?
  • "We may have a wife problem." – Saul to his fixer/Mr. Wolf-like employee. Uh oh!
  • How amazing is Saul's "We the People" Oval Office-lite office?
  • Also amazing: Hank's (Dean Norris) and Betsy's (Marie Schrader) conversation outside the White home, trying to figure out just what the hell is going on with Walt and his family. Hank's explanation is very well reasoned and convincing… except that he's completely wrong.
  • And beyond amazing: Walt taking the time to go out of his way to fish a band aid out of his apartment community's public pool.
  • Video: Breaking Bad, "Caballo Sin Nombre"
    Check out the always great "inside" clip for this episode, from AMC:

    Recap: Breaking Bad, "Caballo Sin Nombre"
    Walt drives to work, singing along to the radio. He's pulled over by a policeman, who writes Walt a ticket for driving with a cracked windshield. Walt tries to explain that the car was damaged by debris from the Wayfarer 515 collision, but to no avail. "Hellfire rained down on my house!" Walt screams, ignoring the officer's instructions to calm down. Moments later, a pepper-sprayed Walt is thrust into the patrol car, eyes streaming. Read more at AMC.

    From Around the Web: Breaking Bad, "Caballo Sin Nombre"

  • A.V. Club: The last five minutes of this episode was as tense a sequence as this show, with its well-known mastery of tension, has ever produced. […] The image of a towel-clad Walter poking his head out the bedroom door to survey the empty hallway foreshadows a season of paranoia to go with the lies and rage.
  • IGN: Just when you think they're about to drop a plot or character element, it's picked right back up again. The writers are so good at keeping each element loosely tethered and picking up the slack when it's falling. 
  • TV with Alan Sepinwall: An episode after "No Mas," Walt still isn't ready to take Jesse's rehab revelation to heart. He's still denial about how bad he's become, how much he's hurting the people he cares about, and how his actions will be received by the world around him. 
  • By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

    About the author

    Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at] 

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