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"Thirty-Eight Snub" and "Box Cutter" threaten Breaking Bad

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Written by : published Wednesday 27th July 2011

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     Breaking Bad was off the air waves for more than a year, but is finally back on AMC as of roughly ten days ago. The first two hours, "Box Cutter" and "Thirty-Eight Snub," take the often-violent happenings to a whole new level of gruesome and terror, delivering one of the most brutal scenes to ever grace basic cable. The villain behind the butchering is Gus (Giancarlo Esposito), who is none too happy with Walt's (Bryan Cranston) ruse to save his own life and that of his partner, Jesse (Aaron Paul). Luckily for Walt, his plan works, for now, but Gus sends them the signal that they better not grow too complacent. Walt tries to recruit Mike (Jonathan Banks) against Gus, but that doesn't work, so Walt's only efforts to date involve buying himself a handgun. It will be very interesting to see how things intensify from here.

     It is no coincidence that both episode titles are weapons. "Box Cutter" features one of the most graphically violent scenes ever shown on basic cable television. The murder Gus commits is both chilling and fascinating, proving that Esposito is on a tier of his own in terms of acting talent. The frustrating silence and steely eyed glare make the long, drawn out scene one of supreme artistic excellence, as well as keep the suspense taunt. It is no wonder. too, that Walt is now deathly terrified of Gus, and thinks the only way to take him out may be to do a little killing of his own. Obviously, Gus is a very dangerous man, and Walt and Jesse are only alive to keep production flowing.

     Walt and Jesse handle their fear in very different ways. Walt goes for the tough guy routine, something the once meek chemistry teacher steadily grows more and more comfortable with, by buying a "Thirty-Eight Snub" and trying to turn Mike against Gus. Whether Walt has any chance at all of overcoming a powerful, cold-hearted criminal mastermind like Gus remains to be seen. Luckily, Breaking Bad has a masterful way of delivering twists, and the outcomes expected likely won't play out in a predictable way.

     Jesse, by contrast, begins growing reckless. He spends massive amounts of money on a new stereo system, and parties hard. This means Jesse's sobriety is out the window. If Gus doesn't take out Jesse, Walt's assistant will remove himself from the equation soon enough. Interestingly, Jesse shows he has lost faith only in himself, not the world, by giving Andrea (Emily Rios) a large amount of cash and trusting her to buy a better life, rather than spend it on drugs. He is a very complicated character indeed.

     In the meantime, blissfully unaware of the danger, Skyler (Anna Gunn) inserts herself more dominantly into Walt's affairs, attempting to buy the car wash her estranged husband used to work at. Unfortunately, the owner remembers her, and shuts down that idea quickly. But Skyler's concern for Walt is more than about money, as evidenced by the way she frantically searches for him when he is missing. True, she could just be concerned about her family's financial future, but her frenzy seems to indicate that she still has feelings for the man that she now keeps at arm's distance. Any possible reconciliation will be long off, but the door is not yet closed forever.

     Marie (Betsy Brandt) scores a bit more screen time in season four of Breaking Bad as she suffers through husband Hank's (Dean Norris) recovery. Hank is surly towards her, though kind to his physical therapist. He tries to get better, but won't accept the slightest comfort from the woman he is closest to. Who would have thought that Marie has the saintly patience to put up with such a grouchy, uncooperative spouse? Yet, Brandt finds inner strength from somewhere, and swiftly develops Marie from an annoying woman into a near hero. Her strength as Hank undergoes the turmoil that comes with his trauma is impressive, and the subplot is most welcome.

     Breaking Bad airs Sunday nights at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.

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Article first published as TV Review: Breaking Bad - "Box Cutter" and "Thirty-Eight Snub" on Blogcritics.

About the author JeromeWetzelTV


Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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