What some critics thought:
TIME's James Poniewozik
Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan
Entertainment Weekly's Ken Tucker
Some of my thoughts:
This week's Breaking Bad was not the most praised of this shortened eight episode "season." Several critics found faults with some of the decisions and actions taken up by Walt, Jesse, and Mike. What's up with Walt whistling? He obviously knew Jesse was still in the house and could hear him. Does Walt really not care about little Drew Sharp getting killed? Or is he trying to act like he doesn't care? That's an unwise strategy since he already knows how Skylar has reacted to his Scarface side. Walt's apathetic response to a child getting murdered probably played a part in Jesse's decision to get out of the meth game for good. That and the prospect of a $5 million buyout.
James Poniewozik (see link above) also notes Jesse's overall reaction to the shooting. TIME's TV critic feels that Jesse moved on from his initial emotional reaction a little too quickly. I had a similar thought. The dinner scene between Walt, Skylar, and the uncomfortable Jesse was certainly one the more comedic scenes of this season. I laughed at the whole lasagna bit (because it's so true!!) and loved Jesse's response to Skylar bringing up her "affair" with Ted. But I couldn't help but feel that the writers went back in time and
wrote for an earlier (pre-Gale) version of his character in that scene. I felt that he should have still been struggling with Todd's murder of Drew. Of course, Jesse has seen and taken part in a lot of horrible acts of violence. So maybe he's able to compartmentalize these horrific moments more effectively than he used to. I don't think Jesse has completely gotten over the murder quite yet. He just had to shift his mindset given his desire and opportunity to "retire."
The other problem that stuck out for most was the tying up of Walter to the radiator. I mean, come on!! Mike is smarter than that. Sure, he may not have had many more options to confine Walt. But he could have rid the room of miscellaneous objects before he left. He knew Walt wasn't going to just sit there and wait for his return. "Buyout" had more instances of story driving characters, instead of the other way around.
I hate to focus on the negative so much. But Breaking Bad sets a high standard. The opening sequence was consistent with this high standard. Especially the moment Walt reaches for the second barrel and you know that Drew Sharp's parents will never receive closure on the case of their missing son.
This brings me back to to one more negative: We never did learn what Mike thought about Todd killing the boy. Yes, he was upset that he brought a gun on the job without telling him. However, last week Mike said there were two type of heists. (1) those that are successful and (2) those that leave witnesses (alive). Mike also cares for his granddaughter. So it seems like Todd's action conflicted with different aspect of Mike's professional code. The character of Todd provided the show with an easy out. The writers avoided the question of what our main protagonists would have done if Todd hadn't made his decision to shoot an innocent child. I want to know what Mike and Walt would have done differently or if they ultimately would have carried out the same horrific act.
With all of these issues, I am going to be a little depressed in a couple of weeks when the long wait for the final eight episodes begins. This is one of the five greatest dramas in the history of television. I also expect the final two episodes of 2012 to be of a highest quality and put any problems I had this week to the back of my mind.