Breaking Bad, Ep. 5.03: “Hazard Pay” anticipates the breakdown
Breaking Bad, Season 5, Episode 3: “Hazard Pay”
Written by Peter Gold
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Airs Sundays at 10pm ET on AMC
“Hazard Pay” is a classic get-the-pieces-moving episode, of the sort that serialized dramas generally need to make their season arcs tick. In other words, it’s not likely to be recalled as “the one where…” anything of spectacular import happened. That’s not a complaint, really; scan back on any given season of Breaking Bad and you’ll remember that they can’t all be “4 Days Out” or “One Minute” or “Half Measures.” It’s not that nothing happens in “Hazard Pay”; if anything, it continues this season’s trend of barreling through plot at a much faster click than Season Four did. It’s that the episode leaves you with the feeling that the real turns of the screw are still to come.
With Mike, Walt and Jesse’s partnership cemented, “Hazard Pay” opens with Mike tying the final loose ends left by Gus’s death: the people left behind, whose assets have been frozen by the DEA, need to be “made whole.” If last week didn’t make it clear enough, Mike is by far the most scrupulous criminal the show has ever seen. He leaves to man behind because, as far as he’s concerned, that’s just how things are done. Walt, being the greedy SOB he is, bristles at this idea, watching with barely-concealed rage as his cut of the first week’s take gets shaved down to a fraction of its former glory. It’s a foregone conclusion that Walt won’t let that indignity stand, even as Jesse tries to reassure him that it’s a healthier arrangement than the one they had with the deceased Mr. Fring. With the episode’s final bit of dialogue, in which Walt ruminates on the fate of poor Victor, he makes it clear that he’ll ice out Mike for good the moment it’s a feasible option.
Last week we met the frail-but-shady Lydia; she’s absent this time around, but we do get another new addition, Todd (Friday Night Lights‘s Jesse Plemons), a member of the crooked insect-killer squad who seems destined to muck up the works in one way or another. He disobeys Mike’s order not to address the “ghosts” by noting that he disabled a hidden camera ahead of their cook; to be sure, it won’t be the last time he oversteps his bounds.