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Recap / Breaking Bad S1E3 "...And the Bag's in the River"

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Season 1, Episode 3:

...And the Bag's in the River
Written by Vince Gilligan
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Air date: February 10, 2008

"Walter, I don't know what you think you're doing here, but trust me, this line of work doesn't suit you."
Krazy-8 / Domingo

As he and Jesse clean up the liquefied remains of Emilio, Walt's thoughts go back to his time as a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology. He and a female lab partner count the percentages of elements in the human body, but after taking into account every known element, they still come up less than one percent short of an entire body, with Walt musing that there must be more to a human than their chemical makeup...

As Skyler tries (and fails) to subtly get Marie's insight on Walt's apparent marijuana use and accidentally implies that Junior smokes weed, Walt goes to check on Krazy-8. To his horror, Krazy-8 not only knows his name but knows of his family, apparently from Jesse. Walt storms in on Jesse as he tries to take the edge off in the restroom with some meth, and the two get into a scuffle over Jesse's baggy of meth before Jesse leaves, calling Walt out on not honoring his end of the bargain they struck by flipping a coin and offing Krazy-8.

Marie tells Hank about Junior's apparent weed use as she indulges her kleptomania by stealing expensive shoes, and Hank tries to scare Junior straight by taking him to the Crystal Palace, a shady motel, and introducing him to Wendy, a meth-abusing prostitute. The lessons Hank tries to impart to Junior don't really reach through to him (since he doesn't light up) as Wendy returns to her motel room, where Jesse is waiting to solicit her services...

Back at Jesse's house, Walt struggles with whether to kill Krazy-8, jotting down a list of reasons to either spare him or kill him. He comes up with several reasons to let him go, though these are exclusively arguments based on morality. In turn, he can only name one for killing him, though it is a much more pragmatic one: "He'll kill your entire family if you let him go." With the day growing late, Walt calls Skyler and tells her that he'll be working overtime at the car wash. Skyler, however, has found out that he quit working at the car wash, and dismissively tells him to do as he pleases.

Walt prepares a sandwich for Krazy-8, but when he goes to deliver it to him, suffers a coughing fit and loses consciousness. When he comes to, he reveals to Krazy-8 that he has lung cancer. Walt then returns with a second sandwich and a six-pack of beers, which he offers Krazy-8 to share with him. Krazy-8 inquires as to why, and Walt says that he wants to get to know him a bit better. Krazy-8 points out that getting to know him will only make it harder for Walt to kill him, and advises him that he should just get it over with if that is what he wants to do. Walt, still undecided as to what to do with him, implores him; "Sell me."

Walt and Krazy-8 bond over the latter's musical aspirations, as well as his father being the owner of a furniture store with a catchy commercial jingle, the same furniture store where Walt bought the crib for his son. Krazy-8 learns that Walt hasn't told his family about his illness, and realizes Walt's reason for getting into the meth trade: to make money for his family so that they could get by after he's gone. Krazy-8 jokingly offers to write Walt a check, then suggests he isn't cut out for murder. Walt considers, and tells Krazy-8 that he agrees and that he has decided to that he is going to free him.

As Walt returns upstairs to get the key to the bike lock confining Krazy-8 to a support column in the basement, however, something occurs to him. He digs out the pieces of the broken plate from when he passed out and tries to piece it together, only to find that one shard of the plate was missing. Krazy-8 had taken the shard, and was no doubt planning to kill him with it if given the chance.

When Walt returns to the basement, he prepares to unlock the bike lock, but before he does so, he asks Krazy-8 if he intends to kill him with the shard of the plate he stashed. Krazy-8 immediately tries to stab Walt, but Walt pulls on the bike lock and chokes Krazy-8 to death, tearfully apologizing all the while.

When Jesse returns the following morning, his basement is completely empty...

Hank and Gomez go to investigate Walt's original cook site and quickly put together a theory that a mobile meth lab caught fire and that the occupants sped off after putting it out. They also search Krazy-8's car, which was abandoned at the site, and wonder why he would just leave it behind in the desert like this. They are also handed an important clue, as a family of Native Americans gives them the lab mask the young girl found in the previous episode.

Meanwhile, Walt is parked under an overpass, thinking back to his time at the lab, still pondering what was still missing in the chemical makeup of the human body. When his lab assistant ponders if maybe what they were missing was a soul, he dismisses the notion, stating "There's nothing but chemistry here."

Walt finally makes a decision. He returns home to Skyler, ready to confess to her his secret...

This episode provides examples of:

  • Apologetic Attacker: Walt spends the entire time he's strangling Krazy-8 apologizing for what he's doing. He's even crying as he's about to kill Krazy-8.
  • Asshole Victim: Walt keeps Krazy-8 trapped for days with a bike lock around his neck, and eventually strangles him. It's still difficult to feel sorry for Krazy-8.
  • Buffy Speak: Marie complains about her ugly shoes, saying she only wears them for support because "[her] arches happen to be extremely archy".
  • Chekhov's Gun: The broken dish. Krazy-8 takes a shard while Walt is unconscious to attack him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Gretchen makes an unnamed appearance in a Flashback a full two episodes before she enters the story.
  • Compound Title: With the previous episode. "The Cat's In The Bag...And The Bag's In The River".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: This is the only episode in which the opening sequence has the words "Breaking" and "Bad" further separated.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Marie stealing a pair of shoes from a store is the first we see of her kleptomania, something that becomes a recurring theme in the series.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Krazy-8 tells Walt that locking him in the basement for days with a bike lock around his neck is something he wouldn't do to his worst enemy.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Krazy-8 treats Walt with a lot of politeness and is even willing to reminisce about his upbringing with his captor. It turns out that he's attempting to use his amiability as a ploy in order to get Walt to free him, and then exact revenge on him.
  • Foreshadowing: Hank takes Walter Jr to an SRO to try and scare him straight about marijuana, and it sounds like something out of the worst after-school special ever, with all his bullshit about gateway drugs. Only look at what's happened to Walter over the next five seasons and ask yourself, "What did Hank say about gateway crimes again? How they ruin your lives?"
  • Flush the Evidence:
    • Liquified remains of the bodies are flushed.
    • During Walt and Jesse's fight, Walt angrily snatches Jesse's expensive bag of meth and flushes it down the toilet to punish him for revealing personal information about him to Krazy-8. Jesse, however, kicks Walt out of the way and reaches into the flushing toilet to pull the meth bag out. Downplayed as it's to punish Jesse and not to hide evidence.
  • Gaining the Will to Kill: Killing a helpless (if terrible) man in cold blood is a new line for Walt, and he spends much of the episode trying to either rationalize the deed or convince himself that it won't be necessary. He ultimately arrives at the former.
  • Godwin's Law: Jesse sarcastically shouts "Heil Hitler, bitch!" with a Nazi salute to Walt after the latter berates the former for not following his instructions.
  • Gut Feeling: As Walt is preparing to let Krazy-8 go, he suddenly has a bad hunch that the situation might not be as it seems. He retrieves the pieces of broken plate from the trash bin and attempts to reassemble the dish, only to find one large triangular shard is missing....
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Walt is faced with this choice when he has Krazy-8 chained up in a basement. Hilariously he makes a pros and cons list, balancing "Judeo-Christian values" versus "He will kill you and your family".
  • Implausible Deniability: Variation: After digging out all of the plate shards from the trash, and noticing a big piece is missing, Walt starts panicking (since he already knows where it would be), and tosses the trash can in a vain attempt at finding the shard. It is only when he can't find it that he realizes what he needs to do...
  • It's for a Book: Skyler claims she's asking Marie about weed for a "character in a short story she's writing". Marie is not fooled... although she completely misses the target, thinking Walt Jr. is the one doing it.
  • Oh, Crap!: Walt when he realizes where the missing shard of the dish is.
  • The Reveal: That plate that Walt broke when he fell in front of Krazy-8? There's a piece of it missing that Krazy-8 will use to kill Walter once free.
  • Scare 'Em Straight: Hank pulls this on Walter Jr. to discourage him from smoking pot. Hilarious because Walter Jr. is not using any illegal drugs and is very confused as to why Hank is suddenly making such a big issue of it, while Hank thinks Junior is just trying to play it cool and gets even more over the top to make his point.
  • Serious Business: Jesse gets upset at Walter, not just because he has failed to uphold his end of their bargain (i.e. killing Krazy-8), but also because they flipped a coin on said bargain, with his wording heavily implying that he considers a coin flip to be some sort of unbreakable oath.
  • Sequel Hook: Walt's line to Skyler: "There's something I have to tell you." We find out later that he's going to tell her about his cancer.
  • Spotting the Thread: Walt notices the broken shards of the plate he previously threw out, which gives him a hunch. He pulls them out of the trash and tries to assemble them together, leading to the unmistakable conclusion that one of them is missing and has been pocketed by Krazy-8. If Walt had any lingering doubts about the necessity of killing Krazy-8, they're completely gone by that point.
  • Sticky Fingers: Marie steals a pair of shoes from a shoe store with an annoying clerk.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Walter kills a man, but Krazy-8 definitely had it coming and Walt only resorted to killing after exhausting every other option.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Wendy leaves her unopened can of root beer on the roof of Hank's car after talking with him and Jr.
  • Wham Episode: Walt commits his second murder, strangling Krazy-8 in Jesse's basement.
  • Wham Shot: While cleaning up the plate he broke, Walt notices a sharp piece missing, making him realize that Krazy-8 plans to kill him after he's let go.

"Skyler, there's something I have to tell you."