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Recap / Breaking Bad S 2 E 12 Phoenix

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Heroin. Not even once.

"Family? ... You can't give up on them. Never. I mean, what else is there."
Donald Margolis

Walt manages to barely make the deal, offloading his meth in exchange for over a million dollars. He then makes his way to the hospital, where Skyler is lying, holding their newborn daughter, Holly White. Walt is beside himself with joy at his daughter's birth, but also guilt for not being able to be there for when she was born.

The following morning, Jane awakens when she hears her father calling for her. She notes to a groggy Jesse that someone broke in as she leaves for her support group. After a moment, reality hits Jesse, and he panics, scrambling to his kitchen and finding the meth he was keeping there was gone. He calls Walt at his house to note the meth was gone. Walt begins to berate Jesse for calling his home phone and being out of it at time where he really needed him, but he quickly gleams from Jesse's panicked tone that he legitimately doesn't remember him breaking into his house and shaking the information about the meth's whereabouts out of him. Still very angry with Jesse, Walt decides that he is in no hurry to tell him what actually happened and just gives him the silent treatment and eventually hangs up on him without any further words. This just freaks Jesse even more out, as he takes Walt's unresponsiveness as a sign that he is seriously mad at him. Jesse angonizes for a bit over what Walt might to do to him for losing the drugs, before he notices that he has several missed calls from him in his voicemail's inbox.


That evening, the Schraders come bearing dinner: Los Pollos Hermanos chicken, to Walt's apprehension. Skyler announces her plan to go back to working at Beneke's so that she can help Walt afford his upcoming surgery. After the party, Walt takes Holly to the garage, where he shows his newborn daughter the cash he had hidden away in the house, money that he earned for her...

The next day, Jesse storms into Walt's classroom after school, chewing him out for let him stew in his own paranoia, instead of just telling him that he had picked up the drugs and made the deal. He also demands his cut of the money earned from selling the meth to Gus. Walt refuses: Jesse's being high on heroin caused him to miss the birth of his daughter just so he could make the trade. He also says that he doesn't find it safe to give him any large sums of money when he is actively taking a highly addictive drug, saying that he will have no part in letting him kill himself by shooting all the money straight into his arm. When Jesse claims he's not using anymore, Walt doesn't trust him: he gives Jesse a beaker to urinate in so he could test for drugs. When Jesse hesitates, Walt mocks Jesse and his "junkie girlfriend", infuriating Jesse who defiantly throws the breaker at Walt and walks out without any further words.


At home, Skyler shows Walt a secret project his son was working on:, a webpage where visitors could donate to Walt's surgery. Walt is reluctant to let this project go on, both out of pride and out of concern for his meth business, but relents when Skyler pulls him aside and tells him that it Junior spend a lot of effort on it and would be crushed if he was forced to take it down.

Walt vents about the website to Saul afterwards, but Saul sees a perfect opportunity in the site: it can be used to launder Walt's drug money. All he has to do was get in contact with a hacker in Belarus, so he can use a botnet to trickle money into the donation website as donations from several unwitting people's computers. Walt agrees to the plan, but resents how he will never be able to let his family know that he was the one who earned the money that was now being donated.

Jesse, meanwhile, vents to Jane about Walt as he prepares a meth/heroin speedball for himself. As he dozes off from the drugs taking effect, he mentions that Walt owed him over $480,000. Jane is surprised that Jesse could have so much money, and makes plans to secure it for them both.

The following day, Jane's father, Donald, notices she isn't attending her meetings. He arrives at the duplex and finds Jane was sleeping with Jesse, who is sleeping in a room littered with drug paraphernalia. He angrily demands Jesse leave and prepares to call the police so Jane could get clean in prison. Jane pleads with Donald to let her check into rehab the next day. Reluctantly, Donald agrees to Jane's request. After Donald leaves, Jane confides to Jesse that if they had money, they could do whatever they wanted...

Jane calls Walt, getting past Skyler by claiming to be a former student looking for a recommendation letter. When Jane explains that she is calling on behalf of Jesse to demand the money he is duly owed, Walt is outraged at her, both for her daring to call his home phone and for making demands of him. He says that he will give Jesse his money, but not a moment before he can prove that he is clean. Provoked, Jane decides to go for direct, instead of implied extortion: give Jesse his money, or she will reveal the fact that this mild-mannered high school teacher, with a brother-in-law in the DEA, was in the drug trade.

That night, when Skyler sends Walt to get diapers, Walt puts Jesse's cut of the money in a duffle bag and drives out to his duplex. He hands a shameful Jesse the bag and tries to talk him out of ruining his life, but Jane slams the door in his face. With over four hundred grand, Jane rejoices that they could go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. She and Jesse plan to run away to New Zealand and start a new life and get clean.

Unfortunately, their addictions prove too powerful...

A saddened Walt stops at a bar, where he meets Donald. Not realizing this man is Jane's father, the two talk about their children. Donald mentions having a daughter who is a handful, and Walt talks about how he has a "nephew" who is also a pain in the ass, refusing to take his advice even when it's for his own good. He asks Donald for his advice, to which Donald tells him that he can never give up on family.

Taking the advice to heart, Walt returns to the duplex. When Jesse doesn't answer, he breaks in again. He finds Jesse passed out from heroin and attempts to awaken him, but to no avail: he is out cold.

Just then, Jane begins to convulse and vomit. Walt had accidentally rolled her onto her back when trying to rouse Jesse, and in this position, she begins to choke on her own vomit. Walt initially rushes to help her, but he hesitates, and considers it for a moment. He then stands back and watches in silence as Jane struggles to breathe before she finally lies still, her lifeless eyes rolling open. Horrified by what he has just done (or rather, didn't do), Walt tries to compose himself as a tear runs down his cheek, but his face soon hardens. After all, with Jane out of the picture, so is her sway over Jesse and the threat of her blackmailing him...

This episode contains examples of:

  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Zig-Zagged between Jane and Walt:
    Walter: So, what is this? Hm? ...What, some kind of blackmail or something?
    Jane: This is me telling you to do right by Jesse and bring him what you owe him. I don't call that blackmail. I call that getting off your ass, and being a decent human being.
    Walter: Well, I call it blackmail. Dialing my number. Talking to my wife. And what's your end of this, huh? How much heroin does a half-a-million dollars buy? For your information, I am holding Jesse's money for him, he will receive every last dollar of it. He will. Not you. At a time when I see fit. But I will not contribute to his overdose. Now, you tell him, if he gets clean... If you both get clean—
    Jane: You know what? I take that back. This is blackmail!
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Holly is born at the very beginning of the episode. At the very end of the episode, Jane dies. The episode's Double-Meaning Title references this, invoking the myth of the phoenix.
  • Continuity Nod:
    Walter (looks at Jesse): "Nice job wearing the pants."note 
  • Contrived Coincidence: Walter is out one night after a meeting with Jesse and abruptly decides to drop into a bar by himself to grab a beer (something which, by his own admission, he never does), and happens to sit down beside and fall into conversation with a friendly stranger, who just so happens to be the father of Jesse's girlfriend. This occurs immediately before Jesse's girlfriend chokes to death on her own vomit while Walter does nothing to help. The astronomical unlikelihood of this chance meeting is lampshaded and handwaved by Walter himself in a later episode. That father also happens to be an Air Traffic Controller who later, still preoccupied over his daughter's death, negligently causes a mid-air collision right over Walter's house. Which makes Walt indirectly responsible for the crash.
  • Daddy's Girl: Jane to her father when he finds she and Jesse are back on drugs and goes to call the police. She uses a variety of techniques, including emotional blackmail (reminding him of the time she left and he didn't water her houseplants so they died), overreacting to "being judged," and telling her father that she and Jesse talked about rehab every night. It worked.
    • She was clearly upset at her father finding out she was back on drugs, attacking Jesse and threatening to call the police, so she might have just panicked and told him what he needed to hear in order to calm down.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Phoenix" is Jane's birthplace, the name of the Mars Lander shown on TV, a reference to Birth-Death Juxtaposition and a Compound Title with "ABQ."
  • Dramatic Irony: Walt White runs into Don Margolis. Both men vent their frustrations about their children, Don about his daughter, and Walt about his "nephew". Unbeknownst to both men, they're discussing the same situation: Jesse and Jane's relationship and mutual heroin addiction. The ultimate irony is that Don's advice to Walter drives him to sneak into Jesse's home and inadvertently cause Jane's death.
  • Easily Forgiven: Justified; compared to everything else that's happened until this point, Skyler allows Walt's being absent for Holly's birth to slide by without much fuss. Considering that the entire process is indicated to have taken less than an hour, and she barely arrived at the hospital in time even with Ted to drive her there as soon as she felt her first contractions, however, she can't really hold it against Walt.
  • Foreshadowing: Twice: First Jane tells Jesse to roll over on his side after shooting up in case he vomits ("Lie on your side, or you might choke,") and Walter does the same thing for his infant daughter. When Walt tries to shake Jesse awake at the end of the episode to talk to him, Jane rolls over on her back, and seconds later throws up and starts choking.
    • Jane and her father briefly discuss his job in one scene, with Donald musing about having to do backup training on his days off and how scary he thinks it is that people with no experience are getting in. They don't go into much other detail about what it is he actually does.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: When speaking to Donald, Walt admits that he has never really felt the need to go drinking at a bar just by himself before, but he having to having to deal with Jesse's descent into addiction has put him in need of some kind of outlet.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Walter's not kind about refusing to give Jesse his share of the money from the deal, and his motives are likely less than pure (it's hinted he's being driven by a combination of greed at keeping the money and seizing an opportunity for leverage and control over Jesse). But for once, he's actually pretty justified in raking Jesse over the coals for being unreliable, due to his newfound heroin addiction. Walt also points out that he was the one to set up, arrange and complete the deal single-handedly while Jesse spent the whole time strung out, despite Jesse's role in their arrangement nominally to be handling that side of the business.
  • Misplaced a Decimal Point: Jane thinks Jesse is justified in being upset about Walt owing him almost $500. Then Jesse clarifies that when he said "500", he meant five hundred thousand dollars.
  • Murder by Inaction: Walt watches Jane choke to death on her own vomit (she'd shot up with heroin). Jane had earlier demanded Walt fork over some drug money and threatened to rat him out. Made worse in that Walt had inadvertently moved Jane on to her back when he tried to wake Jesse up, and thus indirectly caused her death as well as refusing to prevent it.
  • Never My Fault: Jesse is upset that Walter shuts him out of getting his share of the money from the deal from the previous episode. Of course, the only reason Walt refuses to give him his share is because Jesse's drug addiction has made him unreliable. Naturally, Jesse is complaining about this just as he gets ready to shoot more heroin.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Minor one, but having just sold meth to Gus, Walt gets a bit apprehensive when Hank and Marie bring takeout Los Pollos Hermanos over for family dinner at Walt's house.
    • Major one for Jesse, when he wakes up to discover the stash of meth missing, as he was too drugged out to remember Walt coming for it earlier.
  • One Degree of Separation: Walt bumps into Jane's father at a bar and they get talking about the perils of fatherhood, completely unaware of their connection.
  • Pet the Dog: Walt shows his concern for Jesse is real in the scene he talks to Jane's father where resolves to help Jesse clean up from his addictions.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Jesse either vents and is upselling himself to Jane or he's truly wacked out of his mind, when he says that "I taught him [Walt] everything!".
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: It's made pretty clear that heroin brings out a bad side in Jane; after being pretty likable, honest and moral while clean, she very quickly becomes manipulative, scheming and willing to resort to blackmail — emotional and otherwise — after getting back on the junk.
    • In particular, she is rather clearly interested in Jesse's stack of money primarily for her own ends. Notice how after Walt delivers the cash, the first things out of her mouth relate to how she can use it and can do whatever she wants.
  • Wham Episode: Jane's relationship with Jesse is discovered by her dad, which drives her to blackmailing Walt into turning over the money he owes Jesse. With this in mind, when Walt finds himself watching Jane choke to death in her sleep, he does nothing and lets her die. This episode also features the birth of Holly.
  • Wham Shot: Walt pointedly watching Jane die, despite knowing he could easily save her.

"This is blackmail. Do right by Jesse. Tonight. Or I will burn you to the ground."