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Recap / Breaking Bad S 2 E 13 ABQ

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737 Down Over ABQ.

"I deserve this. ... What you said in the desert, I get it. What you meant. I deserve whatever happens."
Jesse Pinkman

Jesse awakens to find Jane dead next to him. When his attempts to revive her fail, he frantically calls Walt, who has obviously prepared himself for the call. He tries to soothe a clearly panicking and emotionally devastated Jesse, saying that he will take care of things and it will all be alright.

Walt calls Saul, who sends his private investigator, Mike Erhmantraut, to clean up the drug paraphernalia in the apartment. He instructs Jesse to say "I woke up, I found her, that's all I know", so Jesse could evade suspicion, before leaving so Jesse could dial 911. Donald arrives at the duplex to pick Jane up, but finds an ambulance parked in front. He realizes his worst fears had come to pass as paramedics carry Jane's body away while Jesse tells the police what Mike told him to say. One of the paramedic asks Donald and Jesse if they want to follow them to the mortuary to decide what to do next. Jesse, still somewhat in shock over what happened, takes a quick and extremely shameful look over at Donald, who hasn't uttered a word since entering the house, and says that he won't. Donald, meanwhile, wordlessly takes Jane's "Apology Girl" sketch and leaves with the paramedics.


Hank holds a briefing for his colleagues. He brings up the recent killing of Combo, noting that while Combo was a very small time crook — so small, in fact, that he had flown entirely under the narcotic division's radar — his death coincidences with "Blue Sky" meth suddenly disappearing entirely both from Albuquerque and the state of New Mexico. Gomez argues that it probably has to do with the recent arrest of Jimmy Kilkelly, who is still the main suspect of being the mysterious Heisenberg. But Hank doesn't find that theory compelling, pointing out that while Blue Sky is no longer sold in New Mexico, it has instead started to appear throughout several of the surrounding states in the American southwest in the last few days. He takes it as a sign that actual Heisenberg is not only still active, but have even gotten streetwise enough to no longer "shit where he eats."


Meanwhile, at the White household, Walt continues to be disillusioned with his son's website raking in donations of his laundered drug money. He calls Saul, and learns something disturbing about Jesse...

Mike drives Walt to the "Shooting Gallery", a run-down building in a slum infested with drug addicts. Inside, Walt finds a catatonic Jesse, who sobs into Walt's shoulder, devastated over Jane's death and blaming himself for what happened to her.

At the DEA, Hank meets with some local business owners who want to contribute to their efforts to stamp out drugs. Among them is the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos, Gustavo Fring, who learns from a charity run Hank is conducting that Walt is his brother-in-law...

After Walt checks Jesse in to rehab, he returns home to find, to his embarrassment, that Marie had arranged for a television interview with Junior about his website. As Junior gushes about his father being a kind and righteous man, Walt struggles to hold back his guilt.

Some time after, Walt goes to the hospital and is prepped for surgery to have his tumors excised. As a sedative begins to take effect, Skyler asks for Walt's phone, to which Walt groggily asks "Which one...?", horrifying Skyler.

The surgery goes well, and Walt recovers afterward. While discussing what to do when he returned home, Skyler asks if Walt can be independent. When they return home, Skyler tells him that she's going to take Holly with her to Hank and Marie's for the weekend, and she wants him moved out by the time she returns. She reveals to Walt that he told her about the second cell phone while he was sedated, which led her to learn that not only were Elliot and Gretchen not paying for his medical expenses, but that he never visited his mother during his four-day vacation and she didn't even know he had cancer. She has grown sick of the lies, and by extension, of Walt. As she gets into her car with Holly, Walt pleads with her to stay and offers to tell her everything if she will. Skyler pauses on this information for a second before responding with, "Whatever it is, I'm afraid to know," and driving off, leaving Walter behind.

Donald returns to work as an air traffic controller. Even though he claims to be doing okay, he is quickly distracted by his lingering grief over Jane's death. His concentration begins to slip as he attempts to direct two planes that are inching closer and closer to one another...

Walt is left alone, sitting on his back porch near his pool, contemplating the fact that his wife is leaving him. His navel-gazing is brought to an abrupt halt when he hears a loud "BOOM!". He looks up to the sky to witness as two airliners collide with one another, exploding violently and raining debris across the neighborhood, including a charred pink teddy bear that crashes into his pool...

This episode provides examples of:

  • Arc Symbol: The origins of the charred pink teddy bear is uncovered.
  • Aside Glance: Mike looks directly into the camera right before slapping Jesse. It's not clear if this was intentional, considering it's the only one in the show's history. But it seems to be considering the context and that Jonathan Banks is a highly professional veteran actor.
  • Beard of Evil: Walt grows one out during his recovery from surgery and it remains for the rest of the show.
  • Book Ends: The first episode of the season opened with Walt performing a futile attempt at CPR on No-Doze. This episode, the season finale, begins with Jesse engaged in a similarly futile effort at reviving Jane.
  • Broken Tears: Jesse absolutely breaks when he wakes up to find Jane dead. He breaks down again in Walt's arms, blaming himself for her death.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Mike Ehrmantraut is a very significant example of this, who plays a much more major role in later seasons, and eventually becomes one of the main characters of the Prequel Spin-Off, Better Call Saul.
  • Compound Title: The 4th and final significant episode title. "737 Down Over ABQ."
  • Despair Event Horizon: We're led to think Don is going to beat the crap out of Jesse, but he simply walks away, too depressed to take any action.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: And then some.
  • Dramatic Irony: As Don is driving to the duplex to pick Jane up to take her to rehab, he is leaving a her a voicemail telling her that he's expecting her "on the porch, bag packed, ready to go". The next scene, he drives up and sees the paramedics preparing to carry her out of the building in a body bag.
  • Downer Ending: Jesse's in rehab, Skyler leaves Walt, and a mid-air collision occurs over Albuquerque caused by Don's depression over Jane's death.
  • Enforced Method Acting: In-universe; Mike trains Jesse to tell the cops nothing more than "I woke up, I found her, that's all I know". When they actually show up, Jesse becomes so distraught that the phrase Mike taught him is literally the only thing he's able to tell them before completely breaking down.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Mike arrives at Jesse's house, introducing himself as an associate of Saul Goodman's. He proceeds to quickly and silently clean up all of the drugs found in the house, as well as wipe down all the surfaces they were on, with the emotions of one picking up garbage from their room. He then walks over to Jesse, gives him a cover story, makes Jesse repeat the cover story until it sounds believable, and then tells Jesse exactly how the police will respond and how to react in a variety of situations. Mike then leaves, taking the cash and drugs with him, telling Jesse to call Saul if anything goes wrong.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The Cold Open repeats elements from the three previous episodes in the puzzle ("Seven Thirty Seven", "Down" and "Over"), while providing the fourth part of the scenario which foreshadows the end of the second season.
  • Freudian Slip: Played for Drama — Don, working as an air-traffic controller says "Jane Mike Two One" instead of "Juliet Mike Two One". He then tries to correct his mistake but it is too late.
  • Get Out!: Skyler does this to Walt after finding out about his lies.
  • Heroic BSoD: Jesse and Don experience this after Jane's death.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • Gus finds out about Walt's lung cancer and the fact that he has a brother-in-law in the DEA.
    • After Walt lets slip while under anesthesia that he has a second cell phone, Skyler also discovers from making several phone calls that he refused all of Elliott and Gretchen's offers to pay for surgery and they thus never paid a dime, and that Walt never went to visit his mother the entire four days he was supposedly out to do so. She has basically found out everything except for his actual profession, which she does finally in the next episode.
  • Irony: The mid-air collision does seem eerily similar to the 1986 midair collision of an Aeromexico DC-9 with a Piper Cherokee over Los Angeles, which ironically, involved an air traffic controller named Walter White.
  • Just Plane Wrong: While controller mistakes have certainly caused accidents in the past, the sequence of events leading to the disaster in the episode would not have happened in the real world.
    • Don would not have allowed to return to work while still in a distressed state for exactly the reasons the episode demonstrates. While there is a time skip during the episode, with Don mentioning that at some point more time off "doesn't help", Don would have had to have been medically cleared to return to work, and offered additional supervision as needed.
    • Modern aviation is full of systems that, if properly implemented, would have prevented the type of airplane collision as seen in this episode, as there's no single point of failure - precisely for the reason that a single person can make a mistake. However, there are a few notable subversions:
      • While aircraft systems like Traffic-Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) would have prevented the collision, TCAS will only work if pilots keep the TCAS active and always prioritize the TCAS over ATC instruction. In one particular collision, the TCAS had inadvertently been switched off on one of the airplanes meaning that it did not execute for the other, leading to the collision. In another collision, while the TCAS did work correctly, one of the pilots disregarded the TCAS instructions and committed to the ATC instruction instead, leading to the collision.
      • In addition, aircraft travelling in different directions use different flight levels separated by 1000 feet to prevent collisions. This is highlighted by a collision in 1996, in which the pilot who caused the disaster deviated from his assigned altitude and into another plane travelling in the opposite direction.
      • That said, what likely happened is that the Beechcraft had already deviated from its assigned altitude, with Don's lapse in instruction to the Beechcraft may have added confusion to the Beechcraft pilot who then either had a TCAS transponder that was inoperative, or ignored the TCAS warning. Either way, this caused a similar result to the aforementioned mid-air collisions.
  • Last Episode, New Character: First appearance of Mike Ehrmantraut.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Skyler confronted Gretchen over the phone about this but finds out that not only did her and Walt not have an affair, the Schwartzes did not pay for his treatment either.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: While Walter Jr. is being interviewed, he describes him with flattering verbs, such as being patient and kind among others, which Walter is visibly unnerved by the irony.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Don, after he gives a plane some incorrect instructions. Noticeably, this instance is subtle.
    • Walter has one when Skyler reveals that she called Gretchen, already realizing what she's found out.
  • Please Wake Up: Jesse tries to wakes Jane up in vain.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Bob Odenkirk wasn't available for this one, so the character Mike was created and went on to play a major role. Vince Gilligan and the writers realized that it wouldn't be in Saul's character to come and clean up the apartment himself anyway.
  • The Reveal: This episode establishes what Don's job is: an air-traffic controller. And, tellingly, it's revealed at the worst possible time.
  • Reveal Shot: When Hank is taken to meet several of the businessmen donating to the DEA's Fun Run. At first we only see two of them, but the camera pans out as we're introduced to a third one...
    Merkert: Gustavo Fring, Los Pollos Hermanos.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Apparently, the moral of the season has been: don't deal drugs, kill people and fail to intervene when you find someone choking to death on her own vomit, because that will inevitably lead to a mid-air collision which kills 167 people. Even the creator Vince Gilligan lampshaded the improbability of this in an interview.
  • Spotting the Thread: Before going into surgery, when Skyler asked a sedated Walt for his cellphone, Walt groggily replied "Which one?" Over the weeks that followed the surgery, Skyler discovered that Walt had never accepted money from Elliot and Gretchen, and that he never visited his mother nor told her about his cancer, yet they were nearly all paid up on his medical bills. When the next season begins, Skyler manages to follow the thread to its conclusion: that Walt was dealing drugs.
  • Temporary Substitute: Mike's first appearance was originally meant to be Saul, but it was changed when Bob Odenkirk was unavailable and the writers realized in hindsight that showing up at a crime scene to clean things up could have been in Saul's character, but considering his unavailability introduced Mike, whose background as a cop and veteran was a solid choice and led to greater world building.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Walt letting Jane choke to death in the previous episode quickly snowballs into the mid-air collision.
  • Wham Episode: Skyler finds out Walt's been lying to her the entire season, and leaves him. But that pales in regards to how the episode ends and the reveal of the pink teddy bear's origins: Jane's father, Donald, makes a tiny slip up at work thanks to being distraught over his daughter's death and can't undo it in time. Why is this bad? He's an air traffic controller. As in, tells planes where to go. The last scene of the episode is Walt seeing the plane collision and the pink teddy bear falling into his pool. 167 people were killed in the collision. This episode also marks the First Appearance of Mike Ehrmantraut, who will become a major character in the seasons to come, and will eventually become the deuteragonist of the spin-off show, and, while this is much more minor compared to everything else, Walt gains the iconic Beard of Evil that he will keep until the final two episodes.
  • Wham Line:
    Skyler: Walt, where's your cell phone, did you bring your cell phone?
    Walt: (while high) Which one?
    • While Skyler is telling Walt she's going to Hank's for the weekend: "You'll have the house to yourself for two days. I want you to pack your things and leave."
      • "Because you're a liar, Walt. Two cell phones and all."
      • Really though, almost everything Skyler says in that scene counts seeing as she finally found out about Walt's lies.
    • And then we have the line that starts the climatic scene:
      Don: Juliet-Mike-21... ...climb and maintain 17,000. Clear direct to Albuquerque via the— Aircraft calling, please stand by. Jane-Mike-21, turn, heading— Disregard.
  • Wham Shot: This page's title image, everybody.
    • Similarly, the shot that establishes what Don's job is (since despite what he says, Don isn't fine): an air-traffic controller.
    • To a lesser extent, but still tying off an arc that had been running through the season, the final shot of the black and white flash-forward, when the men in white hazmat suits put evidence into the back of a white van, which is then revealed to belong to the NTSB note , as the camera pans up and reveals a plane has crashed into the suburbs.