Television Review: "Breaking Bad" Season Three, Episode Two: "Caballo Sin Nombre"

3/29/2010 Posted by Admin

Television Review

"Breaking Bad" Season Three, Episode Two: "Caballo Sin Nombre" 

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

This season of "Breaking Bad" is definitely proving to be more of a slow burn than last season, with "Caballo Sin Nombre" still keeping it nice and low-key and letting us get a feel for every character's situations as the dread slowly builds to what will surely be a true bloodbath later in the season. And, just as with last week, the more subtle approach results in an excellent episode.

Some spoilers herein.

The primary focus of this episode is Walt's conflicts with Skylar and his attempt to bring the family back together. As Skylar struggles with trying to forgive Walt, Hank and her sister sit back in amazement at the disintegration of what appeared to them as a stable marriage, and Walt Jr. (finally dropping his obnoxious "Flynn" nickname) resents his mother for condemning Walt for what seems to be no reason.

Plotlines focusing on the family aspect of the show tend to be hit-or-miss. Thankfully the writers seem to have a strong hold on where they're going with the characters, and it works wonders with the drama in this episode. RJ Mitte was at his best here, portraying the confused and angry Walt Jr. better than he has since the party scene in "Over," and his character is becoming more and more interesting as time goes on. Skylar was great here as well, with her scene with Walt (culiminating in him hilariously launching a whole pizza onto the roof of the house) and her discussion with Hank being some of the stand-out moments of the episode.

Meanwhile, Jesse, as desperate as ever to prove his worth to his family, hatches a scheme with Saul (the fantastic Bob Odenkirk returning to the show, this time as a regular) to buy back the family's old house. Saul has been pretty much the best supporting character since his first appearance last season, and he keeps it up in this episode with his seedy, crooked con job to get Jesse's house back. The moment where Jesse waltzes past his confused parents and walks into his newly renovated house was simply awesome. It seems as if Jesse is making a quick recovery from Jane's death and the plane crash--or he's going to remain in his new house and slowly drive himself mad.

This episode also saw the return of Saul's Winston Wolf-esque fixer, Mike, who Saul brings in to keep an eye on Skylar (why, we don't know--partly to make sure she doesn't blab about Walt's illegal practices, but there could be other things Saul doesn't want Skylar to say).

One of the few disappointments in the episode was the appearance of the Mexican duo from the previous episodes. The fact that they appeared wasn't really the disappointment--it was more when they appeared. About halfway through the episode, they visit an old folks' home to see none other than Tuco's grandfather. The scene is pretty great--the twins use a Ouija board to the old man's bell to determine Heisenberg's true identity. The problem here is that this appearance removes a bit of tension from the episode--if the scene had been the cold open, the entire episode could have been full of some real suspense as the viewer wonders where and when the twins will appear to Walt. Still, it's not that much of a problem--it just could've been done a bit better.

These three plotlines--Mike bugging Walt's house, Walt attempting to reconnect with Skylar, and the twins looking for Walt--all come together in the final scene, which featured some really powerful stuff. Walt nearly sees Mike, Mike watches as the twins enter the house with an axe, Walt showers as the twins step quietly through the house looking for their victim--it's an incredibly thrilling scene.  There couldn't be a better way to end the episode, and the reveal in the final moments that the twins are somehow connected to Gus, the fast-food meth entrepreneur, was a pretty interesting development.

Overall, "Caballo Sin Nombre" (translated as "a horse with no name"--a reference to the song heard in both the opening and closing of the episode) is another strong introduction to season three, and as the stories become more intertwined and twisted, things can only get better.

Grade: A

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