Breaking Bad has always connected to archetypal western themes: the making of an outlaw, the division between the good and the bad, and where this division lies. In the opening sequence of “Abiquiu” Jesse and Jane visit the Georgia O’Keeffe museum. Abiquiu was the location of O’Keeffe’s greatest period of creativity in New Mexico. In the last season we saw Jane market this visit to Jesse as an opportunity for him to see paintings of vaginas. Now we finally see what discussion they had at the museum. Jesse stares at a painting of a door and is bored out of his mind. He complains to Jane that the visit is not meeting his expectations. In a flirtacious disussion about the art, Jesse says that O’Keeffe must have been repeatedly painting the door in order to make it perfect. But Jane believes that the door was O’Keefe’s way of going home and following “where the universe takes her.” The scene ends with her stubbing out the lip stick stained cigarette butt that we saw in last week’s “Fly.” Breaking Bad continues to do a good job of grounding each episode in interlinking concrete details.
In “Abiquiu” the universe takes Jesse to revenge, a classic theme in numerous westerns. In a bid to unload his stolen blue meth, Jesse picks up a girl at his group meeting only to learn that her little brother was the one who gun downed Combo, Jesse’s friend who was selling meth for him. The episode concludes with Jesse identifying Tomas, the young killer, and walking away with revenge written all over him.
Skylar also continues to break bad, just as she started to do in “IFT” earlier this season. In one of the episode’s funniest scenes her and Walt meet with Saul. Saul starts to use a jar of jelly beans to explain money laundering only to be cut-off by Skylar. She’s already fully informed and was the one to concoct Walt’s gambling story. She wants to make sure that Hank and Marie won’t figure out the origins of the money. Skylar takes Walt to the car wash where he used to work and tells him that they should buy it instead of using a laser tag business as a front. Only they need “a Danny,” someone on the inside who’s willing to be morally compromised. Skylar volunteers for the job.
Gus, Walt’s meth employer, invites Walt over for dinner. Walt walks into his palatial house and is asked to cut the garlic into thin slices as Gus prepares his grandma’s stew. For a moment, Walt just stares at his reflection in the knife and then he asks what he’s doing there. Gus says since they are working together, they might as well break bread together. During the meal, Gus poetically muses on the connection between food and memory. Walt responds in typical fashion with an explanation related to brain chemistry and biology.
Abiquiu is one of my favorite episodes of the season because of the way it lets the show’s setting speak. The desert southwest can be a place of restoration, where the universe can guide someone, and a woman can go into the desert and emerge a stronger individual. However, the old western themes of revenge and coming blood shed can never be completely escaped.