by Chas Danner
Emily Bazelon notes Skyler White’s transformation in the latest Breaking Bad episode (spoilers):
For me, [the] central thrill of this episode [was that] Skyler chose. She chose Walt over Hank and Marie. She chose asking for a lawyer over confessing like a good girl. She chose sin over remorse. Can she still be the show’s moral fulcrum? I don’t think so.
Hank assumed Skyler would cooperate; he also must have thought she would go to pieces. The genius of this scene is how much he underestimates her. He opens a door to innocence—“you’re done being his victim”—and fully expects her to walk through it, even turning on his tape recorder right there in the restaurant with a little paper lantern overhead. And Skyler refuses to play the role he has scripted for her. In earlier seasons, she has struggled against Walt’s expectations. Now it’s her brother-in-law whom she has to outsmart and push away. And in fact, she is a step ahead of him. She can see how little evidence he has and how much he needs her to build his case. She decides not to give him what he wants.
Alan Sepinwall marvels:
[Skyler] is not a saint. If she was a saint, she wouldn’t belong on a show that recognizes the messy contradictions that come with being a human being on this planet. She’s a complicated person, sometimes a victim, sometimes a fool, sometimes a heroine. She is, in other words, a worthy, fascinating character in this story, and even if it’s Walt’s story, Skyler’s role matters, and needs to be considered once again before things are over and done with.