By Sam Adams | Criticwire August 19, 2013 at 2:08AM
As befits the title of "Buried," Walter White spent much of this week's Breaking Bad digging a hole in the New Mexico desert to hide his ill-gotten gains. But while he's burying his money in the airtight drums he's frequently used to dispose of bodies, everywhere else things are coming to the surface. Hank grills Skyler about her knowledge of Walt's criminal activities, and while she stonewalls, her silence arouses suspicions that Marie later converts into certainty. (Proof, unfortunately for Hank, is still a ways off.) Skyler says nothing as Marie runs through various scenarios of when Skyler's complicity began, but her guilty silence is all Marie needs to get to the truth -- that Skyler, motivated in part by fear, but also by love and loyalty and greed, stood pat as Walt destroyed untold lives. Pushed away by Hank, whose attempt to turn their diner meeting into an interrogation backfires, Skyler counsels Walt to keep quiet, but we already know that word gets out, and that Walt and his family will join the long list of people whose lives he's wrecked. Walt hopes, at least, that he can leave his family secure, offering to turn himself in as long as Skyler promises to keep the money safe. But Walt's chances are no better than the lottery ticket he buys to keep a record of his buried loot's GPS coordinates.
Lydia tries going underground as well, hiding in a buried meth lab while Todd and his uncle wipe out Declan and his crew above. But even as she cowers, shell casings drop through the exhaust fan. She asks Todd to lead her back to her car so she can step through the sea of dead bodies without opening her eyes, but the last man still breathing is put down only feet from her, as Todd's uncle sardonically calls out, "Fire in the hole."
We learn this week that what might have seemed like Hank's triumph will almost certainly be he's undoing: As he tells Marie, ten seconds after he reveals that the meth-cooking masterminded he's been searching for is his brother-in-law, his career will be over. ("At least I can be the guy he caught him," Hank reflects -- a statement worth filing away for future episodes.) Perhaps that's why he's willing to cross the line with Skyler, his desperate manipulation turning him into a dark shadow of himself: his own Heisenberg. Director Michelle McLaren bathes Skyler in angelic light while Hank is shrouded in darkness; his plea for Skyler to "believe me when I tell you that your best interests and mine are the same" sounds uncomfortably like Walt's oft-used preamble, "I need you to believe this..." That's not to say they're two sides of the same coin, but that Walt has a knack for bringing out the darkness in others. Like Tony Soprano in "Whitecaps," his moral rot is contagious.
Donna Bowman, The AV Club:
Hank means to reassure Skyler that as family, he can protect her better than the legal system can, but his words betray him to us viewers, and they’re chilling. He wants control. Just like Walt has wanted for the last three seasons. Sound the sirens; they’re on a collision course.
Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture:
Ironically, in this scene Hank reminded me of Walt -- or Walt-as-Heisenberg. He just came on too strong. He let his desperation show. If he’d been able to manage a somewhat lighter touch he might have gotten what he wanted. And now it’s too late.
James Poniewozik, Time:
Over five seasons of Breaking Bad, a lot has been buried and is suddenly being exhumed. And Skyler–who is not an innocent in all this but never asked for it either–once again needs to bury her feelings (the other sense of “Buried” here) and deal with the repercussions. “Maybe our best move here,” she tells Walt, “is to stay quiet.”
Emily Bazelon, Slate:
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.
Alan Sepinwall, Hitfix:
This is a male show about a male world. And it is among the best things ever placed on television. Every now and then, though, Breaking Bad can remind us in spectacular fashion just how compelling its female characters can be.