By Matthew Seitz | Press Play August 2, 2011 at 5:08AM
By Matt Zoller Seitz
Press Play Contributor
The most important moment in last night's Breaking Bad wasn't a scene or a line. It was a shot -- that closeup of the soap suds clustered in the bottom of Skyler White's sink after she finishes washing her baby bottles, has her "eureka" moment and realizes how to manipulate a reluctant car wash owner into selling his business.
On one level, the shot is just functional, expository. She's washing the baby bottles. She sees the water and suds going down the drain.
She thinks about how liquids seep into the ground. And she hatches a complicated deception involving a phony EPA inspector who tells the car-wash owner that his property is contaminated, and that he has to close down for several weeks in order to fix the problem.
But like so many close-ups on Breaking Bad, this one has a metaphoric dimension, too. It marks the moment when the remaining traces of Skyler's personal moral code went down the drain.
Skyler had previously been carrying her husband Walt's water, so to speak -- going to the car wash owner and trying to get him to sell his business so that Walter could use it to launder drug money. When the car-wash owner said no -- treating Skyler dismissively and insulting Walt's manhood -- she became obsessed with owning not any business, but that particular car wash. All of a sudden, acquiring that car wash became more about retribution than simple business -- and she deliberately drew Walt into her obsession by revealing the slur against him.
To read the rest of the recap, click here.
PressPlay founder and publisher Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for Salon.com. His video essays about Terrence Malick, Oliver Stone, Budd Boetticher, Wes Anderson, Clint Eastwood, Michael Mann and other directors can be viewed at the at the online magazine Moving Image Source.