The science of Breaking Bad: Buyout

Breaking Bad | Season 5 | Episode 6 | “Buyout”

Walt and Jesse discuss the empire business.

Walt and Jesse discuss the empire business.

Just as Walt finally gets the raw materials necessary to build his meth empire, his partners decide that the business isn’t worth what it costs them anymore. Oh, for this level of clarity in season two.

This episode is reviewed at Emilia Jordan and the A.V. Club, and you can read more about it at AMC and IMDb.

Random thoughts

With experience in body- and evidence disposal dating back to season one, the Heisenberg crew is getting pretty polished. They’re using a solution of hydrogen fluoride to do the dissolving, which unfortunately won’t affect the plastic components of the bike. As before, I would not be so cavalier as to use that stuff with only gloves and a mask to protect me from it.

Is Walt’s escape plan a valid one? Well, yes and no. It could possibly work, but (as before) there are significant risks involved and other options to explore. Bringing live electrical wires together would produce an electrical arc, but this would most likely result in a fuse blowing or a breaker tripping (especially with a power bar involved). Walt also didn’t need to stick the wire underneath the zip-tie; he could have made the arc just on top of the tie to similar effect with less injury. I’m assuming that Mike used a police-grade tie, as regular ones used to tidy cables are quite easily broken or unzipped. Before going for the electrical option, I would have attempted to dismantle the coffee maker and perhaps get a sharp piece of the metal base (using the radiator for leverage). Still, it says a lot about Walt’s level of conviction/delusion.

So, what is Walt’s new and improved master plan for founding his empire and getting Jesse and Mike out with their money? My guess is that he’ll try and cut the Phoenix crew a deal and offer to cook meth for them, but that does seem a little simplistic given that he’s just wriggled out of one industrial-scale meth operation.

Elements in the credits

Breaking Bromine
Bad Barium
Created Chromium
Bryan Cranston Bromine
AnNa Gunn Sodium
AAron Paul Argon
DeaN Norris Nitrogen
Betsy Brandt Beryllium
RJ MitTe Tellurium
BOb Odenkirk Oxygen
JonAthan Banks Astatine
JEsse Plemons Einsteinium
Steven MicHael Quezada Hydrogen
Louis Ferreira Iron
Kelley Dixon Potassium
Mark FreeboRn Radon
MiChael Slovis Carbon
Dave Porter Polonium
Sharon Bialy Sulfur
Sherry Thomas Thorium
BrYan Cranston Yttrium
Diane MerCer Cerium
Moira Walley-Beckett Molybdenum
Thomas SchnAuz Gold
George Mastras Germanium
PeTer Gould Tellurium
Sam Catlin Calcium
Melissa Bernstein Beryllium
MicHelle MacLaren Helium
Mark JOhnson Oxygen
StewArt A. Lyons Argon
Michelle MacLaRen Rhenium
Gennifer HuTchison Technetium
Colin Bucksey Cobalt
Vince Gilligan Vanadium

5 Responses to The science of Breaking Bad: Buyout

  1. JC says:

    The way Walt had the wire under the zip tie, would he have been electrocuted as well as burned, or is just getting horribly burned realistic?

    • John says:

      It’s unlikely that he would have been electrocuted – the current will always take the route of least resistance, and that’d probably be through the small air gap and back to the other wire. Still, it was a significant risk given that the current could potentially have travelled through his wrist to the radiator (not fatal, but very uncomfortable and inconvenient).

  2. T.j. White says:

    No way Mike would’ve left Walt cuffed like that. Mike knows how smart Walt is.I can’t see an experienced cop like him slipping up so badly.

    Second… the solution to the coffeepot being out of reach was much simpler: remove both of those posters from the wall, roll them up tightly, overlapping them enough to make one long continuous tube, slip the tube through the handle of the coffeepot and viola.

    Even failing that, as a nearly legally blind person, I’d still have smashed my glasses on the radiator and used a shard from a lens to saw through the ziptie before I tried the electrical solution.

    Even the blue & white “great value” coffeecan, which fell well within reach after the coffeepot failure, would’ve done the job with a little mashing & bending.

    That wouldn’t have been as good TV, however.

  3. […] Weak Interactions – The Science of Breaking Bad […]

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