Television: ‘Breaking Bad’: ‘Buried’ Too Deep to Resurrect

Laura Fraser as Lydia            AMC

Laura Fraser as Lydia

There’s a reason they call it “filthy lucre,” and in “Buried,” the most recently aired episode of “Breaking Bad,” the term is an especially apt archetypal gut punch.

Derived from the Latin word lucrum, which means monetary or other wealth-related gain, “lucre” is a stand-in term for money, as is the Biblical expression “filthy lucre.”

In the religious sense, anything that sways a person off the righteous road, such as the quest for riches and material goods can be considered unclean, leading straight to hell. And nothing says filth – and wealth – like the Plutonian underworld, which generates mineral riches amidst the stones and dirt. At the psychological level, a descent into one’s unconscious can be gloriously life-altering, because it’s where the treasures are buried. You just have to get past the garbage.

In “Buried,” the burial motif and trajectory to the nether regions run through the episode like a jackhammer, affecting the characters differently, according to their mental and spiritual states.

Walt (Bryan Cranston) goes to the middle of the desert, which evokes the metaphoric heat of the Great Below, and starts digging. There he buries and covers his loot to protect its discovery should Jesse, who’s now in custody, spill the beans. After this task, Walt’s exhaustion causes him to collapse from fatigue in his bathroom, the filth-generating part of the home. Apparently no more spiritual showers for him.

Jesse (Aaron Paul) has gone all fuzzed-out Neptune, with apparently little interest in survival. It’s as though he welcomes the hell of his own making via self-burial. Having scattered, like ashes, his share of the cash all over town, Jesse has chosen to recline on a child’s playground fixture, staring at the sky. His outlook is black but his affinity for the things of childhood may save him.

Skyler (Anna Gunn) rejects Walt’s proposition that he’ll give himself up if she promises to keep the money to provide for their children. She suggests that they both stay “quiet” for a while. Like the dead, in the ground.

Hank (Dean Norris) tells Marie (Betsy Brandt) that his career is finished – although “buried” is more thematically accurate –  because no one at the DEA would ever believe he had never figured out Walt was Heisenberg.

Marie dips closer to the edges of hell every time Skyler acknowledges she knew about Walt’s guilt way before Marie could have imagined. In a twist, Marie does a Hades-like turn by attempting to kidnap her infant niece, mirroring that god’s abduction of the maiden Persephone from her mother Demeter.

Lydia (Laura Fraser), assisted by Todd (Jesse Plemons), descends into the mid-desert, below-the-earth meth lab, the source of the blue-hued gems. It’s an executive grab – Pluto rules control – that may prove her undoing, if she can’t restore a high level of quality to her meth output.

In the mythic sense, time in hell can be transformative. We’ve got six more episodes to find out which characters’ cosmic passports bear an exit visa from the underworld.

Astrology Television Rating” ♇ (Pluto)

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