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The Orange Couch, Episode 3 of Breaking Bad: “Hazard Pay”

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We didn’t forget the latest episode of The Orange Couch! We try and are usually good about getting it up the next day, but some times it doesn’t quite work out. But I think you’ll like the way we broke down this latest episode of Breaking Bad. We’re approaching the episode like a whodunnit, except in this case, it’s a who’ll-do-it. We run down the list of possible suspects and make a case for them, one at a time.

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Watch the video and vote for who you think will figuratively (or hell, literally) pull the trigger in comments!

Outside of what’s examined in this video, I have to make a note of Walt’s increasingly adept lying and emotional manipulation. I feel like Vince Gilligan has been quietly reading feminist blogs talking about domestic abuse and specifically gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse in which false information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own memory and perception. It may simply be the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, or it could be the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

Some times gaslighting is an end in and of itself; the abuser enjoys being able to dictate reality for the victim, and enjoys watching them self-doubt and flail around helplessly, unable to reconcile what their eyes and ears tell them and what this person they trust is telling them. Or, and this is probably way more common, gaslighters are trying to manipulate people for their own ends. Gaslighting is different from simple lying. Pretty much everyone lies from time to time, but it’s rarely with the intention to get the other person to unlearn to trust their own perceptions and rely on you instead to do their thinking for them. This article lays out some examples of gaslighting, and you’ll note that the gaslighters are doing more than simply lying, but they aggressively try to reframe the interaction so that the victim feels that their feelings and perceptions are “wrong”—so wrong that the gaslighter basically implies that the person should stop trying and let the gaslighter tell them what to think and feel. Much different than lying, and in fact, lying is often a survival technique for the gaslighting victim. (For instance, the woman who was told she didn’t really love her husband if she couldn’t perform magic and make out-of-season wild salmon appear on her dinner table. She didn’t do it, but buying farm-raised and passing it off as wild could have given her a few minutes rest until her husband came up with a new, impossible test to “prove” her love.)

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There are two main people that Walt is trying to control through gaslighting. Jesse is the one he’s running the  most successful con on. Walt portrays himself as generous, giving, and in control to Jesse, distorting Jesse’s ability to see that Walt is vindictive, stingy, and actually not a good decision-maker. Take, for instance, the way that Walt pulled a high level gaslighting by planting “evidence” that Jesse was reckless with the ricin, when we all know Jesse was very careful with it. This had the desired effect of causing Jesse to question his own judgment, become more helpless, and give more power over his life to Walt. At the end of this episode, Walt pulls another classic gaslighting trick of going really weird and threatening Jesse, but doing it in a way that establishes plausible deniability. That way, if Jesse comes back at him, he can play the victim, claiming he didn’t really threaten Jesse, and Jesse’s just paranoid.

A favorite tactic of the gaslighter is to fling so many accusations at the victim, after the victim resists abuse, that the victim ends up apologizing even though they did nothing wrong. Walt is so assured now of his ability to redefine reality for those he wishes to control that he skipped over the drawn-out process of acquiring a tearful apology from Skylar, skipping right—and chillingly—to the phase where the abuser magnanimously “forgives” the victim, casting themselves as the wronged party and distorting the victim’s perception of reality. Skylar is suffering from well-known effects of gaslighting, such as depression and tip-toeing around the gaslighter instead of confronting them for fear of getting into an mind fuck argument where the gaslighter is tossing out distortions and challenging the victim’s perceptions. (That’s why she understandably didn’t stand up to him when he moved back in without asking; he’s so far gone he’d probably rewrite the entire history of how he left in the first place.) Still, this episode was about how Skylar has quietly stopped letting it work. Walt can tell her the sky is purple all he wants, but Skylar is waking up and seeing that it’s blue. That’s what the Scarface scene was about: Walt would like you to see him as a warm family man, but as the little box in the living room unwittingly reveals, he’s a soulless monster. And probably always has been.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Pandagon

Ch-ch-changes…..

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After many years and many server changes and finally landing here at Raw Story, which has taken very good care of us, it's time to say goodbye to Pandagon. I've been blogging under this banner for ten years, after Jesse Taylor asked me to join. He, in turn, had been running this joint since he was in college. A lot has changed since then. I became a journalist, moved from Austin to New York and learned to play Dungeons & Dragons. Jesse became a lawyer and, just this past weekend, a married man.

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Pandagon

Carly Fiorina defends her lie with a whole bunch of lies

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I do like it when Republican candidates sport a resume full of corporate executive work, because it really shows the public how many fools and idiots coast into that position not on merit but on their bullshitting abilities. Donald Trump, Herman Cain, and now we have Carly Fiorina, who just can't understand why her perceived underlings (voters, journalists) won't scurry away, pretending to accept her bullshit like former employees of hers had to do, lest they lost their jobs.

And so it goes that Fiorina, who could make this entire Planned Parenthood controversy go away by saying something like, "I may have misremembered the video, but I still think abortion is wrong," instead is doubling and tripling down. And every time she does, she lies more and more. She was on Meet the Press and, so enamored of the idea that she is perfect and could never do anything wrong, just went to town with the defensive posturing.

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Pandagon

Marco Rubio has an astoundingly low opinion of women’s intelligence

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At RH Reality Check, I covered this story that I wish was getting more press, about how Marco Rubio goes back and forth between suggesting that women who get abortions are greedy monsters who get pregnant for cash:

I just think you’ve created an industry now … a situation where very much, you’ve created an incentive for people not just to look forward to having more abortions, but being able to sell that fetal tissue for purposes—these centers—for purposes of making a profit off it, as you’ve seen in some of these Planned Parenthood affiliates.

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