From the second he’s introduced, in Season 2 Episode 7 (although Skyler looks at a photo of them together in Season 2 Episode 1, from her PERSONAL COLLECTION), it’s obvious Skyler’s going to sleep with Ted Beneke. Before the tension escalates or the cancer outcome’s known, Ted sashays on to the scene, all attractive and snack-like, and even though you just ate lunch, there’s always room for dessert. Even when there’s not room, you make it: you’ve got a hella sugar craving and nothing’s more saccharin sweet than a little bit of Beneke.
So, question answered, mystery solved? Not exactly. Because as hot a silver fox as he may be, Ted’s not the brightest bulb on the Christmas Tree. And morally, he’s every bit as questionable as Walter. Okay so he never killed anybody (that we know of) but he puts his entire family in danger, is prepared to sacrifice everything to avoid a tax bill, enters into an affair with a married lady despite having children of his own to consider, and Skyler’s new born baby and teenage son to think about. And at the expense of Walter, obviously. Where’s the Bro Code, eh Ted?
Skyler applies for a job at Ted’s company for 2 reasons. Number 1, obviously, is that Walt’s wages don’t begin to cover the cancer treatment he needs. But the second reason’s more complicated. Skyler wants out of the house, wants to have something else to think about, especially since her husband reacts to treatment in such unusual ways (meth unknown, the cover-ups and lies start to get to her). She’s heavily pregnant and Walt doesn’t want her working, but can’t give her a reason not to, in wake of their debt. And she doesn’t just want out of the house; more specifically, she seems to want into Ted’s house, or at least, his office.
On turning up at his work to apply for the job, Ted’s secretary is clearly unhappy to Skyler, but Ted jumps at the chance of seeing her like a clingy puppy, and when he hears she’s applying for a low paid job at the firm he goes all big-time-pimp (way to play it, Ted) and offers her her old job back as bookkeeper. Ted’s divorced now, and their chemistry’s thick like the layer of Botox on top of Johnny Depp’s facial muscles. And hell, why shouldn’t she have chemistry with someone when her husband’s spreading his periodic table all over town (heh).
But nothing happens for AGES. Like, the restraint here is superb. Ted’s not enough of a PLAYER. Skyler treads the line between model wife and suspicious as fuck, but she doesn’t act on any flirtation, just keeps it tapering in the office, sizzling like the filling for a metal plated fajita. This includes a super sexy, sort of cringe-worthy rendition of Happy Birthday in the style of Marilyn Monroe, which should carry the label NSFW. Because it’s really really not.
Skyler gets a lot of flack for this whole Ted Beneke thing, no more so than in meme form. And I counter, what’s she done wrong? Okay so eventually, when she feels like she’s lost all control and Walt’s mentioned the motherfucking second mobile phone for the umpteenth time only to deny it AGAIN, she fucks Ted. She fucks him and then some. But it’s not a case of diminished willpower. Not at all. She is not a woman thoughtlessly cheating on her dying husband, NO EFFING WAY. She’s avenging his deception. And I know, avenging anything when your husband has cancer isn’t good behaviour, but I believe she was driven to it.
Ted was there at the birth of her baby. He’s been nothing but supportive. So when she returns to work after maternity leave and Ted’s there, looking all George Clooney dip-dyed, she acts. They have a hot staff room kiss, kind of clumsy, like any at-work carpe diem moment, but it’s okay, it grows into something enjoyable, I think. And she does it because Ted is everything Walt is not, which as it turns out, and I’m sure she knew all along, isn’t a good thing, isn’t a last forever kind of love (who are we kidding, love, really?!) But her husband’s neglectful. Providing for the family in his own mixed up way, but still, neglectful, secretive, an all-out liar by all accounts, and putting the family in incredible danger, unbeknownst to any of them.
So Ted is Skyler’s card, and “I fucked Ted” is her weapon of choice to cut Walt the way he skinned her: just the top layer, a layer at a time, so that she barely noticed it going until her body started to seep (sorry).
Walt tries to confront Ted at work, upon finding out about the affair. Ted hides (chicken-move) and Walt is escorted off of the premises. It would be a total wimp-fight, that I for one would like to see (unless Heisenberg showed up, natch).
Ted delivers on the hotness during their trysts, which happen to be the one time in Skyler’s day she feels happy, in control, like she’s doing something for her, she inappropriately tells her lawyer who looks at her as if she’s just announced she’s moving to the Playboy Mansion. And Ted’s a generous lover, wants to give Skyler a drawer at his house, encourages her to stay over, leave spare clothes, make-up there, the sorts of offers that turn a good fuck into a possible beau. But Skyler’s not feeling it, isn’t looking for long-term really, is uneasy in this affair, but doesn’t want out exactly, until she does.
And Ted couldn’t be nicer getting dumped either. She doesn’t even have to say the words. He leaves, no-one the wiser anything ever happened between them. He’s up front, charming, gives her space when she needs it. So what’s the problem here? HE’S A TERRIBLE BORE, YOU GUYS. TED BENEKE IS A BORE.
He’s a totally loveable bore, though, so I don’t even feel bad having said it. He’s the guy who’s super sweet, attentive, seems like he’d be a good fuck, and he is, the first few times, but then there’s just no spark left, it’s used up like a light bulb, unfortunately one of those old school light bulbs, not the new-fangled mercury kind which go on and on forever. There is no durability here. It’s a learned lesson: the work flirtation was hot because it was a distraction from the work and from life. It was never actually hot in its own right. SHAME.
Plus, Ted has secrets of his own, which Skyler involves herself in, cooking his books and coming to regret that decision, but it’s hard to say no when you’re EMBROILED.
I thought Ted was gone for good. Maybe we all thought that. But he turns up again in Season 4, finds Skyler at the Car Wash one day, tells her he’s being investigated for tax evasion TOMORROW. Will she help? And of course, Skyler pulls a total badass move, getting him out of trouble by wearing THAT outfit (seriously, how can you find fault with this lady?) Being a big pimp herself these days, Skyler tries to pay off Ted’s tax bill, by way of anonymous inheritance donation, but Ted spends it on a new Merc, and on reopening the business, thus showing once more that his brains are the 1 to Walt’s 99% (the purity of the Meth he cooks, ladies and gents).
And what happens to Ted, I can’t even…it’s comic, tragic, totally devastating. For a boring man, his end-game is completely captivating, has me wondering if I had more invested in Ted than I thought.
So Ted Beneke: Fit or Fugly? There is no answer. He treats Skyler well (FIT), ignores the Bro Code (FUGLY), and ultimately, has a pretty fucked up storyend like every other character on the show (no-one is safe). But he’s not a bad guy, not really. He tries. He offers a lot. But what he doesn’t know is, Skyler has a thing for criminal geniuses (don’t we all?) and tax evasion destroys the sexy. But the new and improved Teddy Westside, we don’t hold nothing against you. Your torso is perfectly tan.