What We’ve Been Watching- Breaking Bad

I enjoyed writing these pieces over the last few weeks. Makes my television viewing habit feel less like a lazy waste of time if I then talk about it on the internet…I guess? Though the title doesn’t really work as this is another show I’ve watched by myself. Which is a very good thing, as my wife would have hated the show. To dark for her tastes at present.

The premise of the show always struck me as amusing. Chemistry teacher gets cancer, thinks he’s going to die, sells meth to make money for his family. Sounds like it could be like Weeds and be a silly show. But while it has its bit of humor, its not a silly show.

Spoilerific ahead…

As with most things I watch these days, I got into this late. In fact, I only started watching just about the time the first half of season 5 ended. I blitzed through four seasons pretty quickly and am just not caught up. Yay for Netflix putting the first have of the season up there before the second half premiered. Thanks to Comcast being slightly less stupid about the cable line up I have access to, I can now watch the last few episodes with the rest of the country. (programming note, I’m writing this having seen the first two episodes of the second half of season 2, though 3 have aired).

I enjoyed the first season a lot, despite it taking a darker tone than I had been expecting. They dove right into Walt needing to do some twister shit, killing people in the first episode. At the time it seemed a little to fast to be in a life and death situation, it really worked to frame the series. His first exposure to the drug world was life or death, kill or be killed. This naturally framed his perceptions going forward.

I was more lackluster on season 3, mainly due to the “big mystery” that ran through season 2 of the plane crash. It felt almost like a cop out at the end of the season. Really, the big mystery of all this debris is some planes collided overhead? And its only tangentially Walt’s fault through a convoluted twist of letting Q’s daughter die?

Despite that, it did kick off a good story of Jesse as he tried to get clean. It also showed just how far Walt had fallen. Before he had killed in self defense. He had acted like a bad ass. But now, he had purposely let a woman die when he could have saved her.

This is just one example of how screwed poor Jesse has become because of his association with Walt. That reveal at the end of season 4 about the boy and Walt poisoning him…that was the darkest yet (until season 5). He really has ruined the lives of everyone around him.

The transformation of Walt into Heisenberg has been one of the best character developments I’ve seen. He starts as a meek chemistry teacher whose life hasn’t turned out the way he wanted, nevertheless he’s fairly happy. He loves his wife and his son. He gets something out of teaching.

Then he finds out he’s dying AND about to have a new kid.  Walt is one of those people who thinks you need to do things for yourself. He doesn’t like asking for help or accepting it when its offered.  Pride is his biggest flaw.

He had a chance to get his treatment paid for via an old friend. He had already tried the drug thing and run into a lot of trouble. But he needed to be the one who earned the money. And in the end, it wasn’t really about the money. It was about him feeling important and successful.

You might wonder why I’m writing this now when the show is so close to ending. I wanted to throw out a few predictions before we actually get there. I think Jesse kills Walt using the poison (forget its name) that he made Jesse thing he poisoned the kid with. That would be poetic justice for all of the misery he’s put Jesse through.

Barring that, I think Walt lives after pulling off an amazing web of lies such that everyone thinks he’s dead. The cancer probably actually isn’t back, the treatment is all part of his game. His family gets to move on and he goes back to the underworld as a major crime boss.

We’ll find out in five more episodes (6 more me since I still have last Sunday’s to watch).


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