"In Breaking Bad the villain is not sociology, but a human being; what destroys the mortals is not a system, but a fellow mortal."
July 13, 2012 8:05 AM   Subscribe


 
Nice article, I am so looking forward to the next series, and so soon!
posted by lith at 8:26 AM on July 13, 2012


Cool. Favorited so as to read after I spoil myself.
posted by univac at 8:28 AM on July 13, 2012


Yes! Stocking up on massive piles of blue tina for the party. It's gonna be sweet.
posted by Justinian at 8:29 AM on July 13, 2012


I'm one or two seasons behind on a bunch of shows I like, including Breaking Bad but also Mad Men, Dexter, True Blood etc. Somehow even though I know I'll enjoy watching them, the realization that I have so many episodes to get through feels a bit like homework. And of course, the further behind I get, the harder it is to avoid spoilers.

Somehow I don't think fans of Two and a Half Men have similar problems.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:31 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like the tension the writers have developed, where one can be repulsed by Walt and simultaneously rooting for him against his foes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:35 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


What has surprised me is that this show has been consistently good over the season. Shows like Mad Men, Dexter, Justified, are quality television shows but some seasons are brilliant and some are not. Breaking Bad has remained strong throughout.
posted by Fizz at 8:36 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sweet. I was waiting for somebody to make the obligatory pre-premiere post.

I love the show, and think it's one of my favorites ever, but I gotta say, despite the dark subject, it's kinda more fluffy than serious to me. Almost a guilty pleasure.

But I should probably rtfa ...
posted by mrgrimm at 8:37 AM on July 13, 2012


Breaking Bad has remained strong throughout.

Season 1 is the weakest. It doesn't hit its stride until Saul shows up. I'm glad Walt's not letting him go, lol.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:38 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh man, I cannot wait for Sunday night!

As far as I could tell by reading the article there are no Season 5 spoilers.

I should probably link to this interview with Aaron Paul with the warning that there are some minor Season 5 spoilers and some major earlier season spoilers.
posted by bondcliff at 8:39 AM on July 13, 2012


There are two AND A HALF men now? A spoiler warning would have been nice!
posted by emelenjr at 8:43 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I gave up on Breaking Bad halfway through season three, which is one season before I gave up on Mad Men. I'm consistently impressed that my friends and people whose tastes I respect have stuck with both. The self-contained nature of each season of The Wire allowed it to get away with some of the challenges of pacing and evenness, but I just found Breaking Bad substantially worse at all this than its peers. The Sopranos jumped the shark somewhere between Ralphie killing the dancer and Steve Buscemi showing up, but it feels like a number of generations prior to these shows and maybe I'm more forgiving because it didn't have a framework to follow.

On a side note, I've noticed that people with science backgrounds get much more frustrated with Breaking Bad than others. I feel like the way the show presented not just Chemistry, but scientists in general, was unbearable. Do teachers feel that way? Is Walt's in-classroom behavior as ridiculous as the cutaways to his time as a brilliant PhD student.

Incidentally, I went to law school with one of the authors and very much respect her opinion, but much like the show, this piece went on too long.
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:50 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like the tension the writers have developed, where one can be repulsed by Walt and simultaneously rooting for him against his foes.

I had a lot of trouble in season 4, because I of course thought all the people in the show were terrible, but I wanted them all to succeed. Go Walt! Go Gus Frings! Go Mike! Go Jesse! Go Hank! . . . though it's going to end badly for all of them, I will be saddest for Jesse.
posted by jeather at 8:51 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just hope they secured the rights to Rose Royce's "Car Wash" so they can open with that playing while Walt's car wash business is booming. The camera seamlessly tunnels under bling SUV getting polished up and down into the basement where Walt is busy setting up a new lab.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:52 AM on July 13, 2012


I watched the first three episodes of Season 1 about a year ago and was put off by the gore, but some coworkers wore me down recently and I dipped a toe in again. Within a week and a half I'm just about caught up in time for the S5 premiere, not that I ever get obsessive about anything.

I'm happy I tried again; it hasn't disappointed. The caliber of acting is just fantastic, often rivalling what I would expect from the great film character actors of the '40's and '50's, and for me that is saying a lot. Cranston is consistently amazing (he can lay down a monologue like just about no one else these days) and his fellow actors are in the same league or nearly so. If you haven't tried watching it yet, you're missing out.
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:56 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Breaking Bad has remained strong throughout.

Season 1 is the weakest. It doesn't hit its stride until Saul shows up


Disagree big time. Saul is an amazing character. But Breaking Bad has never been as focused, as taught, as likable as it was in season one. It told a nice tight novel-like story about a guy who makes a bunch of tough decisions that inexorably pull him to the dark side. I was with it the whole way, but did not need more. I'd had enough, not that I knew it at the time.

I gave up on Breaking Bad halfway through season three,

This is exactly my case. Halfway through and I feel no compulsion to continue. Because the only people I like are the real villains -- Saul, the chicken guy (whatziznname?) etc -- and they don't get near enough screen time. I'm stuck with the slow motion tragedy of Walt and extended family and how ugly it makes them. Choosing to watch any more just felt masochistic.

I had a lot of trouble in season 4, because I of course thought all the people in the show were terrible, but I wanted them all to succeed.

You see, I don't. I want them all to die horribly. And here's the thing. If this was Shakespeare (or the Greeks), that would have happened already (even the innocents would be dead, torn to pieces as the tragedy played out). But Breaking Bad just goes on and on. Because, I guess, they can keep selling ads, winning Emmys.

I far prefer the original Batman with Adam West.
posted by philip-random at 9:03 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't know, I'm all for finishing up a show's story before it's worn out its welcome, and I think Breaking Bad hasn't gone on too long. Of course I don't want everyone to die horribly at this point. And If you wanted to see more of Gus and stopped watching during season 3, you're missing out, because he gets filled in a lot in season 4. In fact one of my favorite things about seasons 3-4 is how they basically made Gus more likeable than Walt.
posted by palidor at 9:10 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ideally, we'll see some flashbacks of Gus in a Chilean military uniform.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Season one was trying too hard to be likable and zany. Honestly, I have no idea how anyone could give up in season three, but I guess tastes differ.

BEST SHOW ON TV. I'm gonna miss it. and honestly, if the final season is as good as the rest, the wire might just be replaced in it's GOAT status.
posted by saul wright at 9:12 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Y'all are crazy. Breaking Bad is the only 3+ season show I've ever seen where each season -- very nearly each episode -- is better than the last.
posted by eugenen at 9:24 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


one of my favorite things about seasons 3-4 is how they basically made Gus more likeable than Walt

No way. Season 4, Episode 1.

Because the only people I like are the real villains -- Saul, the chicken guy (whatziznname?) etc -- and they don't get near enough screen time.

Er, well ... Saul is great. He's no villain.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:28 AM on July 13, 2012


Saul deserves some backstory flashbacks in season 5 to show the audience how he got hooked into the underworld. Maybe he started out as an idealistic trial lawyer and he picked up a scumbag client who forced him to make some unpleasant choices.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:31 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


(or maybe just a featurette or web extra or something...doesn't necessarily have to take up screen time in regular episodes)
posted by Burhanistan at 9:31 AM on July 13, 2012


Noir isn't for everyone.

I agree the show has pacing problems early in the seasons, but the ends of the previous two seasons move like the plunges of a roller coaster.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:32 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"AMC, which hasn’t been carried on Dish Network since the end of June, announced Thursday it would offer Dish subscribers the chance to stream the fifth season debut of “Breaking Bad” for free this Sunday."

AMC vs. Dish, Viacom vs. DirecTV: Brawling satellite providers and cable companies take different tactics

Saul deserves some backstory flashbacks in season 5 to show the audience how he got hooked into the underworld. Maybe he started out as an idealistic trial lawyer and he picked up a scumbag client who forced him to make some unpleasant choices.

Eh, I love Saul, but I don't care about his backstory. He's a money laundering lawyer. I think his motivation is a given.

I'm still waiting for that Nancy Botwin-Mahalia backstory episode of Weeds. Can you hear me yet, Jenji!
posted by mrgrimm at 9:34 AM on July 13, 2012


No way. Season 4, Episode 1.

Yeah but how does that compare to what Walt orders in the season 3 finale? I mean, no one's an angel here, but at least Gus isn't consumed by his pride the way Walt is, among other things. Rewatching some of seasons 3 and 4 the past few weeks I just kept feeling sorry for Gus, because he basically would have had a smooth operation if not for Walt and Jesse messing everything up, heh.
posted by palidor at 9:36 AM on July 13, 2012


I think the "peekaboo" episode makes it clear that there have to be limits to your sympathy toward pretty much anyone involved in the meth business. I'm of two minds about Jesse, since he seems like he's being manipulated, but he was the one who was there in the peekaboo house, so he understands, more than anyone else, what the stuff he's making does to people.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:43 AM on July 13, 2012


Those of you hankering for Walt's comeuppance and wondering why it's taken so long -- yes, the show has gone on for 4 seasons but how long is that in BBABQ time? I don't think more than a year and a half.
posted by Infinity_8 at 9:48 AM on July 13, 2012




Does it make me a horrible person that, when thinking about how they might be able to end the series in a way that would be 100% satisfying to me, so far all I've been able to come up with is "Walt's entire family is murdered while he survives unharmed"? I just want, like, something horrible and poetic.
posted by palidor at 9:53 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Er, that doesn't have season 4, but yeah...a little over a year?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:53 AM on July 13, 2012


Er, that doesn't have season 4, but yeah...a little over a year?

There's a season 5 episode where Walt's talking to another patient at the oncologist's and says something about living with his diagnosis for "the better part of a year."
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:54 AM on July 13, 2012


I actually think that although the show has still been 'good', I'm going to disagree and say that the first season or so was the best. The thing it had going for it was that it was a ridiculously well done dramaDY. Watching Walt and Jesse be inept about a lot of what they were doing, and still manage to pull stuff off was what made the show for me. Now that it's 98% dark all the time, I just don't like it nearly as much.

Frankly, I think that if anyone just watched the first couple of episodes, and that was it, you'd have to respect it.

(also I'm one of the few people who seem to think The Wire only needed a single season to say 'yeah, this is what this is all about, see? Ok' - and that would have been enough. buuut.. )
posted by bitterkitten at 9:57 AM on July 13, 2012


Noir isn't for everyone.

Which I guess is my point. Season One was an inevitable descent into noir, but it didn't start there. I remember describing it as an extended Tarantino film which, by its end, had dispensed with all the Tarantino and become all too real (ie: more of Scorcese universe).

But holy shit, it's masochistic (for me anyway) to then spend three f***ing seasons there. I mean, Arthur Rimbaud only did one season in hell.

Not that I am arguing against the quality of the writing, the performing, the ANYTHING of Breaking Bad. I guess what I'm doing is agreeing with the article. It's the f***ing Old Testament and I don't like that place.

A messiah is required.

Also, what bitterkitten just said.
posted by philip-random at 10:05 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


David Simon has always been clear about communicating the intentions behind The Wire. Distilled, it's about the limits of structures in the face of human flaws. The rule of law is obviously the correct course for a given society, but people balk at the idea of robust accountability measures. Public education for the poorest is clearly a good, but deep and meaningful funding of it are not always politically feasible. Capitalism is, without a doubt, the best strategy for economic development, but the filtering out a minority group does a great job of concentrating wealth and opportunity for the rest of us.

I think that Breaking Bad, by limiting the contexts in which the characters are portrayed also limits the one-to-one mapping of the plot to the reality in which we all live. This isn't to say that's a bad thing. The whole show operates within a context that is unreal to the vast majority of those of us living the American experience, that of the middle-class drug producer. Would it be far-fetched then to describe this space too distant to be allegorical?

I'm not saying it's intentional, but lately I look at Walt as representing the a large (male) portion of the Baby-Boom generation. Here is a group of people who started out with great opportunity matched with great ability and ultimately ended up in a role that they felt was beneath them (although important nonetheless). Up until this point, they are not heroic and their deeds as respected as they would wish, unlike the so-called "Greatest Generation". Facing death, they become amoral, vicious, and resentful. When I see Walt, I see a re-interpreted version of a Tea-Partier.

With Skylar, you have the Gen-Xers. Skylar is educated and competent (consider her facility with understanding legalities around complicated issues). More importantly, she is more grounded in reality than Walt. I have never gotten the sense that Skylar was unhappy with her place as teacher/cashier's wife. She is also, unfortunately, morally pliable. Gen-X may represent some portion of the Occupy movement, maybe. But to me, it is a silent generation acquiescing to their angry, resolved predecessors.

As the article states, Jesse is the conscience of the show but in my take he represents Millennials. Jesse is part of the generation that has been pulled under the water because of the self-centeredness of the Boomers and flaccid leadership of Gen-X. The narrative arc of Walt delving to evil is the focus of so much attention. The narrative arc of Jesse growing up in the face of so much evil, though, is the interesting one for me. It is the arc that possible allows for hope in the way that a new generation does for those of us who are older. Will Jesse ultimately "break good"?

So what of Gus and the Cartel? I think a virulent strain of capitalism has infected the border region between the US and Mexico. I think that Gus and the Cartel aren't representative of any generation but rather of the poisoned mindset of the capitalist elites near and far. These are people unfettered by morality because morality is too expensive/cumbersome when you want to service American appetites.

But then again, I've left out so much (Hank?) ...perhaps this analysis doesn't hold water.
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 10:15 AM on July 13, 2012 [18 favorites]


I read an interesting comment about Gus' role the other day:

Maybe Gus really is the good guy. In a world where meth is illegal, maybe the best option is to have the whole black market controlled by a professional man who treats it like a business, rather than having a bunch of small time thugs constantly at war.

And that's basically season 3 of The Wire with Stringer and the co-op, heh.
posted by palidor at 10:21 AM on July 13, 2012


Didn't really care for the article personally. It made some excellent points for sure,but in making them it was painfully repetitious. . Not to mention there is absolutely nowhere in the show where a broken health care system is ever rreferenced. With the current state of our own health care climate, it came off a little axe-grindy. The author and I do agree on how the show will end though. Spoilers ahead.

Under no circumstances do I see Walt getting out of this. The point was made above that this is a tragedy in slow motion, and we know how the tragedies end. The dual timebombs of Jane's death and the poisoning are going to come to light. When they do, Jesse's going to fuck Walt's shit up in a big way. The end result is Jesse becoming the bad guy he always claimed to be with convenient righteous indignation to goad him on. And hey, we get much needed retribution for our wayward lead to go with it. If there's some other way this could plausibly end, I'm all ears. I just don't see it. I can't wait to watch the disaster unfold.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 10:41 AM on July 13, 2012




I always sneered at soap operas. I now realize that with Breaking Bad and Mad Men that's exactly what I've been watching.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:16 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not going on and on. It's ending after 16 more episodes.

I don't think that season 4 Gus was significantly more likable than Walt (or that much less likable).
posted by jeather at 11:23 AM on July 13, 2012


Not enough discussion of the actual article in here. The article is kind of amazing. I don't even like Breaking Bad and I had a little existential shock when I read the last few paragraphs. Still tingling a little.
posted by zvs at 11:32 AM on July 13, 2012


To correct the article: Walt Jr has cerebral palsy, not cystic fibrosis. The actor who plays him also has cerebral palsy. There's a difference.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 11:41 AM on July 13, 2012


> Not enough discussion of the actual article in here.

I dunno, the article seems to be full of its own baggage rather than an exploration of Breaking Bad on its own terms.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:41 AM on July 13, 2012


Agreed. The article is looking really, really hard for a particular moral parallelism (between Walt and Milton's Satan) that just isn't there, and is putting forth a pretty bizarre interpretation of (IMO) the best episode of the series in order to sort-of-but-not-really get there. This is an analysis of something the authors were hoping to see more than one of anything they actually saw. That and it's poorly written; I bet they could articulate this same argument in half the words if they took another pass at it. The show itself is a much more interesting topic of discussion.
posted by IAmUnaware at 11:58 AM on July 13, 2012


Well, I like what Vince Gilligan says about Walt and Gus:

The idea of heroes and villains in Breaking Bad is a hard one to get your mind around, because our “heroes” often act in extraordinarily villainous ways, and our villains can be capable of, if not goodness, we can usually find ways to respect them for their intellect and their courage. Gus Fring’s a good example of that. Even if you are scared of him, as a viewer, of what he’s capable of doing—let’s say [killing] Victor, for instance: Even if you find him loathsome in that fashion, it’s hard not to respect the man for his intellect and his chess-playing skills, as it were. And also [“Hermanos”], when we flew in a little bit of his past, we see this great sense of loss that he feels toward his former partner Max, we find ourselves hopefully sympathizing, at least in some small fashion, with him. That’s the goal on this show that we’re always striving for. To keep the seesaw in a constant state of imbalance. Do we like Walt? No. Maybe we like Gus a little more; maybe we respect him a little more this week. Maybe Walt is not worthy of winning this particular chess match, maybe Gus is the one.
posted by palidor at 12:05 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


but at least Gus isn't consumed by his pride the way Walt is, among other things

Maybe he doesn't wear it on his sleeve the way Walt does, but you can see him grinding metaphorical teeth when he's back at the Mexican cartel boss's hacienda. His pride consumes him when he visits Hector Salamanca personally that one last time, instead of leaving the job to his soldiers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:17 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


SPOILER ALERT
My response to this article: DING!

Also, it's mentioned in the article, but Aaron Paul's acting is what clinches that speech about absolution, consequences and self-acceptance in the "Problem Dog" episode. If I could rain Emmys on him like hundreds at a strip club, I would.

Jesse's tears get me every time
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:42 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


The analysis from the article is not really on - the central premise is flawed. When discussing differences between Breaking Bad and The Wire


......in Breaking Bad the villain is not sociology, but a human being; what destroys the mortals is not a system, but a fellow mortal. This is a human-centered vision of the origin of evil. It is Old Testament at its core.


This mortal would die happy if he wasn't about to

i) kept forever on the brink of penury and intellectually frustrated despite being a public-school teacher, one of societies most nominally necessary people : a systemic, not individual effect
ii) about to be bankrupted by health insurance's denial of meaningful coverage : a systemic, not individual effect
iii) able to reap vast profits by illegality of his product : a systemic, not individual effect.


Number ii is the biggie. Note it's the system driving a necessity of paying the bills and providing for the family and the Public-school-focused ennui that drives the individual to the action, not some deep dark Miltonic-men-are-all-corrupt tendency.

This show is all sociology. It has much more in common with The Wire than the writers think.
posted by lalochezia at 2:14 PM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Naw, not really. Anything having to do with the healthcare system was left behind seasons ago. This is a show about human beings, not something as small (IMO) as sociology.
posted by Bookhouse at 5:56 PM on July 14, 2012


I think that came out harsh. I just meant I think the show is more universal because it is about people, not classes. I think the show has been least successful when they've brought classes into it (the rich friends and whatnot).
posted by Bookhouse at 5:58 PM on July 14, 2012



Anything having to do with the healthcare system was left behind seasons ago.

An oak cannot grow without an acorn.
posted by lalochezia at 7:36 PM on July 15, 2012


Well, that was fun. I would like to register another complaint that this season will have an approximately one year break in the middle of it.
posted by jeather at 8:00 PM on July 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, it seems we'll get a bit of foreshadowing of the final showdown at the beginning of each episode? Walt's bringing some hardware.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:34 PM on July 15, 2012


ii) about to be bankrupted by health insurance's denial of meaningful coverage : a systemic, not individual effect
iii) able to reap vast profits by illegality of his product : a systemic, not individual effect.


Number ii is the biggie. Note it's the system driving a necessity of paying the bills and providing for the family and the Public-school-focused ennui that drives the individual to the action, not some deep dark Miltonic-men-are-all-corrupt tendency.


I can actually make this argument now that I've seen 4 seasons...

Remember that much of the first two seasons are devoted to Walt secretly rejecting his former friends' offer to pay for his medical care.

Walt had connections he could have used legitimately to cover his expenses. He chose not to.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:25 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


iii) able to reap vast profits by illegality of his product : a systemic, not individual effect.

And also (I really like the show, but I probably view it much more as junk TV than most), Walt is able to reap vast profits by the fact that his meth is SO much better than all the other meth.

There are shitsburg number of people who would love to cook meth and make millions. See: Badger.

Much of the show's plot hinges upon the fact that Walt's meth is highly superior to other meth (hard to believe), and that the quality of his meth is the primary factor in the success of his meth (VERY hard to believe).

It's a fun show, and I am looking forward to season 5, but it's so ridiculously unbelievable, I do have a hard time taking it seriously.

I always sneered at soap operas. I now realize that with Breaking Bad and Mad Men that's exactly what I've been watching.

Heh, I've always enjoyed soap operas. That's probably why I enjoy Breaking Bad, True Blood, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Weeds, etc. With the possible exception of Mad Men, it's all plot.

And that's probably why I'm having a problem with The Wire. There's not much lightheartedness so far (I've only watched a few episodes from season 1 and fell asleep during two.)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:32 AM on July 16, 2012


but it's so ridiculously unbelievable, I do have a hard time taking it seriously.

plane crash end of season two. what was that all about?
posted by philip-random at 10:47 AM on July 16, 2012


but it's so ridiculously unbelievable, I do have a hard time taking it seriously.

plane crash end of season two. what was that all about?


That was really the other "oh jeez" moment for me ...

SPOILERS AHOY

They are never gonna let the father of a woman who just died by choking on her vomit while dosing back to work as an air traffic controller right after it happens. I am happy to suspend disbelief, but you making it so hard.

I also think the fact that they don't let on that he's an air traffic controller until that fateful scene is a bit cheap. If they had, I would have probably figured out how that stuffed animal got in the pool before I did.

The other one was the end of Season 4. Oh, it was Walt who poisoned the little boy ... by planting Lily of the Valley near his house in hopes that he would accidentally injest it? ... So that Jesse would come to the false conclusion that Gus had stolen his cigarettes, extracted the previously unknown ricin, and somehow dosed the boy with it. Because Gus wanted to ruin Walt and Jesse's relationship by making him believe Walt did it? Oh yeah, THAT MAKES SENSE.

Also, IIRC (which I may not), the poisoning ended up having NOTHING to do with how Walt eventually gets Gus (by staging the police visit by the Dinger).

I should probably wait to see if it's explained or ignored in s05e01, but I'm not holding my breath.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:08 AM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


SPOILERS BELOW

They are never gonna let the father of a woman who just died by choking on her vomit while dosing back to work as an air traffic controller right after it happens.

I'm pretty sure they implied a few weeks had passed. I could be wrong.

The other one was the end of Season 4

I got the impression the boy was poisoned by Walt in some way that is never shown, not that the boy ate berries directly from the plant.

The poison was Walt's way of turning Jesse against Gus. Before that Gus had been taking Jesse under his wing and eventually would have turned him against Walt. So while it wasn't directly responsible for killing Gus it was necessary. Walt needed Jesse to want Gus dead.

I'll admit last night's episode was a bit of a "oh, come on!" moment but since I've come this far with the show I was willing to let it go. Mostly because it was fucking awesome.
posted by bondcliff at 11:16 AM on July 16, 2012


> Mostly because it was fucking awesome.

Jesse agrees!
posted by Burhanistan at 11:23 AM on July 16, 2012


Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers.

I am pretty sure Walt actually poisoned the kid, he didn't just wait for him to come to his back yard at a plot appropriate moment. He needed Jesse on his side to kill Gus -- not that Jesse helped, IIRC, but he needed the support for the short and medium term. And I still think that Walt loves Jesse, in his fucked up way. I am hoping that he doesn't end up deliberately fucking him over this season (as opposed to semi-accidentally ruining his life).

The part I don't believe is that Gus kept, in his chicken man office, a laptop with proof that he was running a drug empire. Of course, the laptop had to be there for the magnets, which were used to speed up the Swiss bank account info, so we could learn about the Germans that were mentioned last season (or maybe season 3?), but I do not imagine that if they had opened his laptop, there would have been folders called "meth lab" and time sheets for Walt, Jesse, Mike and Gale.
posted by jeather at 11:42 AM on July 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


The part I don't believe is that Gus kept, in his chicken man office, a laptop with proof that he was running a drug empire.

Yeah, some of that really fell into Hollywood Computers territory. How could the feed from the camera go directly, and only directly, to a laptop? And the way the screen got garbled as they walked towards the magnet as proof that the hard drive was destroyed? I'm half surprised it was a Windows computer and not some text interface that went "doot doot de doot" as the text appeared on the screen one character at a time.

I can forgive them for all that though, because I love the show so much. I just hope the final season doesn't turn into McNulty and the fake serial killer.
posted by bondcliff at 11:49 AM on July 16, 2012


Oh, I forgive this show for all sorts of stuff because I love it. I am really hopeful for season 5 here. I would like to see more from Skyler, though.
posted by jeather at 12:01 PM on July 16, 2012


Yeah, it's a gigantic stinking work of fiction. It's bullshit, but it smells pleasant and fertilizes the mind. It ain't a boring ass police procedural or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:06 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


but since I've come this far with the show I was willing to let it go.

This speaks to my biggest issue with the American (ie: Hollywood) take on pretty much everything. If it's good business, the show, the brand, the series continues ... regardless of whether there's any logic to it continuing. Thus pretty much every great series goes on too long, sometimes WAY TOO F***ING LONG. One thing, I think I've gotten fairly wise about over the years is accepting this, learning to trust my gut when it says, "time to bail, shark just got jumped, maybe you should try something new."

Sadly, as I've alluded to already, I don't think Breaking Bad ever really improved on Season One -- unless you enjoy slow, remorseless descents unto hell.
posted by philip-random at 12:45 PM on July 16, 2012


I am pretty sure Walt actually poisoned the kid, he didn't just wait for him to come to his back yard at a plot appropriate moment. He needed Jesse on his side to kill Gus -- not that Jesse helped, IIRC, but he needed the support for the short and medium term.

Yeah, but why would Gus poison Brock? Jesse was already on his side? And if his motivation was to make it look like Walt did it ... wouldn't Walt actually doing it make it look like Walt did it.

I can buy Walt's motivation. I can't buy Gus' or that Jesse would accept it.

Anyway, it was unnecessary convolution, with a fizzle at the end.

Thus pretty much every great series goes on too long, sometimes WAY TOO F***ING LONG.

David Milch excepted (with the further exception exception of NYPD Blue, which wasn't that great anyway.)
posted by mrgrimm at 3:12 PM on July 16, 2012


Realism is a tool of story-telling, not the goal. I don't know what a computer would do when it came in range of the magnet, but if what it would do in real life is boring, slow or non-visual, it is far better to irritate a few compute experts than get in the way of the story. It's very rare for a story not to have a few intentional inaccurate aspects to it.

As someone said above, the idea that the meth community is so discerning that cartels would kill over the cook is pretty silly.

Wait, I forgot, the cartel has the recipe now. Or are we supposed to think that when Don Illario (sp?) died his organization disbanded?
posted by Bookhouse at 3:47 PM on July 16, 2012


Sorry to post twice but:

Thus pretty much every great series goes on too long, sometimes WAY TOO F***ING LONG.

I'm of the opinion that a serialized drama shouldn't really go past season five. However, actor contracts are usually seven years long. If a show is successful people will want to do the full seven, no matter what makes sense dramatically. (If it's really successful they'll do more, but that gets crazy expensive. See: Friends.)
posted by Bookhouse at 3:51 PM on July 16, 2012


I can buy Walt's motivation. I can't buy Gus' or that Jesse would accept it.

Jesse is many things, but intelligent is not one of them. And Gus had killed that kid (Jesse's girlfriend's brother), while as far as Jesse knew, Walt had only killed adults who were threatening one of them. I agree that Gus' motivation made no sense (which is reasonable, as he never had any motivation to kill the kid).
posted by jeather at 3:56 PM on July 16, 2012


Much of the show's plot hinges upon the fact that Walt's meth is highly superior to other meth (hard to believe), and that the quality of his meth is the primary factor in the success of his meth (VERY hard to believe).

I kind of wrestled with this in my head for a while after Gus was introduced, but eventually I just had to go with the whole suspension of disbelief thing. Though I think the fourth season premiere's flashback to Gale setting up the lab was too clever by half, when it showed that Gus would have been satisfied with Gale's 96% purity, only to have Gale encourage him to bring Walt and his 99% purity in (and thus Gale sets up his own death). That kind of stuff really challenges my generous suspension of disbelief.

As for the convoluted plan to poison Brock to get Jesse on his side... yeah. It's all pretty nearly ridiculous, but I can overlook it considering that it ultimately services Walt as a character, showing that he's pretty much irredeemable at this point.
posted by palidor at 3:59 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't like the Old Testament comparison, though I find it apt. The problem with comparing Breaking Bad to Old Testament is that in the Bible there's a sense of driving, illuminating purpose. People do noble or funny or tragic things and it becomes a saga of human morality. Ultimately, humans are at the center, and those humans never change.

I think this is an accurate and useful way to talk about the human experience. But I don't think it's the best way to explain Breaking Bad. Because this is a show about the unknown. The incomprehensible. The inhuman (and often lethally so).

The opening shot is of the New Mexico desert – so vast that a small evil like a meth lab or a drug murder is lost within the beautiful, uncaring whole. Gus takes Walt there to threaten him. Walt and Jesse nearly die when they're trapped out there. And, of course, Walt drives two gassed-out meth distributors there and records a video of himself for his family in which he desperately, urgently, tries to sound like he's in control of his own life, or understands the consequences of his own actions. Which he doesn't.

Chemistry itself is a vast unknown. Walt struggles all his life to make neat, orderly sense of it. Yet knowing chemistry doesn't get him Gretchen. It doesn't teach him the consequences of meth cooking – consequences we only see in a few episodes out of many, the sinister consequence lurking at the edges of the show. Gus speaks of the mysterious ways in which a soup can bring his childhood back to him; Walt reduces it to a chemical process. His understanding is "complete" in a sense, but doesn't get at the real mysteries Gus describes.

What we have with Breaking Bad is less Christian testament and more ancient myth: shapeless, indescribable, spoken of in hushed whispers by those who know the reality is too brutal to describe. We've seen Walt slowly descend into a hellish mythscape, too stubborn to realize where he's going before it's too late. Each season the show's world opens out to us; each season we see darker and more surreal brutality, and the horror is how we realize the violence has always been this close to us. It's sitting in our bedroom as we take a shower, chalked on the streets, lurking in hidden trapdoors beneath the fields the world drives past.

Calling Walt evil is too simplistic; better to say he's grown darker, rooted himself in crevices of the earth which delay his inevitable death at the cost of making the world around him stranger, less hospitable. Every season, in order to survive, he grows darker; every season, he awakens something new and worse and scary and unknown, and in the quest to understand the unknown and restore order, he grows darker still.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:55 PM on July 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


SPOILERS! Don't look if you haven't watched a lot.

The scene between Walt and Jane's Dad (Q, in my mind, from ST-TNG) in the bar, talking about their kids, is one of the most amazing things I've seen on TV. It was tight and lush and Idon'tknowwhat.
And then Walt goes to Jesse's house. And then...
Man.

The last season with Gus getting blown up and straightening his tie. That was pure awesome. I liked Gus, kind of. I think I'll miss Gus. Gus had an unusual sense of honor and dignity even to the end. Yes, his pride got him, but still.

At first, I was not a fan of Skylar, but if I were in her shoes with her skills, I'd probably turn to the dark side. Now that I know Ted isn't dead, I'm not sure. One of the major questions for me is who is Walt Jr.'s dad.

And then there's Hank.

Gah, I just want to know how it all ends.
It's been a good story.
posted by lilywing13 at 1:38 AM on July 17, 2012


OK, I've watched the season 5 premiere, so I can come back now...

When Jesse yelled "Yeah, bitch. Magnets!" I totally expected him to follow it with "How do they work?!"
posted by mrgrimm at 1:08 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dubstep magnets, bitch!
posted by Burhanistan at 6:32 PM on July 17, 2012


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