"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, April 25, 2008

Breaking Bad: A No Rough Stuff Type Deal

Well, I have to say that while this finale did establish a certain status quo, albeit a highly precarious one, it was by no means a satisfying series ender. Thus, I fully expect that AMC will renew this amazing show for a second season post haste. Did you here me, AMC? Whatever you need to do to secure these actors and get this ball rolling. And maybe give me at least 13 episodes next time, eh?

It's an interesting parallel developing between Walter White's skirting with the law; okay let's call it escalating all-out belligerent assault on the law; and his sister-in-law Betsy Brandt's kleptomania. When a baby shower gift from turns out to be stolen, leading to Skyler's near arrest when she goes to return it, it sets up a conversation between Skyler and Walt whereby he can feel out how she would take it if she found out he was perhaps on the other side of the law as well. It may not go as he was hoping.

I hate to tell you, though, Walt. It's not apples to apples comparing shoplifting to murder, arson, desecration of a body, property destruction and production of methamphetamine, just to name the biggies. That said, though, Skyler hasn't turned her sister in as of yet so it's not yet clear how strong her moral compass is.

Also telling was the unexpected amore in the school meeting regarding the missing lab equipment (let's add withholding evidence and hindering a police investigation) leading to the madcap car sex between Skyler and Walt. When she asked him why that was so amazing, his terse response: "Because it was illegal." Walt's becoming an adrenaline junkie, and his trigger is illegal activity. He's been buttoned down and powerless too long, and the tastes he's getting of real power out there on the "streets," as it were are going straight to his head.

The irony of the whole thing is that the guy who's been dealing in drug trafficking for years and years, Jesse Pinkman, is by far the reluctant partner in all of this. He'd just as soon pack it all up and move to Oregon, as he suggested at one point, than deal with the obvious risks of getting into bed with Tuco. Remember that Tuco is the guy that nearly put Jesse into a permanent coma. And, as I learned tonight, that particular outburst of violent insanity isn't uncommon with Tuco. Nor is the target of his psychopathic rage always so obvious.

Nevertheless, through Walt's maneuverings last episode that's exactly who they find themselves intricately tied to. The money's looking real good, but the dangers may just outweigh the potential benefits. Not only from Tuco himself, should anything go not to his liking and set off his incredibly dangerous temper, but from Hank and his DEA hounds tracking the stolen lab equipment and trying to find this new meth producer in town. It's an extremely dangerous game they're playing, and I don't even know if it's enough to handle Walt's bills as his answer to how much he needed was simply "more."

One sequence within the show set itself up to be much more sinister and dangerous than it turned out to be, which was a bit of a disappointment. Jesse selling his house due to the "incident" earlier made perfect sense. And when the boys were forced to cook in his basement at the same time that an Open House was scheduled upstairs, I was certain that something serious was going to come out of it. Ultimately, other than some surprise comic relief in the whole situation, it just seemed to be resolved far too easily for my taste. Almost like the whole segment was either an afterthought to lighten the episode, or something more serious that they ultimately changed at the last minute, perhaps due to this episode having to be the season finale.

As a season finale, the episode was paced brilliantly. With the end sequence, wherein Tuco nearly beats to death his own henchmen simply for presuming to speak for him, Walt and Jesse saw that this business arrangement has even more risks than Walt seemed able to believe. Leaving me with that lingering image and afterthought was the perfect tone to set for the hiatus between seasons (you are renewing it, right AMC?). I still have the burgeoning situation with Betsy's shoplifting and how Skyler plans to respond to it, as well as the underlying situations with Gray Matter to get to next season. Not to mention that whole lung cancer thing Walt is dealing with.

The more risks that Walt takes on in his illegal gambit just brings to question more and more why he refuses financial assistance, either directly or through taking a job, from his former friend and partner Elliott. What happened between Walt, Elliott and Elliott's wife Gretchen that would so harden him against them that while he'd still attend a birthday party for Walt, he'd never accept a job or an offer to cover medical expenses from them?

Breaking Bad has proven to be a refreshing and amazing show.

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