I know, I know. So late and so lame.
The usual excuse: Home education is sucking out my brains.
Also: I find myself unable or at least unwilling to go to town on commentary until the whole thing is over. It really is like a novel now – you have to see how it ends in order to make a judgment.
It’s not that I am demanding that it end in a certain way. I certainly have my opinions on what seems artistically and philosophically “necessary” – but Gilligan and crew have not let me down (much) yet, so I’l withhold all that and let them be in charge. Because, you know, they are.
- Brutal. I sat on a footstool 2 feet from the television screen for an hour.
- When Walt started his (second) phone conversation with Skyler, I was taken aback and started rapidly thinking, Wow, this is awful. This is crazy. I wonder if he has brain cancer. And are they going to play the brain cancer card and blame his behavior on that? Oh, this has jumped the shark. This is the worst show ever. But then…..aaaaahhh…I get it. Well played. Well, sort of. In a complicated sort of way.
I was thinking – back to the expectations game – what it is I “hope for” in terms of this show, and specifically the character of Walter White. “Redemption” is tossed around and found wanting, and rightfully so, I think. That calls for a larger and slightly different universe than the Breaking Bad world. But…atonement? How about that? Even the recognition of its necessity? Admittedly, a trunk full of firepower and a pocket full of ricin does not promise much of either redemption or atonement, but who knows.
Chuck Klosterman made a good case in his Grantland article that Breaking Badis unique because Walter White’s sins are “not the product of his era or his upbringing or his social environment. It’s a product of his own consciousness. He changed himself. At some point, he decided to become bad, and that’s what matters.” Yet the most important feature of Walter’s transformation is not merely the fact that he chose it, but that he continued to choose evil each step along the way. In terms of his ultimate destination, the earlier decisions were just as harmful as the later ones. As Jackson Cuidon put it, “Walt’s pride at a dinner table is ultimately as important to the villain he becomes as his murder, his lying as corruptive as his violence.”
It’s important here to note that Breaking Bad is not a story of a good person gone wrong; we see nothing in Walter’s character in the first few episodes to suggest that he is an exemplar of virtue. Rather, it’s that finally the opportunity has really opened up for evil, and he chooses to take it.