J A Garrett

Curiously nerdy posts.

The brilliance of Breaking Bad.

It’s a rare thing, knowing that as you sit there in front of your TV, you’re watching one of the best shows to ever possibly appear on your screen.

It’s also a bittersweet thing when you know it’s coming to a finale. You desperately want to find out what happens, but at the same time, you really don’t want it to end, either. That’s where I find myself with Breaking Bad. I’m definitely not alone on that, either. Fans all over the internet are clamoring for those final 8 episodes, and entertainment articles are popping up all over the place to talk about its greatness.

I was one of the lucky ones, I guess you could say. I got addicted to it over Netflix only about half a year ago. So I got to binge, and skip straight past the cliffhangers to the resolutions. I must’ve watched the whole series within the span of two weeks.

And here, as we draw close to the resolution, with the final 8 episodes, I can safely say it’s easily one of my favorite shows of all time. There’s any number of websites and blog posts agreeing with me, but I figured this show deserved yet another from me.

Why is this show so great? Well….

 

#1. The plot.

Yeah, I’d be an idiot not to start with this.

The plot takes a simple, yet brilliant premise. As the series creator famously stated, “I wanted to take Mr. Chips, and turn him into Scarface.” That leads you to believe that this is strictly a character driven show, and you’d mostly be right. But the actual plotting is also as close to air-tight as I’ve ever seen in a TV show. In the span of 5 seasons so far, there is exactly one flimsy plot point (*SPOILER* How did Brock get poisoned? We know who did it, and with what, but the how is incredibly vague. *SPOILER*), and that one wouldn’t have been a big deal at all if they’d just left it alone and let the viewer try to piece it together instead of trying to answer it themselves.

Most every season begins with a cold opening intro that leaves you wondering “What does this even mean? I have no context on how to understand it.” But every time, we eventually discover the importance of it, and it all comes together so naturally.

What does this even mean?? Stay tuned, and they’ll tell you.

 

The progression of the show is an excellent metaphor for drug addiction, in and of itself. It can start out innocent, and for reasons that seem readily justifiable. But as the need for it (or the money, in this show’s case) increases, it all escalates, sending you down a darker and darker path, and it soon seems impossible to escape.

Also, although I’ve never done an illegal drug in my life, I’d have a hard time seeing meth be as addictive as this show is.

#2. The characters.

Make no mistake, this show is about Walter White and his slow descent into darkness. His motivations for what he does at first are almost noble… he knows he is going to die and leave his family without any money to support themselves, so why not use his genius level knowledge of chemistry to make a lot of money with the short time he has left? He does terrible things, but justifies them as necessary to provide for his family. But slowly, as the show progresses, you can see the transformation within him. It becomes less and less about his family, and more and more about empowering himself and feeding his ego. It’s a rare show that centers itself around the actual villain, but Breaking Bad does it beautifully.

But other characters go on journeys almost as compelling. Jesse starts as a low-life small time drug dealer, turns into a big time drug dealer, and eventually just wants out and to maybe have a normal life. Hank starts out as a jocular meathead alpha male cop, but slowly turns into a nuanced detective that makes Walt’s life tough with his keen mind, not his guns. Skyler starts as an overbearing wife that henpecks Walt at every opportunity, and gradually descends into a situation where she is a hostage inside her own life.

It’s been a pleasure to watch all of these characters grow and change dynamically. Knowing that it’s almost inevitable that there won’t be much of a happy ending for any of them, the emotional impact and payoff will be tremendous by the time the show ends.

Even the lesser known supporting characters get their interesting nuances, from Skinny Pete’s piano talent, to the long suffering agent Gomez showing loyalty to Hank no matter what.

#3. The cinematography.

Rather than try and describe how awesome the camera work in this show is, I’ll just leave a few samples here.

The light being metaphorical bullet holes? Brilliant.

 

 

It’s like art, even when no words are spoken.

#4. The black humor.

Despite this show having incredibly heavy subject matter (Drugs are bad, mmkay?), this show has gotten by with very little in the way of comic relief. How is that even possible? Well, this show has darkly humorous moments all the time to defray the weight of the stakes.

– Any time Saul Goodman shows up, really.

– Walt is stuck in an RV, with Hank outside just waiting to bust him and Jesse? The junkyard owner shows up, and has an argument over probable cause that would give a law school student pause. The man looks like a hobo, but he knows his rights, darn it!

– Tuco’s famous reaction to Walt’s product after he samples it:

– Walt and Jesse steal a barrel of methyl-amine from a local joint. Instead of rolling it, they carry it off, like a bumbling crook show.

– When Walter explains to a school assembly that a tragic plane crash could’ve been worse. After all, it was “only the 50th worst air disaster of all time.”

– When Walter brings a pizza over to the house to make amends with his estranged wife. When she refuses his offer, he angrily throws the pizza on the garage roof. And it stays there a long time.

This show makes me laugh out loud a lot more often than the premise would lead you to believe. And I love it for it.

#5. The “Oh, %#$%” moments.

When you watch a good drama on TV, you expect a few dynamic moments. Spots which etch themselves into your memory, because it’s a perfect crescendo of context meeting stakes meeting plot point, spiced up with the perfect line, or perfect action. You know, moments that make you go “Oh, ****” under your breath.

Often times, there is one people talk about. Maybe two, just so fans can argue back and forth over which one was better.

Well, you can’t really do that with Breaking Bad. Because it has almost a dozen of them.

Rather than list them out, I’ll simply share my favorite. Walt finally has a long anticipated falling out with his boss, a ruthless drug lord who’s had enough posturing, and simply tells Walt that he will not only kill Walt and Hank, but also his wife, son, and infant daughter. Panicked, Walter rushes home after telling his lawyer to anonymously call Hank and warn him that his life is in danger. He intends to call this “eraser” guy that make Walt and his family disappear to safety, for a tidy sum of money in the six figures. Walter will basically need all the cash he’s earned so far, but at least his family will be safe, right? Well, unknown to him, his wife already spent all the money bailing out her old boss, since he was way behind on taxes. So they actually have no money. Bring all those elements together, and you get… this.

The music, the laughter in the background… and that last shot. This, folks, is perfection. PERFECTION.

 

Anyhow, this is simply one more list for why this show is amazing. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. If you have, I know you have to be as excited as I am to start watching the new episodes this Sunday. This show is *****, hands down, easily.

Can’t wait for Sunday!!

 

 

 

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This entry was posted on August 9, 2013 by in TV shows and tagged , , , , .
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