Walter Walt is a brilliant chemist, but due to some poor choices, he teaches chemistry at a high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He’s 50 years old, his wife is pregnant, and his teenage son has cerebral palsy. They struggle, but get by. Walt learns that he has lung cancer, and is dying. His family can not survive when/if he dies. What does the man do? He decides to cook meth.
Breaking Bad is hands down the best show I have ever seen. The key element is how grounded in reality the show is portrayed. Walt is brilliant, but that doesn’t mean he knows what he’s doing, or makes the best choices. He recruits one of his former students, Jesse Pinkman, to help him enter the drug world. Neither of them know what they’re doing, and nearly every choice they make lands them in more trouble.
Season 1 is a little bit of a slow burn. The first episode or two take a bit to get going, but seeing a few of the more intense moments, the show quickly sets its hooks into you. Three moments from it stick out in my head. I’m sure you can guess them.
SPOILERS – Watching Walt come to grips with killing Krazy-8, trying to avoid the action by any means necessary, was humanizing. Eventually, he strangles him to death, saving his own life. This is something I can completely sympathize with. Put yourself in that situation, what would you have done different (other than avoid drug dealers)? Meanwhile, Jesse was incorrectly disposing of the other body. Over the top, but completely sound ideas like this are the norm for the show. The acid destroying the bathtub is the first of many such moments for the series. Finally, when Walt confronted Tuco to save Jesse, using mercury fulminate to cause a massive explosion was the best moment of the season. While I think they took a little artistic license with how the compound looked, the results are the same. This is when I knew I was watching a smartly written, thoroughly researched show. END SPOILERS.
The first season consists of 7 episodes, though 9 were planned. The writers strike at the time forced them to compress the story lines. It still manages to tell an amazing story, ending on an odd note, though not by design. What sticks out to me is the plausible outcomes. I’m sure plenty of people know how to make drugs, but selling them? Moreover, entering that world at all? No clue. Walt goes about it in a way that I think most law abiding citizens would. Even Jesse, why would he know how these things work? The only reason they weren’t arrested, or killed, was because of brains, and a lot of luck.
Knowing what directions the show goes after 5 seasons sheds new light on the previous episodes. It’s a little heart breaking watching a good man seduced by power and become corrupt. Watching the beginning and comparing him to the person he ultimately becomes is an interesting juxtaposition. Story journeys are just as interesting discovering them for the first time as they are on a second or third turn when you know where you’re headed. This is how you deconstruct a man.
What was your favorite moment from the first season? Think Walt and Jesse’s choices were sound? Comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter! You can now see my Saturday Morning Cartoon posts at The Two-Headed Nerd!
Cannot wait to see how this ends.