Seriously, I’m embarrassed to have never watched this show when it was being broadcast. What can I say? My wife Lisa and I are sometimes behind the times when it comes to watching great television.
But at least we are now getting caught up on what has been advertised to me as one of the greatest television shows of all time: Breaking Bad.
I’ve had a plethora of friends giving me grief for not watching it, so… this month we started watching, we’ve finished Season One, and I can now express BrBa observations and feel part of the Breaking Bad community. And feel totally late to the party.
I’m going to spoil Season One during this post and because I haven’t been living under a rock, I’ve heard about some things that happen in the following seasons. People have been pretty responsible and I’ve not been heavily spoiled, but I know some details of future events. I might be mistaken about what I think I know, please don’t correct me.
I’ll try to not spoil anything from future seasons that I haven’t watched, in case someone is reading this and is only up on Season One. I can’t guarantee that my observations won’t be influenced though. Just saying.
Okay, let’s get started.
This first post is basically going to be a quick recap of Season One, with some observations thrown in as I zip by. I’ll save my impressions of the characters for another post, and then some miscellaneous observations that didn’t fit in the recap or character posts. You know, themes. Stuff. Chemistry. Cancer.
I guess I’m saying the the topics of my postings will be Plot, People, and Potpourri. (Consonance, bitch. Nailed it.)
The Plot, Yo.
Breaking Bad starts off with Walter White’s pants floating in the air. Walter, without pants (or shirt) and wearing a respirator, is recklessly driving an RV with three bodies inside. One also sports a respirator. Two are face down on the floor.
Walter unintentionally drives the RV into a ditch, exits the RV, dons a shirt, records a goodbye to his family, and with a firearm prepares to face the authorities as sirens approach.
What a way to start a series. Wow!
The show then steps back in time to lead us through the events that arrive at a gun wielding pantsless chemistry teacher.
We meet Walter. He’s a chemistry teacher. He’s kind of uninspiring. He works part time at a car wash. He’s easily pushed around, by his part-time boss, by his wife, by his DEA brother-in-law, Hank.
He gets diagnosed with untreatable lung cancer. His HMO doctor gives a pessimistic opinion that chemo might slow things down and extend his life by a year or so.
Walter begins to behave differently. He angrily gives an F-You to his boss at the car wash. But he keeps the cancer news to himself.
On a DEA ride-along with his brother-in-law, Walter sees that Jesse Pinkman, one of his former students, is involved in the lucrative Albuquerque drug trade. Walter contacts Jesse and offers to use his chemistry knowledge to really cook methamphetamines. Together they purchase an RV for a mobile drug lab, and Walter creates what Jesse deems “art.” Really beautiful, pure meth.
Then, as these things do, it all goes wrong. Crazy 8, the drug distributor Jesse knows, accuses Jesse of being an informant for the DEA and being responsible for the arrest of his cousin Emilio (now out on bail and suspicious of Jesse.) Crazy 8, Emilio, and a bruised and beaten Jesse drive to the desert where Walter is preparing to create another batch.
As is Walter’s custom, he’s removed his clothes to prevent coming home smelling like a meth lab. (Pro Tip Walter, bring an extra pair of clothes… not just an apron.) Crazy 8 originally offers Walter a job, but Emilio is suspicious of Walter. To save his life, Walter offers to show the cousins his recipe for making incredibly pure meth. As the pair watches closely, Walter mixes up toxic phosgene gas, which in the confines of the RV should be deadly.
Walter flees the RV, trapping the cousins inside with the deadly gas. He discovers that the brush surrounding the RV is on fire from a cigarette Emilio had discarded. Panicking, the nearly naked Walter dons a respirator, puts one on Jesse, and drives away with the RV, bringing us around to the opening scene of the episode.
All of the above happened in a single episode. It could have been a movie.
The rest of the season is equally cinematic with sweeping visuals, dark humor, and complications. So many complications.
Walter and Jesse have to clean up their mess, including two bodies. One of whom is still alive.
Emilio is dead, but Crazy 8 has survived, and is eventually chained by the neck in Jesse’s basement. The flip of a coin divides the cleanup task among the two: Jesse is to follow Walter’s instructions on dissolving Emilio’s body in acid, but Walter has the job of killing Crazy 8.
I’ll talk more about the death of Crazy 8 in my next post when I discuss Walter in general. It’s a big deal.
After the cleanup and death of Crazy 8, the two go their separate ways.
Walter tells his wife Skyler that he has cancer. On her insistence, Walter sees an expert (and expensive) oncologist who offers Skyler some hope that Walter’s lung cancer can be put into remission. Financing will be a problem. Skyler relates Walter’s condition to a former research partner, Elliot Schwartz, who offers to pay for the medical costs. This angers Walter, and he cannot accept the charity.
Meanwhile, Jesse has been growing more and more paranoid after the death of Emilio and Crazy 8. He’s afraid to be alone; he’s afraid to sleep in his house. He briefly returns to the home of his straight laced parents and younger brother, but he’s not welcome there for long.
He tries to cook up some meth without Walter but after seeing the previous product, is unsatisfied with what he can produce.
Walter needs money; Jesse needs Walter’s chemistry. They begin to collaborate again.
Walter is concerned with the small amounts of drugs that Jesse can sell on his own, so he demands that Jesse deal with a high volume distributor, someone that replaced Crazy 8. The meeting with Tuco, the new drug distributor ends with Jesse in the hospital and a pound of meth stolen.
Walter, sporting a shaved head after witnessing the beginning of chemo-induced hair loss, meets with Tuco and uses a pound of explosive Mercury Fulminate to extort payment for the stolen meth and money for Jesse’s beating. Walter introduces himself to Tuco as Heisenberg.
Tuco agrees to work with “Heisenberg”, but expects large quantities of the pure meth.
To satisfy Tuco, Walter and Jesse rob a chemical supply warehouse and steal a heavy drum of methylamine to allow them to create the drug without being dependent on the purchase of cold medicines. This appears to be a good solution for their production, but they have two problems (among others):
- Walter’s brother-in-law Hank is on the case, alarmed by the extremely pure meth found in Crazy 8’s abandoned car as well as by the methylamine theft.
- Tuco is violently insane.
The season ends with Jesse and Walter watching Tuco brutally beat one of his minion unconscious on the slimmest of pretexts.
This highlights the danger these two are facing. At any moment, they could be killed.
Okay, that’s just scratched the surface, there much more going on, but other background plot elements are best touched on as I discuss the major characters, in my next post. Yo.
Images are obviously from AMC’s Breaking Bad.
I make no claim to any of the artwork obviously, but I do make some claim to the text of this posting. So there.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2013 Some Rights Reserved