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Tuesday, August 02, 2011
TV Round-Up: Breaking Bad
Open House
Earlier this summer, TV critics Alan Sepinwall and Dan Feinberg discussed the preview segments they'd seen of Breaking Bad, noting how in many ways Walter White didn't get as much screen time as some of the supporting characters in the first three installments of season four. And that's OK because at this point, the series is more than just about Walt and his journey to become Scarface (though that is important, mind you). It's also about how Walt is corrupting everyone who comes into his orbit. (Thankfully, this is handled a lot better than it is on Rescue Me where everyone comes into orbit of Planet Tommy whether it seems feasible or not).

It could be that Vince Gilligan and his writers are sewing seeds of a Walter White slow burn that will ignite at some point this season--probably with very, very bad consequences for all involved. While Walter has been the catalyst for all that's happened this season and since season one, we can slowly see Walt being diminished again, much as he was last year. And it's only a matter of time before Heisenberg rears his ugly head. At some point, I expect the show will allow Heisenberg to stay more on the surface and we could eventually see the Walt we knew at the show's beginning vanish completely.

It may be necessary since Walt isn't exactly the criminal mastermind he thinks he is. Walt's ability to delude himself about what's really going on is shown in detail here when he describes the conflict with Mike last week to Skylar. Walt believes it was just two colleagues having a disagreement and that it's all worked out now. Apparently not so much, since the camera surfacing in the lab could mean that Mike has spilled the beans to Gus. How much longer Walt remains useful enough to Gus to keep him alive remains to be seen. (It is interesting that despite not seeing Gus on screen again this week, his presence looms large over everything that's unfolding here. I have to wonder if he'll be as pleased with Walt's purchase of the car wash and the trail that could create back to him.)

In some ways, Skyler is better at the criminal game than Walt. Or maybe she's still so new to it that the creative juices are still flowing and it's not just part of the daily routine as it is for Walt. Her scheme to get the car wash sold is a nice touch as is her constant pressure on Walt to think through how he spends the money. Watching the scene where she calls Walt out for buying the expensive bottle of champagne (even though he used cash) and leaving a trail was nicely done. It makes me wonder if Gilligan is setting the table for how Walt will eventually fall--not due to his meth making operation but because of a careless mistake and possibly going to jail for tax evasion.

Meanwhile, Marie is back to her old habits. With Hank being emotionally abusive, Marie returns to her life of kleptomania crime, visiting open houses and taking on a different identity each time. She also takes something from each house and ends up getting caught when a realtor she duped at one open house is at another. Marie's breaking down at the thought of going home and back to Hank is telling as is his growing abuse of her. The argument over whether he asked her to get Fritos or Cheatos seems like it could be a case of Hank just trying to pull her strings so he can be alone again. Or to wallow in the self pity of no longer feeling useful. By episode's end, we see Hank become frustrated by watching city council meetings on cable and instead consider the notebook taken from Gale's apartment as evidence. It's probably only a matter of time before Hank puts two and two together and figures that Heisenberg is behind this.

On a random thought, I wonder if Gus is setting up Walt as a fall guy should the super lab ever come to light. Given how thorough Gus is, that could be the case.

Meanwhile, Jesse continues to fall apart, even reaching out to Walt to go hang out. Given how up and down their partnership has been, this is extremely telling. I have a feeling Jesse hasn't even bottomed out yet. It's interesting to see Walt try to briefly reach out to Jesse after realizing that maybe Jesse is struggling after killing Gale. Again, it's someone coming into Walt's orbit and being corrupted by his descent into criminal mastermind.

The season is heating up and getting more and more interesting with each passing week.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 8/02/2011 03:24:00 AM | |
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