'Breaking Bad' Discussion: Classic Coke

Oh boy. Well I am now 100% committed to wearing the t-shirt above during the Breaking Bad half-season finale next week. Mike Ehrmantraut will always be the king of the Ehrmantrauts in my book.

So let’s get right to it, shall we? Here are a few notes I made during last night’s Breaking Bad about characters, scenes, etc. I found interesting for one reason or another.

– “Say my name.”

“You’re Heisenberg.”

“You’re goddamn right.”

That opening scene had me howling. HOWLING. I almost stood up off of my sofa to applaud. It was that good.

– One thing that did strike me about that opening scene is that Walt wasn’t wearing his Heisenberg hat during what was clearly a Heisenberg moment. Is this because he’s now so fully immersed in the Heisenberg character that he no longer needs a wardrobe prop, so to speak, to get into that character? Has Walt gone full Heisenberg on us? Yes, I think he has, though killing someone is obviously something that still doesn’t come naturally to him.

– Well, what a lot of commenters in past discussion threads predicted would happen has happened: Todd is the new Jesse. On top of that, he takes the job much more seriously than Jesse ever did. This obviously pleases Walt. What I’m not sure he realizes, however, is that Todd is probably cold-blooded enough to kill him and take over his empire after he learns to cook his meth.

– The scene where Walt was in Hank’s office to retrieve the wire equipment made my heart rate go up. I had convinced myself that Hank would walk in on him doing it. Of course, not only did Walt pull it off, but he also overheard Gomie telling Hank about getting Mike’s spineless lawyer to flip.

– Mike should have called Saul, obviously.

– The hilarious interactions between Jesse and Skyler may be my favorite thing on the show right now. With that said, I think this has the makings of an unlikely partnership: Jesse and Skyler teaming to bring down Walter White. It’s just a gut hunch. But I can totally see it happening.

– “Now that we’re in control, no one else gets hurt.” — LOL Walter White.

– One of the reasons I can see Jesse conspiring with Skyler is because of the independent streak he’s begun to show. Old Jesse would have allowed Walt to mind-f*ck him back into cooking meth last night. New Jesse wants out and he’s not going to cave to Walt’s manipulations.

– More fuel for my Skyler/Jesse fire: Anna Gunn hinted in an interview with Salon that Skyler may very well kill Walt.

The only thing I think that could make him any lower is if she knew that he had actually put a child in harm’s way, and I don’t even know what that would do to her. There’s no lower that he could go, but if she found that out, then that might turn her to … I wonder sometimes if she’s getting to a point where she’s getting past the terror of him and she’s going to get into a position of, I have to make sure that he doesn’t do these things anymore. I’m not trying to foreshadow anything that’s coming, because I really don’t know if that’s coming or not, but I wonder if that’s something in her mind.

– And speaking of LOL Walter White, this GIF pleases me…

– I’m on the record as not being a big fan of Gomie but I kind of loved seeing him standing at the entrance to that safe deposit vault with a big smile on his face.

This week’s New Yorker includes a think-y piece on why the audience has, for the most part, not turned against Walt as he’s grown darker, particularly after poisoning Brock.

In an ordinary drama, this would be true: causing a child’s death is still the rare TV taboo, at least for those characters whose cause we are meant to be invested in. But “Breaking Bad” has always put children in danger, to the point that it’s practically the show’s trademark. Walt’s rationalization is that he is protecting his family, but his most memorable targets are other people’s children: first, Jesse’s junkie girlfriend, whose air-traffic-controller father ended up crashing a plane in his grief over her death from an overdose, and then, last season, Brock, the son of another of Jesse’s girlfriends. A video-game-loving five-year-old, Brock was the definition of collateral damage. Walt poisoned him so that he could frame his old boss for it, thus luring Jesse back as his partner, since he knew that Jesse would be horrified by anyone who would harm a child. When Brock was near death in the I.C.U., I spent hours arguing with friends about who was responsible. To my surprise, some of the most hard-core cynics thought it inconceivable that it could be Walt—that might make the show impossible to take, they said. But, of course, it did nothing of the sort. Once the truth came out, and Brock recovered, I read posts insisting that Walt was so discerning, so careful with the dosage, that Brock could never have died. The audience has been trained by cable television to react this way: to hate the nagging wives, the dumb civilians, who might sour the fun of masculine adventure. “Breaking Bad” increases that cognitive dissonance, turning some viewers into not merely fans but enablers.

– Completely unrelated to last night’s episode, this is pretty great…

– Anyone have any idea why Mike would not allow Jesse, who he likes and trusts, to retrieve his lifeline bag for him but would allow Walt, who he trusts like a snake trusts a mongoose, to fetch it for him?

– “Shut the f*ck up. Let me die in peace.” — Mike.

– Naturally, Walt didn’t need to ever kill Mike. What a dick.

– Oh man I can’t wait for next week. Love you, Vince Gilligan.

Your own thoughts and observations are of course welcome in the comments.

(GIFs via Chet Manley, cartoon via, Mike sketch via)

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