Theater Masks

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Breaking Bad

NOTE: Here there be Breaking Bad spoilers through season two.

Caitie hates that I started watching Breaking Bad. I have to say that up front. She says I'm turning into "one of them."

I have one episode left in season two now, and I have to say, I'm becoming "one of them." I've heard that it's the best show on television. I can't say I necessarily agree with that yet (though I've also heard season three is where it really takes off), but I will say this - Walter White is one of the most interesting characters I've ever seen on a tv show. Here's why.

I've always had a thing for villains. The Wicked Witch fascinated me as a child, and I'm still in love with that movie. I always wanted Darth Vader to win (Luke is boring!) and don't get me started on the Disney bad guys. Who wouldn't be interested in Maleficent than Sleeping Beauty or why Gaston is such a jerk versus, well, ok, Belle is pretty awesome. Still, my point stands. Villains rule.

Walter starts out as a pretty normal guy. He's a teacher, a husband, a father, and he has cancer. He seems like a guy who's pretty much done everything right and was dealt a crappy hand. Over the course of the first two seasons, he starts to descend into his villainy - killing rival dealers, working the system, and, in the last episode I watched, letting Jesse's girlfriend choke to death on her own vomit.

Flashes of his "evilness" come out at unexpected times. The scene by the pool when he pours his fifteen year old son tequila shots was fascinating. You knew he was wrong. Hank knew he was wrong. Walt Jr. knew he was wrong. Somehow, though, Walt couldn't see his own villainy. He couldn't see that what he was doing was wrong and he was terrifying. It wasn't until later that he regretted it, and he tried to make amends by apologizing to everyone involved. Because of his condition and his previous history, he was forgiven.

Watching a character descend into villainy like this is riveting. This is in no small part thanks to Bryan Cranston's portrayal, but what draws me in is the writing. The show is accessible and gripping, and I can't wait to see where it's going. The dialogue is crisp and the characters are so well defined that nothing they do SHOULD come as a surprise. The reason this works is that the depths of evil Walt will go to are unplumbed yet. There's always farther he can descend, and I have a feeling he's going to go way lower than what I've seen thus far. As Walt says, "There's rot."

I have a feeling before I'm done there is a chance (sorry Caitie) that I may well agree with those who proclaim it the greatest show of all time.

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