I've never seen television like this before. I've tried to write two other posts for you since I sat down, but my mind is stuck with Walter and Jesse and Skylar and Hank. If you haven't seen the series, I apologize in advance. I can't think of anything else today. Not one single thing.
The kids have been encouraging us to watch it for years. We started on our family vacation at Little Cuter and SIR's house last month; a television marathon because it was hot and muggy and mosquito-y outside and air conditioned and comfy on Cozy Rosie, inside. It didn't matter what we were doing; we just wanted to be together.
And, together we were, til the early morning hours, unable to tear ourselves away. It's a slow burn, as Little Cuter kept reminding us, as one episode flowed seamlessly into the next, picking up the story exactly where it had been left behind. Gale Ann Hurd, of Terminator and Walking Dead fame, told us at BlogHer'13 that "all the best creative story telling is happening on television right now." Breaking Bad proves her point.
Every scene is photographed with a purpose. A treatise could be written about what goes on in the long shots set in New Mexico's grasslands. In fact, there are hundreds of memes to be explored and written about. Loyalty, certainty, caution, fear, loathing, protection...... and that's without stopping to think.
And then there's the money. Its a character in and of itself, as are other inanimate objects. Jesse's speakers, Walt's Aztec... they are part and parcel of the story, as necessary as any of the human characters.
"Everything will be explained," Little Cuter assured us, and she's been right. The stuffed animal and the eyeball drove us batty. They still do, only now we know why. Just typing that reminded me that the eyeball is another inanimate object with a tale of its own. There are a lot of scary guys in this series... some of whom are apt to be as bemused as I am. It's a netherworld of deception and danger and parties by the pool; bemused is exactly the right word.
The women of Breaking Bad act more as foils than as plot movers; if I were looking for nits to pick with Vince Gilligan, the creator, I'd start and stop with his female characters. There aren't a lot of them, and they are all shrill... except Jane... and...
No spoilers. Just perceptions.
There's nothing glamorous about the drug trade, and Windy's montage in the parking lot of the motel tells the story best. The little boy in the blanket on the steps of his home haunts me every night as I close my eyes. This is happening in my town, in my school, and I'm powerless.
Power is the over-arching theme, I think. The power of the drug, of money, of family ties. The power of disease to run or ruin our lives. The power that a healthy mindset can bring to a life on crutches, and that a damaged one can bring to a gunshot victim. There were some powerful reminders of the strength you need to carry on when it seems impossible that anything can ever be all right again.... life changes in an instant, and then it expects you to keep on keeping on.
It's the best television I've ever seen. Early West Wing was also fabulous, but it was not sustained over six seasons. Newsroom had us captivated until we blasted through all of Breaking Bad. What once was pithy commentary, now seems like one-sided ranting. I don't think the writing has changed. My standards have been elevated, that's all.
An Addendum 9/25/13
It takes a while, but Marie and Skylar come into their own as the series goes on. I should have realized that Vince wouldn't treat me that way.