Watching this episode, I was struck with the thought that this is maybe the happiest time we see for Skyler and Walter. Of course, there’s the getting frisky at the school board meeting, a board meeting which is about the lab equipment Walt stole. And then they get it on in the car. But it’s not just that. Later, there’s the scene in the bedroom that’s just so…normal. Well, except the fact that Walt is lying to her about going to a sweat lodge, but aside from that, it almost seems like they’re any normal couple. There’s something familiar and not quite sweet but warm in the room.
Soooo much happens in this episode!
Walt starts his treatment and shaves his head.
We get one of Hank’s most famous lines: “Chick’s got an ass like an onion, makes me wanna cry.”
Jesse finds out about Walt’s cancer.
We meet Tuco.
In which Walt and Jesse “see their way clear to, ya know, cooking again,” as Jesse put it in the previous episode.
There’s been a clear progression here. Walt broke bad and he and Jesse cooked their first batch and encountered their first rivals, defeated them, then had to deal with some of the fallout and the messy remains (literally). After going through that, they both were in a place, Walt moreso than Jesse, of feeling like they were never going to do this again. But something has to bring them back to cooking or the show would be over and the story wouldn’t be that interesting. So plotwise, that’s the real point of this episode, to provide the impetus for each of our guys to get back to cooking meth. Their journeys are separate, but end in the same place.
After all of Walt’s internal battling, pros and cons listing and indecision, he murdered Krazy-8, cleaned it (and him to such pristine perfection that you almost didn’t know Krazy-8 was even there, then went home to his wife and told her he has lung cancer.
We don’t see a lot of internal struggle on Walt’s part after this first murder of his. It’s nothing like what we will see a few seasons later when Jesse kills someone. Of course, the person Jesse kills is more innocent than Krazy-8, so there’s that, but I also think that internally, even just going into this whole business endeavor together, Walt and Jesse are two very different people, with different moral compasses, tendencies to violence, and all that.
What a pivotal episode. It’s downright crucial for the rest of the season, even the entire series. Turns and developments occur here that set the tone and establish the groundwork for a lot of what’s to come.
It starts out with red. Rich, deep red of Emilio’s blood and guts as Walter and Jesse clean up his acidified remains and dump buckets and buckets of him down the toilet. We open on a great POV shot–not the first one we’ve seen, but maybe the most emphasized so far. The aesthetic appeal of the opening is striking, the red is so red, saturated, almost leaning more towards the pink part of the spectrum than the brown of stale blood. It plays up the idea that Emilio was, up until recently, very much alive.
This episode is all about aftermath, about the natural and unnatural consequences of what comes next and cleaning up the mess.
And let’s talk about that for a moment, because Breaking Bad takes a turn here that a lot of shows wouldn’t. The pilot episode was fast-paced with lots of dramatic action. It had pants falling from the sky, a fire, a cancer diagnosis, a meth lab bust, blackmail, a meth cook in an RV, a drug deal, two “bad guys” coming after our “heroes,” Jesse getting knocked unconscious, Walt’s ingenuous plot to kill those bad guys with some chemistry, and then a near-miss almost getting caught (not to mention Walt’s almost suicide in the process). And then we get a nice conclusive ending with Walt and Skyler in bed together.
And I think a lot of shows would’ve left it there. The next episode would go on to the next drama of the next cook and the next drug deal. The fact that Breaking Bad doesn’t do that and instead goes back to look at how they deal with getting the RV towed, and how they deal with the two bodies (and later with the fact that Krazy-8 is still alive), shows that it’s going to be a different kind of show. It’s going to hyperserialized, for one thing, novelistic. And the aftermaths of events won’t be swept under the rug or ignored, but rather explored in detail. This is a world of cause and effect. This is a show that’s going to take it’s time and deal with the high dramatics and the internal struggles.
This episode is slower than the pilot, for sure. It’s a different type of episode, and the balance and play of all these aspects is one of the things that makes BrBa so good. I mean, this episode isn’t so much high drama as it is phone calls and coin flips and ultrasounds.
Hey yo, bitches! Let’s do this!
So, to pass the time between now and next summer, I’ll be going back through the old episodes of Breaking Bad and just giving little commentaries and whatnot.
That beautiful hour of television that, somehow or other, got us all hooked. That first little taste of what would one day become Crystal Blue Persuasion. While watching, I was trying to remember what it felt like the first time I saw it, back when I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I mean, before this, I never would’ve imagined that I would be blogging so heavily about a TV show, writing posts about poisons, restraining the urge to include chemistry lessons on the difference between meth and methylamine or starting posts with, “Hey yo, bitches.”
When did you first watch? Who or what got you to try this first episode?