Part of why I'm taking these occasional breaks is to allow all my many thousand readers to return without being deluged by 30 straight posts. Thus giving them to absorb all the glory and brilliance these posts contain.
We finished Breaking Bad last night. We ripped through the first few seasons, but as we got toward the end found ourselves slowing down. Was this because we wanted to draw out our pleasure or because of how dark and difficult the last seasons became? I think the latter. I loved the show, but I don't think I could have taken any more of it. I'm glad it's over.
BTW, anything I write about BB in this and future posts will assume a readership which has seen the entire series. So: there will be spoilers. If you haven't seen the show, you shouldn't read.
I don't place Breaking Bad in the very top tier of TV shows--it's not The Wire or The Sopranos. It's right below that, though. Its essential story is Macbeth: "I am too far steeped in blood..."--that should be Walter's motto. Its brilliance and beauty is diagramming with harrowing precision the inexorable logic that leads Walt from a well-meaning naif who makes meth on weekends to a murderous monster willing to poison a child to further his own aims. It's almost like a mathematical proof. Once you accept the first step, the given--producing meth is an acceptable way to make money--the rest seems to follow inevitably. At every step of Walt's journey, that is, he always seems to be doing what he has to do to preserve what he's already done. And yet, in that preserving, he keeps being forced towards more and more heinous acts. It's like the Martingale system for the soul.
It's probably too obvious to spell out, but his alias--Heisenberg--speaks to the bifurcation in his character which is at the heart of the show. Heisenberg's work dealt with light, and its particle/wave duality. Light is, somehow, at the same time both a particle and wave. That seems impossible, and yet's it's so. Is it therefore possible for a person to be both a devoted loving father and a ruthless and merciless drug lord? Walt's fundamental error seems to be to think the answer is yes.
Other more random thoughts.
-aside from Bryan Cranston, the best actor on that show was Dean Norris. Hank was absolutely crucial to that show's success. He was a great character, and easy to overlook.
-a number of plot holes bothered me, especially toward the end. How is it possible that Walt has administered the flower-based poison to the little boy Jesses cares for (Barack? Brack?) without the boy knowing who he is? Similarly, how, at the end, is it possible that Walt has put riacin in Lydia's sweetener packet? Hard to swallow (no pun intended). Also hard to swallow, for me, was the scene at the end of the 4th season when Gus returns to his Volvo in the hospital parking lot, after Walt has rigged it with a car bomb. Gus somehow magically senses something's wrong with the car and walks away. I didn't buy it. Although, to their credit, the writers did a great job of playing with this version of Gus--the idea that he was some near-divine unkillable robot--during the sequence when Walt places the bomb in the nursing home. The moment when Gus walks out of the room, and we see him from profile, and think--somehow--that he's survived. Fantastic! My wife compared him in that moment to The Terminator, which I thought was very apt. (If you don't remember the scene, they then show his other side, where the explosion has ripped all the flesh from his bones. It's chilling.)
-I think my favorite season was the one where Jesse dates the heroin-addict girl. I thought their entire relationship was really moving.