#StillNotOverIt: Breaking Bad
Revisiting the much-acclaimed drama.
I jumped on the Breaking Bad bandwagon later than most fans, but when I started watching, I couldn’t stop.
A good show leaves you wanting more. I’d almost say it’s addictive, like drugs, but not as deadly. I binge-watched the first four seasons within two months. Then I was in withdrawal, waiting to watch the last season, broken up into two parts. Series creator Vince Gilligan is a master storyteller, leaving the audience on a cliffhanger with each episode.
The series starts off rather hum-drum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2008. Walter White, a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher, learns he has stage four lung cancer. As a responsible father and husband, he starts looking for ways to provide for his wife, son, and unborn child after he dies. A former student of his, Jesse Pinkman, suggests White help him make a batch of meth to make some extra money. Both quickly realize this joint venture could be quite lucrative, so they start to create unique blue meth that is exceptionally pure. More people start demanding their specialty drug.
White becomes totally consumed with making as much money as possible to provide for his family. His drive to become wealthy becomes insatiable – even making millions of dollars isn’t enough. He starts to look for places to stash excess money, including digging a hole in the middle of nowhere for safe keeping.
White’s wife, Skyler, starts to notice her husband’s odd behaviour. She is suspicious about how he got the money to buy extravagant gifts for their family.
Meanwhile, White’s brother-in-law, Hank Schrader, works with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The series follows this ongoing cat-and-mouse relationship between White and Schrader.
Breaking Bad‘s most brilliant thing was that it took this premise of a chemistry teacher turned meth cook and pushed it to extreme and sometimes absurd scenarios. I often wondered – how on earth will White get out of this sticky and potentially lethal situation?
Bryan Cranston (Walter White), Aaron Paul (Jesse Pinkman), Anna Gunn (Skylar) and Dean Norris (Hank) are convincing in their respective roles. Their performances help the viewer suspend reality and believe this story could be plausible.
Gilligan is clever in slowly increasing the stakes, season by season. As the stakes get higher, the scenarios become more graphic and grislier. It’s like a frog in a pot of water with the temperature being gradually turned up. The audience is slowly acclimatized to the increasing onslaught of brutal acts of violence.
Likewise, White’s morals, which were black-and-white at the beginning of the series, slowly start to turn much greyer. With every step he takes further into the criminal world, he continually justifies his actions as “for the good of his family”. Skyler’s character also goes through a similar metamorphosis, from trying to get her husband to stop making meth to helping him figure out a way to launder the drug money.
The award-winning cinematography paints a stunningly hyper-realistic world. Each shot of the series was carefully planned for and exquisitely captured on 35 mm movie film, and one of these days, I’d love to visit New Mexico to see the scenery.
Breaking Bad is a well-told, beautifully-shot, and highly addictive show that takes you on a thrilling journey into a dark criminal underworld from the safety of your home.