Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Breaking Bad II

have just finished watching all 62 episodes of "Breaking Bad," a major achievement. Do not read this if you too want to watch the series yourself. I was hooked on this series from the start, and had to watch to the final denouement. Breaking bad means that things turn out bad, whatever you might hope, and that is the fate of Walter White, a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher, who in the first episode learns that he has inoperable lung cancer. With a pregnant wife and a crippled son to support, he decides he needs to make a lot of money quickly, and how better to do this than synthesize drugs, and not just any drug, but the major synthetic drug, not found in nature, amphetamine, "crystal meth." So he hooks up with a minor drug dealer who was his former student, Jesse Pinkman, and they start making crystal meth in an old broken down RV out in the desert near Alburquerque NM.

At first the tone is humorous, after all they are just beginners and Walt's intentions are always pure, he does it to help his family, but they are doing something very illegal. Gradually they get drawn into a life of crime, what starts out as a black comedy gets blacker. Jesse's drug contacts immediately see the improvement in his product and come and try to take over Walt's operation. So what does he do, in order to survive, he kills them. But he does it in a way they don't expect, not with guns or knives, but with poison. This leads their cousin, a violent drug dealer named Tuco, to kidnap them and he intends to turn them over to the Mexican drug cartel. But, Walt's brother-in-law, who happens to be a DEA agent, is following Jesse and finds his car at Tuco's place and he kills Tuco in a shootout. So now three people are dead because of Walt and this is only the beginning. I counted that he kills or is responsible for the deaths of 30 people, most of them bad guys, but some innocent bystanders.

The leader of the local Mexican drug cartel, Gustavo Fring, a particularly efficient drug distributor and cold-bloodied killer, then takes over Walt's drug operation, but Walt fearing that he will be killed, works out how to kill Fring first and in the process kills several others. The whole story is so intricate and complex that I cannot try to explain it all here. Suffice to say that what happens ends up being the opposite to what Walt wanted, instead of helping his family he destroys it (shades of "The Godfather"). And Walt turns out to be a much more complex character than expected.

Crime doesn't pay, but its a hell of a ride finding out. In every aspect of the story he uses science as a means to survive. The way he starts their van when it breaks down in the desert, the stratagem he uses to steal from a train the tank-full of chemicals he needs as his precursor. The way he manages to kill the well-guarded Fring and the woman who runs the international distribution, and finally how he wipes out the gang of white supremacists who have kidnapped Jesse, it's all very clever. "Breaking Bad" was much more addictive than the other series "Homeland" that I have watched, even though the acting there was also excellent. But, above all, in "Breaking Bad" the acting is superb, you take these people as being real. I won't reveal the final outcome, but suffice it to say I'm still thinking about it.


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