Breaking Bad – 51
Wow. I was late to the (birthday) party this week and couldn’t have chosen a worse episode to miss, by which i mean there couldn’t have been a better one. There has been a lot of worry from the show’s fanbase as to how this eight episode stretch will culminate; whether it will have a proper season finale style episode or simply fade to black for a year. Funnily enough then 51, the halfway point of this half of the season, really felt like a finale to me; bringing out all of the threads introduced in the three episodes preceding it and tying them and our stomachs into knots.
Because of that the claims out there that it was ‘boring’ strike me as being particularly ridiculous; if you were honestly sitting there during the pool party scene, during the bedside chat or any other of the episode’s many entrancingly torturous dialogues and wishing for more action then I wonder just why it is you are watching this of all shows. Of course those critical of the episode often follow up their statements by saying something akin to “No wonder, it was directed by that Fly guy.”
Rian Johnson is his name, by the way and Rian is probably one of my top ten currently working directors; every single thing that he has shot (Brick, Brothers Bloom, Fly, Fustercluck (Terriers) and now this) I have adored on both a visceral and artistic level. Those cars, the watch and the pool (inside and out) were all amazing visuals that would have served on their own, but in conjunction with their inherent storytelling abilities they stun. If I weren’t so excited for Looper I would rue it for leaving him with only time enough to film one episode of this show a year.
Though Rian is responsible for the obvious things that made this an amazing episode credit also has to go to Sam Catlin who headed the script ( and wrote my last favorite episode Crawl Space and many other all timers besides). From the massively long monologue that Walt gives recounting the so called ‘dark days’ of the past through to the small call-backs hidden within single lines (“I thought you were the danger?”) and subtle imagery( the hat, the watch, the aztek) this week’s script was superbly written; taut and yet all encompassing. It even took my metaphor from last week’s episode (the poison in the house) and extended it by having Skylar both question the safety of their ‘environment’ and pollute it with that very particular carcinogen (cigarettes are both a wink to AMC’s other headliner and a blatant FU to Walt).
I say again, wow. I was late to this episode and thus to this review, but Walt won’t have that luxury; his future is set in stone and time is ticking down toward it. We’re literally half way through the season, chronologically halfway through the story and chances are Walt is now ninety-eight point zero seven percent (fifty-one fifty-seconths, if that were a word) of the way through his life but he’s not slowing down and nor is the show. These four episodes were the rev up, the stoking of the fire, but now the train has really started to move and as the man says, there ‘aint no stopping it…at least not until it derails that is.