Holiday Catch-Up: Breaking Bad

The Incredibles is one of the only (if not the only) movie I own with a commentary track I’ve listened through multiple times, since it’s so crammed with interesting tidbits about the movie that it warrants multiple watches. One thing director/writer Brad Bird mentions multiple times throughout the commentary track is the movie’s use of alternating between the mundane and the fantastic—two polar opposites that built off the other’s unique type of energy (or lack of).

Breaking Bad is the cable TV equivalent of this.


We start with the mundane: Walter White—an ordinary guy with an ordinary job as a high school Chemistry teacher trying to make ends meet for his family. Then we’re introduced to the fantastic: Jesse Pinkman—local drug-dealing dropout well known in the underground world for selling meth with a hint of chili powder… and who happens to be a former student of Walter.

While the two aren’t exact caricatures of the average man and the superman—Walt is actually shown to have something of a temper from time to time while Pinkman is more of a humble dealer that’s fine with his position in the chain of command—the theme of the mundane and the fantastic is still able to work to an extent from episode to episode, showing Walt’s trials and tribulations from the everyman perspective and seeing him in a completely different light when the trials and tribulations are given the backdrop of making meth on the side for the sake of his family.

The amount of detail to the story in terms of intertwining characters is also admirable. Maybe not Durarara level admirable, but still pretty admirable. Characters you’d think were mere throwaways begin to slowly develop a backstory and are brought on screen with more frequency as the story progresses, making you think just how far in advance certain plot points were made. The downside to this, though, is that it makes the less story-intertwined characters stick out that much more, making you care for them that much less. To see multiple generations of a single family fall into the underground world of drug dealing only to have it interrupted by Walter’s kleptomaniac sister-in-law is less interesting than you’d think.

That’s not to say all of Walt’s “normal” life is nothing more than a means to show just how much more interesting his meth-creating life is. On the contrary, his brother-in-law happens to be an agent in the Drug Enforcement Administration, causing Walt’s separate lives to begin to seep into each other, and causing a Light/L type of relation with his in-law in the series’ later seasons. While Walt has the best intentions in mind, each step he takes forward as a meth “cook” under the name “Heisenberg” begins to warp his sense of morality. Meanwhile, in-law Hank is running out of options as Walt’s misdirections and accidental missteps have led Hank to jump to multiple red-herrings, thus putting his job on the line. The little similarities make me anticipate the final season that much more where I’m assuming shinigami and Death Notes are finally revealed.

A fun watch overall, giving me hope for American programming and its slight plot mimicking from our friends in the East.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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