Friday, January 13, 2012

Breaking Bad

"I am not in danger. I AM the danger! A guy opens his door and gets shot and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks!" - Says Walter White, ex high school teacher, family man, who months ago (in the storyline) found out he had inoperable lung cancer, when he hadn't even smoked in his life.

Hey look! I'm adding pics to keep your attention!

Breaking Bad centers on Mr. White and his involvement in the drug business, in order to make quick "easy" money for his family (pregnant wife and a handicapped teenager), before he's gone. Or so says the premise.

I'm not really into tv shows, and certainly when I heard the positive comments about it, my inner cynical bitch just thought "bah, more American media crap". I started watching the pilot on Netflix around a week ago, out of curiosity. And I got hooked. This is not exaggeration: the show is worse than meth, which is the fine product our protagonist elaborates to make a living.

The first impression I got from Mr. White, was around the lines of "hey, he reminds me of my favorite chemistry teacher, back in school!". After watching the 4th season finale, there's not much left of that goofy, geeky, somewhat awkward school teacher. The character has gone throughout one of them most impressive transformations, I've seen in films or tv series.

This is the hook. The story is well written, the production and art direction are superb, but the real deal lies in the main characters development. We're used to watch tough good guys, the cartoony anti-heroes fighting the good fight, quirky troubled good folks, even the tragic heroes forced by circumstances to make hard decisions (your every crimelife protagonist, after The Godfather).

Here the moral ambiguity, doesn't come from the situations presented to him per se, but rather from the character, who doesn't draw the line between good and evil, but between himself, his personal interests, and the rest of the world.

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a brilliant character, who undergoes a series of changes but he's not transformed out of the blue, he just finds and accepts, what was always part of him. Something many of us can identify ourselves with: the desire to take control over our lives, independently of the cultural norms and customs. As he states: "Never give up control. Live life on your own terms."

This is a step further, from the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde dilemma, where the struggle is to keep "the evil side" under control. He breaks free from the fear to not follow what's expected from him, when he realizes his life is about to end, and his good (submissive) behavior wasn't fairly rewarded. This is the dilemma of the modern man, the domesticated beast, law abiding citizen with a modest life style.

He's not a psychopath, he didn't have a traumatic life, he wasn't born in a family of criminals. He doesn't have excuses, not even cancer is enough of an apology. He's just your average guy, imposing his new rules, even if this involves his downfall and detriment for others. He deals with the consequences of his acts, positive and negative outcomes.

Mr. White finds a rather peculiar business partner, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), one of his former students. Typical problematic kid, with a wannabe gansta attitude (yo!), involved in the drugs business, few connections and a drugs addiction. He is, funny enough, naive and lighthearted, at least in the beginning. Jesse definitively steals the show, being a more easily likable, albeit emotionally weaker side of the partnership.

Some great side characters: Hank Schrader (DEA agent, Walter's brother in law), Saul Goodman (an hilarious 'criminal' lawyer). And it's worth mentioning the law enforcement guys aren't the true enemies (if anything Hank is in a complicated position). The antagonists come in the shape of eccentric kingpins and south american cartel associates. Ruthless methods and glimpses of a crime culture, in (a sometimes wonky) Spanish.

This is perhaps one of the few times, I don't find myself rooting for the antagonists, and that says a lot.

Yo! More pics... bitch!


  1. Yeah, I've created a monster alright haha. I noticed Gustavo's accent more last night, but in that episode they also mentioned how there was no proof he was actually from Chile. That he came in from Mexico but no note how he got to there. So he might not be!

  2. Aha... He's not the only one whose accent isn't good, not to mention: he's talking Spanish with others who would recognize it, if his strange accent was part of the story.

  3. Still catching up but omg... "What if all the equipment is in Mexican instead of English?!" when Jesse is freaking out over being sent there hahaha...