Breaking Bad is either one of those shows that you’re watching, or are planning to watch, or are avoiding like the plague because it has overtaken everyone’s lives like some sort of weird, alien illness. I’ve tried watching it before, but couldn’t seem to find the time. Re-watching the first episode, I remember how fast paced everything was, and how silly I felt for forgetting that seriously cool opening.
The first part of the episode is just a series of events that makes the audience feel increasingly sympathetic towards Walter. He works two jobs, he’s forced to deal with obnoxious students, and then later we find out that he has terminal lung cancer. He represents the regular Joe Schmo, and it’s just sad to watch so many unfortunate things happen to such a regular guy who hasn’t done anything to deserve it. He didn’t even smoke!
I feel like the directors wanted the audience to feel this way to justify Walter’s later actions. He is in desperate need of money, and desperate times call for desperate measures. The show would not have been as good if Walter was shown to be a cold, calculating criminal in the beginning (though from some of the trailers I’ve seen, this almost seems to be the case in the later seasons). He needs a believable motive, and he needs the audience to be on his side when he does start cooking meth. One of my favorite scenes is when his wife, Skylar, asks Walt how his day was after he had been told about his terminal cancer, and you can see the inner struggle on his face about keeping silent or telling her. He decides not to, and it’s evident that he loves his family too much to trouble them.
The look on Jesse’s face was absolutely priceless when Walt propositioned him. Their relationship throughout the episode is one that resembles a disinterested student and an eccentric teacher, which probably mirrors what they were like before. I love the fact that while the show has a darker tone, Jesse quickly becomes our comic relief. I also love that Walt’s new sense of purpose drives him to become more assertive, such as when Walt trips a guy for making fun of his son’s disability or suddenly creating an RV death trap for Emilio and Crazy 8’s. He has nothing to lose, so he goes all out. That’s what changes him from a Joe Schmo to an interesting character.
The only thing that bothered me about the episode was when the DEA find Jesse’s partner but not Jesse. They’re looking for “Cap’n Cook” but just so happen to ignore the fact that the license plate on one of the cars parked in the area is literally “The Capn”. It just seems exceedingly stupid and unlikely that that would happen. Granted, this is television, so I’m not too bothered by the fact that it’s unrealistic.
Overall, Breaking Bad is one of the most acclaimed shows on television today, and for good reason. It’s well-written, it’s fast paced, and it’s interesting. I will definitely give this show another go one of these days (if I can avoid the spoilers).