Mourning Becomes Television: Breaking Bad

I had a dream in which Breaking Bad’s Bob Odenkirk was following me on Twitter. Bob Odenkirk for those of you who may not have committed Breaking Bad cast members’ names to memory is, Saul Goodman, “Better Call Saul”, and Breaking Bad ended its fourth amazing season a good week plus before the World Series became my watching ritual. While it might seem strange to mention Odenkirk (Saul) ahead of the suave Giancarlo Esposito, (Gustavo Fring), whose method of buttoning his second button and straightening himself for the kill is singular, yet now goes into the category of ‘flashback’ – Fring having been smoked in the finale – I find Saul the show’s comic genius, whose neoclassical office in an Albuquerque strip mall comes with a postmodern  conglomeration of portholes and columns: the textured cheeze of  a velveteen hideaway (in plain sight).

As to the future for this show? Long may it wave, it is predicted to last just 16 more episodes, before (presumably) Walter and Hank must at last come face to furious face (unmasked)? The outcome for Esposito (Fring) was violent indeed as this YouTube clip reflects. But television – from the end of the Sopranos, through Mad Men to Breaking Bad – has been steadily inculcating us viewers into states more inured to blood and guts, and to states of incipient mourning, in which the denouement for directorial genii like Vince Gilligan is the news of the TV blogs even before a current season is over.

Vince Gilligan interviewed on a blog at asserted that it’s something of a bonus to have 16 more episodes (regular season 14 – + 2) with which to figure out the as yet unanswered questions (that his writer’s room will begin to tackle in November), what becomes of Hank? Whom will he enlist as his deputy in the slow process by which accessories and the main players are identified? Think Walter wearing that telltale Band-Aid on his nose, by which to be identified, my pretty.

In Walter White’s process from Mr. Chips to Scarface, as Vince Gilligan has repeatedly characterized the star’s passage from badder to baddest, how much farther will Walter actually go in service of ambitions whose shape escapes us?

I read a LA Times blogger’s opinion that Jesse will White-defect for real and ever when he realizes that Walter watched in malign neglect as one of his loved ones died, and had a closer hand in the near-miss of another. Nevermind. It is in just this manipulation of youth that Walter is proving so excruciatingly detestable and fascinating to watch. Viz the narcissistic rage whose shape wavered then set in three episodes involving his relationships with the young men this season: Jesse, his metaphorical son (maltreated as all get out) and Junior, his natural one. What’s way tougher to watch in this show than the brilliant cinematography and special effects of Fring’s face after the bomb is the characters who continually tell themselves to trust the devil.

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  1. Yes, Yes, Yes – just watched all four seasons in a row –
    also, dug your article about the fair – Santa Fe – selling everything and no guts –