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October 4, 2015

Breaking Bad: Cat's in the Bag...

by Jason Hughes, posted Jan 28th 2008 4:45PM
Breaking Bad -
"Is this going to be on the murder?" -- question asked by a student in Walter White's class, or at least how he heard it.

Things are starting to unravel fast for our "odd couple" of meth makers. Last episode left them with two dead bodies in the back of a wrecked RV filled with meth ingredients. How could it get worse? Well, what if one of those dead bodies isn't so much ... dead that is? The boys haven't sold any drugs yet, Pinkman's house is falling apart and White's marriage may not be far behind. Cranston's getting well deserved raves for his stellar performance, but as with most buddy comedies, and let's face it this is becoming a very dark comedy, it takes two great actors to pull it off, and Aaron Paul's Pinkman is an amazing foil for Cranston's White.

Breaking Bad finds a striking balance between humor, horror and anguish that had me laughing out loud at parts, shouting in revulsion at others and torn up inside at still other moments. It's an astonishing juggling act to master and more impressive to have me this emotionally invested in the characters after only two airings. And to this point, as they've had the most screen time, it's a credit to the acting abilities of both Cranston and Paul. In fact, Pinkman went from an annoying wannabe drug dealer to someone who, sure, is still all those things but I still care what happens to him. I feel bad for the horrible situations White has essentially forced on him against his will.

With this episode, Bad fulfilled its promise of being at least part comedy, though a very, very dark comedy. In fact, in this episode much of the humor is found in what to do with the dead and not-quite-as-dead-as-we-thought drug dealers Mr. White blew up (chemically) in last week's episode. When Pinkman loses the drug dealer who didn't die (he gets out of the RV and wanders off), White finds him stumbling along the neighborhood road while driving home. The dude looks seriously messed up, but when he sees White driving along next to him, trying to talk to him, he takes off running ... right into a tree. Knocked out he ends up stuffed in the trunk and ultimately "chained" in Pinkman's basement.

So the boys have two problems. One dead body in an RV that's heating up in the sun and one very much not dead body chained to a pole in the basement. Who's going to take care of which one? What do you do? Well, flip a coin obviously. One of the most disgusting but funny moments of the night came when Pinkman used hydrofluoric acid in his bathtub, despite Mr. White's insistence he use plastic and discovers that hydrofluoric acid eats through ceramic, wood, well everything that was underneath it. The resultant "mess" were completely predictable, and the timing a bit too convenient, but still fun. As for their new prisoner, well Mr. White tries very hard to kill him, but when he gains consciousness and some semblance of coherence, he winds up with plenty of drinking water, a meal, a bucket for doing ... well, you know what. And even some toilet paper. Yes, hardened criminals these two.

We also start to see the deterioration of Mr. White's health, as he has begun to have periodic coughing spasms. Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I believe the doctor said he had a year at the outset with chemotherapy. As he's clearly not doing chemo, what does that give him? Six months? Three? A few weeks? Who knows, but the scene where the Whites find out they're having a little girl and his wife asks him if he'll be so happy about having a little girl when she's a teenager. Oh man, that's acting. Knowing he won't live long enough to see his daughter, but having to keep this from his wife and play happy. It was heartbreaking.

And then his wife calls him out on Pinkman, having used *69 to deduce who he was and even check out his "not MySpace" page. White, backed into a corner, tells her that Pinkman is his pot dealer and then, in the speech of the night, says: "I just haven't got to be myself lately, but I love you. Nothing about that has changed. Nothing ever will. So right now what I need is for you to climb down out of my ass. Can you do that? Will you do that for me, honey? Please, just once get off my ass. You know, I'd appreciate it. I really would."

Of course, she does no thing and goes to confront Pinkman, when he's trying to drag the body into the house no less, and tells him that White "told me everything." Well, not everything, but Pinkman agrees to stop selling pot to her husband. Once you get past the fact that we're talking about disposing of dead bodies and killing people (albeit very bad people) it's easy to laugh at the absurdity that we've seen so far.

Pinkman and White have managed to cook up a batch of amazing crystal meth, kill one person, inadvertently kidnap another, make a mess of Pinkman's house and neither of them has seen a dime off of this enterprise, though Pinkman did get to smoke some of White's fine meth, and White sampled some of Pinkman's weed so it's not a total loss, right? If things don't turn around, I'm actually going to start feeling really bad for these two.

Surely something good will come of all of this? Surely White will be able to do something good for his family before he dies? Man, at this point I'm not sure, but I'm sure as hell enjoying the ride. It's official, AMC is on a hot streak with Mad Men and now Breaking Bad. Whatever''s next is bound to be worth checking out. And kudos to Bryan Cranston for managing to work a fully nude scene into this episode, even though he had to spend most of the episode fully dressed.

So are you still excited about this show?
Hell yeah, I'm on board until the end!216 (79.4%)
Yeah, it's still a pretty good show36 (13.2%)
I'm kind of on the fence now.13 (4.8%)
It's lost something, not sure how long I'll keep watching.3 (1.1%)
Yeah, that's it. I'm done with this show.4 (1.5%)

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Mr. White is such a good teacher. He has the attention of the class during his lectures - even in the midst of his crisis he can still get caught up in a lecture (until his subconscious kicks in).

Bryan Cranston is a brilliant actor. I'm also taken with Aaron Paul. They've created sympathetic characters who should be the "bad" guys but aren't. Kind of reminds me of my first impressions of The Riches (is that ever coming back?).

January 29 2008 at 11:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wait. Mr. White has made a little money from his meth. At the end of last weeks episode he's shown taking money out of the dryer.

January 29 2008 at 2:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
BC McKinney

This show presents a great lesson to all those people who didn't pay attention in math and science classes because "I'll never use this in real life."

I wonder if, as in real life, someone in the school administration will notice that the chemistry department budget is disappearing faster than previous years--that looked like $600 worth of hydrofluoric acid Mr. White took, plus all the stuff he took last week to cook meth--possibly a year's worth of normal high school lab usage. Of course, if Mr. White is the chairman and does the ordering, he can probably get away with it if he dies before the end-of-year audits.

January 29 2008 at 12:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The first episode was about dominance. Taking it and running with it. The second was about the consequences of being naive to it. Both of them are on the same level.

BTW, they took all of the money the dealers carried up to the RV. That's why he pulled it out of the dryer in the first episode. He had to wash all of the sloshing chemicals off of it. The money they bribed the tractor driver to pull them out with was soaked in meth chem.

They play off of each other perfectly.

My ex-roommate was getting his PhD in chemistry in the early 90's. He would go on and on about the safety considerations of hydroflouric acid and the phosphenes that meth dealers were eating themselves up with. He taught me a lot of safety stuff because I would go in with him and help him with his experiments.

I'm wondering if we are going to see Mr. White become an awesome teacher again or fade away.

I'm also wondering when Cap'n Cook will start listening. Hopefully now.

I want them to succeed in their endeavor, but my god do I want for them to walk away with the most of themselves intact.

I'm also wondering when Mr. White will try the meth he's made.

This could be a deeply tragic, hysterical, well-acted, and beautiful mess by the time it runs its course.

January 29 2008 at 12:21 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

* "Please, just once get off my ass. You know, I'd appreciate it. I really would."

After Mr. White said that my husband looked right at me... I at him and without missing a beat I said "Don't you ever think you can say that to me!!" My husband smiled and I am sure he was wishing he could actually get away with saying that to me someday!

Both my hubby and I are fans of the dark comedy. Oh how I miss Six Feet Under! We are loving this show!

There is such a range of emotions you go through. During the sonogram I wanted to cry. (I watched my own father hold my daughter as a baby telling her he would fight this cancer and be there to see her get married. He died when Sophie was 3.) It was BRILLIANT watching White in that scene!

I can't wait to see how this show plays out. With the WGA strike I am HAPPY to have a great show to watch!


January 28 2008 at 8:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Rescue Me has certainly shown some pathetic characters, but there have always been some genuinely funny (not sort of funny) moments. And no I don't watch Nip/Tuck either. I just don't think Breaking Bad really adds anything new to tv.

January 28 2008 at 8:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Rescue Me is a dark comedy. This show is just sick. I do agree with everyone that Cranston is doing a great acting job, but I don't think I'll be watching anymore. And not because I hate it, but because the majority of it is just too depressing. It reminds me of Huff.

I can see why FX passed on the show. It's good, but not really holding my interest anymore.

January 28 2008 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jake's comment
Joey Geraci

Really, Jake? You can't tell me that Rescue Me hasn't frequently fell into the "sick" category, as you call it, when the pathetic nature of the characters just becomes far too much. We have only seen two episodes so far, and it might take a little while for Breaking Bad to get the balance right, but I like what I have seen so far.

P.S. I like Rescue Me, for the most part, but that show has certainly gotten on my nerves many times over its run

P.P.S. Given your feelings about Breaking Bad and Rescue Me, I am curious what you think about Nip/Tuck. Breaking Bad is practically a Sunday Night tearjerker compared to that pathetic group of self-absorbed ninkumpoops.

January 28 2008 at 7:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This episode was intense! I've been recommending this show to everyone I know.

January 28 2008 at 5:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Well, unlike many I did not really like Mad Men, but sure as Hell I'm loving Breaking Bad !!

This show is terrific, the acting is brilliant, and as dark as it may me, I'm loving its humor quite a lot ! Had me laughing out loud a few times this week again...

Of all the new series I've tried so far, this one is in good way to be my second favorite one (Life being my most favorite one)

And yeah, while the whole "mess" was completely predictable, it still worked for me. I just wonder why White didn't use that great opportunity he was given, with the not-so-dead body, when the guy asked for water.

Instead of supplying with everything he could need he should have added something in the water to kill him. Easier than the plastic bag and less messy than the knife I would think...

Anyways, this show is great, I'm loving it!


January 28 2008 at 5:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry, but this episode was a mis-step. Instead of a dark comedy or drama we're going to get a comedy of errors. Only outrageous events will occur at the most inopportune of times that White and Pinkman will then miraculously escape from.

Go back toward the first episode or just go away.

January 28 2008 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to J-Sim's comment

I feel the same way, this episode didn't do it for like the premiere did.

January 28 2008 at 5:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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