Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The Death Of Walter White - "Buyout"

You can bet your bottom buck this one's the national convention for spoilers 2K12, so follow me after jump and let's talk Breaking Bad.

Find out why this "hit me like a dream" and other reasons to watch Breaking Bad inside...

Called it! "Mr. White" plain don't give a fuck that Matt Damon shot that kid last week. Breaking Bad (that's Break-ing Bad, when pronounced correctly) just went from being a show I'll confess to taking for granted, to be consumed as absent-mindedly as I would a pack of Milk Duds - which is shockingly distasteful given how expensive they are - to something I can look forward to watching weekly as soon as it's available to me. No more waiting 'til the season is finished, no more waiting for four seasons' worth of seasons are finished and no more watching the first three episodes and then leaving it for two years because it absolutely depressed me to the point of feeling frightened. No more missing exploding C-Movie-star heads on the backs of tortoises; no more missing melty faced drug kingpins, and no more missing the continued antipathy towards human life of a man I'm increasingly hesitant to call Walter White when simply Heisenberg will suffice.

You ever had a dream where you've killed somebody, and the worst part of the dream is knowing in your soul that you'll live the rest of your days a life ruined by the fact that you did that? As apparent as your own hand in front of your face and as impossible to ignore, you did something terrible that you'll never escape, never get over, and never justify? It's horrible. It sucks harder than what, like, the opposite of Superman doing that cold blowing thing would be if he ever did that. I think sometimes in Lois And Clark they took that footage and just reversed it, so they could make it look like SuperDeanCain was clearing a room full of poison gas or something. That. Well, I have dreams just like that (the first part, not the Superman thing) fairly regularly and I'm never ungrateful the moment I wake up and realise it wasn't happening to me. The first scene of this week's Breaking Bad, "Buyout", was just like one of those things. After the shock event, the single critical moment that ended last week's episode, comes the aftermath, the distribution of guilt and the start of the life that began after the previous life, the one that can only exist before such an event occurs, ended. Grisly, methodical, coldly functional, the stripping and destruction of Jesse, Walt and Matt Damon's teenaged victim's motorcycle before the inevitable and stomach-churning (and mercifully implied) treatment of the subject himself hit me like a dream and more than anything else it almost made me want to stop watching because it gave me that same sensation of hopelessness, that same awareness of consequence that the series' first sub-arc of four or five episodes did. Breaking Bad is, more than any other series I can remember watching, a series that takes shocking big time events and fucking deals with them. It's less about the things you tweet about than how the characters react to them. Sure enough, before "Buyout" is finished another problem - the beginning of the investigation of the kid's disappearance and local news coverage thereof - rears its ugly head so that while the deed is done, the ramifications have plenty of room to breathe. Things can only get trickier, even ignoring Hank and the DEA's pursuit of the blue meth business and the richness of story that's inbuilt in that plot's familial connections.

"Slim pickins" is not a term Vince Gilligan and his crew are familiar with. If there's any one part of Breaking Bad that's not doing it for you there's always something else to draw on and what's doing it the most for me is the descent of Walter White into an alter ego that no longer needs as potent a visual metaphor as a black hat to symbolise. You wanna know what I think? If you care to separate Mr. White and Heisenberg into two separate characters played by the same actor, only one appeared in this week's Breaking Bad. Walt didn't waste a second chasing the long-absconded affections of his (actually unbearable) wife, sugar-coating the truth for Jesse's benefit or palling about with his son. He made his intentions known, opted not to disguise his lack of regret over the previous week's murder and spent in general a lot of time scowling, justifying his ambition and actin' the maggot. This is, to my memory, the very first time that his extracurricular activity in any one episode has not been balanced by the compromise of being nice in any one way. He has cemented, in Heisenberg, his position as a true fanatic, one whose objective fell to the side of his means. His confession to Jesse that his current perceived greed stems from the regret of selling his share in a company that made billions is one of the most startling character revelations to date, because it seems so wholly reasonable to him when it's far enough from reasonable to be considered crazy. That's medically crazy, now. He is an insane person. "Empire business", indeed...

Throw in a cliffhanger ending, an intriguing new nemesis, some perfectly broad humour and the usual sterling scoring and photography and you've another near-perfect instalment in the one and only must-watch - and I mean you must watch it - show on US television. More thanks, ta.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent stuff. I didn't know what to write about this episode but this sums it up pretty well for me.

    I remember saying to you and Ruairi that time about how Breaking Bad had become my favourite thing, I'm not sure if it was both of you or just Ruairi who put up the argument, but I think you might finally be on the same page as myself. I woke up yesterday and literally did nothing before turning on the laptop and getting the episode. I was working yesterday and all.