I put on my apron, stole a gas mask from the local high school, grabbed some Bunsen burners, and I started cooking. Yep, I’ve cooked me up some episodes of Breaking Bad, the story of Walt, the high school chemistry teacher who starts using his skills to make the best Crystal Meth around after being diagnosed with lung cancer and unable to afford cancer treatment.
I finished season one in less than a week and watched many of these episodes on the treadmill including 3 episodes back to back during one 20 miler. I’ve had plenty of folks tell me I would love the show, and thanks for the push. Loved the first season, and here’s my hodge-podge of thoughts.
The writing is incredible. The conflicts always buzz in the background quietly, while the current crisis is exploding in your face. So many of them are intermingling; it's like looking at a Christmas tree where the lights sparkle off the ornaments which sparkle off the tinsel which make the candy canes look tastier which makes the presents seem more luxurious.
The show sparkles due to the contrast between Walt’s conventional world as a teacher and his blossoming career as the best meth cooker around in the most dangerous drug trade on earth. Walt has a quiet, emotionally stunted face, but he’s a witness to the darkest of society’s underbelly, and once he shaves his head you can just tell there’s a cauldron of trouble boiling under the surface
Quiet, reserved, and soft spoken while with his son and his family, his assertive, aggressive side lets loose when he’s with Jessie, his meth-cooking defacto son. It is like being a Cooker of meth has finally set him free.
Then there’s the comparison between the effects that chemotherapy has on the body compared to the deterioration caused by the meth. They aren’t that dissimilar.
As a middle-aged suburban man myself (as far as I know, currently cancer free) the series still speaks to me. It is suburban angst turned outwards, a metaphor of the battle of a middle classed man against the powers that might strip him of what he needs to fend for his family, powers that are greater than him and operate with little ethics or morality. Walt is certainly less naïve than you think, but still naïve enough to think he can step into the world of Meth and hold onto his values.
Of course, you also have to question the morality and ethics of his mainstream world which would allow a man to get less than the best cancer treatment since it is not covered under his HMO.
But Walt's adventure is about much more than just trying to raise funds for chemo and to secure his family’s future. It is proving his might, proving he still has fight in him yet.
Chemotherapy may make him bald but it wont’ break his balls. His mad chemistry skills may be lost on the indifferent high school students, but it can be explosive in the underworld of Meth. Just because he’s terminally illy doesn’t mean he can’t still make an impact. He is Walter, hear him roar. A megalomaniac is born.
The show is visually powerful. All addicts have triggers, but experience has shown me how the sight of just the tiniest dot of Crystal meth has a power unlike none other, and I am sure there are meth addicts across the country watching this show high as can be, saying all sorts of explicative’s.
It’s only been season one, of course, but the winter running season isn’t too far off, and it is comforting to know I have about 40 fifty minute episodes of Breaking Bad to still dive into. I figure I can run about 245 miles on a treadmill in front of Walt, and you can just tell that some weird crazy shits about to happen to him.
And it's a huge blessing, because if I didn’t run like a junkie, I am sure I would be back as one of Walt's customers. In order to truly get into the show I’m thinking about watching and running in my Tighty-Whitey's
And please, no spoilers! I’ve already ran across pictures of Walt apparently in Jail, getting shaken down by his DEA brother in law, and another with his face all busted up. Hoping to catch up to watch the last ever episode in real time and have a Sopranos experience. Thanks again AMC!.