I'm back. Last time I mentioned Breaking Bad I was just at the beginning of Season 3. Well I've just finished Season 4 and hour ago and I'm about to go start on the much hyped Season 5 when I finish posting this.
I have... questions. I have thoughts. I have opinions.
I didn't much love Season 3 if I'm perfectly honest. It felt very draggy and slow. Season 4 definitely ramped it up with the action and I appreciated that, because I tend to get bored with shows pretty easily. I think that Season 3 might have been around the time I would have abandoned the show if I were watching in real time.
But these characters... and God damn, Walter White. I want to talk about a few of the characters though, so I'll end with Walter.
Hank: I totally get that he's dealing with the fallout of having a new disability and all of the terrible feelings that come along with no longer being able to be self reliant, but Jesus Christ, I'm surprised that Marie didn't punch in the nuts. The way that he treated her during his woe-is-me phase was just deplorable, and it really made me dislike him even though I've always really liked Hank.
I don't know if maybe my empathy is a little stunted because I've never been in that situation, but I feel as though Marie was doing everything she could to support Hank after is accident and all he did was shit on her and make her feel terribly. And then when she starts stealing again (I presume from the stress) the way that his first words were "How could you do this to me" really made me rage. Thankfully once the DEA started consulting with him again he was much less of a dick, but even though I know his reaction was probably realistic, I kind of hate Hank now. He's always been a bit of a douche, but still.
Skyler: I have spent the last how many years peripherally hearing about how terrible Skyler White is and after four seasons, I have to say that I don't get it. I really enjoyed her plotline with Bennicky and the money laundering thing, and I liked that it showed her being able to really have a handle on things on her own. And yes, I get that at this point, after buying the carwash and taking an active role in cooking the books so that Walt can launder his money, she's just as much of a criminal as he is. But this is a situation that she found herself in because of her husband's shenanigans, and she's doing what she thinks she needs to do to protect her family. Not just Walter and herself, but to protect her kids from the truth, and insulate Hank and Marie from blame. If I had to choose, I would honestly say that she was the moral centre of the show. Even though she's involved now, she's never lost sight of the fact that they are involved in something very dangerous and very illegal that could have huge ramifications if they slip up, like the $300 bottle of champagne and the flashy car that Walt bought for Jr. She seems to be the only one who retains that sense of immediacy and urgency; that awareness that they can't ever let their guard down because they're in so deep. I honestly cannot fathom why Anna Gunn was apparently getting death threats for the duration of the show's run.
Jesse: Jesse... I really just want to give him all the hugs. I feel so badly for him. He spends the better part of the first half of the season wracked with guilt over having killed Gale in cold-blood, and then has the live with the threat of Gus breathing down his back because of it. You can literally see him falling apart at the seams because he's so conflicted about the choices he's made. The scene where he loses it on his NA support group? Powerful acting, and holy shit it made me cry. It was really great character development I thought to really delve into the moral toll it was taking on Jesse personally.
I also noticed this season that Jesse really seems to have a soft spot for kids. Earlier the ginger kid in the meth heads' house, then the two kids that the drug dealers murdered whose deaths he felt he had to avenge, and not his GF's son Brock. I have a theory that even with all the moral ambiguity of his life, things are hard and fast when it comes to children; they are innocent, and should be protected at all costs. I suspect it gives him something to ground himself to. A sticking point that never changes. I also liked that he was finally able to step out from under Walt's shadow a little this season. I actually cheered when he dressed down the Mexican cartel guy about his lab being disgusting. He's spent so much time under the threat of discovery and Walt's blackmail that it was nice to see him get a win, even if it was a criminal one.
By the end of the season when Jesse was about to kill Walter over Brock's poisoning, I realized that his loyalty to Walter is always going to be his downfall. Even when Walt had deliberately tried to screw him over, Jesse was making sure that Gus knew killing Walt was not an option. He didn't want any more blood on his hands. The fact that Walt was willing to almost kill a child in order to set his whole plan in motion repulses me on a visceral level.
Walter: I have never hated a character more than I hate Walter H. White. I can understand praising the show from a creative standpoint and the character from a development standpoint but the idea that Walt is an anti-hero that I'm supposed to root for does not do it for me. There is nothing redeemable about him to me, and I don't understand why he is praised, but Skyler villified. (No, I do. It's sexism)
When the series first begins, it's clear that he very honestly thinks he's going to die, and thinks that meth is a quick way to get a lot of cash so that he doesn't leave his family destitute when he dies. But this season? So much posturing. So much misplace pride. So much dick swinging. I almost punched my screen during the scene where Walt gets drunk and tells Hank that the Gale is no genius and couldn't possibly be Heisenberg. His own family has been unknowingly hunting his ass for MONTHS, and after everything that has happened, he finally has an honest to God out that might get the DEA off his trail. And what does Walt do? BRAG. Walt is so annoyed at the idea of someone taking credit for his work (and thus the blame) that he literally puts Hank back on his trail. That he could be so prideful as to disregard his own safety? His family's safety? I need him to suffer.
I really hate his attitude to Skyler. She makes the choice to put her own future on the line to help protect him, and he constantly gaslights her. He comes home with injuries and pretends that things are A-okay while she panics and he knows that his life is being threatened. She tries to help him build this gambling fiction to help him escape notice and he brushes her aside as if she's overreacting. Then after they fight about the wine HE BUYS A BIG FUCKING FLASHY CAR when they're supposed to be poor, and then instead of taking it back like she asks, HE FUCKING BLOWS IT UP. Because Walter White is the world's biggest asshole and I hate him.
And then in the very end where we discover that it was in fact him that poisoned Brock? I honestly can't deal with it. It reminds me very strongly of when he watched Krysten Ritter aspirate on her own vomit, and then sat back and let Jesse feel guilty about it for an entire season. Somehow poor Jesse always ends up being the one who gets the shit end of Walter's schemes. From Hank beating him up, to poor Brock, it's been obvious for a really long time that Walter values no one but his own interests, and everyone else is acceptable collateral damage. The way he continues to verbally abuse and manipulate Jesse makes me sick. And let's not even talk about the fact that he still hasn't bothered to find a way to explain to his son that Skyler is not in fact "just the bitch mom who won't give his mom a chance." That really irks me.
I'm starting Season 5 in a bit. This is supposed to be the most amazing season of television in modern history* so I hope I get a satisfying end. From peripheral, partial spoilers I've gathered that Walter ends up dead, (but I'm not sure, so please do not confirm or deny in the comments) and I really hope he does. There are some characters that go too far down the rabbit hole to ever be redeemed, and Walter is one of those characters for me. (Much in the same way Dexter should have died goddammit.)
Either way, I'm kind of glad to finally be coming to the end. I don't enjoy Walter and I don't root for him, and I've realized that I'm mostly interested in seeing what happens to everyone else after he fucks shit up. I don't love this show as much as everyone claims I should. It is definitely an very interesting study in the moral ambiguity of its characters, but I dislike that we're made to actively root for the one unquestionably terrible person on the show.
Like before, feel free to discuss light spoilers in the comments, but please don't reveal anything major. I can't wait to be done with this show. I have 8 seasons of The Practice to watch.
*I may be exaggerating, but the internet certainly couldn't shut up about it.