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RecapsJanuary 5, 2015

Summer in a Meth Lab: The Breaking Bad Season One Diaries

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Alex Casey has never watched a second of Breaking Bad, nor read anything about it. Going in completely blind, she has committed to watching the whole series over summer in the lead up to spin off series Better Call Saul‘s arrival to Lightbox in February. Contains spoilers, obviously.//

Day One: Tuesday, 11.30pm

Watched: Episodes 1-3

It’s happened. I’ve finally done it. From going without even seeing a single frame of Breaking Bad in my entire life – I’ve just watched the first episode for catch up club. And then two more in quick succession. I’m screaming. My stomach feels like I have drunk a beaker full of piping hot meth juice. I know you all know this already but, shit. Holy shit. What a show.

The first episode was the most 0-100 thing I have ever seen in my life. Opening with a flash forward teaser thing, a technique I have since realised is a Breaking Bad staple because I am smart and very aware of such things, it shows you where Walt is going to end up (in his undies with dead bodies around him wielding a gun).

wtf is going on
wtf is going on

Now, watching that flash forward, I literally thought it was going to be a scene from the season finale or something, not just the end of the bloody episode. No way, I thought. No way in hell can Walt go from being a chemistry teacher to a cancer-suffering underpants-wearing drug lord in just one episode – and kill two people while he’s at it. I have no idea how the writers managed to push the story through that quickly, amazingly it never feels rushed. I’m the only one rushing – to hospital on account of the constant cardiac arrest.

Contrary to what I had heard prior (albeit mostly from my highly empathetic and torture-scene-sensitive friend Sophie), this show starts off a lot funnier than I expected. I found the first episode, and the few that followed, to have some truly hilarious moments. The grim-as-shit Vegan bacon on Walt’s 50th birthday, Pinkman’s ridiculous blingee’d weed website, the tense birthday handjob scene. Extremely twisted black comedy.

Huge hoodie, great teeth
Huge hoodie, great teeth

At this point, my top characters are probably Pinkman and Marie. Pinkman reminds me of this naughty little kid I went to school with called Raven who used to flirtatiously shoot girls with a potato gun. Well meaning, but completely misguided. I like that his drug dealer outfit is made to look so obviously like a costume. Ill-fitting t-shirts, with a too-clean beanie and a too-long silken hoodie. His teeth are far too good for a meth user as well, but Aaron Paul has a hell of a cheeky smile so I sort of understand the decision there. I put Marie as a fave as well because she is a real pain in the butt, and absolutely nails that particular type of person who asks for low fat mayonnaise in a potato salad.

Pinkman’s failure to follow instructions as Walt’s lackey is already becoming a defining character trait. I’m thinking, in particular, of that vomit-inducing scene where the disintegrating body falls through the floor above. That was maybe the most disgusting thing I have ever seen. Looked like some crazy sashimi party or something. The fact that they just wearily looked at each other after it happened was a scene lifted totally from a splatter movie, keeping that wry air of comedy while entrails drip drip drip all around.

krazy choke

Even when Walt is grappling with killing Krazy 8 (a meth distributor that comes back from the dead), that understated bemusement remains. At this point, the characters seem just as bewildered as the audience that things have escalated so quickly. When the pair are talking, and realise that Krazy’s uncle sold Walt some furniture once, there’s a beautiful little sliver of shared history that shines through the outrageous circumstance. You see his humanity when he carefully cuts the crusts off Krazy’s sandwich – he’s still just a father and a high school teacher.

I mean, Walt eventually strangles him to death – but it was a nice run for a while there.

Day Two: Wednesday, 8am

Watched: Episode 4

I woke up early this morning to squeeze in a quick episode before going to work. Anyone who knows me will know that I don’t wake up early for anything in the entire world. I have been known to sleep through New Years, birthdays, Christmas, weddings. I set an alarm for this and everything. What the hell is going on?


In this episode, everyone finds out about Walt’s cancer, and it’s pretty goddamn emotional. Walt Jr has the best teenage reaction – which is of course to get very furious. I’m finding Walt and Skylar’s relationship very moving at this point, there was a very nice moment where he comes up behind her as she’s washing the dishes or something and just holds her. There’s such a huge weight of sadness and doom to the whole thing – and obviously not just because the cancer. She’s starting to get suspicious of Walt’s odd activity and late night phone calls. You can see the cracks, big time. I’m nervous. I feel sad for her stress and the stress on the baby, if I’m honest.

I had a feeling Walt’s killing of Krazy 8 would herald his full transition into a psycho who gives zero fucks, and I was bang on the money. He ends the episode by blowing up some asshole’s car at the gas station. And walking away without looking. Cool guys don’t look at explosions.

Wednesday, 11.59pm

Watched: Episode 5-7

I have just watched three more episodes in a row, I feel like it would be less addictive and time-consuming if I actually just took to smoking meth instead of this. I forgot to do all the things I had to do tonight. But that’s season one finished, and I feel MORE ALIVE THAN EVER.

walt gave him noodles :(
walt gave him noodles :(

In episode five, Walt and Skylar swung by rich guy Elliott’s birthday party, held in a giant mansion full of people wearing a spectrum from beige to champagne. Walt’s giant navy-style blazer, baggy pants and tiny thoughtful present was the sweetest little outfit combo, a begrudging ensemble of a man forced into his Sunday best best. I reckon the subtle costuming in this show is really powerful and considered. His uncomfortableness is palpable as he observes the lavish life he could have lived if he had stayed with Gray Matter Technologies, a company that he co-founded with Elliott and had since sold his way out of (for $5000, the company since being worth $2.16 billion).

We also meet Badger in this ep, a giant lovable dropkick even more shambolic than Jesse. They disappear out into the desert to cook together, but it turns into a giant meth-fight. Like, literally throwing meth around. Sidenote: meth rocks look really cool. Pure pinterest fodder in the sunlight, chuck some twine on that and you got yourself a lovely necklace.

Walt gets back in the meth game, after declining the offer from his rich pals to pay for his treatment. He’s got a cover now, and Skylar buys it. For now. I have no idea how he is going to keep this up, but I’m assuming he will. That’s the glory of watching it after everyone else, I know the show runs for five seasons therefore I’m pretty confident he maintains the charade for just a touch longer. Or does he? Who knows? (Everyone knows).

Episode six is nuts. I know I’m going to be saying this a lot, but Walt goes even crazier. Visiting drug pimp (? I don’t know the slang exceptionally well) Tuco, Walt demands they strike up a deal and get paid in full cash with each transaction. Tuco says no so Walt JUST BLOWS UP THE WHOLE ROOM WITH A MAGICAL LITTLE FLINTY THING. Man, chemistry is cool. I should have paid more attention in school.

The last ep sees Walt and Skylar boning in the car after a sexy little board meeting at the school, Marie stealing an ugly baby tiara from a department store and Tuco going absolutely ballistic at our (anti-) heroes. At this point Walt has gone full Heisenberg, donning dark shades and his signature black hat. He looks a little bit like Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man, but I digress.

During their weekly dealings with the Tuc-meister, one of his henchman pipes up and Tuco loses the plot completely, viciously pummeling him to a pure pulp. The henchman dies right in front of Walt and Jesse, and Tuco laughs like a goddamn maniac. His shirt is so silky.

It seems that they might be in a tiny spot of bother having to answer to this crazy Tuco guy, no? Guess we’ll find out next season.

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