by DAYNA EVANS
creator Vince Gilligan
While watching an episode of Louie last week, I found myself mystifyingly turned on. It was the episode where Louis C.K. is out on a date with a pretty lady and a ruffian of a teenager threatens him. Louis doesn’t really do anything except back down, then follow the kid to his house in Staten Island. I couldn’t tell if it was his actions or his lack of action or his sad sack face, but during that episode (and as it turns out, every subsequent episode of Louie that I’ve watched) I wanted Louis C.K. more than I’ve ever wanted a person on my television screen.
With the exception of one Walter White.
Something about seeing an overworked, run-down jackhole who is trying to make it work in his terrible weird life gives me some creeping down there. It’s like some real husband heroism no matter how screwed up their version of reality is. You’re a piece of shit but you’re doing it for your family. And sometimes you happen to lose your mind at the same time. A family man who can also wield a gun and blow up a nursing home is highly attractive.
Over the course of four seasons of Breaking Bad, endearing ignoramus Jesse Pinkman reached new pinnacles that involved my analyzing and critiquing his fashion choices as they evolved from highlighter yellow hoodies to sophisticated black leather motorcycle jackets. I didn’t mourn the loss of his one-time girlfriend Jane one bit. Good riddance. But always in the background — from my viewing perspective, keep in mind — was the elusive Walt. Getting what he wants. Bossing people around. Taking control of shit.
The first episode of Breaking Bad's fifth season opens with Walter White and his breakfast. Walter has grown his fucking hair back. And he’s got on some stylish “young people” glasses — he’s either living in the metropolitan East Coast and driving a much hipper, more vintage car or running for his life. Has Walter traded in his Midwestern persona for a cosmopolitan version of himself in order to evade whatever is likely following him? To be determined. Maybe Breaking Bad is en route to becoming the Friends of meth making.
Each season of the show has started out slow and built into something maniacal from which one cannot turn away. But what bothered me about the season premiere isn’t that things are already unraveling too fast, it’s that it had a dumb setup. No one questioned the fact that Jesse, Mike, and Walt all knew that they were being filmed until now? Why did it take them until this point to figure out that the tapes are somewhere? Call me a skeptic, and yes, Walt and Jesse are still amateur criminals, all things considered, but Mike is not. I refuse to believe that that dude had not thought of this a long time ago.
In a moment of true Jesse Pinkman ingenuity, a plan is devised wherein a mammoth magnet is manipulated to destroy Gustavo Fring's incriminating laptop. The way Jesse tries to get into the conversation while Walt and Mike (Daddy and Mommy) figure out what to do is hilarious and frustrating. Just listen to the dude! They do, and he’s right, and of course he is, because we’re at a point where it’s okay to enjoy the highly satisfying role reversal this show has promised us from its first season. All would be perfect if that douchebag Ted Beneke wasn't still alive.
The revelation at the end of Breaking Bad's fourth season that Walt poisoned a child to get Jesse allied against their boss isn't so easily glossed over. We know that yep, dude is evil. And that’s an important thing to note. Because like Medea before him, we have to keep asking how much of what he does is actually defensible? I mean, is any of it?
Despite the new glasses, new hair, and new attitude, I felt most unnerved by Walter White’s new persona during his episode-end "hug" with wife. It was a long, unsettling embrace with several back rubs and not much squeezing. At the end of it all, Walt uttered a terrifying “I forgive you.” After all Walt has done, he has now granted himself the power to forgive someone else. Talk about egomania.
Some doors are left open. I’m not just talking about the car door that Mike brazenly left open after signaling the universal signal for keys. I mean a picture frame with a Swiss bank account written behind it, a truck precariously tilted on its side, a Ted Beneke who supposedly “won’t talk,” which is what I’ve been asking for since the day he was introduced, and Saul’s involvement, which continues to get heavier every day. But in the eponymous words of Walter White, “we’re done when I say we’re done.” I’m done.
"You Could Be Mine" - Ben Taylor (mp3)
"Not Alone" - Ben Taylor (mp3)
The latest album from Ben Taylor is entitled Listening, and it will be released on August 14th.