Sunday, March 21, 2010

The First Season of Breaking Bad: A Refresher

The Emmy Award winning AMC drama is back with its third season. Undoubtedly, Breaking Bad is currently one of televisions greatest shows, but with such a short run with a second season only having a thirteen episode run (the first was even shorter), you may need a bit of a refresher before you start on the third. Be warned, this may not contain everything that happened in the first season of Breaking Bad but it does contain enough of the plot to ruin or *Spoil* it for anyone who has not seen it but wants to.

The plot of Breaking Bad surrounds a high school chemistry teacher dying from lung cancer who decides to break from society’s rules and begins make the best of his impending death by cooking crystal Meth with a failed student, Jesse. With a wife getting ready to have their second child and their son disabled with MS, Walt has many responsibilities and has so far in life been able to keep a mediocre level control. Upon learning of his cancer Walt ponders his options, not wanting to be a burden on his family he at first doesn’t tell them about his cancer in hopes that he will be able to take full advantage of the finite amount of time in which he can cook crystal meth and make enough money to take care of his family after he is gone. This twisted version of the American Dream, carving out his own path in the world gaining power and money, and prestige, Walt now in his mid 50’s, is able to do what most people really want… take the things that the law and social ritual deem wrong. What is the point of following the law of the land if you are only going to be living there for short amount of time and will never feel the repercussions of your actions? That’s the taste Breaking Bad leaves in your mouth a kind of misanthropic version of the American Dream, where the means to bring you to your goal are inconsequential since the consequences have no hold over you. Partnering up with Jesse allows Walt to acquire the connection to the subculture of his surrounding city, with his unmatched ability to cook crystal meth Walt’s product is soon sot after by anyone with a pipe and a taste for meth. The strange student teacher relationship that forms between the two is the driving force of the show it has allowed for some of the more exiting dialogue. Walt scolding Jesse for being the crack smoking whore banging screw-up, that he is, is almost always accompanied by a failure on Walt’s part to execute one of his well thought out yet poorly executed plans.

The path to actually making money through cooking Meth turns out to be full of unexpected speed bumps such as the loss of their cookery on wheels, Jesse’s RV. The repercussions of using chemical weapons on murderous drug dealers, its funny how a little bit of mustard gas can save the day but ruin your week. After a drug deal gone wrong Walt is forced to improvise and gases his would be killers with some homemade mustard gas. The only thing is, he didn’t kill all of the drug deals within that one yellowish plum of smoke; which eventually leads to an uncomfortable conversation between Jesse and Walt, where Walt simply tells Jesse to “take care of it.” This is not the best thing to put on an individual such as Jesse, who is unreliable at the best of times. In the end Walt has to man up and chokes the dealer with a bicycle lock. This takes Walter farther down the Rabbit Hole than he ever intended to go, but what’s done is done and if anything the killing of this low level drug dealer only served to solidify Walt’s resolve to finish what he started and what is needed to take care of his family.

After Jesse failed to go through with killing the gassed then captured drug dealer, Walt left him with the disposal of the body. Walt, ever the innovator decides to pull off the “in the movies” special, of dissolving the body in acid. But the instructions prove to be too difficult for the often high Jesse and instead of dissolving the body in a specific type of rubber container, Jesse just puts the body in his house’s tub adds acid then stirs. This proves to be an unfortunate choice for the young burnout, the acid eats away the body but the tub as well… then the floor… and eventually the ceiling beneath that. That is not the end of Jesse’s problems in the first season.

Throughout season one, the duo find themselves out of their league and barely scraping by. During this painful start the two go through the different ways one can make and distribute their product. The idea of smurfs is introduced to Walt as a means of procuring cold medicine the main ingredient when making street quality Meth. Smurfs are low level associates of Meth cookers who go around to different pharmacies and buy the maxim amount of cold medicine allowed per customer, which are usually 2-3 packs. This inefficient means of receiving one of the harder to come by chemicals needed to make Meth leads to Walt and Jesse’s great heist. This is where they break into a facility that stores a large quantity of the industrial grade version of the same chemical. Using some chemistry club knowhow Walt uses a high temperature burning substance to melt through the reinforced door of the facility. But that is where things start to break down, it turns out that, indeed this is a facility where the needed chemical is held, but it only comes in 20 gallon steel barrels. Too heavy to be moved without a dolly, the two decide to carry it out to the amusement of DEA agents who eventually see the surveillance video of the caper, adding “why didn’t they just roll it out, it’s a barrel!”

In order to distribute more Meth Jesse puts out his feelers in hopes of landing a big Meth dealer and winds up with Tuco. Tuco: the head of the Mexican cartel Meth ring for the city they are in; likes to snort Meth off of his novelty sized Bowie Knife and brutally beat up people. While trying to sell Meth to Tuco, Jesse gets beaten so badly that he actually ends up in the hospital. This sends Walt into protective Teacher/Father mode and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Walt had only started to feel the effects of chemotherapy that his family (his wife) insisted he receive after she realized that he had been hiding his illness from her and the rest of Walt’s closest people. With clumps of hair falling from Walt’s head and a looming encounter with Tuco in the near feature, Walt shaves what is left of his hair off and begins to strategize. Walt needs Tuco to distribute his Meth but he also needs him to not beat the crap out of him. So, knowing Tuco’s propensity to test the Meth he is purchasing by crushing it with the butt of his Crocodile Dundee replica knife, Walter whips up a batch of explosives crystals… that look just like Meth. On his own, Walter goes to meet with Tuco. All does not go as planed, but Walter does get to blow some shit up and earns the respect of Tuco in the process. With all of their base chemical ingredients in good standing and a wholesale buyer lined up, namely Tuco, Walt and Jesse begin to cook what eventually becomes known on the street as The Blue Bomb. And that is where season one ends, Walt and Jesse selling a large quantity of Meth to Tuco in a junkyard and watching him suddenly beat to death one of his men.

No comments: