Monday, October 03, 2011

If you've gotta break...

This post is not going to be meaningful to anyone who doesn't watch Breaking Bad, and in any case, there are BIG SPOILERS. The optimum course of action, if you haven't seen the show, is to bloody well get on that, starting at the beginning--not a good idea to try to jump in midway.

Last night was the penultimate episode of this season of Breaking Bad. Ooh! The big question of the night is: who poisoned Jesse's girlfriend's son, Brock? Jesse sees that the cigarette containing a capsule of ricin, with which he had been meant to kill Gus, is missing, and immediately assumes that Walter must have somehow does this, in order to get revenge after their earlier argument; Walter convinces him that, in fact, it was Gus who somehow effected the poisoning, to frame him and to break the last bounds of loyalty that Jesse feels.

It's hard to say. None of the possibilities seem to be especially feasible, given the time frame; I haven't got a clue how the writers are going to resolve this--but hey, it's Breaking Bad. It hasn't let me down yet, so I'll assume they have their shit together until proven otherwise. But I am baffled by all the people in comments to the AVClub review who are convinced that Walt is the guilty party, or at least a prime suspect. Obviously, I can't say anything for sure, but if that turns out to be the case, I will be seriously disappointed in the show.

I'm agnostic as to the question of whether Walt would be capable of such a thing. Still, while I wouldn't swear to it, I'd say probably not. Yes, he let Jesse's junkie girlfriend die, and yes, he ordered Jesse to murder Gale, but those people were both actual threats to him, even if in Gale's case it was inadvertently so. Not that this "justifies" their deaths, but we're so deep into the swamp here that at this point there really isn't any morally "right" decision that doesn't involve getting the hell out period, in which case we have no show. But so anyway, they were existential threats, whereas Brock's just a harmless kid.

But more to the point, that just isn't how the show has worked up to this point. Walt is basically the viewpoint character. Correct me if I'm forgetting something, but I don't think the show has ever hidden crucial actions on his part from the audience for extended periods before. If they started now, it would feel like they were breaking the rules, and not in any canny, "okay now they have expectations so we'll consciously dash them in a very precise way" way, more in a "here's an easy, cheap way to get a rise out of them" way. And this show is just better than that, dammit.


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