I blogged on October 22. Last night, we finished it, the entire series, 61 episodes of "Breaking Bad." We were on a tear. We've been immersed in that world for the last 7 weeks.
ADDED: In the comments some people are asking if we liked it. Obviously, we liked it, or we wouldn't have marathon-watched it like that. Now, I'm interested to go back and see what I'd written when I first tried to watch it. Someone had prodded me in the comments about why the main character, Walter White, a school teacher who must have had good health insurance benefits, needed to become a criminal to pay for cancer treatments. I said:
Well, I know the answer to that from watching the first 22 minutes of the first episode.And later, I finished the first episode and said:
He's not about trying to get money to pay for treatments. He's an entirely listless, enervated man with nothing to live for, utterly empty and bland and beaten down with no love for anything (except maybe chemistry) and he finds out he's got inoperable lung cancer and at most 2 years to live.
He's so numb about all that the doctor wonders if he even understands. He tells the doctor there's a mustard stain on his jacket. He doesn't inform his wife about the diagnosis.
Then he's at his car wash (moonlighting) job and he's asked again to leave the cash register, which was supposed to be his job, and go out and put that sploogy stuff on the car tires, and he flips out.
He's had it with his bland old life which wasn't worth living even before he was dying. He's energized to go bad. He's finally alive.
This is a classic melodrama plot point: man who is about to die finally learns how to live.
He's been emasculated and suddenly he embraces manhood, which is saying "no" to all the crap he's had to eat, like vegetarian fake-bacon strips that taste like Band-Aids.
It's not about how hard it is to pay for health care. What a boring thing to think about the show!
Am I to believe that the people who love the show have less appreciation for its themes than I derived in 22 minutes before turning it off?
I'm about to scream NOOOOO at all this bullshit and pull the merchandise down off the wall and yell at my boss that I hate his mustache [ACTUALLY: eyebrows].
On which side of the screen is the storied vast wasteland?
It confirmed my understanding that Walt's breaking bad was the seizing of life that happened as he faced death.I maintained that idea of the character throughout the series, and the correctness of my understanding of the first 22 minutes was made clear in the final episode, when Walt put it plainly, explaining himself to his wife: "I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really… I was alive." I was alive… same as in the first episode: I'm alive.
At one point, he says "I'm alive."
It may be that in later episodes the story was changed to a desire to leave money to his family (or to get his own medical treatments), but I'm here to tell you that is NOT the story presented in the "Pilot."
I can't believe people who liked the show thought they were sort of rooting for a guy to get money for his family. What's the point of watching a made-up story on that subject? "Breaking Bad" was about crazy desperation to find — at the point of dying — what it means to be alive. All that destruction and that wild action — it was a man screaming from the not-yet-closed-grave: I am alive!