Until we get to spend some more time with this lovable bastard.

So I had to whip up an appropriate graphic.

By the time this gets posted, I’ll be on a bus to New York for the weekend (where among other activities, I might catch a free tUnE-YaRdS show at Pier 54, not to mention free shows by Titus Andronicus, Oberhofer, and others at the 4knots festival). But I’ll be getting back on Sunday just in time to catch the 10 pm premiere of the fourth season of Breaking Bad, about which I could not be more excited.

I recently took the time to watch the last 6 episode of season three to get myself good and ready for the fourth season to kick off. And as everybody says, they are some of the most gripping, powerful, punch-in-the-gut episodes of television I’ve ever seen. Warning: some spoilers of Breaking Bad, and possibly minor ones from The Wire and Deadwood, will follow. Watching them for the second time, I had the privilege to think about these episodes in the context of articles and interviews I’ve read about Breaking Bad over the past year.

I wrote a whole long middle section here about “relating” or not relating to Walter White, but my internet is crappy right now and wordpress didn’t save it. Basically I discussed how most of the discussion around the show has centered on how irredeemable his character has become, and I think it’s more complicated than that. I’m too lazy to rewrite it all, so enjoy the rest of this fragmented post:

And don’t we see in him some desire, some struggle to remain human, to remain “good”? Who’s to say we would be stronger, braver, and more humane than Walter if we were put in the same situation? Most of us haven’t been given a terminal cancer diagnosis and come out the other side, and I’m pretty sure nobody reading this blog is a murdering drug dealer. While most of the stuff I’ve read focuses on the way Walter seems to be enjoying his new evil power after a life of futility, there’s a clear sense of regret that’s not often discussed—like when he’s upset at the news of his cancer going into remission, or when he discusses with Jesse the moment he “should have died” in “The Fly”.

I don’t think we should be “rooting” for him by any means, but I think the issue of our continuing ability to relate to Walter White is a bit more complicated and nuanced than much of the discussion around the show has made it out to be. I think the show’s aim is not for us to gawk in self-superior disgust at a monstrous protagonist, but for us to continue to try to relate to Walter, and to succeed to some degree, and then to feel uncomfortable with that dynamic. A large portion of our era’s “great television” centers on making us look at the world through the eyes of criminals—think Breaking Bad, The Wire, The Sopranos, Deadwood…hell, even many of the characters on Lost end up doing some awful things—with a variety of different results.

I’m not sure what the end point of these thoughts is, but it was just something that was nagging at me, and something I thought we should think about a little more carefully.

If anybody’s interested, maybe we could get some discussion of Sunday’s premiere going in the comment section here! Or not, up to you. Enjoy season four.

the problem of “relating to characters” – al swearengen (sp?), or omar or bodie broadus, or someone from lost maybe? have done much worse things…but we “relate” to them more. what exactly does this mean? does it have something to do with them “living by some principle”? does it have anything to do with how bb (esp w/ the season 3 finale) makes us fully deal with what it means to murder someone, arguably more than any other show that’s come before? maybe it’s because the full, dark, psychological implications/motivations that go into someone transgressing the law more and more, which are there on breaking bad, maybe people pull back more than they do on shows where people are arguably committing more crimes or doing worse things.

it’s also worth mentioning that (as they mention in that interview today) walter white has stared into the abyss of death and who knows what happens if we knew we were going to die? most of us really can’t speak to that. (i think) in the interview they toss this off and add it to the list of reasons why he is evil (maybe), but it seems to me more of a justification almost, more of a reason for why we should consider his action more carefully rather than just dismiss him is irredeemable while continuing to watch.

the dismissal of walt as someone who has mainly become plain “evil” has just bothered me


~ by toren on July 14, 2011.

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