Kafkaesque, or, ‘No Meat Touching Please’

17 May

Every week without fail, Breaking Bad provides yet another example of why it’s the best show on television. One of the many reasons it’s so good is that the show gives the actors breathing room, it values gesture and physicality as much as dialogue. This week there were two long, fantastic monologues that would’ve been chopped to death anywhere else.

The first was Jessies’, who’s been getting a few big speeches on his descent to the ultimate badass he says he wants to become. His speech about the woodshop was heartbreaking, and it says a lot about his underlying motivations. Mr Pike, the ex-military woodshop teacher is his proto-Walter, someone who’ll challenge his intelligence and won’t just view him as a useless addict. He wants to cook meth because it’s the only thing he knows how to do, and for a time he got praise, even respect because of that ability. His new market (opened in a hilarious bit of reverse-psychology) is a pretty devious bit of thinking, even for Jesse, but somehow you end up feeling sorry for him instead of hating the guy. The minute Gus hears there’s a competitor selling blue meth he’ll know it was him, and Walt will have to try and stop him getting arrested or killed. Again.

Skylar is not a popular character on most television forums, where opinion ranges from “I find her annoying” to “fucking cunt bitch should die”. Gender Studies majors would probably have more to say about why this is, but she’s part of a group that from now I’ll call ‘cable wives’. Skylar, along with characters like Rita Morgan and Betty Draper are disliked in some circles (perhaps these circles are ‘basement-dwelling neckbeards’, but that’s a different issue) because they are obstacles, their desires and feelings get in the way of the protagonist Doing Cool Shit, and then we’re back to the Problem of Awesomeness again. Skylar has, for me at least, transcended that group with a masterful bit of deception. She did what Walter, in his increasingly apathetic approach to everything, couldn’t or wouldn’t do- found a plausible explanation for their marital problems that neatly explains their newfound wealth. Walter now owes something to almost everyone in the cast, and things won’t go well if he decides he wants out.

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4 Responses to “Kafkaesque, or, ‘No Meat Touching Please’”

  1. Lauren May 17, 2010 at 1:30 pm #

    I found it interesting that Walt is still hanging back on one thing. I kept waiting for him to tell Gus that the DEA have a pretty good handle on the scope of his distribution network… I think it’s safe to assume that Fring would know all this, and yet Walt mentioned nothing about it.

    Skylar’s explanation was smart, but full of the over-cooked details that inexperienced liars tend to include. It was so detailed it made me cringe, saying, “shut up, shut up, you said enough!”. Which of course owes a lot to the writing and a great piece of acting. The fact that she’s hard to like is a GOOD thing.

    I often I find myself disliking the annoying wife characters as well, but am far from a basement-dwelling neckbeard. Forgive me if I just want characters to have some balls!

    • liamjordan May 17, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

      I figured Walt did not include this information because he thought Gus would already be aware of it. He would know where those trucks are going, and that the DEA would eventually discover that the meth supply was increasing despite them having caught the big guy down in Mexico. Maybe Gus has a plan for that too, who knows.

      The annoying wife tag, if I’m going to be fair, only really applies to Rita. Betty can’t help the way she is and she’s tragic because of it, but Rita was genuinely painful sometimes. Part of me thinks Rita was made more annoying in season 4 so you wouldn’t mind he getting bumped off.

  2. Erinkyan May 18, 2010 at 8:42 am #

    I found Skyler super neurotic and annoying in season 1 but she’s improved heaps and I quite like her now (well as much as one can ‘like’ any character in this show full of assholes, hah).

    But then again I like Rita and really dislike Betty, so, um, my opinion probably doesn’t count for much.

    • Medium Fries May 18, 2010 at 9:02 am #

      I think Betty is a really difficult person to like, because she’s aware that there’s this world she doesn’t know about but has no idea how to approach it. That and she’s got the emotional maturity of a 9-year-old

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