Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Breaking Bad" - "Thirty-Eight Snub"

Spoilers for this week's "Breaking Bad" after the jump:

I don't know if I speak for everyone, but I was a little let down by "Breaking Bad's" fourth season premiere. The scenes in the meth lab (particularly the murder of Victor) were riveting, but much of it seemed to meander for little to no purpose. Well, no worries: the show we know and love is back for real with this week's installment.

There are a number of reasons for this, first and foremost among them being that the impact of last week's episode was confined mostly to that one unforgettable scene. "Thirty-Eight Snub" is a much more well-rounded hour, with many effective scenes spread out throughout the episode. And though nothing much really happens in the classic sense, it never feels like it's marking time in the way that, say, the Skyler scenes from "Box Cutter" did.

The key thing to remember about "Breaking Bad" (and one of the main reasons it's the best show on television) is that it doesn't adhere to typical TV conventions regarding when major events happen. So when Walt buys that gun during the opening scene, we know he means to use it. He knows Gus plans to kill him as soon as a new chemist can be found. And when he put on that hat and began to walk slowly towards Gus's house, I couldn't be the only one holding my breath and wondering if the show was really going to force a confrontation this early in the season.

The fact that it didn't means nothing: simply that the tension will be allowed to grow for at least another week: probably longer, since Mike insists Walt will never see Gus again. And Mike doesn't appear likely to turn on Gus unless Walt gives him a good reason to: as his surprising burst of violence towards Walt proves. Or it could be that he just doesn't view Walt as capable of taking out a drug lord.

As for Jesse, he's clearly messed up by everything that happened. Cranston may get most of the attention on this series, but Aaron Paul is every bit his equal. He's proved that many times already, and does it again here as Jesse throws a big, meth-fueled party in a futile attempt to drown his sorrows. We also learned that on the night Walt ran down those two drug dealers Jesse sent Andrea some money, indicating that he expected to die. Instead, he's alive. But for how long if he continues down this road?

Indeed, that's a question that could be asked of many characters on this show. Assuming Vince Gilligan's five-season plan comes to fruition, we're now closer to the end of the show than the beginning. Soon enough it'll be time to start wondering how it's all going to end. Not just yet, though. Still, it's something to think about as this season progresses.

 Other Thoughts

- Skyler's attempt to buy the car wash didn't exactly go as planned, did it? She didn't look defeated, though.

- Is there something wrong with Mike? His wrist appeared to be bleeding, and he was coughing quite a bit.

- I'll probably be praising the cinematography weekly in this section. But it's not just the big scenes that deliver on that count, but smaller shots like some of the ones during Jesse's party.

- What is Hank doing with all those rocks?

Grade: A


  1. My apologies - I haven't been keeping up with my reading of any blogs as I should. I think that expectations have been set very high for this season after last year's tremendous roster of episodes, so I'm still hoping that it becomes more consistent. I see why you liked this episode, but I'm looking at the difference between the episodes that move at a slow pace and still wow me and this one, which just didn't. Currently, however, this is one of those shows where even the worst episode is still better than the best installment of most.

  2. This was definitely better than the premiere, but I don't LOVE Breaking Bad. Paul, though, was excellent here.

  3. @Movies with Abe... no apologies necessary. I was merely pointing to my review because I didn't want to spend a large amount of time repeating my reasons for thinking the episode was great when I'd already posted them elsewhere. And sure, this episode isn't nearly as good as quite a few from last season. But weaker than brilliant is still brilliant in my book. Like you, though, I definitely do hope that there are even better things to come from this season. I think there will be.

    @Andrew... you and I seem to have very different tastes when it comes to television. For instance, I think "Breaking Bad" is the best thing airing right now, and I also recall you saying in one of your posts that you didn't like "FNL" (which is one of my all-time favorites). I think we'll just have to agree to disagree on most things TV-related.

    As always, thanks for your comments. It's always nice to know there's someone out there reading.

  4. Ha, I know...but I love reading TV reviews. Since we're on the topic, and I don't have your email address I'm inviting you to this blog-a-thon.


  5. Neat. I generally prefer to think about TV in terms of seasons (and the entire series), so this should be a nice change-of-pace. I've actually already written my post, and will publish it tomorrow morning. Will send you the link.

    P.S. For future reference, my e-mail is on the sidebar under "contacting me".