December 19, 2011

Breaking Bad Season 3, a retrospective

I just finished season 3 of Breaking Bad last night and I think it has solidified itself as one of my favorite television series of all time. I've heard season 4 is even better, so I can't wait to start watching.  It is going to be tough to top season 3. The slow burn of the first few episodes made the last half just that much sweeter. I wasn't a fan of "Fly" when I watched it last week, but it really did fit in with the narrative much better than I initially thought it did.  I should never doubt the writers of Breaking Bad again. It is simply one of the best written shows going today.

At the end of season 2 going into season 3 the tone totally shifted. I wasn't feeling it right at first. The show has always taken on very serious subject matter, but there was a sense of hope that made enjoyable to watch, along with a little humor mixed in. Sure they were making and selling drugs to pay for cancer treatments, but it was all in good fun.  In season 3 it wasn't fun anymore. Things got real.

The cancer inside Walt seemed to be gone, but the cancer of his actions was spreading. Even though he never used his own product, drugs ruined his marriage and tore his family apart... just like so many of his anonymous users. He is so good at what he does he gets the chance to go corporate. He is able to reach a much larger customer base, and become even more disconnected from the damage he is doing.  But by the end of season 3 Walt gets a very personal reminder of chaos he is involved in, and is forced to take action. 

Walt and Jessie had their ups and downs all through the season, and I was not expecting the ending we got. Walt has always been so logical and pragmatic in his decision making. It was strange to see the emotion and depth of the bond he had with Jessie. It might have been guilt driving it to some extent, but I didn't expect him to throw away everything to save his partner.  Walt had been veering from the path of logic for a while, and it culminated in a surprising end to season 3. 

The Breaking Bad we have now it not one I ever invisioned when I watched the pilot. The characters have changed, and the world is more cruel and unforgiving than anything we saw early on. That is hard to imagine when you think about how heartbreaking those first couple episodes were. The show we have now has changed quite a bit, but it is still about cancer.  Now it isn't the cancer in Walt's lungs; it is the cancer of humanity. It is the cancer of greed, selfishness, indulgence, and addiction. I have no clue where the show is going to go from here, but I bet it is going to be good.  

Breaking Bad is one of my favorite television shows of all time. I would have said that about LOST too until the final season. I don't think Breaking Bad can suffer the same failings that LOST did.  LOST was all about bringing things together at the end, which it completely failed at. Breaking Bad isn't dependent on weaving 20 different story lines together. If it ended here I woulnd't feel like I got screwed. 

It is crazy to think there are 13 episodes that the rest of the world has seen that I have no clue about. A ton of what I'm writing here could be stricken completely irrelevent just a couple episodes into season 4. I really have no clue where it is going, and that is why this show is so much fun to watch.   

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