July 18, 2011

TPG's Chemistry Class: Episode 1 "Boxcutter"

Welcome to my weekly recaps of AMC's "Breaking Bad." I got into this show thanks to all AMC's repeats of past seasons, so this will be my first season that I watch live. The recaps will be in the style of my previous ones for "24," "Lost," "Boardwalk Empire," and "Game of Thrones." Hell I might even throw in a "True Blood" reference if you're watching that to. But in the mean time, let's put on some red and blue outfits and get some acid huh?

1. This has gotta be one of the most dialogue free episodes of TV. Gus Fring (more on him later) said three words the whole episode and Pinkman barely said anything until the final scene. While some people found this to be underwhelming, I thought it was fantastic. It allowed the shows reigning Emmy titans to really dig in and get into it! It also showcased one of my favorite things about the show: it's deliberate haunting thematic imagery.

2. I watched the show with blogger/ TV wunderkind Henning of The Lifting Fog Blog and he pointed how incredible Michael Slovus's cinematography was in this episode. Besides Breaking Bad's obsession with bald dudes (see above picture) the show was really driving home this red/blue thing last night. Red floor, red chemical/murder suits, blue mood lights, red body after getting pulverized by acid, it goes on and on. What does this mean? Of course it's some statement of the shifting duality of the characters but also how patriotic the show is.

2.5 *BONUS* THISLALIFE reader and real life scientist Anthony Megamix had this to say about the real life science of red and blue

Now that you mentioned the blue and red imagery, being that the show focuses on the science, it could relate to the physics aspect of blue and red shifts in physics, in space. stars and objects appear blue when they are traveling towards you because the frequency they appear at is greater than their actual frequency so they travel at smaller wavelengths (blue), so a star traveling towards earth will appear blue and a star traveling away from you will appear red because its image is at a smaller frequency than its actual object and travels at a larger wavelength, its called the blue-red shift. anyway thought it could relate to the shifting of characters as they go further away or towards what we expect from them. walt going away from the righteous science teacher to moral less drug supplier and gus from the seemingly humble chicken restaurant owner to a no nonsense drug pin

3. As I was taking notes watching this episode, I wrote down what a great character Victor is. Had to cross off that "is" and put a "was"....but jesus....that was an extremely violent and gnarly death. I mean I watch HBO and even those shows don't compare in crazy violence to that. Dare I type that "Mike" is a great character for fear of what might happen to him.

4. Walt's vehicle of choice: an Pontiac Aztec is rapidly becoming a key part of the show's imagery. Who would have thought this funky looking SUV would become associated with running over drug dealers, breaking up cop stakeouts, and finally becoming symbolic for the shifting relationship between Walt and Skyler. Is that a good marketing for the SUV Brand?
5. Gus F***ing Fring! Can we talk about this dude? In addition to being a calm reserved negotiator, brilliant criminal strategian, and an exceptional chicken magnate, we can now add stone cold ice in the veins i don't care if i'm covered in blood evil killer to his resume. Naturally is next role is in a light hearted ABC series about fairy tale creatures. Giancarlo Esposito who plays the madman is an acting powerhouse!

6. MIND MELT WITH A SIDE OF BLUE CHEESE I know the last scene where we saw Gale's lab book on the table was ominous, but the real crazy foreshadowing scene took place in the driveway with Walt & Skyler. Take Walt, he's dressed in flashy white pants and red shoes (he's got blood on em metaphorically) and wearing a Kenny Rogers shirt. Skyler, who with her brilliant lying to the locksmith routine, knowledge to call Saul, and sweet face about paying Hanks medical bill with drug money is 95% corrupt is dressing COMPLETELY IN BLACK. In the world of Badger and Skinny Pete...."she's like evil yo!" And don't think I forgot about the significance of dear ol' Kenny Rogers. Check out the lyrics to his most famous song "The Gambler," they hold some serious significance to our characters...."know when to walk away....know when to run....."


  1. Only thing is, the Aztek was out of production long before the show, and Pontiac itself isn't even around, either.