July 16, 2012

TPG'S Chemistry Class: Episode 5001 "Live Free or Die"

Remember when Walter had once had to practice using a tiny little pistol? Welcome to Breaking Bad, where our hero (?) has made a massive leap in terms of fire power. But we'll get into all that in a second, but first, let's just be happy that this amazing show is back!  There was a lot going on here so let's put on our chemical suits and step off the ladder into the meth soaked details of this first episode.

Meaning of Title - Last year I did a post about how the whole show is really about the individual's quest for control. This episode just reinforces that. Free is the only way to do it, you either make the rules or you're a sucker.

Acting! - As much as I wanna give it to Jonathan Banks (Mike), I gotta give up for Bryan Cranston for just reminding us what a monster Walter White is.

1. Let's get right into it with that opening. Set sometime in the future, we have Walt going by an alias purchasing an M60 machine gun from someone in a Denny's bathroom (isn't that where all firepower gets purchased). Couple things I noticed here was that Walt is still coughing, which indicates that his cancer may be back at this point in the future. Also he seems extremely weathered and he's celebrating his birthday by himself so maybe at this point both his family and friends (?) have all left him. And finally, later in this episode he tells Jesse he doesn't have much cash on hand. Well leaving 100 dollar tips and buying GTA like firearms certainly indicates the winds of scrilla have blown back in his favor. But could he could afford a better disguise, if that is even a disguise? I think it is.

2. I love how Walt is now "The King" with Gus being dead but he's still pretty sloppy at the whole criminal thing. See how he bumbles around his kitchen cleaning up bomb making supplies, pours himself some whiskey, and then remembers the Lily of the Valley, a massive piece of his devious schemes. He may be close to Montana/Corleone status in terms of power, but he's still a bumbling bald dude.

3. Speaking of bald dudes, we as viewers should be aware that Breaking Bad is pretty much Breaking Bald with the bulk of the characters not sporting any flowing locks. Walt, Hank, Mike, and now Ted have embraced the shiny top (while I'm not sure it was Ted's choice) and Jesse as well keeps shit short as well. I wonder what show creator Vince Gilligan has against hair.

4. When is Jesse going to explode? He's way to trusting of Walt: loaning him money, following his plans, putting his life on the line for his. Content with now being satisfied with janky magnetic plans (yeahhh bitchhh) he has a showdown of epic proportions when all is revealed regarding Jane and Brock. Perhaps that M60 is for the final showdown with his former student.

5. Can we talk Godfather here for a second? It's no secret that show loves to pay homage, but I was shocked that Ted survived after those oranges fell on him, which in the masterpiece film is a dead giveaway someone is about to bite it. Also all these scenes with the baby, I got a really creepy Godfather Michael Corleone vibe. Skylar messed up big time by roping Ted into their business and I wonder if that kiss at the end...was like the one Michael gives Fredo...and we know how that ends for Fredo (he gets killed... if for some reason you haven't seen Godfather 2...and if you haven't...really...get on that shit!).

6. Yes I did just say that I think Walter would kill Skylar to stay in power.

7. This season we'll be featuring some guest commentators, so I had a chance to ask "The Spirit Of The West "(follow him on twitter here) on the cinematic classic western imagery and archetypes figured into last night's standoff.

While last night's episode was more "caper" than anything else (there were BLACK SKI MASKS), Western influences still shined through. Take Mike's confrontation with Jesse and Walt. It's the first time he's seen either in weeks, and since they last met, those knuckleheads sort of killed his boss. They're probably going to get grounded! In an insanely beautiful shot, two cars nearly collide before coming to respective screeching halts. And sure enough, Mike draws his gun as soon as he gets out of the car. 
8. Glad to see the Boston Museum of Science getting a shout out, great museum.

9. How nice that they ended up at the junkyard, hatching schemes, as the junk-yard has figured prominently into Breaking Bad mythology. I'm sure astute viewers picked up on the red and blue cars in the background. Chemistry Class readers will recall the Real Life Scientists epic explanation for how those colors fit into the show, glad they're keeping it going.

10. We didn't get to see how Hank reacted to the laptop getting toasted, but it's safe to say he'll be heated. He was walking with a cane, which shows he's made huge progress, by the end of this micro-season he'll be on his feet. Re-invigorated, he's going to be on the warpath, and it's only a matter of time before we get the showdown we've always wanted.

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