August 1, 2012

TPG's Chemistry Class: Episode 5003 Hazard Pay

One of my favorite Breaking Bad episodes ever. And yeah I do love the crazy head on turtle wheelchair bomb madness but episodes like this one, are the real reasons that Breaking Bad is the business. Just incredible storytelling on every level. And all great stories speak to larger themes so we're going to take a break from the usual and just talk about the metaphors in the episode. BREAKING METAPHORS yo...

1. Right out of the gate we get the lawyer with the headphones on while Mike does business. This is the warmup metaphor for all you low level metaphor maniacs. The legal system is both a key enabler part of the American Drug trade but also oblivious to how it works. Note at the end of this scene Mike assures the gentlemen that his "family is gonna be fine," taking us back to last week's emphasis on family.

2. The whole show could be seen as a metaphor for pure capitalism and this episode served as a guide for business. Sure it's tha drug game yo, but problems such as overhead, and taxes (which Walt apparently he in the tea party?) face everyone who runs a business. Notice that before they settled on the pest control plan we got a nice little tour of American businesses. Speaking of that, what's going on with the car wash?

3. As my pal Chicago Swift put it - "Who knew Skinny Pete could play keys like that." Skinny Pete is the ultimate metaphor for a "drug dealer." He looks shady as hell but deep down he's a talented musician individual/lost soul. Don't judge a book by it's cover, you don't know shit about anybody in the drug business, and Skinny Petes should be making sweet sweet soul music and needs to break free from the game/music store.

4. VAMANOS PEST - Genius! Ever since the real life war on drugs began, everyone has always feared "drugs in my home" or in simpler terms "you brought this under our roof," you can play it anyway you want, but the fact that Jesse and Walt are now producing drugs in ordinary citizen's homes is so brilliant and metaphorically awesome I feel like I'm on some blue magic myself. It's a metaphor for how drugs can invade our homes & lives, for how drugs both prescription and none are a central part of our culture/nation, and also in the case of the home owner how oblivious we are to what's really going on with the drug war.

5. Let's take a break from metaphor mania and talk about...couches! Multiple times during this episode we get family "units" watching TV on the couch. First we had the epic Jesse/Walt scene, this is basically a father/son conversation about trust and the value of family. Yes, at this point, Jesse so distraught about almost killing Mr. White last season is full on in "son" mode with Walt. Walt gives him the classic dad line "I know you'll make the right call." Then we get the line's impact with Jesse, Andrea, and Brock chilling on the couch playing video games (word), but Jesse can't process this anymore because of his earlier conversation, he ultimately chooses "family" over friends. Finally we get the MIND BONE scene where Walt and Walter Jr. are cackling watching Scarface. This is Walt's true family, not Jesse, and let's not forget that in the legendary film, Tony Montana kills his business partner in the drug game, has a last stand with a machine gun, and loses his family; shades of the opening of the season anyone? Walt like Tony Montana, will kill all the cock-a-roaches either with pesticide or a machine gun. Bad news for Jesse.

6. And finally we have the final shot of the closing door as Jesse looks at Walt after his creepy speech about Victor. Is this Mike's fate, about that and to send us off is our old pal The Spirit of the West 
'The Searchers' ends with an iconic shot that's been aped many, many times: John Wayne's silhouette framed in a doorway, literally halfway between "home" and the vast Monument Valley landscape beyond. All movie long he's wrestled with his WILD NATURE. He's killed. He's scalped. Can he even survive in a domestic setting? Last night we saw Jesse and Walt in exactly the same position -- in this case caught between their new meth lab (a fumigated house) and the ABQ sun outside. If we want to get real up our buttsabout it we could say that Team Baldie is "playing house" here, thematically holding onto whatever vestiges of normalcy (and family) still exist for them by cooking in someone's house. As with Wayne, we're not so convinced either of them -- poor, innocent Jesse included -- can ever really go home again. Have they Broken too Bad?

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