Sunday, July 14, 2013

Bad Cuck: Bryan Cranston as Walter White (Breaking Bad)---

In anticipation of the second part of the final season, I have been been religiously watching Breaking Bad. Walter White (Bryan Cranston)--school teacher turned meth cook is definitely a story arc worth following and reviewing--you always see more or grasp more each time you watch just because you learn to look for things.  You know what is going to happen so you start to look for clues and sub-context more intensely and clearly than the first time--in my case I happen to focus on cuckoldry...

From Great Talent comes Great Storytelling

First, I do have to praise the brilliance of the show. Writing, producing, directing--Vince Gilligan is man after my own heart--seriously. I love the X-Files--he wrote and produced one of my favorite series of all time--and the short lived spin-off The Lone Gunmen.  He knows how to take a story and give it DEPTH--from the symbolism he creates to the rhythm the show has--it all serves to create the rich mise en scene he has provided for his characters to come alive in.  The horrors of meth and the lives it affect and corrupts are much easier to stomach when a story is presented this way--good man goes bad.

Bryan Cranston, who is such an versatile and magical actor makes this character come to life--he sells the character effortlessly.  If you ever watched him bumble around as the stupid silly dad, Hal in Malcolm in the Middle, then watch him develop and make Walt come to life, you understand the brilliance of his acting. I was impressed to watch Walt morph into Heisenberg--complete alter ego takeover.

 Every single actor and character in this series has shown us their good and bad sides in the span of the series, many characters have shown us their dynamic from good to bad, protagonist to antagonist and vice versa.    The reason it has taken me a while writing this particular blog is because the show has so many layers--good guys and bad guys who turn bad, go good, redeem themselves, prove you wrong.  All these characters have become REAL people, you see the hubris and ego that drive Walt and I have grown to hate and love each character and that is the sign of brilliant writing, directing and acting--so to explain each character would be an exercise in futility...but a youtube video will show you what I mean...

Lies, Meth, and Ultimatums

Around the end of the second season, the marriage between Walt and Skyler (Anna Gunn) is at its rockiest--its that point where she was suspicious of Walt because of a million things--its the classic tale of honest man gone bad, little white lies turn into elaborate schemes to cover up the truth: Walt is a meth cook and soon enough he is taking on bigger and bigger bad guys and adversaries--until the bad guy is the DEA.  Walt goes from being a character we love and admire to someone we hate and despise, caught in the middle of all of this is his family. The real insult to Skyler is the way that Walt lies to her--he half laughs then tries to hide the lies by claiming she is ignorant of things.   She might be an annoying "bitchy nagging wife" character but she is not stupid and lies like that only create resentment in a relationship--he slowly has shown her he is a different man, even in the way he fucks her--he is more aggressive and Dominant when he is breaking the law.  It turns him on to be bad, to be in charge for a change.  Walt gets power hungry--he starts manipulating those around him in order to control their actions--he starts getting more and more bold and daring.

Skyler finally confronts Walt about being a drug dealer and she gives him an ultimatum, she wants the kids and to get a divorce from him and in return she won't tell Hank, their DEA brother-in-law, who is obsessed with the blue meth that Walt is notorious for. She feels empowered by calling Walt on his sins and since she sees that people are capable of being scumbags--she calls Ted out on the books she is not willing to sign off due to his blatant fraudulent book cooking--he placates her by telling her that he is working on it and he will fix it.  She starts seeing that everyone is a crooked and greedy in plain sight so she is caught in the middle of being good and bad--and what that really means when you are trying to provide for your family.  It highlights a primal imperative--we are willing to do whatever it takes to provide for our families. It is very important to distinguish a running moral theme in this series--that there are man's laws and natural laws.  It is our natural instinct to do whatever it takes to survive.  In our modern world we comply by man's laws in order to have peace and order--we are civilized with one another by agreeing to man made laws.  The ability for Walt to make a living for his family being a meth cook or Ted committing fraud in order to keep his company afloat--really create a moral struggle for Skyler--she wants to punish Walt for turning into the man he is becoming, while at the same time she gets that the motivation for all this is him trying to provide and survive for her and their kids.  Below we start seeing Walt as he is disregarding man's laws--literally he is getting arrested over fighting over something that causally happened, and he is arguing man's law.  I found this to be highly symbolic--and a parallel between what is happening in his private life as bad ass meth cook and his public self which is usually being the helpless victim of something.

Walt then gets on the defensive and begins to try to win his way by coming by and bringing the family a pizza /inviting himself over for dinner as he is bringing his son home. Skyler cuts him off at the door and informs him  she is already making dinner. He tosses the pizza on the roof in anger--the next day she calls about the rooftop pizza he is screening her call and only wants to pick up once she threatens to file for a restraining order if he does not learn to control himself--in anger he grabs himself and tells the machine "to restrain this". He then decides that he is moving back home to call her bluff--this is his power play to counter her ultimatum.  When she gets home from work, she is furious that he decided to move back in and she goes through the domestic dispute version of calling the cops and in the end doesn't tell the police.  She knows that she cannot win without risking having her kids know the truth.

Cheating is the best Revenge

Walt makes Skyler feel totally powerless, as any woman put in her position would--but she starts to devise a game plan.  She cheats on Walt with Ted, she figures that everyone around her is being bad, why can't she? Even better yet, why can't she have HER cake and eat it too...

She goes back to Walt and backs Walt up by deciding to properly laundering his money and also keep the charade of their marriage for the sake of the children and the family.  She starts to act like Walt--lie to get ahead, use Saul's thugs to get what she wants. Unfortunately, she inadvertently throws Walt curveball by giving her ex-boss/lover most Walt's hard earned money to pay off Ted's back taxes right as Walt is looking for it to escape from having his family killed; all Walt can do is laugh at what a CHUMP he is--working hard, killing, and manipulating--for nothing...

What better way to make your EX-husband suffer than to make him provide for you, and your kids and wait for him to die of cancer...Skyler got Walt as her work slave (as husbands should be), she manages the money, keeps her family safe from the sociopath Walt is becoming and is just waiting for the cancer to come back and kill him--then she can keep ALL the money.

Remember this has all happened in "TV time" in over a year--the power that Walt has felt has WARPED him in a year! Even though we have gotten  the story spoon fed to us over 5-6 years, imagine what this person would be like to live with who has changed for the worst this much.  Power is Walt's meth...he is addicted--the person he has become is as ugly and deformed inside as his victims are on the streets.  I am definitely rooting for Hank, Jessie and Skyler--cause Walt is just BAD.

I can't WAIT to see what happens NEXT! August 11th is LESS than a month away!

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