Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Walter White Wednesday 25

Walt's first pool victim
. . . which is halfway to fifty, which is the birthday of Walt's that this whole maniacal Tilt-A-Whirl of a ride started with!

This week, we learn that it's been a year in "real world time" since the pilot episode.  It's Walt's birthday again and oh boy! how things change in a year.  Let's just look at a couple of items, all of which serve to accentuate Walt's descent into darkness.

  1. Ha! There's the Aztec.  Over the last year, that car's been in the shop so much that the mechanic can probably bank on putting a kid through college on the repair bills.  Walt's ready to get rid of it, this tangible link to his old chemistry-teaching life - but he takes the Heisenberg porkpie.
  2. Far from preparing Walt a big ol' birthday breakfast and throwing a surprise party, Skyler's keeping low to the ground.  She has to be cajoled into breaking the bacon into a "51" to decorate Walt's plate (and remember that by his 52d birthday, Walt's alone in a Denny's doing this birthday ritual all by himself) and the party is strictly family and mostly takeout.
  3. Marie and Hank driving to the family party.  Look at that shot - the Schraders are in Marie's car and the full-frame fisheye lens used to shoot through the windshield achieves two effects.  First, the distortion reminds the viewer that the Schraders aren't exactly seeing the situation head-on.  Two, Hank and Marie are in a sort of literal bubble, separated from the madness that is Walt and Skyler's world of secrets.  Ah, Michael Slovis, I adore you!
  4. The pool scene.  Has any show used the backyard pool to such great effect?  This is where Walt retreats to to think, to scheme, to drink, and to lie.  However, he never actually gets in the water.  As he's spinning his tale of reflection and the importance of family, Skyler silently rises, looks blankly at the pool's surface, and then simply steps into the water and keeps going.  Breaking Bad usually has at least one moment per episode that has me gobsmacked (that's for my Britslang readers) and this was this week's.  Skyler's literally hit bottom and what an echo to Season 2's scorched symbol of innocence lost to Walt's machinations, the teddy bear. Like the bear, Skyler is mute as she sinks beneath the calm blue water.  (And I loved how the tension in this scene was ratcheted up by [once again] Walt nattering on while the others stay quiet.  The man just can't shut up and therefore, he misses important information.) 
  5. The only good thing about hitting bottom is that you can't go lower.  After weeks of passive terror, Skyler rises up, ready to fight.  And she's now is willing to use anything - ANYTHING - to achieve her goal of keeping the children out of this.  At first, Walt tries to match her in some sort of domestic arms race, but Skyler wins this one.  All she has to do is bide her time.  The cancer will come back.  Did you hear the anvil hit the bottom of Walt's shriveled heart?  All this awful, done ostensibly to "save his family," and he's already lost his wife and the mother of his beloved children.  Further, the kids aren't even in the house at this point; they're with Hank and Marie.  
Skyler hitting bottom
Frightening stuff - and we're only halfway through Season 5A.  

Please recall that my co-author and all around swell guy, Ensley F. Guffey, is also writing about Season 5A over on his blog with a new feature called "Meth Monday."  Follow us both on Twitter for updates on Wanna Cook? The Companion Guide to Breaking Bad!

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