Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Walter White Wednesday 31

One of the standout elements of Breaking Bad is the show's use of humor.  I maintain that without the lightness added by funny moments, Breaking Bad would simply collapse under the weight of its own shock, horror, and despair.  Certainly disposing of a person you've killed by dissolving them into human sludge isn't funny.

But add a couple of guys hosing human goo off each other in kiddie pools and you've got comedy gold!

"We never covered this in chemistry class, Mr. White."
OK, that isn't quite true.  Often the humor in Breaking Bad is darkdarkdark.  Even so, it still provides leavening for the pumpernickel-dark narrative bread that makes up so much of Walter White's downward spiral.

One of the lighter elements would be Saul Goodman.  Saul is pretty much the walking definition of "shyster," although he's also a really good attorney who zealously advocates for his clients.  (Incidentally, the problem is not that his clients are drug dealers, sleazeballs, and other skating-the-edge types, but that Saul actively helps them advance their schemes and plots.) But Saul's appearance on screen lets loyal viewers know that we're in for a few light moments.  He dresses like he's auditioning for Guys & Dolls, his office is a cartoon, his dialogue is laced with funny bits ("Hey, whoa! You're a Chatty Cathy today!" to Skyler when she's beginning to talk too much on an unsecured phone line), and he doesn't hesitate to put his own interests first, as when he insists Walt and Jesse put $5 in his pocket before he talks, so everything's covered by attorney-client privilege, despite the fact that the two have clumsily kidnapped him and are threatening him with grievous bodily harm.

Gilligan & Company know a fundamental truth - we can only handle so much darkness before the giggles begin to well up inside us.  Knowing that is one reason we can not only accompany Walt on his journey into damnation, but cheerfully pack a picnic for the trip.

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