ABOUT BREAKING BAD (General Info, spoiler-free)
We don’t meet a lot of people who actually watch Breaking Bad, but we’ve met tons of people who say, “Oh, I’ve heard the show Breaking Bad is amazing.” Well, it is, so friggin watch it already. Anyone who follows TV awards knows that the acting is good. This is important to us. No one wants to see someone who acts FOR A LIVING do a shoddy job. They are paid to do it, so they should be good. There are plenty of people in this world who want to act and there are plenty of pretty faces. We’re not starving for good actors in this world. The acting in Breaking Bad is rock-solid.
This is Ern’s favorite show currently on TV. The fact that it comes during the drought that is the TV summer is just icing on this perfect cake (Leeard's note: Umm Big Brother is literally on at all times, so .... not a drought for her). This show is intense and twisty. No one is safe, the extreme and horrifying tends to happen, and everything always goes wrong. As outlandish as it is, it is also believable. It’s as addictive as meth. It’s also funny. And heartbreaking. Several episodes will leave you floored by the time the credits roll (“One Minute” and “Half Measures” are two examples.)
Don’t think it’s too depressing either. The subject matter is crazy dark, but it doesn’t feel bleak. We like the way Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly put it, “For all its bleakness and darkness, there's a glowing exhilaration about this series: It's a feel-good show about feeling really bad.” If you want to jump in on season four without watching the first three seasons, we don’t approve, but we will allow it. (It’s not really our choice, huh?) You could totally catch up in time if you binged on DVDs!
But here’s a summary for all you new fans who aren't up to the TV-binge challenge. Yeah, it’s long, but it’s thorough and won’t take as long as watching all three seasons. It doesn’t do the show justice either. The brilliance is in the filming, directing, acting, atmosphere, and timing. Dude, we just seriously love this show.
SYNOPSIS (SPOILER WARNING, OBVIOUSLY)
Walter White was an overqualified, 50-year-old, nerdy, high school chemistry teacher with a wife, Skyler, who is pretty darn smart and observant. She was also pregnant with an unplanned child at the start of the show. Walter and Skyler’s firstborn, Walt Jr., is a teen with cerebral palsy. Walt worked an extra job at a carwash business, because they family had trouble scraping by. Then Walt was diagnosed with inoperable, advanced lung cancer, even though he never smoked, and is given about a year to live. Walt decided that he didn’t want to leave his family with nothing, so he kept his cancer a secret for a while and did not seek treatment. He thought, “Why live sick if only to buy a few years and break the family paying for treatments?”
Skyler has a sister, Marie Schrader, who is married to a DEA agent, Hank. Marie stole stuff at the beginning of the show. Hank developed a panic disorder due to the violence he encountered during busts. Through the television and a ridealong with Hank, Walt figured out that you could make a ton of cash cooking and selling meth…if you didn’t get caught. Walt tracked down a former student that he spotted escaping a meth lab bust. Jesse Pinkman, a student he had flunked in chemistry, is a funny slacker and drug addict who has alienated his family. Jesse is probably the most loveable character on the series, even if he can’t seem to end most sentences without the word “bitch.”
Walter kept disappearing to cook meth, deal with rival drug dealers and other emergencies, and plan with Jesse. Skyler got nosy, so he told her about the cancer. She pretty much forced him to get treatment. A rich, old friend of Walt’s (Gretchen) offered to pay for the treatment, so Walt told Skyler that Gretchen and her husband WERE paying for it. Gretchen found out about this lie but didn’t rat Walt out. Walt paid for his own treatment with his drug money. Hank promised to take care of Walt’s family if he died, but Walt wanted to leave his kids with money for college and not leave his wife with a bunch of debt. Walt’s drug business was understandable, but with the people in his life willing to help him, it’s not vital.
However, pride is a real force in the human life, and once Walt has had to kill, steal, and lie enough, why stop now? You still root for the guy and don’t want him to get caught, and you admire how an expert scientific mind can make the best product on the street. Walt and Jesse attempted to use a distributor at first. He was a drug dealer called Krazy-8. Unfortunately, Krazy-8 thought Walt was a cop and tried to kill him and Jesse. Walt and Jesse were eventually forced to kill Krazy-8 and one of Krazy-8’s friends. (We are leaving out a lot of wild, inventive, memorable details for brevity’s sake.) Walt did not care for this experience and quit the meth business for a while.
But he got back into it and tried to sell in bulk to another distributor, Tuco. This one was even crazier than the last one. Totally mentally unstable. Walt started going by the name “Heisenberg,” and that is how he is now known on the street. Tuco wanted complete control over Walt and Jesse, because they made good meth and they saw him kill a man, so Tuco kidnapped them both. Walt was missing for days and had to make up a story about a fugue state to explain his disappearance to his family. Tuco was shot by Hank. Jesse and Walt’s secret was safe.
Jesse moved into an apartment building and started dating the landlord’s daughter, Jane, a former heroin addict, 18 months clean. Jesse fell for her pretty hard. Walt and Jesse decided that they were done with drug lord distributors and that they would distribute the product themselves. Jesse got a bunch of his stupid drug friends to be their underlings, moving the meth around new territory. One of their “employees” was mugged by an ugly, meth-faced old woman and her man. Walt warned Jesse of the dangers of people not being scared of them and mugging all of their dealers. Jesse went to confront the ugly meth couple at their house in order to get his money back. Shenanigans ensued, Jesse saved a cute child from neglect, and Ugly Meth Faced Woman dropped an ATM machine on her man, killing him. Jesse got credit for the kill, and his and “Heisenberg’s” reputation got a little worse (which was good for them).
One of Jesse’s men, Badger, was arrested. In order to keep Badger from snitching on Walt and get him a lenient sentence, Walt was forced to deal with slimeball attorney Saul Goodman. (He’s a fun character for law students to watch. Professional Responsibility classes could have a whole exam where students identify the model rules Saul breaks with his clients as they watch the show. His TV commercials have to break at least three.) Saul became Walt and Jesse’s personal attorney, receiving 17% of their profits and promising to cover for them, advising them, and take care of legal emergencies. Skyler went back to work for her former boss, a Ted Beneke, who got drunk and groped Skyler at a party once, which was the reason she quit in the first place. She and Ted got close as she leaned on Ted for support through Walt’s unexplained disappearances and cancer woes. It HAS to be tiring living with a guy who coughs so much…
After catching a glimpse of a large dark spot on his x-rays and fearing that he was going to die soon, Walt decided to speed up production. Walt and Jesse took a few days and cooked 38 pounds of meth, enough to garner them upwards of $400,000 each. Then Walter got good news: His cancer had not spread and his tumor had shrunk by 80%. The dark spot was no big deal. After hearing about this remission, Walt tried to quit the thug life, but he got bored. Let’s face it, after all that junk happened, he’s a different person. That’s one great thing about this show: Walt doesn’t remain a character that we excuse. His actions change him, and he is going from being a good guy and an everyman to being a serious force in the drug industry. He’s becoming Heisenberg.
Then one of Jesse’s underling friends got killed dealing on someone else’s territory. Jesse blamed himself. He and Jane started doing heroin together. Walt and Jesse’s other dealers got scared and stopped working for them. But lawyer Saul Goodman came through and set them up with Gus, a brilliant drug distributor who owns a few fast food restaurants and is very cautious. Gus bought the rest of Walt and Jesse’s product that they had ready, even though Gus was unimpressed with junkie Jesse who showed up to their first meeting late and high.
While passing the drugs off to Gus, Walt missed the birth of his daughter, Holly. Jesse couldn’t do it because he was high. Walt denied Jesse his portion of the money until Jesse sobered up and cleaned up his act. Jane called Walt and blackmailed him for the money. Walt gave the money over but went back to check up on Jesse, feeling paternalistic toward him. Jesse was passed out in his apartment and Jane was choking on her own vomit next to him. Walter watched Jane die and could have saved her. Jesse was devastated and blamed himself. This seems to be a trend with him. Walt took Jesse to rehab and dropped him off.
Walt had surgery and it was successful. Right before he went into surgery, when he was a little drugged, Walt let slip something to Skyler that allowed her to investigate the holes in his stories and all his lies and disappearances. She told Walt that she was kicking him out. Jane’s father Donald, an air traffic controller, suffered an emotional breakdown and accidently crashed two planes into each other. Debris and bodies fell on Walt’s house.
The total dead was 167. After reading the newspaper, Walt realized that letting Jane die killed all of those people. It is all his fault. Walt told Skyler about the meth cooking and she told him that she would keep his secret in exchange for a divorce. She did not want Walt Jr., who admires his father, to know the truth. Walt resolved to quit cooking meth and try to get his family back. During all of this, Tuco’s twin cousins crossed the border from Mexico to get revenge for Tuco’s death. Their target: Heisenberg. Gus offered Walt $3 million to cook meth for him for three months. Walt did not accept.
Walt refused to divorce Skyler and moved back into the house, against her wishes. Skyler slept with Ted in order to drive Walt away. Walt was upset. Jesse, meanwhile, had accepted that “he is the bad guy.” He was resolved to stay sober, but he blamed himself for the shooting of his friend, Combo, and the death of Jane. He started cooking and distributing a knock-off of Walt’s formula, which offended Walt, because it was poor quality bearing the blue color of Walt’s product. Walt accepted Gus’ offer and Gus provided Walt with a full lab with an assistant, Gale. The fact that Walt didn’t immediately think, “Hmm, if Gale learns my method, Gus won’t need me anymore” is proof that sometimes book smart people have no common sense. Walt signed the divorce papers and gave them to Skyler. He still intended to support the family with meth money. Skyler saw a bag full of hundreds and seemed to come around to that idea.
Gus convinced Tuco’s cousins (and their uncle who sent them) to kill Hank instead of Heisenberg. Hank was, after all, the man who pulled the trigger. Hank, meanwhile, was obsessively working on the Heisenberg case in order to get out of going on a dangerous assignment in Texas. He got a lead that led him to Jesse’s RV, but Walt and Jesse were able to trick Hank into going away and they destroyed the RV before Hank could get a warrant to search it. Rightly convinced that Jesse is involved with Heisenberg, Hank went to question Jesse but just ended up beating the crap out of him.
Hank was suspended from the DEA and an angry Jesse was going to press charges. Hank told Marie about his panic attacks and desire to avoid going to Texas. Skyler asked Walt to get Jesse to drop the charges against Hank. Walt offered to make Jesse his partner again and fire his assistant, Gale. Jesse accepted and Gus allowed this, surprisingly. Hank left the DEA to celebrate, stopping by a supermarket. He received a call with a disguised voice, telling him that in one minute, someone was going to kill him. Hank hesitated, thinking the call was a joke. But no. The twins attacked and shot him four times. Hank managed to kill one twin and seriously injure the other.
Hank survived, but needed serious, expensive physical therapy in order to have a chance at walking. Skyler suspected that Hank’s shooting was somehow Walt’s fault. Skyler told Marie that Walt would pay for it. Skyler told Marie that Walt made money from illegal gambling and not to tell Hank. Walt realized that he was the Twins’ real target. Gus poisoned the surviving twin to protect Walt. Gus also got the Mexican uncle killed by police. The uncle was the head of the big Mexican cartel, and now that he is gone, Gus is the biggest drug supplier around. This was a big power move that panned out for Gus. Walt realized that Gus turned the Twins’ attention to Hank not just to save Walt, but to get the cops’ attention on the rival cartel.
Gus extended Walt’s three-month contract to a full year. Jesse started to steal some of the meth he and Walt were making and sell it on the side. It didn’t take Walt long to notice that meth was missing. He confronted Jesse. Walt warned Jesse that if he were caught, Walt would not be able to protect him. Skyler started helping lawyer Saul Goodman launder Walt’s money by coming up with a plan for him to buy the old car washing business where Walt used to work and using it as a cover. She said that she would run the business for him. She told Walt that she never filed the divorce papers and pointed out that spouses cannot be forced to testify against each other.
Jesse continued to go to meetings to stay off of drugs. While at a meeting, he met a beautiful Hispanic girl named Andrea who happened to be the older sister of the kid who shot Jesse’s friend. Gang members had gotten this little kid to help them deal and to off people for them. Jesse decided that those gang members had to go. They were brainwashing and using kids and they had killed his friend. It was revealed that these two gang members were Gus’ employees and distributors. Jesse planned to have one of his hooker friends poison the gang members. Walt got Gus involved in order to resolve the situation, and Gus ordered the gang members to stop using kids and for Jesse to let his grievance go.
Andrea’s 11-year-old little brother, the one who shot Jesse’s friend, was executed by the gang members. Jesse found out from Andrea; Walt found out from watching the news. After all of the bickering between the two, Walt still cared about Jesse, feeling paternalistic toward him. Jesse dipped into his own meth product, got a gun, and went to kill the gang members. Jesse walked toward them, in the night, and all three drew. At the last second, Walt’s car came out of nowhere and freaking destroyed the gang members. Walt got out of the car, shot one of the gang members in the head, looked up at Jesse, and said, “Run.”
To say that Gus was disappointed in Walt is an understatement. He never liked Jesse to begin with, and now Walt has ruined himself as Gus’ new protégé just for Jesse. Walt tried to convince Gus to just forgive him and let Jesse flee the state. But Gus hired back assistant Gale and Gale started asking too many questions of Walt, tipping Walt off to the fact that Gus was waiting until Gale knew Walt’s method. Then Gus could eliminate Walt. Walt decided that Gale had to go. Permanently. He met with Jesse, who is still in Albuquerque. Jesse suggested that Walt go to the cops and cut a deal. But Walt felt that killing Gale is the only option.
Late at night, Walt snuck out of his house to kill Gale, but two of Gus’ henchmen kidnap him and take him to be executed. Walt offered them Jesse’s location in exchange for them letting Walt live. He was allowed to call Jesse, and before the henchmen could stop him, Walt yelled that Jesse had to kill Gale because he (Walt) was about to be killed. Walt told the henchmen that they might want to hold off on killing him, because he was about to become Gus’ only viable cook option. One of the henchmen ran off to save Gale, trying to get there before Jesse. The other (Mike, who is awesome), stayed with Walt.
Jesse got to Gale first. Jesse did NOT want to do the deed. He was tearing up, Gale was begging for his life, and we could see that while the events of the show have made Walt harder, they have softened Jesse. The look on his face said that Jesse is feeling every consequence of his actions and that one day he might be ok. But not today. The screen went black and we heard a gunshot. End of season three as we howl at our TVs and pound our fists on the ground waiting for season four.
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