The Nice Touches of Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad is full of huge moments. The start of it all, the first death, the one liners; it’s what makes Breaking Bad so good.
But there are also the times that only seem to matter at the time you’re watching it and then it becomes forgotten in lieu of such scenes as “Say my name.” It’s understandable.
So what we’re talking about are the artistic details that may as well have not been in the show, but were there anyway. And we’re better off for it, as far as the show is concerned. While everything in any good story should be
But it’s moments like the following that make it personally, one of the greatest shows of all time. Don’t expect me to get’em all. There’s just too many.
Season 1, Ep2, “Cat’s in the Bag…”, Emilio’s remains and their final destination
After flipping a coin to see who will end the life of drug dealer Krazy 8 and who will dispose of 8’s partner Emilio, Jesse makes his way to the hardware store to find plastic tubs to help the dissolving of Emilio’s body. Instead of following instructions properly, Jesse decides to put Emilio’s body in the bathtub with acid instead since it can actually hold the body. Low and behold, the acid eats through the tub and the floor, splashing onto the level below and splattering everywhere.
While the following episodes deal with Walt directly killing Krazy 8, the impact of this moment not only lets us know that Jesse and Walt probably shouldn’t be working together but sets the tone for a series that’s as comical as it is dark. Personally, this was the moment that let me know that I wanted to finish the show.
Of course the next episode opens with the pair scrubbing and cleaning red clumps of Emilio’s remains but the initial drop had viewers frozen in humorous shock.
Season 2, ep13, “ABQ”- Jane is dead, Holly is fine
We all know how horrible a scene it was for Jane to die, especially the way that she did. Fictionally speaking, you may have even argued for Walt to allow to Jane to choke. Whatever the case, it was one of the biggest moments for Walt regarding his moral downfall. One major step in a different direction than a guy that wants to live on the straight and narrow.
But that’s a major point in Walt’s story, while the next morning when Jesse finds her is the kicker. And not simply Jesse’s reaction, which is again critical to Jesse and his story.
After desperately trying to revive her, Jesse calls Walt in tears for advice on what to do. Not only is it tragic that Jesse is calling the man that let Jane die, but in Walt’s hands is his own daughter, Holly; an eerie reminder of the conversation Walt had with Jane’s dad the night before about loving your kids no matter what. So now that he’s let Jane die and her dad suffer because of it, Walt is shown having his cake and eating it too.
His newborn is alive and healthy while another man’s daughter is dead and gone. Not to mention the fairly relaxed manner in which he handles Jesse’s issue. So while it’s bad enough who Jesse is calling, what keeps the tone of the scene so “icky” is Walt’s completion of his crime, rubbing it in just for the audience.
Because why does he care anyway? Jane was just in the way and Jesse is better off, right?
Season 4 ep4, “Bullet Points”- Walt is “forced” to watch Gale’s karaoke
It was bad enough what happened to Gale and Jesse knows this maybe more than anyone. But as Walt puts it that if he’s forced to choose between Gale and himself, he’d choose himself every time. And that was how he saw which is something we can believe; Walt didn’t want to have Gale shot, he just saw it as his only option in such drastic times. We can also get the idea that while Walt didn’t like Gale enough to reconsider shooting him, he still felt some sort of remorse for a guy who really did nothing wrong.
I mean, the guy even recommended him for the job and made the best coffee Walt had ever tasted.
So when Walt and Jr. are brought into Hank’s bedroom/workspace and Hank shows them a video of “Albuquerque’s Public Enemy Number One” on screen singing karaoke, something which may have otherwise been very private, any feelings of guilt Walt has resurface. Not only did he have this man killed, but now his brother-in-law is laughing about the guy post-mortem. All while Walt has to, at the very least, keep a straight face. It would make you sick to your stomach.
And while this isn’t completely isolated in the part in plays (The reminders of Gale as possibly being “Heisenberg” eventually get to Walt, causing Hank to reopen the case), the actual karaoke video and the mockery made of it aren’t completely vital to the story- just a sick reminder of the sicker side to Walt’s other life.
Season 5, ep1, “Live Free or Die”- Skyler visits Ted
Oh Skyler. Oh Ted.
As much as everyone hated hearing the fateful words Skyler spoke to Walt after her first extramarital encounter, it might have been even worse to find out that what money Walt had left, Skyler. gives. to Ted. And as we know, things go awry. With Kuby and Huell, they always do.
But what begins as a simple mission to have Ted give his signature ends in Ted having an extended stay in the hospital. And as freaked out about the visit as Skyler was seeing Ted in his condition, Ol’ Beneke himself looks like he’s wetting his bedpan.
After being strong armed into giving his signature from two goons that may or may not have done even more damage than we were shown, this is where it’s easy to recognize how far (for better or worse) Skyler has fallen in all of this too. She’s no longer just the unaware housewife Walt lies to so he can pretend he’s “normal.” She’s now Lady Heisenberg and while the journey to the title wasn’t quick, clean, or painless, her hands are as dirty as Walt’s in their own way.
“I haven’t said anything to anyone. I told them it was an accident. I tripped, I fell. That is all they know. I’ve got children, a family…I swear to you…I will never breathe one word of this to anyone.” -Ted to Skyler
It’s within the next scenes featuring Skyler that we get the idea she’s tired of the life she’s been living. This could have happened in any way they wanted it to but out of all the ways to show this, who ever thought it would be through Ted’s fear of Skyler? Given their history, this is especially potent. Clearly there were other factors at work but this was effective to say the least.
Season 5, ep2, “Madrigal”- The Encrypted Laptop
Another great example of how hard these characters work for nothing at times.
After Gus Fring’s empire has been dismantled by Walt and Jesse, they pair, along with Mike, know they need to destroy the evidence on Fring’s computer…which unfortunately, is in the evidence locker at the police station.
And after devising a simply genius plan using magnets (Enter ICP joke here) to destroy Fring’s laptop while still inside the station and more importantly getting away with it, the next episode reveals some very crucial information via Hank.
“I sneaked a peek…Whole thing was encrypted. We wouldn’t have gotten anything anyway.”
We could say that the characters still needed to destroy the laptop for sound minds. Just to put themselves at ease. Or the writers could have just mentioned that the computer was encrypted and this could have easily been passed along to Walt one way or another. But no. All the trouble and the genius that went into the entire scheme not only works and leads to Fring’s money in the Cayman’s, but it was all for nothing anyway since Hank says himself that nothing on it could be reached in the first place.
This simple line above speaks to the entire tone of the show. Hilarious and tragic at the same time.
Season 5, ep16, “Felina”- “You pull that trigger and you’ll never-“
While some fans weren’t entirely satisfied with the ending, you can be grateful it wasn’t Dexter, right?
After Walt has made his way back home and enacted his plan to set some things right and free Jesse, most fans were probably looking forward to how he would deal with Uncle Jack and…ugh- Todd.
So when it finally came time, things went about as well as could be expected- Jesse was nearly freed and there was some poetic justice in strangling Todd with the chains he’d been confined in; but Jack was still alive. Full of bullets but still breathing, he’s able to choke out these few words:
“You want your money right? You pull that trigger and you’ll never-“
But by this point Walt has had enough and pull the trigger anyway, with Jack’s blood splattering the camera. It isn’t just so great that our lead kills a guy, but killing him in mid-sentence and not even bothering to let him finish speaks volumes on Walt’s state of mind. Clearly unable to care about where the rest of his stolen money is, Walt forgoes the favored one-liner of so many action/crime films and just goes for the kill as soon as he’s able. This is a guy who’s trying to straighten a few things out before biting the bullet rather than kill the bad guys, save the day, weee! And this moment encapsulated it.
Let me know your favorite “side moments” below.