BREAKING BAD: Thoughts on Season 1 From a New Viewer

I needed a series to get stuck into during social distancing, and what better than one that completely passed me by for years. I’ve started watching Breaking Bad with no spoilers or any idea where the plot goes whatsoever – which I feel is kind of miraculous considering how critically acclaimed the series is. Before I started episode 1, I knew this was a show about drugs, I knew it starred Bryan Cranston, and I knew it’s supposed to be just a little bit good. That’s… Everything, actually.

I’m going to write out my reactions to each season here, alongside my theories for where the plot is going and what’s going to happen next. Let’s get started with season 1!

The highlight of the season (aside from an awesome soundtrack) was definitely the storyline with Krazy-8. I was actually a little disappointed it ended so soon, as I would have enjoyed another episode’s worth of interaction between him and Walter. Their discussions were gripping and it felt so tense knowing they could never realistically let Krazy-8 go. A scene that really sticks out to me, looking back on Season 1, is Walter writing the list of pros and cons of killing Krazy-8 – it was really powerful and also possibly the last time Walter seemed like an overall ‘good guy’ to me? From that point on it felt like he immediately started down a slippery slope and I haven’t seen his humanity come back in such a way. To say I was a little surprised when Walter KILLED two people in the first few episodes is an understatement.

This is a VERY accurate gif of my reaction as Walter strangled Krazy-8.

My perception of Walter really changed after he killed Krazy-8, even moreso after he started demanding Tuco buy more meth than he wanted to. At first I genuinely felt bad for him, particularly in that scene when he tried to inspire students by demonstrating chemical reactions changing the colour of flames. He’s practically a science WIZARD for goodness sake. But as the season progressed he just seemed greedy – granted, I have no idea how expensive cancer treatment is in the States and I’m assuming it’s astronomical, so perhaps he has to be greedy.

Even if the fees are ridiculous, he had a perfectly legitimate offer of help from his old business partner. Does this man really have so much pride that he’d rather deal drugs, kill people, and get involved with some seriously messed up characters over accepting some help? In the first couple of episodes, he had NO way of making the money he needed. Here, he was provided an opportunity to solve his financial problems legally and flat-out rejected it. That was when I started to lose sympathy for him.

Regardless, Bryan Cranston does a great job as Walter and even if I don’t necessarily like him, I was still interested in him. It’s proof Cranston played his role well when I realize that, aside from the first couple of scenes, I never caught myself thinking of him as Hal from Malcolm In The Middle. He also sure knows how to do an authentic disgusting cough. My throat feels dry just thinking about it – please tell me that goes away!

I would always be eating EVERY TIME HE HAD A COUGHING FIT.

The lowest point of the season was that episode we spent seeing Jesse at his family’s house. Is that storyline going to come back at all, or was it a one-off to flesh out his character and show us where he came from? I’m hoping it’s the latter. I started to feel bored watching him with his family, as it felt like a storyline that wasn’t going anywhere – that’s the closest I came to giving up on the show before deciding to stick it through. I would say episodes 1-3 really engaged me, with episodes 4 & 5 then feeling like quite a slog to push through, and the last two episodes of the season bringing me back into the show but not quite as engaging as the first three episodes. I think that may be because I found the Krazy-8 storyline SO suspenseful and interesting compared to everything else, it opened on such a high note for me that it was then hard to match.

Even though Jesse’s family storyline was my ‘low point’, Jesse himself was one of my favourite characters. I didn’t expect him to provide so much excellent comic relief – that scene of him being paranoid about people coming to his house to murder him and slamming their fists on his door when it’s really just a couple of young religious kids was hilarious! He has real personality and Aaron Paul does an incredible job portraying him. He and Cranston bounce off each other so well in scenes and have incredible chemistry together (pun intended) – I don’t think I’d have stuck with the show if their partnership didn’t work so well.

At this point I can’t exactly fathom how they keep this story interesting for five seasons straight unless things radically change at a certain point? I’m also really curious how ‘big’ the show was in season 1. Is there a collectively agreed upon turning point where the show hits its peak? Right now, at the end of season 1, I feel like it was better-than-average TV but I’ve seen more gripping shows before. I’m trying to manage my expectations constantly, however, as I’m really conscious of going into this series expecting to see the greatest thing on television.

Another thing I’m curious about is if this show chronicles Walter’s experience with cancer from diagnosis to death, or if he goes into remission at some point? I’m placing my bet right now, I reckon the show ends with him dying from cancer after a brief remission. His family won’t get to live off of the money he’s earnt – even if they could, I think they’re going to be left knowing what he became and won’t even want the money. Scratch that – I think Skyler will find out the truth at some point, but will keep Walt Jr. in the dark about it. Hank is surely bound to find out at some point, too, although I can’t imagine how they’re going to handle that – perhaps blackmailing him with going public about his wife’s shoplifting. Incidentally, I really enjoy Marie’s character and even found her more likable than Skyler at times who can be SUCH HIGH MAINTENANCE.

Skyler got this reaction from me a lot.

Whilst we’re talking about Skyler, I genuinely thought Walter’s reasonings for not wanting to go through with treatment were perfectly valid. The fact he was essentially guilt-tripped into having treatment done when he genuinely didn’t seem to want to really soured me on Skyler’s character.

Back to my theory of Walter going into remission, I figure that must be a storyline that is explored eventually? Throughout season 1 I felt like I was watching a man who has resigned himself to dying sometime soon no matter what, and because of that he’s okay to let his morals slide entirely if it means he can leave a future for his family. If he does go into remission, will he feel guilty about some of his behaviour? So far he seems surprisingly chill with stealing and murdering, and I think it’s because he assumes he doesn’t have long left to provide for his family. I hope we see him find out he is not going to die anymore, only to be unable to leave this lifestyle behind  because once you’re in, you’re in. Tuco’s violent outburst at the end of season 1 did a great job of demonstrating how far Walt had fallen into this world already. How the hell is he ever going to get out of it now, even if he wants to?

Now, some quick-fire predictions for the future:

  • I don’t think Skyler is going to have her baby. Something tells me something is going to go wrong with that. (Walter also doesn’t seem all that bothered about the fact his wife is pregnant at times…)
  • I assume season 2 is going to cover Walter and Jesse’s partnership with Tuco, eventually ending with them taking his place as the main meth distributors.
  • I think Hank’s going to find out the truth first, and I’m sticking to my guns that somehow Marie will be used as collateral for covering everything up.

If you enjoyed this post, I ran a similar series a few years ago when I read the Harry Potter books with minimal prior knowledge, so check that out. Feel free to comment with any questions/thoughts/things you’d specifically like me to cover in future seasons, but don’t spoil anything! Now, excuse me while I start season 2…

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