Television Review: "Breaking Bad" Seasons One and Two Recap

3/21/2010 Posted by Admin

Television Review

"Breaking Bad" Seasons One and Two Recap

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

To "break bad," according to the creators of the bafflingly brilliant television series "Breaking Bad," means to take a turn off the path of the straight and narrow. I couldn't think of a better title for the series, which follows Walter White (Bryan Cranston, giving one of the best dramatic performances I've seen on television), a 50-year-old chemistry teacher and family man from Albeqerque who turns to a life of crime when he learns he has terminal lung cancer.

The third season is set to arrive tonight, March 21. So, how about we do a little catch-up on the first two seasons?

The first season predominately revolved around the introduction of Walter, his wife Skylar, their son Walt Jr. (who suffers from Cerebral Palsy), Skylar's brother and Drug Enforcement Administration officer Hank, his kleptomaniac wife Marie, and last, but certainly not least, Walter's young partner in crime, the street-smart and ambitious Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul, whose fantastic performance is right up there with Cranston's).

Walt uses his extensive knowledge of chemistry to produce the finest crystal meth anyone on the street has seen, and then he hands it off to Jesse and his deadbeat amigos to take to the streets. The first season basically chronicles the slow rise of this miniscule business venture, and as Walt struggles to make money to help his family (whether the cancer ends up killing him or not), he also struggles to keep his criminal activities a secret from everyone who cares about him. Meanwhile Jesse has to deal with the intricacies and dangers of dealing meth in a city already run by a psychopathic drug lord and numerous drug cartels coming out of Mexico.

The first season concludes with Walt and Jesse's business really getting off the ground, and the second season starts up right where we left off, now showing us the consequences of Walt's "breaking bad" and how his business venture that started off as a means to help his family has made him greedy, power hungry and not too far from a psycho himself. The show becomes a chronicle of a man so driven by his own uncontrollable ambition that he begins to destroy the lives of everyone around him. Jesse, who is in constant conflict with his wealthy parents who want nothing to do with him, begins dating a girl named Jane, who used to be a drug addict herself.

The second season introduces us to Saul Goodman, a crooked lawyer who offers to defend Walt and Jesse. It turns out to be a real helping hand, as Hank, Walt's brother-in-law, is hot on his trail, and despite Walt managing to keep his life of crime a secret, Hank comes closer and closer to learning the identity of "Heisenberg," the drug mafiaso alter ego Walt has created for himself.

And throughout all of this Walt must deal with his wife and son, who feel him drifting away from them, and neither understand why.

The season climaxes with multiple story arcs coming together. Walt loses faith in Jesse's commitment to the business and cuts him out. Jesse finds solace in his relationship with Jane, but when he tells Jane who he is and what's happened she goes to Walt and threatens to turn him into the police if she and Jesse aren't given half of Walt's current profits. Sheer fate strikes when Walt goes to Jesse's apartment to speak to him and finds Jane overdosing. His life of crime and his drive for power have turned him into a monster--he simply stands by and watches as Jane dies. The incident nearly drives Jesse mad, but Walt doesn't tell him the truth about being there when she died.

Season two ended on a fairly bizarre and polarizing note. Jane's father, an air traffic controller who coincidentally ran into Walt the night of his daughter's death, is so stricken with grief at Jane's overdose that he loses focus on the job and causes a plane to crash over Albeqerque--more specifically right over Walt's home. Quite basically, the consequences of Walt's crimes have spread far beyond his control, and following an argument with Skylar that results in her leaving Walt, the second season ends.

So, what could be a simple crime series is made into an almost surreal existential tragedy. Walt has made a massive profit out of his meth manufacturing, but at what cost? And the worst is yet to come. The upcoming third season promises to be even better than the previous two, and there's no telling what could happen next.

Watch the premiere of the third season tonight, March 21, on AMC.

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