Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review - Breaking Bad Season 1 Episode 6 Crazy Handful of Nothin' / 7 A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal

"Crazy Handful of Nothin'"

The cold open of  "Crazy Handful of Nothin'," like the beginning of the pilot, defines the enthralling nature of Breaking Bad, the potential for anything to happen in any circumstance. After Walt informs Jesse that he'll will be in charge of the chemistry, Jesse will be in charge of the selling, and that there will be no more violence, we see Walt walking out of a destroyed building with a bloody bag. Holy shit! His head is shaved and we know something really, really bad happened. Again, Bryan Cranston has the perfect look of despair and  "I don't give a fuck." Immediately, we wonder how Walt got into that position with his explicit instructions and the episode does not disappoint.

With Krazy-8 and Emilio dead, Jesse is forced to turn to the new big player in town, a guy called Tuco who Skinny Pete knew in prison. Aside from the dingy nature of drug dealing in general, everything seems fine. Tuco isn't quite normal, but neither is the average drug dealer. But the screws slowly come undone, as Tuco keeps revolving, from calm to angry to calm to batshit crazy. Feigning to give Jesse the money, he beats Jesse in a pulp, landing him in the hospital. It is, for the first time, we've seen a real negative to using meth, since it seemed to be the primary reason why Tuco got out of control.

If that wasn't enough, Walt decides to step in. Drained by chemotherapy and the weight of everything around him, Walt just doesn't care. He'll do what it takes to get the money. This transformation is also physical, as Walt shaves his head, and the result is a brutality that goes back to the killing of Krazy-8. He walks in, confronts Tuco, blows the whole floor up, and threatens to blow up even more if Tuco doesn't pay the money plus extra for Jesse. Pure badassery. Outside, Walt sits in his care and pounds the wheel, knowing how it feels to let go for once. And this time, Walt has a continuing deal with Tuco--Heisenberg lives.

There are more external costs for Walt's drug dealing once Hank traces the lab equipment in the desert to the school. The friendly janitor who cleans up after Walt is arrested by drug possession and is presumed to be the cooker. Walt can only look on as Hugo is shackled, knowing his role in all this. But Walt is on this path of drug cooking and earning money. He must continue and take whatever consequences come his way.

Score: 9.6/10

"A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal"

For a season finale, "A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal" doesn't have the tension or dramatic push that one who expect, especially with the preceding episode. Everything kind of comes together, but you can't help but think that the season should continue. The reason for this is likely the writers strike, which decimated television a while back. Without it, Breaking Bad would have had a longer first season and probably more development. In any case, the first season still remains a wonderful exploration into the drug world and the psyche of Walter White.

The episode leads naturally into the second season and would fit better as a season premiere. It opens a new avenue for Walt and Jesse to produce larger quantities of meth as well as establish exactly what their drug dealing will be like. With an increased demand, Walt turns to a new batch of ingredients, one which requires theft of a barrel from storage. There is a sense of recklessness in their actions, going to great, illegal lengths to get the required ingredients. But Walt also promised Tuco and certain amount, and it had to be met.

Walt's second meeting with Tuco isn't as explosive as the first, but it's as unpredictable as Jesse's. After exchanging meth for money, one of Tuco's henchmen says something Tuco doesn't like, and receives a savage beating. Despite Walt's pledge against violence, it happened again and he had to let it happen. Tuco is a crazed man fueled by drugs who also has the pipeline to the druggies. Walt must accept this violence as part of doing business.

The kleptomaniac stuff with Marie was only shown once in a previous episode, so her large role in the season finale doesn't quite seem to fit. It did lead to an important conversation between Skylar and Walt, though. We begin to see Walt trying to rationalize his behavior, first talking with Hank about drugs and second talking with Skylar about doing things for the family. Obviously Marie wasn't trying to help her family by stealing the tiara, but Walt sees something similar in her, the behavior of 'breaking bad'. He continues down this dark path which may have no end, as his cancer treatment is going fine.

Score: 9.0/10
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