Sunday, July 17, 2011

Review - Breaking Bad Season 2 Episode 12 Phoenix / 13 ABQ

Sorry I procrastinated on the final two episodes. They're here, though, a few hours before the fourth season begins, rounding out reviews for the entire show thus far.


Walt is so contemptible in "Phoenix" that it's impossible to defend him at this point. He is practically delusional in his inability to see straight, and his warped mind, which was once a product of the drug dealing, now manifests itself freely at home. He speaks to his baby daughter about all the great things he's done, all the money he's earned, ignoring all the negatives. Then, when his son decides to set up a website for his father, Walt scoffs at the website and the idea of charity. There is a bitter vileness in his tone as he said this, and he doesn't realize how hurt his son is.

In the stunning final scene, Walt goes to Jesse's place and finds Jesse and Jane passed out from drug use before Jane starts choking. He stares and stares as she dies and does nothing. Walt is not doing this for Jesse. He is doing this so Jesse can get back to cooking as soon as possible. It is at this point where Walt has become directly complicit in a woman's death. He could have saved her but chose not to even try. Shame on you, Walt.

Score: 9.4/10


The second season, following the shortened first season, solidified Breaking Bad as one of television's top shows (while the third solidified it as the best), and "ABQ" caps a season of character growth--or what is more like character devolvement. Walt began the season with his family intact and supportive of him, but as he went further into the drug world, withdrawing and insulating himself, he lost them. There are always prices to pay and Walt surely pays them. The question is, however, does it even matter to him? Ostensibly, Walt seems to care that his wife is leaving him, but is that for reasons greater than that he views it as a personal affront?

Meanwhile, Jesse is basically in Hell, having woken up to find his girlfriend dead. It's hard for him not to feel guilty, and Walt later finds him in a drug den. Interestingly, Walt seeks Jesse, his partner, in the end. There is a connection between them, not solely about drug but of the kind of people they've become. Walt sees Jesse as a version of him, a tortured soul done in by outside forces. In reality, though, it is Walt who brought it upon himself--and Jesse.

The final scene is, in my opinion, truly brilliant on every level. This is the culmination of a season in which Walt has gone from bad to horrific, from teacher leaving money for his family to brutal drug dealer, from loving family man to inhuman creature. It Walt who brings this upon himself and everyone around him. As the planes crash above Walt's head and the debris comes down upon him, the audience is given the full impact of Walt's doings.

Indeed, we can trace Walt's roll in the plane crash which is happens right above his head. He is the one who led Jesse to expand the drug business and he was the one who watched as Jane died while doing nothing. There are no excuses and the audience knows it. But Walt, on the other hand, will not acknowledge. He is fine lying and obfuscating the truth, let along acknowledging his wrongdoing. In his eyes, everything he's done has been right and those who don't see the same way are simply wrong.

Although I personally think the ending is great, there are certainly reasons why it is a cop-out. From the season premiere, we were led to believe something horribly bad happen--to an important character on the show. Instead, it is two planes filled with anonymous people while all the characters are only minutely influenced. For all the flourish of the scenes, there was little direct impact to the show's fabric. But I think that's part of what makes the ending such a good twist, our expectations completely reversed with Walt being the perpetrator instead of the victim. It follows the general pattern of the season and is very striking image.

Score: 9.5/10
Related Posts with Thumbnails