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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Breaking Bad," I bow to your greatness

I didn't need the added incentive, but with a little dash of my favorite indie rock, "Breaking Bad" keeps giving it to me. So fine. Even after writing glowing reports about it here and here, the announcement needs to be made on this blog.

With only three episodes to go before the conclusion of Season 2, the AMC series has officially become my second favorite television drama of all-time. (Sorry, but "The Wire" can never be topped ... maybe.)

There, are you happy, Vince Gilligan? You pummeled me into submission with your glorious Season 2 ... an advancement of the Walter White as cancer victim/drug kingpin storyline that has also seen the addition of Bob Odenkirk (yes, THAT Bob Odenkirk) as a sleazeball lawyer and Sunday night, a final scene that will go down as THE emotionally arresting turning point in the series.

Through cryptic black-and-white flashbacks, all season the show has been teasing the eerie image of a mangled stuffed animal fished out from the White swimming pool. Last night, we saw a shattered windshield, more guys in hazmat suits and two body bags in the driveway.

No matter who's inside (and I really hope it's not who I think it is), this season will not end well.

Without giving away tons of spoilers, Season 2 has done what Season 1 couldn't do because of the writer's strike. Season 1 was the table-setter, and while it had a number of arresting moments, it was essentially Walt's coming out party set to a comfortable pace. Season 2 has broadened the scope of the show considerably. Macho Hank (Walt's DEA brother-in-law) has been given extra, unforeseen layers thanks to the hazards of his job. Pregnant, back-to-work Skyler (Walt's wife) is searching for unhealthy ways to cope. Walter Jr. (er, Flynn) is a wonderful source of levity. And Jesse ... oh, dear Jesse. Aaron Paul keeps getting better as the underachieving stoner turned hopeless romantic (?) who helped Walt get his hands dirty in the first place.

I have theories on where all this is heading, but I'm loving this show too much to get caught up in speculation. At this point, Gilligan and the gang have earned my complete trust ... however grim that black and white future might appear.

In case you're interested, here's the closing scene from last night's episode. The addition of "DLZ" by TV on the Radio ("Never you mind/Death professor") absolutely hits this one out of the park. I salute your genius, Vince Gilligan.

"Breaking Bad" airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on AMC.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,



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