Well, Readers Mine, the hard work on Wanna Cook? The Unofficial Guide to Breaking Bad begins tonight in the form of an episode-by-episode rewatch with pen and pad in hand to take notes which will (hopefully) evolve into pieces of the book. I’ve made my notes on tonight’s episode, and thought I’d share some quick thoughts about it here as an update. So…
!!! SPOILER ALERT !!!
Episode 1.01 – “The Cat’s in the Bag…”
Which is best summed up by Walt’s half-whispered “Oh shit,” when Crazy 8 wakes up in the back of the RV.
This episode is notable for the first appearance of several recurring shots and places in the series. The camera shot up “through” the bottom of the tub as Jesse tries to get rid of Emilio’s body is just a lovely camera angle, and we’ll be seeing this one fairly regularly throughout the series, to the point where it becomes something of a trademark piece of camera-work for the show. I love the ceiling-down shot of the flipping quarter above a blurred-out Walt and Jesse as well. Gilligan and Co. quickly became masters of using beautifully filmed, unusual camera angles to underscore important moments in the show.
We also see the first incarnation of Jesse’s house, still decorated and furnished in the style of his aunt. As the series progresses, the house will become another character on the show, evolving right along with Jesse and serving as a vehicle for the external manifestations of his mental and emotional states. Jesse will always try to come home to this place, no matter what.
As far as the storyline goes, things are beginning to get deeper and deeper for Walt in this episode, as Crazy 8’s survival moves him well beyond the realm of justifiable homicide in self-defense into considerations of pre-meditated murder. Jesse too is in over his head with a dead body, a guy chained up in his basement, and Skylar showing up to lecture him for something he hasn’t done on top of everything else!
It is here that Breaking Bad brilliantly reveals its intrinsic humor – twisted though it may be. Jesse’s various struggles with Emilio’s corpse are some of the finest moments of pitch-black comedy in the history of television, and I admit to laughing out loud several times: as Jesse “tries on” the plastic bin while in the hardware superstore to see if a body will fit in it; during his entire monologue as he’s dousing the body with hydrofluoric acid (“Yeah, and how’s about I send over my psycho-bitch wife to break your balls and threaten you? God, that’d be hilarious.”); and of course, the wonderful moment when the grisly, acid-washed body-goo drops from the ceiling and all over Jesse’s hall-floor below. The expressions on Jesse and Walt’s faces are priceless! Somehow I doubt the Three Stooges being on in the background is at all coincidental, and what a perfect way to underscore the fact that these two guys are completely out of their depth and therefore doomed to screw things up. The humor is what makes the show bearable, especially in later episodes and seasons. Without it, it would just be too dark to stand.
Okay, so we’re off and running. Stay tuned for further updates as we progress through the show, and though I can’t promise to post about every episode as we go, I do promise to keep Solomon Mao’s updated regularly, and you can find me on the interwebs by name on Google+, and as @EnsleyFGuffey on Twitter. Be sure and look for Dale there too as @KDaleKoontz, and follow our updates at #WannaCook.
Until next time – be well.