Monday, June 17, 2013

Meth Monday: The Baldlands

Hello Readers Mine, and welcome to another installment of Meth Monday. Wanna Cook? The Complete, Unofficial Companion to Breaking Bad proceeds apace, with Dale and I finishing the drafts of the book's "long extras" this month.

Basically, between each season (and before S1 and after S5), you'll find a 1500 - 2000 word piece providing a critical look at some aspect of the show. We'll be looking at stuff like the psychological effects of a sudden life-trauma like, oh I dunno, being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer! Or the role that the realistic portrayal of violence and the progression of violent behaviors plays in making Breaking Bad so powerful and emotionally "real." Then there are the ethics of everyone's favorite shyster, Saul Goodman: sure, he's a criminal lawyer, but you can count on him to do an excellent job for his clients, and not to mess with their money. Outside the narrative world, we'll be looking at the odd and often disturbing misogyny directed at the characters of Skyler White and Marie Schrader, and the two wonderful actors who play them, Anna Gunn and Betsy Brant. We'll also be looking at the importance of place to Breaking Bad, from the "Crystal Ship," to the Superlab, to Jesse and Walt's houses, to the vast emptiness of the New Mexico scrub desert, where the land has no memory. Each is a fascinating element of the show, and each deserves a closer look. Indeed, truth be told, Readers Mine, I've been doing pretty well at recent conferences with looking at some of this stuff through a full-blown academic lens, footnotes and all! No worries though, Wanna Cook will retain the critical edge while getting rid of the jargon!

So that's what we're working on this month for the book, but it's really a light load until the final episodes begin airing in August. In the meantime, I ran across this BrBa meme the other day and it sparked some musings:

Funny, but this also pretty starkly reveals something I began really noticing in Season 4, especially when Jesse started hanging out with Mike so much. They started to look alike. And then you notice that preponderance of male characters on the show are bald, or keep their hair buzz-cut. it's not just bad guys, either (Hank's been tanning his noggin from the get-go, after all), and I can't quite shrug it off as being merely coincidence.

With Walt and Jesse, head-shaving has come as the result of dramatic personal change, the cancer and descent into Hisenberg for Walt, and the loss of Jane and increasing self-assurance for Jesse. Poor Ted also goes bald after a traumatic experience at the hands of Huell and Kuby, but as for the rest, who knows? If we are to take male pattern baldness as symbolic for having passed through some kind of psycho-spiritual gauntlet, then each of these men, from Hank to Gus to the Cousins to Heull has been shaped in a hard school one way or another. It's an interesting phenomenon, and one I've just started thinking on. Any of you folks have any thoughts about Breaking Bald?

That's it for this week's Meth Monday, Readers Mine, short and sweet, I know, but stay tuned, as we get closer to the last eight episodes, I'll be going back to a weekly posting schedule, so we can all be wound up as tightly as possible for the rollercoaster end promised by Vince Gilligan.

As always, for all the Breaking Bad news and gossip that comes cross my screen, follow me on various social media through the links in the upper right sidebar here, and be sure to also follow my co-conspirator, K. Dale Koontz on her wonderful blog, Unfettered Brilliance, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. And I'll see you back here in two weeks, on July 1st, for the next Meth Monday!

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