Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Thoughts on "Box Cutter"

I was really trying my best not to overdo the posting on Breaking Bad. I mean, we've blamed it, anticipated it, learned from it and done our best to predict it.

Yet here we are.  I'm offering up my thoughts on the first episode of the fourth season.

Obviously I've got no control over my impulses.

First up I've got to applaud the show for it's impeccable use of structure.  I mean the symmetry between episode's teaser and cliffhanger was remarkable.  Gale's envy of the purity of Walt's product lead to his taking detailed lab notes.  Brilliant.

Also, you've got a season premiere that's pretty self explanatory.  If you watch the episode not having seen previous seasons, you won't be completely lost.  Walt's pleading for his life doubled as exposition explaining why Jesse and Walt were in the predicament.

The episode also featured a ton of surprises.  While we did predict Victor's demise, we didn't know it would come at Gus' hand in one of the tensest scenes I've even seen.  The only way that scene could have been any more taut was if it were a single shot.

I loved the callbacks to previous seasons.  I loved the scene with Jesse and Walt assuring Mike that hydrochloric acid would dispose of Victor's body, a callback to season one.  I loved the reappearance of the pink teddy bear eye from season two.  Nice little nods for longtime fans.

Of course the acting is stellar as always.  Giancarlo Esposito absolutely destroys his encounter with Jesse and Walt.  I can't recall the last time an actor did so much with so few lines of dialogue.  Jesse, Walt and Mike all did equally well with their long moments of silence.

And the writers really deserve credit too, for allowing the actors those long silences.  Most writers would feel afraid to cede that much control of the story to acting.  But Breaking Bad's writers fearlessly allow their actors the space to breathe.

I also appreciated the glimpses at Marie & Hank's new status quo, as well at Skylar's increased breaking bad.  Of course Saul's presence is always appreciated.

Even though it'd been over a year since I'd visited the ABQ, "Box Cutter" was totally worth the wait.  

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