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Box Cutter - The Ex-Communicator

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July 18th, 2011


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11:31 am - Box Cutter
Last night was the season 4 premiere of Breaking Bad. I just watched it. I am not disappointed. I would say to anyone thinking of joining the show at this point, you will be able to pick up the story, but be aware the pace is slow and the tone is very dark and gruesome: the episode is called Box Cutter.

There is very little dialogue in this episode. For the first forty minutes of the show Aaron Paul says nothing at all. The actor has won his Emmy, and the respect to be allowed to convey everything with eyes and posture. And what a lot to convey.

Breaking Bad is a show about two people destroying themselves and each other, and each step of the way they are acting from love. In the last season Walt turned his back on Jesse - as an idiot junkie - and the great action of the season was that they could not escape from their love. In some shows 'killing to save your partner' would be a neat plot resolution, a good season ending, and I think it is hard to convey in a post on a blog that in Breaking Bad these killings were emotionally traumatic and electrifying beyond almost any TV experience I have ever had in my life. Because it's about the build up of three slow seasons that makes you understand how each person was violating something of great weight within themselves, and what that conveyed, as I say not just of damnation but of love. If it were just one or the other that would be good TV, but having both redemption and damnation embodied in one action, is great TV.

By this season Walt is simply stating, without embarrassment, that he will die for Jesse, to a man covered in blood holding a knife to him. I want this love to continue, and not be spent like currency through the season, or betrayed and belittled.

And there is still humour in this show, of a bitter and cynical nature. Laughs raised by minor characters who fear for their lives, so, you know not that jolly.

I loved this show from episode 1 of season 1, and it has not let me down. If you read the TV critics and connoisseurs you will find them saying the same thing. This is not the Emperor's New Clothes I'm holding up for your inspection.

ETA here is a very insightful review from John perich. He picks up on something completely different about this episode: the way that the slow pace and silence allow us to watch people meticulously going through detailed processes. Skyler moves Walt's car, Gus takes his outer clothes off and dresses himself in blood-proof coveralls, paralysed Hank uses a bedpan. These difficult processes are shown in meticulous detail. And the main drama of the episode is Victor demonstrating that he can emulate the chemical process which he has seen Walt and Jesse carry out, and hence that the chemists are expendable.
But Gus, Walt and Jessie know that it’s more than just a recipe. You have to understand the deeper meaning behind it. Victor doesn’t get that... Behind every process, there’s love... the process is more than just a process. You can’t just follow the same steps as another guy and come out with the same result.

(my emphasis)

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