Breaking Bad—Season 1

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8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great acting, memorable visuals

A little slow at the start

 
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Remember how your high school chemistry teacher was like this?

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is having a bad year.  He’s stuck in a job as a school teacher (which he likes) but with students who have no respect for him (which he hates).  His wife  Skyler (Anna Gunn) is pregnant with their second child, and their son Walter White, Jr. (RJ Mitte) has struggles of his own as he tries to maneuver his teen years while facing a disability.  Thing can’t get worse for Walter as he works part-time at a car wash to make ends meet…until he’s diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.  Now with bills piling up, Walter must find a way to make ends meet.  When he learns about the money made by meth producers from his DEA brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris), Walter ends up hooking up with a former student named Jesse Pickman (Aaron Paul).  Walter and Jesse are now cooking and with Walt’s science background, Jesse and Walt are making up some of the best meth that Albuquerque has ever seen.

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I have the pillow, it’s my turn to be annoying!

Breaking Bad—Season 1 aired form January 20, 2008 to March 9, 2008 and became an instant success both critically and with the viewing audience.  The series’ first season found Primetime Emmy wins for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Cranston) and Outstanding Sing-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama (for the pilot).  The series also received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Cinematography for a One-Hour Series and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series (both for the pilot).  It also won recognition from the Writer’s Guild of America among other nominations and awards.

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Relive all the excitement of cleaning!!!

I was pretty wary of Breaking Bad going into it.  Though I had watched it early on, I was not a huge fan of Malcolm in the Middle and the idea of the father of that show having the lead in a series about a meth dealer who has terminal cancer didn’t seem like something I’d be interested in.  As word of mouth grew however, I felt I should check it out…it is a good thing.

In a weird way, Breaking Bad is almost the flip side of Weeds mixed with the format of The Sopranos.  While Weeds focuses on the comedy, Breaking Bad focuses on the drama (with simply life comedy mixed in).  The show does borrow from The Sopranos by having the character’s “private life” and his “business life” be completely separate things.  A lot of shows have followed this format (including Weeds and Hung), but this one really nails it.

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Yep…can’t imagine this psycho will be a problem in the future…

I was surprised to like Cranston so much also.  The creator Vince Gilligan had previously worked on The X-Files and selected Cranston due to his work on The X-Files—Season 6 episode “Drive” in which Cranston had been the lead guest actor.  I also really like the dynamic between Cranston and Aaron Paul, but I find Cranston’s family (on all fronts) a bit irritating at this point.  I do have a bit of an issue with the White character however in that he is willing to become involved in the sale off dangerous illegal drugs (which could hurt minors and other kids like his son), but he is too proud to take money for treatments…seems like an unrealistic double standard on how the character is painted.

If you haven’t checked out Breaking Bad, it is never too late.  The series is an interesting character study of how someone can start out nice and slowly become corrupt…like an extended edition of The Godfather which saw Michael slowly descend into something horrible.  I look forward to checking out the other seasons of the series and hopefully a long life (of dying) for Walter White.

Breaking Bad—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Pilot”

1.1       Pilot Airdate:  01/20/08

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is turning fifty. His wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) is expecting a baby and his teenage son Walter White, Jr. (RJ Mitte) is dealing with a handicap. Walter is a science teacher to under-appreciating high school students, and he has to work at a car wash to make ends meet. When Walter is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, he decides to hide it and try to find a way to make money. When he learns from his DEA brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) about how much meth dealers can make, a chance encounter with a former student and meth-maker named Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) leads to an unlikely partnership. When Walter and create a perfect batch of meth, they make themselves targets of Jesse’s buyers which could lead to an encounter with the law.

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“Cat’s in the Bag…”

1.2       Cat’s in the Bag… Airdate:  01/27/08

Walter and Jesse question what to do about the men who attacked them and find that one of them is still alive. A call from Jesse leaves Skyler suspicious.  Jesse is forced to deal with getting rid of the body while Walter has to handle getting rid of Krazy-8 (Max Arciniega). When Walter is confronted about Jesse by Skyler, Walter has to think fast to explain their relationship. Skyler goes to see Jesse, and Jesse makes a mistake when dealing with the body.

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“…And the Bag’s in the River”

1.3       …And the Bag’s in the River Airdate:  02/10/08

Walter tries to clean up Jesse’s mess with the acid and learns that told Krazy-8 about him. Skyler’s questions about marijuana lead her sister Marie (Betsy Brandt) to believe that Walter Jr. is smoking marijuana, and Marie asks Hank to scare him straight.  Jesse hides out from Walter when Walter tries to force him to give up his meth.  Skyler uncovers that Walter is still lying to her and tells him not to come home. When Walter has another attack, he finds himself having a heart-to-heart with Krazy-8. Walter debates what to do with Krazy-8 and has to make a tough decision. Krazy-8’s car and the meth site are found by Hank along with Walter’s gas mask.

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“Cancer Man”

1.4       Cancer Man Airdate:  02/17/08

Walter’s cancer secret is out and Skyler, Hank, and Marie are out to get him the best treatment regardless of the cost.  Hank’s DEA team makes finding the new meth dealers in town and the gas mask the focus of their attention.  Jesse suffers a bad trip and returns home to his parents (Tess Harper and Michael Boshever) and brother Jake (Benjamin Petry) but learns that his past means home might be gone forever.  Jesse contacts Walter about the events and a potential new deal.

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“Gray Matter”

1.5       Gray Matter Airdate:  02/24/08

Walter and Skyler attend the birthday party of Walter’s former partner and multimillionaire classmate Elliott Schwartz (Adam Godley), and Elliott offers Walter an opportunity he might not be able to turn down.  Jesse tries to operate without Walter and with a new partner named Badger (Matt Jones), but finds the results are less than desirable.  Skyler decides she needs to stage an intervention for Walt after Walter Jr. is picked up for trying to buy alcohol and calls in the family to try to get Walt on the right path.  Walter debates Elliott’s offer and makes a decision about his future.

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“Crazy Handful of Nothin'”

1.6       Crazy Handful of Nothin’ Airdate:  03/02/08

Walter’s undergoing cancer treatment with the painful side effects and back in business with Jesse to secretly fund it.  With Krazy-8 dead, Walter and Jessie try to find another way to move their product, and Walt has Jessie go to Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz) to get them back in business.  More problems could be coming for Walt when Hank discovers that the gas mask found at his first cooking site came from Walt’s school, but Walt’s friendship with a janitor named Hugo Archilleya (Pierre Barrera) could be tested when he is suspected.  Tuco’s interaction with Jesse goes south, and Walter sets out to right the wrong and get their money.

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“A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal”

1.7       A No-Rough-Stuff-Type Deal Airdate:  03/09/08

Walter finds the police zeroing in on his school due to the theft of the equipment, but also discovers he’s having increased sexual activity due to the danger and chemo.  A baby gift of a gold tiara leads to Skyler discovering something surprising about her sister Marie and her secret activities.  Walter’s promise to Tuco of a huge amount of meth leads Jesse and Walter to have to find a new source of material, and ill-timed open house could lead to them being caught.

Related Links:

Breaking Bad—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Breaking Bad—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Breaking Bad—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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