This discussion began with a focus on the episode “Ozymandias,” but then extended to a broader debate on Breaking Bad, Deadwood, and Game of Thrones. For the record, both Søren and I enjoyed this show – I just liked it a bit more than he did. And this should go without saying, but this conversation contains numerous spoilers for Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones Seasons 1-3.
I saw the episode, now I can reply with a bit more detail.
I actually felt this episode, although it was certainly exciting, shows exactly what it is about Breaking Bad that keeps it a tier below the best of television.
You’re playing with fire, but please continue.
1) Lapses in logic, and 2) Weird/goofy dialogue.
- Consider Skyler returning home after she knows both that her husband is a drug dealer, is in serious danger, and has just been arrested. And yet, when she sees a rusty truck in the driveway she doesn’t recognize, she just pulls right in, no worries. Or consider Walt calling the house after he just saw his son call the police, and then asks if the police are there. Seriously? The only purpose for that scene was for parallelism with the opening conversation from a few seasons ago.
- For dialogue, the piece that most immediately sticks out is when they’re driving back. “Put your seat belt on. It’s not safe.” Really, your husband has just been arrested and you’ve just emotionally spilled your guts to your kid, and you really think it’s time to talk about car safety? And the worst part is, it was all just a set up so he could cheesily say, “Really mom? Safety?” Come on.
So in sum, I think it’s things like that that really take me out of the show. Not to say it isn’t solid entertainment, but the pedestal people keep putting it on… I just dunno.
Okay, so, about that phone call. It was clear to me (and some other people on Twitter last night) that Walt knew the police were there (which was obvious given Skyler’s huge pause after he asked if she was alone) and the phone call was to absolve Skyler of wrongdoing in the eyes of the law. He’s shouting about how he and he alone built this empire, and how she only ever tried to hold him back. Now, the police don’t see her as a co-conspirator, but as a scared, battered housewife only trying to protect her kids. He was crying during the scene, so I’m pretty sure this is what he was doing. As for the truck, I see where you’re coming from, but Walt showed up basically the instant they pulled into the driveway, so it’s not like there was much time to consider whose truck it was.
As far as dialogue goes, I really liked that line. It’s totally in-character for Skyler, who has always tried to act like the horrific world she’s entered is totally separate from her everyday life. It’s only Junior who has the presence of mind to realize how much this affects his family, as evidenced by the fact that he calls 911 at the first sign of danger, instead of trying to negotiate for his old life back like Skyler’s been doing for 3 seasons.
And also on that line, it feels like something a person would say. In a real-life tense scenario (especially with people who aren’t accustomed to that kind of situation) people say things to try and lift the mood a little. Skyler is just a mother trying to keep her son close to her, so asking him to buckle up makes perfect sense. And so does Junior’s response. He’s being a petulant teenager, only with much larger stakes. He’s being sarcastic towards his mother. I’ve done that plenty of times. And that’s what I love about the show. Every moment on last night’s episode was so dense and layered and textured.
I concede the phone call conversation, as that makes a lot more sense. But the other two points I’ll hold to, if only because they echo other similarly strange moments throughout the series.
Maybe three seasons ago it might have been appropriate… but the cat’s out of the bag now. They literally just got through explaining that. It seems kind of silly to think she’s still holding on to “normalcy,” especially given that she follows that up by pulling a knife on Walt. She’s not all there. It would have made way more sense to just drive home in silence.