Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Breaking Bad: "Honesty is good, don't you think?"

Before I sloppily reveal any spoilers, feast on spoilers with this video recap of episode three, season three of Breaking Bad:

Oh, how deeply and widely the bad is breaking by the end of this episode: "Honesty is good, don't you think?" is the last line spoken by Walt, which his wife, Skyler, promptly puts to test: "I fucked Ted," she says, one of the longer sentences she has been willing to speak to him in recent days. In this, she reveals that she, too, has undertaken a version of breaking bad.

The Ted in question -- Skyler's boss -- has also broken bad of late, and for reasons that are deliciously parallel to those of Walt: he is manipulating his company's financial records to keep things looking solvent, and thus to keep the business going, his employees working, his family cared for. We are, therefore, at episode three's ending, poised on an irony in which Skyler has turned against one man for his "breaking bad" only to throw herself into the arms of another. She accepts the same rationalizations from Ted that she rejects from Walt.

The deeper irony lies in the other way in which she is breaking bad: despite threats and opportunities to do so, she is declining to report Walt's illegalities to the police. If asked why, she would no doubt offer explanations and rationalizations that sound just like Walt's and Ted's: because to do so would add more heartache, want, and pain to what's already ongoing.

There is surely more and deeper bleakness to come, but the show has already arrived at and underscored the dark realization that Walt's "honesty is good, don't you think?" is looking bloody, bruised, and routed as a social norm. Walt embarked on all this because playing things honestly would have led him straight to the grave. Ted will lose his business if he reports the numbers honestly. Should Skyler embrace honesty in her role as bookkeeper, she will destroy Ted's business; should she do so in her private life, she will wreck the lives of everyone she still loves -- her children, her sister, her brother-in-law.

There are yet more instances of breaking bad to canvass at this point of Breaking Bad, and all lead to the same alarming conclusion: "honesty is good," but only if you happen to be a tsunami. For the rest of us, this amazing drama is showing the necessity of monitoring honesty as we would any dubious ally.


Reuben said...

Having encountered scattered references to the show on your blog, I recently decided to check out all the fuss, and have been rejoicing ever since. If Megavideo did not limit my access to 72 minutes a day, I would have participated in several Breaking Bad marathons. Alas, I know not where else to get my fix. Thus I may not read your likely insightful post, but hopefully someday.

On that note, I would like to purchase a t-shirt with a silhouette of Walter standing in his briefs before an RV, arms akimbo, and beneath a caption that reads, "Can't go home smelling like a Meth lab." If you see any, lemme know.

DM said...



you little liars do nothing but antagonize...

and you try to eliminate all the dreams and hopes of humanity...

but you LOST...



Einstein puts the final nail in the coffin of atheism...




atheists deny their own life element...



John Carter Wood said...

You get much better kooks than we do, Dale. (Don't mean you, Reuben!)


Well, DM, quite in the spirit of the show about which this post was written, I'll take death, thanks.

Anyway, I've so far only seen the opening trailer to BB (the scene where the mobile meth lab crashes in the desert, etc.) and a rather horribly comic scene involving a bathtub and some acid.

This was enough to tell me that this series is inspired by genius.

But I can't afford that kind of obsession right now...

Dale said...

Reuben, I'll let you know if I run across that t-shirt, but with today's rocket cars and sophisticated sex robots and dimming memories of moon walk glories, I would think an enterprising young Amer-I-can could make that on his own. So I'll let you know if I run across any of those (enterprising young Amer-I-cans).

JCW, you never know what's going to trip the sensors of obsessive, dull lunatics -- they're nothing if not unpredictable. Well, did I mention how boring they are? That too.

Both, Breaking Bad is excellent tee-vee. I highly recommend it, but even more than average, I recommend starting this one from the first episode if you decide to take it up. I think something would be lost if you were to parachute into the middle.