Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Breaking Bad - Better Living Through Chemistry

The video recap of Breaking Bad's season three finale is embedded below, and it is the mother of all spoilers, so watch at your peril -- but do watch:

Curiously enough, or maybe not, the recap omits the small but tantalizing scene from this episode in which Mike, the tough we saw interrogating the attorney in the recap, conducted a rescue operation of one of Gus's distribution partners, who had evidently been taken hostage by agents of Mexican drug traffickers eager to break in to Gus's lucrative empire. These scenes called to mind Walt's season one and two problems with distribution -- Walt knows, perhaps even better than Gus (as odd as that seems), that making the product and distributing it are very different challenges.

So even as Gus struggles to maintain control of his local production operation by eliminating Walt via cross-training of Gale -- familiar cutthroat corporate downsizing practices complete with the prospect of literal cut throats -- he struggles to keep his most vicious, motivated rivals out of his revenue stream. This suggests an answer to why he took such umbrage at Walt for having dispatched the two ostensibly low-ranking dealers at the end of the previous episode -- it appears Gus is running dangerously short of muscle. He will need more if he is to maintain the tenuous balance on which his business model rests, between a Walmart-ish de facto monopoly on distribution and an Apple-ish emphasis on superior product.

Looking ahead to next season, there is more than enough muscle to keep things interestingly violent, chaotic, and unstable. Gus may come to realize -- in time? -- that there is such a thing as being too ruthless in the pursuit of the Apple-ish side of that balance, whereas the Walmart-ish side is more amenable to the application of blunt force. Mike's mirror and Walt's brother-in-law, Hank, now seemingly recovering and brimming with fresh resentments that could turn him against his DEA loyalties, is sure to figure in what comes next.

I'll be watching.

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