The first problem I’m encountering in writing this, and something I probably should’ve thought about before I started, is that I’m not sure how to talk about the show. I’m worried that this is just going to immediately denigrate into “Haha wow it sure was neat when he did this” and “I don’t understand what that was all about but I’m watching the show backwards so presumably that will make more sense to me later.”
What this episode established for me at least was that Walt is supposed to be a very intelligent and cunning character. I can only imagine the earlier episodes don’t usually involve him slaying a gang of greasy ponytail guys and he only began to use his smarts to become a very effective murderer as his drug dealer lifestyle made it a necessity. Walt sort of casually drifts into people’s homes, haggard and gravel voiced and mumbly and quietly menacing, looking more like a crazy person than a guy who had some real meticulous plans laid out that he wanted to relay before going off to blast the neck-tattoo gang’s compound apart.
The machine gun bit really confused me when they were setting it up. I’m pretty sure they showed the gun and all the ammunition in his trunk a couple times before they showed him standing around in the desert doing what I assumed was some sort of Wile E. Coyote thing as he tested the armature. Is this a hallmark of the series? Him defending himself/attacking others with Rube Goldberg style devices? I know he was a science teacher and I just assumed from the imagery of the opening sequence he was a chemistry teacher, but clearly he’s got a grasp of a few other disciplines as well. I’m also guessing that casually poisoning people in coffee shops isn’t a thing I’ll see him doing in every other episode, but I can only imagine that in the future (past, I guess?) if Walt needs to off someone, his methodology is going to be more complex than, say, stabbing them.
When I think about it, the only thing I really didn’t like was the part in the beginning where he pays the two hicks to point lasers at the wealthy couple. It’s not that I thought the ploy was dumb, because the scene served to demonstrate that with a little visual misdirection and a threatening monologue, Walt had the couple completely convinced that he’d hired the world’s deadliest assassins. No, I just hated the next scene in the car when he was talking to them. They were ancillary characters that I’m presuming weren’t seen previously, but their dialogue was awful. I didn’t write down exactly what they said but I just remembered it sounding real stilted and unnatural, like whoever wrote it has no idea how dirt dudes like that actually talk and just tried way too hard to make them sound uneducated and coarse. In the grand scheme of things those characters are totally irrelevant and their only narrative purpose was to tell Walt that someone was still producing blue meth (I’m guessing blue meth was like, Walt’s own particular brand of the stuff?) but I felt they could’ve been handled more carefully than they were.
That was honestly my only problem with the episode though. Obviously lots of stuff wasn’t clear to me, but again, much of it can be easily attributed to the fact that I’m watching it in the wrong order. Some questions I have now include:
Bob Odenkirk’s name was in the opening credits but I didn’t see him, what role does he play in this and is he going to be comic relief? I’m guessing he’s not going to do anything funny given the tone of the show.
Did him ditching his watch at the payphone have any kind of significance?
Whose baby was that? Walt and his wife look too old to have a little one, unless they aren’t as old as I think they are and they’ve just aged badly because he’s dying of cancer and her husband’s a meth dealer.
Who was the kid with polio Walt tailed into the apartment complex but didn’t approach?
Was the shackled guy from the drug compound the partner I’ve seen in all the promotional imagery and stills? And he’s just hairy because he’s a prisoner?
When did Walt take that bullet in the side? I re-watched the scene and as near as I could figure it was just a ricochet from when the room got sprayed.
I asked the guy who told me to do this how long the typical episode was, and while this series finale episode ran 55 minutes, he told me the usual run time was forty some, meant to run in an hour long block with commercials on television. I can usually only devote my full attention to television for a half hour episode of King of the Hill, but that this program had me on board for most of an hour tells me this maybe won’t be as painful a project as I imagined it might be.