Just finished watching the final episode of Breaking Bad last night, all on Netflix. When I saw All the Way, the play starring Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson at the A.R.T. in Cambridge many months ago, my husband, Bob, and I had no idea who he was! After we found out, we realized why everyone had cheered wildly when he appeared onstage, before he had said a single word, and also why it had been so hard to get tickets! ... We had been in a big traffic jam getting there and had only a few minutes to get a parking space before the curtain went up. We usually find a street spot; this time we resorted to the Church Street parking lot around the corner from the theater, for $25. When we got to the door, the greeter cheerily said the play was three hours. Three hours? A bad mood got badder. But then we started watching the play and entirely forgot everything except what was unfolding onstage. A great piece of theater, that was. And a great actor. Then Breaking Bad. We had tried to watch the first episode and thought it sophomoric. Subsequently, friends kept telling us to try again and stick with it. Finally, there was critical mass. Okay, another try. It took maybe four episodes before we fully understood that it was something serious. Another great piece of theater, this time about science and technology (reason) versus sentiment. (“He won’t listen to reason,” Walter White, the scientist, says to the men he hires to kill Jesse Pinkman, the "humanist.") It’s also about ambition gone wild, bitterness about others’ success, the love of money and power, and how all-consuming that love can become. Yes, it’s a cancer. Walt, rolling that barrel of money around towards the end: that says so much. And that he had done every bad deed -- had broken bad in the first place -- for the sake his “family”? Uh, no he hadn't. And how satisfying it was to hear him finally admit! (“I did it for me.”) Tellingly, when Jesse is enslaved by Todd and his White Supremacist relatives, his fantasy isn't about women or lying on a Caribbean beach; it's about being in a wood shop making a beautiful box. Jesse, the artisan if not quite the artist; nearly destroyed by science and technology, then saved by it (Walt's invention of the remote-controled machine gun)... Science and technology have, of course, given us many great things and will continue to do so, but those things have to be tempered by sentiment, ethics, morality. A balance must be struck. That's the age-old lesson, told to us yet again, another way in this series. Lots more to think about here. I can imagine the Ph.D. theses. One on colors alone would be possible. e.g., Mr. White + Black = Gray (as in Gray Matter). Jesse Pinkman is coded Pink. Etc. I heard that a law review article has been written about the Saul Goodman character. Heard also that a spinoff, starring Saul, is coming and that Walt, in his years before becoming a meth cooker, may make an appearance on it. In the meantime, "Have an A-One day!"
The "Commentaries" portion of this website is a record of some of Ms. Schinto's cultural experiences, e.g., books read, TV series watched, movies seen, exhibits visited, plays and musical events attended, etc. She also from time to time will post short essays on various topics.