Breaking Bad Coverage: Drama with Your Dinner Anyone?
Sunday night’s episode of Breaking Bad was reminiscent of a new-age version of War of the Roses as tension and volatility between Walt and Skyler reached a boiling point with a mental breakdown that could be viewed as a suicide attempt and a tense verbal smack down.
Early in the episode Walt assumes that Skyler would devote her time and energy to making plans for his birthday, but is disappointed when he returns home from a cook session with Jesse to find that he is the only one who has enthusiasm for his special day. Skyler half-heartedly organizes a family dinner to celebrate Walt’s birthday.
Two of the episode’s most powerful scenes show Skyler in contrasting lights. In one scene she is broken and at an all time low, and later in the episode she transforms into a fiery and defiant scorned woman.
Skyler’s fragile emotional state is made evident to her family during Walt’s birthday dinner. While Walt, Marie, and Hank discuss Walt having being diagnosed with cancer about a year ago, Skyler stares blankly towards the pool, detached from the conversation. As Walt reminisces about the difficulty he had coping with treatment, she eerily steps further and further into the pool until she is completely submerged. Her family looks on in horror and we eventually learn that Walt dives in to save her. Hank and Marie soon agree to Skyler’s suggestion that they take and look after the children while she and Walt figure out their relationship. While her actions are troubling, it is also a rewarding victory because she gets her children away from their home life which she is afraid they’ll be corrupted by.
The idea of their children being away doesn’t sit well with Walt who confronts Skyler and the two come to ahead exchanging cutting verbal blows. Skyler tells Walt that she will do everything in her power to make sure that the children stay away. She threatens to hurt herself again and to frame Walt for domestic violence. Walt fires back saying that her actions would be harmful to the children and that he would have her committed before he is permanently separated from the children. Skyler realizes that ridding her family of their circumstance won’t be easy; Walt is stunned when she decides that her only option is to wait for his cancer to return.
Episode four could easily be viewed as the best so far of the season. It was quite an emotional rollercoaster with brilliant performances by Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston who made viewers feel as though they were witnessing events unfold firsthand and feel the tension, angst, and emotion as their characters carried on like two venomous snakes spewing their poison at each other.
Episodes like this are one of the reasons why fans have flocked to the show for five seasons. It showcased the series’ great writing considering a scene between a feuding husband and wife could easily become trite and annoying, this scene however was powerful and far from typical as Walt and Skyler verbally threw everything but the kitchen sink at each other.
It also showed the skill and versatility of the actors. Walt and Skyler are both dynamic characters, viewers have seen them at their best and worst in moments where they’ve been meek and respectable and in others where they are bitter, dark, and flawed. Regardless of what direction writers take their characters, all facets have felt authentic and true.
While it was impressive to see Cranston and Gunn put their hearts and souls into their performances, hopefully the upcoming episodes will devote more time to developing the series’ other characters and allow the cast to also perform in dramatic deep scenes with vivid dialogue.
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