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Breaking Bad Catch-Up

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Am finally caught up on Breaking Bad post-vacation and wanted to do a brief post before I blow past the aired episodes and start watching next week’s. Spoiler alert for those of you who still haven’t watched:

* Opening the most recent episode, “Negro y Azul,” with a narcocorrido about “the gringo called ‘Heisenberg'” was one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen in a while. It’s a very Breaking Bad move, in that it not only made me laugh but set the tone—capturing a little of the specific drug culture of the Southwest—and added a note of menace that played off the fact that, by pushing to expand his and Jesse’s territory, Walter is playing a dangerous game.

* In fact, between that and the gorgeously composed, enigmatic openings earlier this season—the immolated stuffed animal in the pool that I assume is a call-ahead to the end of the season—Breaking Bad may have the best pre-credits sequences on TV right now.

* We’re over a week past it, but attention should be paid to Aaron Paul’s performance in “Peekaboo,” which may be my favorite episode of season 2 yet. Critics, myself included, have gushed over Bryan Cranston’s performance, but Paul has a particularly tough job. Walter White, after all, is at least capable of expressing himself. It’s a particular challenge for an actor to get across what’s going on in the head of an incoherent character like Jesse, and to make him both a comic and dramatic figure. I’ll agree with Tim Goodman that this episode didn’t do much to advance the story or our basic knowledge of Jesse’s character, but seeing him connect with the junkies’ kid—and, in arranging his pickup by the police, show compassion for someone beside himself—was moving. More moving than you’d expect any story that involves someone’s head getting crushed by an ATM could be.

* And speaking of heads: “You act like you’ve never seen a severed human head on a tortoise before!” I am determined to find a way to work that line into casual conversation.

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