Because nothing goes together like drug-dealer dramas and catering humor, quick spoilers for the weekend installments of Breaking Bad and Party Down coming up after the jump:
Was Walter White’s terminal lung cancer the only thing keeping him alive? This was essentially the premise of the Breaking Bad episode “Over,” as Walter stepped away from the meth business and soon found himself a royal pain in the ass to everyone around him, including himself. It’s not a surprising inversion from a show that was always premised on his death sentence having given him a purpose in life; now, in remission, he’s acting out at home and becoming obsessed with fungus rot in his floor joists. (You have to “cut it out” and start over fresh”—sound like any disease you know?)
What was interesting was how we got to see the less-than-joyous effect the change had on those around Walter as well, in particular Skyler, who seems rudderless without the crisis as an anchor in her life; and with Walter feeling better, every annoying trait of his—down to the way he butters his toast—simply grates, without the exculpatory fact of his illness.
The root of Walter’s problem becomes clear at the end of the episode, as he walks up to a would-be meth cooker at a big-box home supplies store and offers him some free advice on how and where to buy his supplies. (Which, beautifully, freaks the dude out and sends him running.) It’s not just about the lack of a carpe diem reason to appreciate life; it’s the criminal life itself, not just the diagnosis that rationalized it, that Walt perversely misses. A brilliant man who washed out in his career, Walter at age 50 found something he was outstanding at—he was the Bill Gates of crystal meth—and now he cannot share his competency, his source of self-esteem, with anyone.
Judging by the intensity with which he warns the dealer off his territory at the end of the episode, it’s pretty clear that nothing is “Over.”
Meanwhile, just two comments on a solid episode of Party Down. One, if you haven’t yet watched this Starz comedy, it’s time to start. And two, to whoever looked at a script about a murderous, would-be-screenwriter mobster of indeterminate Eastern European ethnicity and thought, This role has Steven Weber written all over it: how right you were. Against-type casting decision of the year.