Breaking Bad, “Breakage”
Tonight’s soundtrack: J.U.F., “Panic So Charming (What The Fuck Style)”
Another great ground rule for Breaking Bad: Everyone has secrets. For good reasons or bad, from selfishness or altruism, everyone has something they hide. That’s just how we are in the warm Albuquerque1 sun.
And yet, and yet, the show manages to avoid being a soap opera. I think it’s because the things the characters hide and lie about are for the most part so petty. They’re people with secrets because people have secrets, not because the plot is going to hinge on a dramatic revelation.
A surprise party is a secret, right? Hating your boss is a secret. Wanting a cigarette when you don’t smoke, or for your husband to arrest you so you’ll feel part of his life - those are secrets. So in this atmosphere of quiet desperation and casual frustration, what’s one more deception? One more way to make money? One more cell phone?
* * *
At this point in his transformation, Hank is not yet the detective he needs to be to see the secrets closest to him. In fact, he’s sick to the marrow at the future-vision he’s been given: haunted by the moment his eventual apotheosis came back in time and possessed him, transfixing him, pulling the trigger. He fears that terrible Hot-Handed God of Cops; fears the power and responsibility.
If a world is laced with lies, and you can see the hidden patterns and reveal the secrets, you can bring that world down. Hank is being groomed to end his own show.
Also, he’s shit-scared from being shot at and daren’t tell anyone, so his lonely panic attacks are off the charts. Disturbingly accurate, wonderful television.
1 Took me three tries to type that right, and I once spent six hours on a Sunday morning waiting for a Greyhound bus to arrive in Albuquerque. This is after I’d been cursed by a Native American passenger for not turning out my reading light as we crossed the night desert. It was… not the sort of trip one forgets easily.