Breaking Bad: Genre Bender

This story's a day late because of the holiday weekend... sorry!

"It adds up perfectly," says Saul Goodman, Walter White's criminal lawyer. "Walt's a scientist, scientists love lasers. Plus, it's got bumper boats."

Sunday's episode of Breaking Bad, "Abiquiu," perfectly encapsulated why it's impossible to narrow the show down to one genre, because when Breaking Bad is at its best, it makes us feel an empty spot in the pit of our stomachs one minute, then makes us laugh out loud the next.

Saul's idea to have Walt launder money through the purchase of a Lazer Tag store was a prime example of the latter. And Jesse's temptation of Andrea, a recovering addict and single mom no less, was heartbreaking to watch.

But just over halfway through the episode, things took a dark turn. The laughs subsided, the tension mounted, and the plot moved forward in unexpected ways. Skyler told Walt she was ready to be "his Danny," a trustworthy source at Walt's money-laundering front. Gus invited Walt over for dinner and they shared a meal. Gus opened up to Walt in a way we've never seen before, but with a warning: "Don't make the same mistake twice." And in the episode's most intriguing and dangerous turn, we learned that Andrea is indirectly connected to the murder of Combo—Jesse's dealer who was gunned down by a young hood (Andrea's little brother)—and Jesse didn't appear to want to let that slide.

It was an example of pacing at its best: Breaking Bad ropes us in with laughs and thick drama, then, by leading us to the edge of a cliff, leaves us wanting more. And with two episodes left in this fantastic season, fireworks are imminent and all kinds of things will hit the fan.

The one storyline that seems to be stalling (for the moment) is Hank's recovery. During the first half of the season, Hank was THE MAN! But now he's stuck in a hospital bed, sabotaging himself by refusing to leave until he deems himself healthy enough. Hank is a proud man to a fault, and his fear of returning to real life is literally crippling. But an angry Hank in a hospital bed is no fun; we need him out and about, where he can complicate things. I'm sure we'll get there before the season ends.

And for now I'm okay with that, because it's Hank's turn to ride the bench. It's almost as if the writers are taking turns with their emphases. In the first third of the series, the focus was on Walt and Skyler and their divorce while Jesse was mired away in rehab. In the second third of the series, Walt and Skyler took a backseat to Hank's story, and Jesse came back into the fold. Now, as we head into home stretch of this season, Jesse has come to the forefront and everyone else is slowly moving into place for a fantastic finish. Yet throughout the whole season, it's really always been about how Walt fits into all of this.

Just as it does with its genres, Breaking Bad masterfully juggles its characters and storylines. And there are only two hours left in Season 3, so buckle up!

A few stray thoughts about the episode:
... That "meth blue" color popped up again, this time in unusual places. Saul wore a light blue ribbon on his lapel (see the photo above), and Andrea's brother had some prominent light blue lettering on his shirt. Also: I may be looking too far into this, but when the blue appears on people's clothing (it previously appeared on Walter Jr.'s striped shirt), it almost always seems to be placed near their hearts.

... More costuming brilliance: Jesse's peace sign shirt in the final scene when he was all about anything but peace.

... How amazing was that opening scene with Jesse and Jane, the talk about Georgia O'Keeffe, and her cigarettes? Great to see Krysten Ritter back. "To me that's about making that feeling last."

... He won't win an Emmy for his performance, but Bob Odenkirk couldn't be more perfectly cast.

... "Grandpa Anus." I think I just found a new nickname for my friends.

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (5)
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I just hope Jesse doesn't kill that kid.
It's a shame that one of my favorite shows is gonna end in just two weeks

so sad...after lost and supernatural, breaking bad is truly brilliant.
Saul reminds me of characters in Grand Theft Auto for some reason.
This show is amazingly good. These last few episodes are going to be fantastic!
I can't believe this season is almost over. Feels like it just started, and now we only have two episodes left. Its been one intense ride.

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