Filed under: Recaps & Reviews
The second season of Breaking Bad makes it obvious through the writing that the producers of the series have done their research in the matters that define the series. The end result is a truly remarkable show, that is able to appeal to a wide range of audience. On top of this, the acting is top notch, making it almost impossible for the viewer to not empathize with the two main characters of the show. As Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) continue with their ambitions, they leave behind a trail of regret, which also leads to self-questioninng on why they perpetuate the consequences of their criminal actions.
Only when faced with a sense of real despair, is Jesse able to realize the insanity, sacrifice, and self-deprivation, that goes along with the lifestyle of a drug dealer. From what has been unveiled of Jesse, he has no positive supports. His family wants nothing to do with him, and his only friends also happen to be in the drug dealing scene. This season introduced a new character, Jane (Krysten Ritter), that could potentially inject some elements of real hope into his life. However, Jane, like Jesse, experiences a true sense of loneliness. Upon application for rent, instead of rejecting Jesse for a tenant, Jane accepts him, and she becomes more than just a landlady. After being coerced into attending support groups by her father, Donald, Jane finds her new life of sobriety to be quite foreign, even after eighteen successful months. Like every other ex-addict, Jane has had to separate herself from her past to achieve a clean life. This resulted in the only known remaining connections she has with the world are her job, father, and now, her relationship with Jesse. There is something shared between these two individuals that are felt, but not said. This is implied in the early scenes where she makes herself available in a restrained manner, as her subtle way of getting Jesse to to reach out to her. She is aware of the type of individual that Jesse is, but still takes a chance on him.
But she falls into the same trap that affects every former addict when they enter into a relationship with a person that is still using substances: she goes back to using drugs. Although they are able to start off with having a shared interest in art, Jesse's inability to cope without resorting to using drugs leads Jane back into using drugs as well. However, her prior drug use was significantly more severe than Jesse's recreational jib smoking. Previous to her eighteen months of clean living, Jane had been a heroin addict, and she returns to her old habits, as well as introduces Jesse to mainlining. In dealing with her father's discovery of her drug use, Jane is able manage her crisis by telling him everything he wants to hear, in order to avoid the consequences of her actions. But what makes Jesse and Jane different from each other, is that when Jane is at her worst, she is an absolute criminal thinker that has no consideration for others, as she viciously drives a wedge between Jesse and Walter, so that she can detach herself with the realities of this world.
This is what turns Jane into a foil for Walter. They are both tied to Jesse and his drugs, but in different ways. Whereas Jane's relationship with Jesse increasingly involves using drugs, Walter, on the other hand, does not approve of Jesse using drugs, and attempts to be a positive influence in his life. Because Walter does genuinely care about Jesse's well being, Jesse is able to show some reluctance in going along with Jane's plans. Walter eventually attempts to rescue Jesse from his drug abuse, by getting him out of the crackhouse, and into a luxurious drug rehabilitation center. It is here, that Walter shows his true ignorance of drug addiction. He expects a stay in rehab to cure Jesse, but is totally oblivious that it is the lifestyle that both he and Jesse have been living in together to be the problem. Whereas Jesse is addicted to drugs, Walter proves to be the worst type of person there is in the drug scene: he is a drug dealer without a drug abuse issue. In other words, he is addicted to the money, and does not feel any of the first hand effects of being on drugs.
The involvement in the lifestyle of a drug dealer eventually takes its toll on Walter's family, especially his wife. Skylar had been previously tolerant and patient enough for Walter, but even she has a breaking point when she uncovers a number of his cover-ups to be nothing more than lies. The breaking point takes place after it seemed like Walter's battle with cancer was taking a positive turn. Despite this positive news, Walter continued in his negative behaviours, as he has found that he is too severely entrenched in the lifestyle of a criminal to want to change. After having been continuously insulted and lied to way too many times by Walter, Skylar adapts by becoming financially independent by returning to her old job, and at the end of the season, she tells Walter that she wants him gone.
Only when threatened by such a severe consequence, is Walter motivated to offer to come clean. But it is too little and too late. He had plenty of opportunity to tell the truth, and now the repercussions of his actions are haunting him. Combined with the coincidental bar conversation with Donald, and the preventable death of Jane, Walter now finds himself under an airplane explosion that he contributed to. This scene was shown a few times in earlier episodes, and also references the series' tendency to use the symbolisms of water and colour. This makes it no coincidence, that Walter is dressed in a pink sweater, as an explosion damaged pink teddy bear falls into the blue that is his backyard swimming pool.
This makes for a great cliffhanger, that had been planned all the way from the beginning of the season. The producers very carefully pieced together the show, focusing very much of character development and interaction. More information of this production can be found on the DVD set, as it contains a large amount of extras, including interviews, and behind the scene footage. The end result is a phenomenal season, that is all boxed up in a four disc DVD set that is worth getting.