Monday, May 4, 2009

"Breaking Bad": I'm Addicted!

Steve is a fan of the AMC TV show “Breaking Bad,” and he’s finally gotten me hooked. Basically, it’s about a high school chemistry teacher in New Mexico who’s dying of cancer who decides to cook/deal meth to make money to provide for his family after he’s gone. Last night’s episode was an achievement, metaphorically focusing on the helplessness of coping with a killer disease like cancer.

Walt is waiting for the results of his PET-CT scan. He secretly catches a glimpse of the scan and sees big, ugly blotches all over the place; that, and the fact that he’s suddenly coughing up blood, lead him to believe the test results will not be happy.

He and his partner—Jesse, a former student of his—drive off to the middle of nowhere in their meth lab/RV so he can crank up meth production so he can accumulate more money now that time is getting short. Due to a series of well-conceived, suspenseful events, the two of them are stranded in the desert with no water and no way to get back to civilization, unless Walt’s scientific knowledge and skill can save them.

Sadly, while intellect may (or may not) save one from being stranded in the desert, of course we all know how it fares against the random and unfair ravages of cancer. And though the test results are not what one might expect, Bryan Cranston, the actor playing Walt, beautifully captures the residual rage, frustration, and powerlessness of being forced to live with cancer. Great acting, great writing…and a great way to spend Sunday night now that HBO has fallen by the wayside.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.