And now, the pain and the pleasure of diegetic time

I’ve been crowing panegyrics for Breaking bad since its debut, so I’ll understand if my unrelenting praise is getting tedious.  But seriously — no exaggeration — it is the best show on television.

Touching, right?

My lower middle class roots have predisposed me to get inordinately invested in such unlikely plot developments as Making One’s Fortune By Selling Exceptionally Pure Crystal Meth.  But at the same time, my liberal arts education has also inclined me to appreciate somewhat more mundane conflicts, like the increasingly elaborate fictions Walter White has to sell to his increasingly unsympathetic wife.  The highlight of last night’s installment, however, had to be Jesse Pinkman’s extended game of peekaboo with his tragically wily customers’ near-autistic child.  The episode’s editor graciously intercut between Pinkman’s disastrous performance of hardness and the palpable discomfort of Walt’s flimsy lies, but nevertheless, that interminable scene in the meth addicts’ den of iniquity reminded me a lot of Jim Jarmusch circa Strangers in paradise.  I kept expecting the story to advance, to cut reassuringly to some narrative plateau further along in diegetic time, but alas, diegetic time was not to be compromised quite so easily.  Gilligan and crew left us to suffer along with Pinkman through a full day and night of tragicomedic mishaps.  “Peekaboo” wasn’t fun or even enjoyable watching, exactly — and neither were the previous two episodes — but it was both rich in terms of narrative development and ballsy in terms of televisual convention.  This is the one show (post-Six feet under) that I wish would never end.

— J.C. Freñán

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4 thoughts on “And now, the pain and the pleasure of diegetic time”

  1. Haven’t gotten that far, diegetically speaking, but looking forward to it. What do you make of the editors toggling between Walter and Jesses’s domesticated performances? Has Jesse’s Eminem act fallen apart at the seams yet? I’ve only gotten to the melting body in the bathtub in Season 1.

    That was the most gore I’d seen since Garth Marenghi.

  2. Do you think the bad eyebrows are part of her character? Ladies like that often have terribly eyebrows.

  3. I’d wondered that very same thing, because yes, a high school principal in the American Southwest would very likely have over-plucked eyebrows. But then I looked at her headshots on IMDB. Not a pretty sight.

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