The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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August 13, 2012

Joe Hadsall: ‘Breaking Bad’ best show currently on TV

JOPLIN, Mo. — I never thought, in a million years, that I would get into a show like “Breaking Bad.” But I’m hooked.

Seriously.

It took me four years to get into it, actually. The concept sounded kind of dumb, at first. High school chemistry teacher Walter White decides to make meth after finding out he has cancer, and needs the money to pay the bills? Keep in mind that “Lost” was still on TV at the time, and I had to have shows with meaning. (Like “Lost” did. I kill me.)

So I ignored it. Life goes on.

Meanwhile, “Breaking Bad” racked up Emmys, while I continued to defend the finale of “Lost.” Seriously, that scene with Jack in the fountain was epic! He finally fixed something!

Then, somewhere in season three, I caught the end of an episode where Walter and his family find out that his cancer is cured. He appears relieved, goes to the bathroom, then pounds a hand dryer out of frustration.

I’ve been hooked ever since.

Vince Gilligan’s series has been filled with powerful, incredible moments, but that really is the standout scene for me. It revealed layers of depth that I didn’t think was possible for the guy who played Malcolm’s dad.

The show is grisly, realistic and emotional. It progresses at a snail’s pace, but every moment is critical and significant. From the song selection to the sparse, just-a-little-shaky cinematography, “Breaking Bad” is compelling television.

In other words, if you don’t follow the show, you really should, so that you understand the next few, SPOILER-laden paragraphs.

The first four seasons answered the question of how far Walter would go Ñ he is a full-on monster in season five. Four episodes in, his hubris and confidence is absolutely chilling.

As he takes on the business and gets cooking again, the layers of his gangster alter ego manifest themselves. Like a malevolent, calculating Hannibal Smith, his plans come together amazingly, almost impossibly, yet he is never surprised.

His inner monster is unleashed, as well. Walter White is effectively in a coma. Even his moments with his family feel like the spoils of war.

Seriously, last week’s scene where he was watching “Scarface” with Walt Jr., and laughing about it? Funny, yeah, but chilling a few minutes after the episode.

In the last episode, Skyler delivered a bigger gut-punch than the announcement of her affair with Ted: Afraid of being so close to a monster, she said that the only thing she could do was wait for Walt’s cancer to come back.

Seasons one through four seemed to be about, “How’s Walter gonna get out of this?” This final season of the show is all about, “How are they going to get away from Walt?” Which leads me to some theories:

THEORY No. 1: There’s a tracking device or bug in that watch that Jesse gave Walt for his 51st birthday. I think that Walt’s little speech to Jesse about someone who got killed by their former boss got under Jesse’s skin.

THEORY No. 2: The show’s final confrontation will be between Walt and Jesse. I was leaning toward a final confrontation between Walt and Hank Schrader, a DEA agent and Walt’s brother-in-law. Schrader is a heck of a detective, so it makes sense. But now I see everything falling apart in a conflict between the two cooks, and Hank piecing together the resulting mess.

Am I right? We’ll see.

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