Binging Late (S2:E9) – Time Warp
This was a difficult episode for me. It centered around Walt waiting for the results of his cancer tests, and the multi-day meth cooking-binge-turned-fiasco he undertook with Jesse in the desert in the meantime. Because I’ve come to really despise Walter White, it was difficult for me to muster up any feeling over the results of his tests, one way or another. It’s not so much that I want him to die as it is that I really don’t care what happens to him as long as he stops hurting other people, which does not seem likely. His health really doesn’t concern me in the least.
One thing I did begin to realize during this episode is that I feel like I’ve lost track of time with this show. How much time has elapsed from the date of the first episode, when Walt first got his cancer diagnosis, until now? Six weeks? Six months? A year? Any of these answers seems plausible. I’m not sure it really matters a lot, in that the characters and the narrative hold up regardless, but it feels strange to me to have invested 16 episodes worth of viewing now into a story while having this little sense of how much time those 16 episodes cover. My method of watching these shows – binge-watching episodes that would have originally aired over the course of two seasons in the span of two weeks – probably exacerbates this.
Does anyone know the answer, by the way?
[The time-stretching is one of the most remarkable parts of the show, and the source of great consternation late in the game when months are glossed over. At this point, I’m thinking we’re just a few months into things (after Walt’s 50th birthday and cancer diagnosis) but I haven’t done the math.]
This episode is up in the BrBd Hall of Fame. It might be the episode I’d hand over if I had to pick one that embodies the best the show has to offer. Like usual, I didn’t re-watch for this response, but I can see the gorgeous visuals of the RV in the middle of nowhere and feel the excitement, then panic, then resignation, then thrill that those guys experience over four days.
And as Jesse and Walt go through more and more shit together, and you wonder how and why Jesse keeps agreeing to work with Walt, and why Walt insists on Jesse as his partner, you can watch this episode again and be reminded what each means to the other. It’s full of brilliant nuggets—”All the lies. I can’t even keep them straight in my head anymore.” “A robot. A dune buggy.”—and a MacGyver escape. But really it’s just that they are out there, alone, desperately making meth as team, with Walt the father/teacher and Jesse the son/student. The comedy and tragedy of the whole series is in there.
Sidenote: If you hated Walt when he was making meth in the middle of the desert when he thought he was about to die and just trying to break off a nest egg for his family, I cannot begin to imagine how much you’ll hate him as you progress through this series.