Breaking Bad’s premiere perfectly showcases the greatness it would become

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The aftermath of Walt’s cooking in the desert

Poster portraying the future of Walt and Jesse

Breaking Bad is widely regarded as one of the greatest televisions shows of all time, and its premiere episode gave everyone a preview of the greatness to come. Season 1, Episode 1 of Breaking Bad perfectly exemplifies the chaos, drama, and humor inside the dynamic duo of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.

The opening scene shows a middle aged man frantically driving a worn down RV down a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. He records a goodbye message to his family, then wields a gun with police sirens in the distance. This is an absolute perfect way to kick off the series as a great deal of the show is as chaotic and suspenseful as this first scene.

We then cut to this same man, except that he appears to be somewhat normal in this scene. It is his 50th Birthday! This man is Walter White, and, as of now, he seems like a pretty innocent guy. We immediately start to feel some sympathy for him as his teenage son appears to have cerebral palsy, and he has an unborn child at his old age. Walter then drives his son to school, where he works as a chemistry teacher. He is seen struggling with getting his students to participate and be engaged in class. This portion of the episode does an excellent job of showing Walt as a loveable, suburban dad. However, we also see some of his struggles with his children and difficult job as a high school teacher. It perfectly contrasts with the Heisenberg that we all came to know and love.

We then start to feel sorry for Walt as we see that his teaching job does not pay the bills, so he has a second job at a car wash. This sympathy is furthered by the fact that a student of his mocks him when he washes the students’ car. After a tough day at his two jobs, Walt returns home to a surprise birthday party. At the party is Walt’s brother-in-law, Hank. Hank, a DEA agent, recently found $700,000 in a major meth bust. Walt is shocked by the amount. The sad, dead end job segues perfectly into Walt’s shock upon hearing the amount of money found during the drug bust. We all know the thoughts that are entering Walt’s mind because we are having them ourselves. “Oh, I’m stuck at two jobs that I hate, and there are drug dealers making hundreds of thousands. Huh.” This also foreshadows that Walt’s brother-in-law, Hank, would be a future obstacle.

The next day, while Walt is washing cars, he collapses in a sudden coughing fit and is rushed to the hospital. Upon waking up at the hospital, Walt is told that he has serious lung cancer and it is likely he only has a few years left at the most. Again, our sympathy for Walt continues to grow. It matures from sympathy to just pure sadness for this man.

Walt then returns to the car wash, where he quickly gets into an argument with his rude boss. Walt curses his boss out, knocks down some items, and leaves the building. This is the first time we get a “good for you” moment in the show. At least he rid himself of one of his stresses.

We then cut to Walt riding along with Hank as Hank had previously offered to allow Hank to tag along on the next drug bust. While Hank and his partner raid the house, Walt sees a Jesse Pinkman, a former student of his. Pinkman is climbing through a window at an adjacent house. Pinkman is the one that Hank is looking for. In this scene, we are introduced to our second protagonist, the second half of the Heisenberg-Pinkman duo. Pinkman looks like your average drug dealer, or junkie as many people call him. He almost completely contrasts with Walt hin appearance, age, occupation, and nearly everything else.

That evening, we are surprised to see Walt visit Jesse. Jesse immediately recognizes Mr. White. Walt keeps repeating to Jesse that no one is looking for him, as Jesse believes Walt is working with the police. It becomes clear that Walt is there to partner up with Jesse. “‘You lost your partner today. What’s his name, Emilio? Emilio’s going to prison. The D.E.A. took your money, your lab. You got nothing. Square one. But you know the business, and I know the chemistry. I’m thinking. Maybe you and I…partner up.'” Jesse is shocked that his FORMER TEACHER is asking to cook meth with him. He continues to suspect that Walt is a police agent, but Walt continues to assure him that he is not. Walt then threatens to turn Jesse in if he does not agree to work with him. This is a sudden character change for Walt as he went from a nice, middle aged man, to a sympathetic, depressed cancer patient, to a meth manufacturer, all in one episode. However, we do not really see this as a bad thing. It is another “go Walt!” moment. This is the beginning of the breakdown of Walt. After his tragic diagnosis, Walt has lost all care in the world. No sense of consequence. He just wants quick money for his family before he goes.

Walt is then seen stealing supplies from the high school’s chemistry department: flasks, beakers, chemicals, gas masks, and much more. Meanwhile, Jesse is purchasing an RV. Aw, Walt’s first meth lab. Walt and Jesse meet up and drive off into the desert. Before getting to work, Walt strips down, creating a hilarious sight; earlier in the episode, we saw an innocent man celebrating his 50th birthday. Now, that same man is near-naked, in the desert, cooking meth with a former student of his. Walt proceeds to cook some of the purest meth that Jesse has ever seen. Astonished, Jesse compliments Walt’s work and seems to fully be in to this new partnership that they have going. This is the major character development we see in the episode. Walt could not look more out of place, but he cooks a mean batch of meth. This humor and relationship between Walt and Jesse is part of what would go on to make the show what is was.

Jesse then does his part, the business part. He meets with his old partner, Emilio, and Emilio’s cousin, Krazy-8, a drug distributor. Emilio suspects that Jesse betrayed him and is working with the DEA, but the two agree to go with Jesse to the RV. There, they meet Walt, and Emilio becomes even more suspicious as Walt was there during the drug raid. During the tension, threats are cast, and Jesse is knocked out. Walt, begging for his life, agrees to shows the two men how to make the extremely pure meth. This is the first proper taste of the meth business that Walt gets, and boy is it a crazy one. Within a day of joining the industry, Walt’s life is already in danger. There would be many more of these instances to come.

Walt awaiting the approaching sirens

Jesse is tied up outside the RV, and Walt is held at gunpoint inside it. Emilio unknowingly starts a grass fire with his cigarette. Before that becomes an issue, Walt begins to realize that showing them the cooking process will not save his life. So, he mixes a few chemicals together and suddenly makes a toxic gas blow into the two men’s faces. Walt runs out of the RV and holds the door shut. The men shoot through the door, with bullets barely going over Walt’s head. However, the two men collapse from inhaling the gas. That’s right, Walt has killed his first man and on his first day on the job. What a turn of events from the car-washing teacher we in the same episode. It becomes more apparent just how smart and quick-witted Walt is and what he is capable of doing to survive and provide for his family.

However, this climactic scene is far from over. Walt puts a gas mask on himself and an unconscious Jesse, then proceeds to drive both of them down the dirt road. That’s right, we are back to the opening. That wild and enthralling opening that we witnessed earlier is now back with context behind it. The man driving the vehicle is no meth head. No, this is Walter White: genius chemist and recent meth cook. After pulling off to the side of the road, Walt finds a gun and attempts to shoot himself, but the safety prevents him from doing so. Before he can go through with it, it becomes clear that the sirens he hears are NOT police cars but instead are firetrucks going to deal with the fire started by Emilio’s cigarette. Jesse then wakes up, joins a still underwear-sporting Walt, and the two stand there in shock and relief. What an episode! Imagine how both men are feeling. In the span of two day, Walt went from being at a sad car wash job and having a cancer diagnosis to cooking meth and killing men in the middle of the desert. Jesse went from nearly being captured by the police and losing everything to facing death in the middle of the desert with his former chemistry teacher. This is a incredible sneak peak of what was to come of these two. Two men, who could not be more different, cooking and selling meth together and forming and unbreakable relationship.

10/10.