by Chrysa Smith

‘It’s the best show on tv,’ said my 22 year old son, ‘You need to watch it.’

He was talking about the AMC series Breaking Bad. It’s been a success for the past four seasons and folks from Meredith Viera to the mainstream media to the Gen X crowd are talking about it. It’s not only addictive in and of itself, but it’s also the last season.

The show is set in the drug culture, and I wasn’t sure if I would want to watch it. Disturbing topics are rather—disturbing to me. But I gave it a chance. And like the subject itself, I was hooked.

The story follows the life of high school chemistry professor Walter White. With a terminal lung cancer diagnosis, a pregnant wife and a son with cerebral palsy, life ain’t too sweet. So in an attempt to provide for his family’s future, Walt privately goes about entering a dark world he knows little about—the world of crystal meth. Producing meth comes rather easy. He’s an ace chemist who can do things few others can. He’s found an old RV that he takes out into the New Mexico wilderness where he ‘cooks’ his batches. What’s not so easy is the selling. Coming into contact with the underworld and its nasty characters makes for engaging and frightening entertainment. Walt goes up against drug kingpins who’d blow him away without a thought. And with the help of his ex-student Jesse Pinkman, Walt finds himself in some unseemly predicaments–including the need to dispose of bodies—both dead and alive. So his chemistry knowledge comes in handy as he formulates a nice acid bath and poison rycin.

It’s not a life-long dream. Rather, what it becomes is his insurance policy—for the future of his wife and children. He can make thousands in a day, millions in a year. And what he needs is 3/4 of a million to pay for college, a mortgage, a home equity loan and a few incidentals. At the end of the day, despite the drugs and the violence, the story is really an all too common one—the story of a man with no way out. His health has failed him, leaving him with an abundance of responsibilities and bills. Despite his choice of second career, Walt’s  only desire is to see his family taken care of. But the plots twist and turn as his brother-in-law–a DEA agent, is getting closely entwined with his new life. His pregnant wife is full of questions, as Walt disappears at will and is non-communicative.

I’m only catching up on season 2, but I’m hoping to watch as much as possible before Sunday. That’s when the new and least season (5) begins. 9pm, AMC.