Day 42. 105 pages, 51,977 words.
I just started watching Breaking Bad on Netflix. It’s pretty amusing, in a tense and ultra-violent sort of way, and definitely well-written. But I think everyone’s talked about the show as much as anyone wants to, and I’m still only on Season 1 right now anyway.
I didn’t want to talk about that. I wanted to talk about a weird realisation I had about a couple of the main characters. And I mean weird.
There’s a scene (for those of you who don’t know the show, let’s just say it’s about a chemistry teacher who gets cancer and decides to start making and selling crystal meth) where Walter’s family is trying to convince him to accept money from friends in order to pay for his cancer treatments, rather than let himself die (yeah, I don’t know, seemed far-fetched to me … but USA, man). It’s a funny scene, in a new-age team-building sort of way, with a “talking pillow” that each character holds before he or she is allowed to speak.
Walter’s brother-in-law, Hank (something of a blunt-spoken blokey-bloke with a macho attitude), gets the pillow and makes the following motivational speech:
Right, well … look at it this way, okay? It’s the bottom of the 9th. Bases are loaded. You’re up. But you got a bum arm. Right? There’s no frickin’ way you’re gonna hit a homer. So you can either let the pinch hitter take the bat, or you can hold on to your pride and lose the game. Get what I’m saying?
I sat and listened to this endearingly awkward, heartfelt-but-no-homo speech, a man doing his best in front of the lady-folk to speak his feelings and talk a beloved family member down, basically, off a cliff. And I suddenly realised it sounded so much like one of the bizarro metaphors Vuta might come out with during an extended drinking and/or sauna session, I became certain that I would never again be able to see Hank and Walter as “Hank and Walter” anymore.
I mean, aside from me not being a chemist who cooks meth, and Vuta not being a DEA agent, what the actual fuck? I feel like someone’s playing some sort of cosmic joke on me. And I remind you, I am only about five episodes in so I haven’t had a chance to see the true dark sides of all these characters yet. But so far, wow.
Hank and Walt are lanttumiehet. Lanttumiehiä? Shit, I don’t know. But the eerie similarity goes beyond their wives being sisters, and Hank and Vuta sharing a cheerful, slightly-poker-obsessed, boys-will-be-boys outlook on life.
 Let’s not go into the sisters, there’s not much similarity there. Well, I guess Mrs. Hatboy does have a hint of only-sane-person-in-a-world-gone-mad about her, but I’m pretty sure Bella’s not a delusional shoplifting doctor.
Walter is in the process of surviving cancer. He is a generally quiet, non-confrontational, intellectual kind of dude who wouldn’t hurt a fly or do more than clear his throat uncomfortably if someone was standing on his foot in a queue somewhere. He’s thoroughly (and quite happily) ruled by his wife and kid(s). He’s got an undemanding but pretty low-status job that plays to but doesn’t fully utilise his talents.
Hank is a classic man of action, tough and crude and proud of it. He most certainly has his tender and complicated side, but he hides it behind a façade of hard-drinkin’, hard-playin’, make-a-bet bravado. He’s all about the guns and ammo, the cool moves, poker buddies and good whisky. He has a government job that requires training, weapons, special knowledge and clearance. He likes to rib his lanttumies about Walter’s soft and passive ways.
They both enjoy a good Cuban cigar, because what’s it going to do, give Walter more cancer?
So, that was interesting. Going to be fun to see where the characters go from here, actually – but don’t spoil it for me, please. My prediction is that they’ll get into a weird sort of blind game of cat and mouse, Hank’s Javert chasing Walter’s Valjean without his realising that Walter is right there in front of him the whole time.
Or, you know, Walter’s going to get himself caught on a towel hook somehow, while Hank passes the fuck out on a toilet. It’s all good.