Monday, September 30, 2013

Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, Science!

I haven’t been much of a TV watcher since “Cheers” went off the air 20 years ago. I’ve picked up a few shows here and there, but mostly on DVD after they’d gone off the air. As of right now, I can literally count on one hand how many shows I watch on a regular basis that are still currently being made. And now that “Breaking Bad” has come to an end, there are even less.

My mind is awash with all sorts of thoughts and impressions and reactions and theories regarding the final episode and the series in retrospect. For now, though, I just kind of want to sit and bask in the glow of what an exhilarating ride it was. I knew I would want to write something after seeing the finale and I could wax philosophical about how brilliant the show was and what set it apart and how I feel about the ending, but I don’t want to.

For one, I don’t want to begin by saying, “SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this unless you’ve seen the last episode of ‘Breaking Bad’ (and every episode before it).” I want to write something that anyone and everyone could read. Perhaps something that would make someone who’s never seen a single episode seek it out and watch it many times over many marathon sessions (like I did), drinking in every glorious moment like a junkie getting their fix.

My overall opinion of the final episode is that it was perfectly satisfying and consistent with the show’s caliber of storytelling. I will say this, though: Over the course of the show, we would occasionally see flashbacks that occurred before the first episode. We got to see Walter in college (grad school, probably). We got to see the Whites buy their first house. We even got to see members of the drug cartel early on and how they came to be the kingpins they were. One thing we never did see, though, was Jesse Pinkman as a student in Mr. White’s class.

While I loved the climactic scene and the beautifully composed final shot of the series, I think it would have been a nice epilogue to see a prologue. Perhaps of the first time Walt and Jesse met. One of the most popular (that is to say, most viewed) blogs I’ve written was my idea of how “The Office” should have ended (with Steve Carell’s exit). So, if you’ll indulge me, I’ve composed a short script of how Mr. White and Jesse Pinkman could have become acquainted for the first time ten years ago in a high school chemistry class. I don’t even pretend to be on the level of genius that the actual writers of “Breaking Bad” clearly are, but I did the best I could and had a good time pretending. I’m sure you may have your own ideas of how they met, but here’s mine. My final scene of “Breaking Bad” to add on to theirs:


MR. WHITE: Gabrielle Petrissans.

STUDENT #1: Here.

MR. WHITE: Rod Peyketewa.

STUDENT #2: Here.

MR. WHITE: Lou Pimber.

STUDENT #3: Here.

MR. WHITE: Jesse Pinkman.

(No answer.)

MR. WHITE: (Louder) Jesse Pinkman?

(Still no answer.)

MR. WHITE: (Marking absent in the roll call) No Mr. Pinkman. Okay. Jason Ponic.

STUDENT #4: Here.

(JESSE bursts into classroom.)


(JESSE plops into the nearest vacant seat.)

MR. WHITE: (Perturbed) And who might you be?

JESSE: Jesse.

MR. WHITE: Jesse…

JESSE: Yeah.

MR. WHITE: Jesse Pinkman, I presume?

JESSE: Yeah, that’s right.

MR. WHITE: Well, Mr. Pinkman. In case it wasn’t already obvious, you are late.

JESSE: Yeah, but not by much, dude. I just heard you call Jason’s name. He’s, like, right behind me on the list, right?

MR. WHITE: (Putting down his pen) That’s not the point. Even if you had walked in right before I called your name, you would still be late. When the last bell rings, my class begins and if you are not in your seat, quiet, and paying attention, you are late and thus a disruption to my class.

JESSE: Okay. Well… Sorry, man. It’s the first day of school, I couldn’t find the class on time. Cut me some slack.

MR. WHITE: (Moving from behind the counter to approach JESSE.) First of all, it’s not “man.” Nor is it “dude” or “bro” or whatever contemporary pronoun you use amongst your peers. It is Mr. White and you will refer to me as Mr. White in class, out of class, in public, in private, on the street, wherever. Is that understood?

JESSE: (impudently) Okay. Mr. White. Whatever.

MR. WHITE: Second of all… You’re a junior, is that correct?

JESSE: Yeah.

MR. WHITE: (Standing right in front of JESSE’s desk) So, you’re two years from graduation. Theoretically, of course. Two years from graduation and you still haven’t grasped the basic concept of respect for the rules. I’ve known you a grand total of thirty seconds and that’s all you’ve shown me so far.

(JESSE glares up at MR. WHITE.)

MR. WHITE: (leaning down almost menacingly) You’re not off to a good start.

(They stare at each other for a couple seconds. MR. WHITE stands up and walks back to the roll call list.)

MR. WHITE: The good news is there’s hope for you, Jesse. You’ve got a whole two years to make the right choices. So, decide now. What’s it going to be? Are you going to continue to do things however you want to do them with no consideration for those around you? Or, are you going to pay attention and listen to people who know better than you? I’ve seen students like you come and go and the one thing they all had in common was potential. Most of them squandered it. Some of them channeled it and moved on to bigger and better things. No matter what you might think of me, I promise I’m smarter than you. If you do what I say and follow my rules, you might make something of yourself. I want you to remember that during our time together.

(JESSE continues to glare, but more intensely in response to being publicly chastised.)

MR. WHITE: (Glaring back) Are you ready to begin?

JESSE: Ready when you are, Mr. White.


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