Spoilers for the penultimate episode of "Breaking Bad" season one coming up just as soon as I see what the river card is...
Now here's the first show that I can honestly say is suffering because of the writers strike. The first few episodes of "Breaking Bad" were interesting, but they were going at a very measured pace and clearly building to something, and just as we're getting there, everything's about to stop because Vince Gilligan and company only finished 7 scripts before the strike began. I'm not remotely ready to put this show in the same league as "The Wire," but the pace of this season is beginning to feel similar; try to imagine a "Wire" season being cut short just as all the stories began coming together. It's very frustrating.
That said, I thought this was easily the strongest episode of the run so far. Now, any episode that climaxes with a bald, clean-shaven Walt using explosive crystals to negotiate a fair deal with a scary meth distributor is going to be high on the "wow" factor. But the really interesting part of the episode, to me, was how Walt's finding it increasingly difficult to justify the meth-cooking plan. Sure, he's taking control of his own destiny, feeling more alive, blah blah blah, but he's already getting too sick to cook and therefore has to swap jobs with Jesse, the money is proving harder to come by then he first thought, and Hank's investigation into the ventilator mask winds up ruining the life of one of the few decent people at Hank's school. There's no way Hank is ever going to be able to wipe away the guilt of killing Crazy 8 and Emilio, but the longer he stays in this game, the more damage he's going to do to himself and everyone around him.
And, as always, Bryan Cranston is terrific. I know it goes without saying, but with only one more episode, gotta say it while I can.
What did everybody else think?