Aaron Paul and Breaking Bad Raise the Bar
I think Aaron Paul just made “The Jump.” That phrase is often used for athletes who take their game to the next level: from having potential and promise, to delivering at the highest level. I muttered it to myself while watching a television drama.
In Sunday’s episode of AMC’s Breaking Bad, Aaron Paul took his game to the highest level. Sure, he received an Emmy nomination last year for his portrayal of Jesse Pinkman, but he didn’t play it like he did on Sunday. Aaron Paul’s imdb.com page is littered with TV credits followed by “1 episode.” Currently, along with Breaking Bad, you can also find Paul on HBO’s Big Love. Somewhere, someone must have seen that Aaron Paul didn’t need to keep playing, “Wasted Guy,” “Student,” “Frat Boy #2,” or any other of the one-off characters he was portraying.
In the DVD extras of the first season of Breaking Bad we get to see the casting tape for the character Jesse Pinkman. From day one it seems like Aaron Paul had the perfect read on a tormented character who could still be funny.
The Jesse Pinkman character is a high school dropout/burnout who used to cook his own crystal meth, then hooked up with Mr. White (two-time Best Lead Actor Emmy-winner Brian Cranston) and started to cook super-meth. In the first two seasons we learned of Jesse’s strained relationship with his parents, witnessed new drug habits and the end of the only long-term relationship he has ever had. All this was played beautifully by Paul.
The current season, we've watched Jesse enter rehab, deal with loss, take major jabs at his parents, and lose the best partner/friend/father-figure he has ever had in Mr. White. It’s been different, but better. There has been less flashy clothing, less slang (though admittedly I have missed his perfectly placed “Yo” in any given sentence) and deep, emotional and physical pain.
In Sunday’s episode, entitled One Minute, one scene in a hospital stood out among a handful of great scenes (Breaking Bad deserves all the praise it gets and far more than this 415 word write-up). I will not give away anything. If you haven’t already gotten hooked on the troubles of Jesse, Walt, Pollos and company, I suggest you take the time to catch up. Not just for this one episode, but for an amazing experience greater than most anything else on television today.
If you don’t catch up soon, come Emmy night, you might be wondering who is holding all those trophies.