Breaking Bad, “Green Light” (2010).

The funniest scene of the show so far — though the memory may be heightened by the fact that I was watching this right after surgery, and that I probably shouldn’t have been laughing — is of Walt trying helplessly to chuck a potted plant through an office window in the episode “Green Light“. Impotent (in a general sense) and frustrated, Walt clumsily fails in his mission, and, in an even funnier scene a minute later, ends up lunging after the oily Saul Goodman instead.

Did we viewers really need to see him humiliated like this? This, especially after Anna Gunn’s devastating line delivery from the previous episode, I.F.T.? (Surely I wasn’t the only one who shivered at Skyler’s coldness?)

At this point in the series, though, Walt seems pretty damn immortal. (I may add here that protagonists of successful television shows usually are, at least until the creators decide to move on to other projects.) With Walt’s close brushes with death — known or unknown, by hatchet or by cancer cell — have rendered him almost invincible. His episode with the potted plant is a reminder that Walt is normal, too: an unconvincing liar, torn by conflicting demands, capable of making bad decisions like you and me. It’s also a reminder that the narrative arc of his seeming invincibility isn’t that far removed from the humiliations of the first few episodes. The same cuckolded Walt now is, after all, the same Walt yelled at by his boss at the carwash, or laughed at by his chemistry student.

There’s no shortage of jet-black humor on this show, tortoise-related or otherwise, and sometimes one just needs a good laugh at the main character’s expense.


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