All the while watching Mad Men seemed to me the question was ‘Would Don Draper be redeemed?’ Breaking Bad was running roughly concurrently and the same question with an otherly alliteration was being posed: ‘Would Walter White be damned?’
The answer to the first was quintessentially postmodern, exquisitely childish, and thereby perfect — neither. Or, as an actual developing maturity asked of a couple adults in another context at the time, ‘Why not two cupcakes?’
The answer to the second show’s similar question was known at the latest when WW let Jane die. Or, rather, it was known did we but stop and ponder the ways of all flesh. That point midway through — not a coincidental pacing given Vince Gilligan’s meticulous timing, framing, telling — the series was, the first time through it for me, where I stopped rooting for Walter.
Because we hope … we hope.
And hope is, as Andy Dufresne knew, a good thing.
It may be our role in all this — I mean all this — to simply, always hope.
It’s the role of men like Gilligan to shake us by the ol’ shoulders betimes and remind us people can do very very very bad things.
In the current season finale of Better Call Saul Kim Wexler shows a bit more of herself. Presently I’m feeling there’s been slightly too little development for this development but, then again, this is only a first-time-through viewing. Three times through BB now … second time I saw more of the crafting in Gilligan’s work; third time through still more, and a few of the cracks in the craft. Perhaps once more into the BCS breach and I shall see what I’ve missed in the gradual reveal of why Kim is who she is.
Therein lies the tale.
If we cd only see what we miss.
[It cd also come in the next season, a few minutes of flashback in a couple episodes … maybe even a lot more than that in one? We were allowed a taste of it a few episodes a go, a ‘hint of mint,’ women of another era called it in a slightly but only slightly different context.]
If only we cd see what we miss.
The problem is, we’re looking right at it.
The reason that ‘purloined letter’ gambit works is not just a feature of the letter or the mantle but a bug in the viewer. The ruse works because of something we are. Hopeful, yes, and blind.
A line from Mad Men returns to me just this moment, somewhere midpoint also, third season it cd be, the one where DD has taken up journaling and he’s toying with the youngest of his targets — the one who thinks she is playing with him with all the feminine wiles she’s discovering in herself.
After a date, he take her home in the taxi and she plays her ingénue role, kissing him passionately in the back seat as the cab pulls to the curb, then stopping him and opening the door; perhaps she even raises a finger sagely between them, to her lips, to his.
She thinks it is a natural thing.
She thinks it is the next right step.
She thinks she is telling him to wait.
She thinks she is telling him anything.
He goes home and tell his journal and us, ‘She probably planned that moment for days.’
He writes at one point, ‘We tell each other exactly who we are, how we want to be treated.’
And so, Kim Wexler. We wd know her did we but see what we have missed. Just now I can’t recall all the times she’s shown us. But they are there.
Flannery has several such characters, ones who insist on their desire, even nature, even as another of her good country people tries to talk them out of it.
As Jimmy did here.
Mad Men’s ending was I think better on the purely creative question. Aside from ambushing with its fact and astonishing with its fit it carries the ominous element of Don Draper still being a person out there, in the world, one might meet.
At least Walter White’s dead.
[Thought p’raps there are Internet conspiracy theories also out there in the world saying he’s not.]
In fact, we meet Don Draper far more commonly than Walter White.
And as badass as we like to see ourselves we are DD more than WW.
When I was thinking Don Draper might be redeemed I didn’t really see him. Even when I saw White descend into the abyss there was not only that afore-noted hope, but other elements as well: he can’t do that next, can he? And oh he wouldn’t do that …
And then it all made sense in that reverse engineering the best stories drive us to. We get to the end and we look back and go, how did we get here? And it all shocks and it all makes perfect sense. If it is about the really big stuff, we have the stuff of story, which is to say of life.
So we watch Jim and Kim and see them not so different after all, or perhaps, even worse, that she is capable of … even worse. And they contemplate an action we’re pretty sure they’re going to take bec. we know Jimmy and we’re getting to know Kimmy.
And we kinda think it’s going to work the way they think bec so much of what they’ve done has … exc. it hasn’t and never has and is never just this once or one last time nor anything at all they say it’ll be each and every time and we wd know this if we cd see what we miss.
Mike thought he knew what was going to happen with Lalo, and Varga believed him. They wanted to.
I think we thought it, too. Anyway, I did.
We think it as well of the Wexler-McGills.
Think we know how it’s going to happen.
Then again, so do they.