Originally Posted by bruce73
... except reveal a lot about Walt's character.
Absolutely! In fact, I would venture that that particular episode is undeniably PIVOTAL in the series as a whole -- not that it had to be! I would argue that certainly there is no immutable law, or even expectation that every series installment on TV need be pivotal, or advance "the plot," be filled with momentous doings which determine fates, or get "the action" to another place down the road.
One of the most brilliant aspects of this show as a whole, is the EXCEPTIONAL, PHENOMENAL depth and believability of these characters -- established, and only established, through spending some quality time mucking around in their psyches and personal interactions. Nothing which happens matters without our investment in the characters. FLY explored character, and indeed the human experience itself, with great masterful panache -- it dared to ostensibly premise an hour of TV on hunting a common housefly and made that process every bit as riveting and edge-of-the-seat as when we bit our nails over whether Tuco would ingest the ricin whilst our protagonist's lives hung in the balance.
You could call this episode out for grandstanding -- taking heretofore unacceptable risks to prove a point -- I can very much see that point of view. It WAS extremely audacious, even possibly unreasonably show-offy as pure artistic flourish, and had it not wildly succeeded as standout entertainment, it would have been a noble intention tarnished by the fatal flaw. But I found FLY to be utterly exalted in the pantheon of single hours of TV presentation, particularly because it stands as singular testament to the power of pure character study and allegory, masquerading as obsession with the mundane -- it raised the stakes of the superficially commonplace and ordinary to life-and-death parable. How many shows even endeavor to get close to that? -- let alone SUCCEED!
But I call this episode pivotal because Walt explores for himself and the viewer the exact moment when it would have been most propitious, optimal, to have checked out. That moment before which he had not fatally corrupted, thereby condemned, his personhood, his soul, his legacy. When those surrounding him could have continued to love and respect him even in his death, with awareness of his choices. Admire his sense of purpose and devotion to family preservation, even as he faced his own personal destruction. To comprehend, process and accept what he did, without having to overcome the poison-pill shock of his having made himself the unacceptable, unrecognizable and unforgiveable monster.
This installment represents his identification of the apex of his destiny, the proceeding beyond which, his fate is sealed. Where he advanced his sacrifices of moral character on the alter of noble intention beyond the point where turnaround, forgiveness and redemption might have eventuated. That meddlesome consideration had been submerged, undermining equanimity all along, but here was an expanse of quietude. What am I doing to myself and those I love, in their name? What is it acceptable for a man to do for that which he loves?
Driven by the cascading avalanche of overwhelming consequences, he has not had time to reflect and consider mankind's dilemma. Then there is that damnable fly. How could something so insignificant, buzzing in and out of view, but in the main concealed, trigger such a potentially decimating obsession? How can I afford myself the luxury of moral considerations against the cliff-edge of death itself? Can I obliterate this pesky hectoring gnat of moral choices, before it derails my focus, forever after paralyzing my free-will birthright?
It is worth noting that this episode is positioned just about halfway through the anticipated end of the series. It is pivotal to the central character, represents everything that is so great in this series, and remains for all time a tour de force of writing, acting, entertainment, and is some of the best TV I've ever seen.Edited by Emaych - 7/28/12 at 6:48pm