The Wire had been my best TV show for long. That story changed on the 17th of July, 2011. I finally lifted my hands in the air and hoorayed in confession to all Breaking Bad fans that “alas, this truly rivals The Wire”. So while the credits rolled on the Box Cutter episode of Breaking Bad this season, I couldn’t stop comparing the two.

I adore Breaking Bad, so bad. Its $2M budget per episode project, continue to keep me stapled to my television set every Sunday on AMC. No wonder it has garnered so much viewership, much more than The Wire boasted in its day – not to say that the size of the viewership has anything to do with how good a show is – for instance, Jersey Shore.

But after 4 episodes this season, I am beginning to reconsider. Can Breaking Bad be bold enough to ‘put away’ any of its main characters like The Wire did?

By the end of season 3, Breaking Bad had only succeeded in ‘putting away’ Tuco Salamanca, The Twins and Gale Boetticher. These characters were interesting but largely peripheral and hence ‘disposable’. However, The Wire had ‘put away’ D’Angelo Bucksdale and more importantly, Stringer Bell – we all remember how we felt about that – and these were pivotal characters in The Wire. The shock value alone when Stringer Bell was killed was felt in every nook and cranny.

When fans were dejected that the most interesting character had been ‘put away’, The Wire became an even more interesting – anything can happen – TV show. The Wire kept true to story while it maintained its engaging suspense. That’s what I respected about it.

But so far Breaking Bad hasn’t crossed that line. Are they afraid to do so? It seems to me that there is a hesitation on their part in going to the lengths that The Wire went. Perhaps, if Breaking Bad is more concerned about ratings, such a move could potentially shake its fan base. Even when the plot in many circumstances – especially with Jesse had dictated for extreme measures that The Wire would have easily taken, Breaking Bad has cringed away. Why?

Perchance, our appeasement will come from what could be boiling up in Hank’s mind in Breaking Bad. I believe that Hank is a bright cop. He is dedicated, driven and he certainly wants to know and arrest Heisenberg!

For instance, I feel that Hank figured that Walt was truly shaken when he showed him the weird footage of Gale singing. Even in his condition, Hank’s insight into the case is intriguing. Walt was lucky to have dodged another bullet when he was able to attribute the W.W. in the lab notes – Gale had dedicated his activities to a “W.W” – to ‘Walt Whitman’, an American poet and essayist.

Was Hank querying Walter? I believe so, albeit in a cop-investigator-like manner. I think Hank doesn’t buy the gambling story Skyler seems to think works and he’s certainly beginning to have reservations about Walt. Walt also realizes that there is one big potential loose end that Hank and the cops could find – Jesse. But Jesse is nowhere to be found, except ridding shotgun as Mike stealthily drives him through the desert. Has Gus out-thought Walt again? Is Jesse going down?

The problem is, even if Jesse were to go down in the next episode, which I doubt he would, Breaking Bad would have still not oiled the wheels that propelled it past The Wire in rankings. It would have passed the chance of pulling the trigger that is capable of hurling its fans up from their seats with rage and verve, seethe and soothe, love and hatred, as The Wire did with Stringer Bell.

Right now, a chance stalks in the noonday and can Breaking Bad strike that definitive punch? Breaking Bad may just be in need for its ‘Stringer Bell’ – its lamb for the alter – would it be Hank? Because, quite frankly, I don’t see any other ‘putting away’ that can accomplish what The Wire achieved with Stringer Bell.


  1. Nice observation. That’s what made The Wire feel realistic. It is surprising that Walt and Jesse have managed to escape even the slightest bullet wound. Maybe they’re saving it all for season 5.

  2. Tierra Taylor – No, but I think Jeese will kill Saul next week and eventually Walt and Jeese will get to Gus.

  3. I have tried to get into Breaking Bad and just can’t. Everyone tells me it’s good, but I’ve watched 3 or 4 episodes and just haven’t felt it. Now, The Wire and Mad Men? Yes, all day long!

  4. I’d say you shd give it a try. I got into it after two and a half seasons… so I had to watch the whole thing right from the pilot up. Otherwise, it’s not really worth the same excitement.

  5. I suppose so. But it’ll lack the effect I wish a ‘surprise kill’ can bring to the excitement and discussion on Breaking Bad. When Victor was killed by Gus, it was shocking! And exciting not because it was Victor, but because of Gus! He had been made up to be this calculating drug baron but never a cold killer… so when it happened in the Box Cutter episode, it was very interesting!
    Hence ‘putting away’ Mike will be in the same vain as Tuco and the rest. I don’t think the shock effect will be enough to jolt us out of our seats. But what can I say? I have been pleasantly surprised by Breaking Bad’s continued suspense.

  6. I think Jeese does kill Mike. He has nothing to lose. I think Mike is underestimating Jeese by takin him out to kill him.

  7. That will be interesting. Definitely. Though it keeps the same old ‘main’ cast together… I would rather have some infusion of new blood… some partnership that Walt finds… someone that can give him the help he needs now.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.