Top 10 Episodes #2
Season 3, Episode 10: ‘Fly’
Directed by Rian Johnson
Written by Vince Gilligan & Sam Catlin
It is a shame that while so many people spent six long years awaiting the series finale of Lost, those very same folks were missing possibly one of the greatest bottle episodes ever aired in Breaking Bad’s ‘Fly’, directed by Rian Johnson (Brothers Bloom, Brick).
‘Fly’ was a major change in pace for Breaking Bad – part slapstick comedy, part psychodrama – yet is incredibly moving. It was also one of the more hyper-stylistic episodes of the show, contained almost entirely in the “super” meth lab, and focusing exclusively on Walt and Jesse’s relationship. For an episode that featured about 40 minutes of Walt and Jesse trying to swat a fly, it also boasted some of the show’s most unbearable tension throughout. The fly itself was a clever and unique device to bring the two into a locked room, place their relationship under stress, and with nowhere to run, have them face each other’s issues.
‘Fly’ is completely distinct from the usual Breaking Bad episode – from the directing, to the dialogue and the look. At first, the episode teases us as to why Walt is losing his mind over a simple fly, but we quickly come to understand that the fly represents two things – his loss of control, and his guilt eating away at him for leaving Jane to die, choking on her own vomit.
Walt delivers his monologue about how it wasn’t supposed to be this way and how he was supposed to die months back – “you want them to miss you when you’re gone,” he notes. Walt is suffering from insomnia, worried about the choices he has made and the direction his life has taken. The final 15 minutes are unforgettable, with Jesse standing up on top of the ladder looking down at Walt trying to swat the fly – perhaps a physical manifestation of the conversation they’re having. Walt nearly comes close to confessing, but we all know that there is no way he will ever resolve the issue with Jesse nor himself.
Excellent directing and cinematography with superb camera work, including Sergio Leone-style long shots, various dutch angles, slow motion takes and some superb sound design.’ Fly’ accomplished next to nothing in advancing the plot forward, but takes us on a journey of self-realization, a journey well worth the time.
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