I should mention that “Fly” is a bottle episode - meaning it’s intended to save money by using few cast members, in one or two set locations. Bottle episodes are often hit or miss in television. You can always tell that it’s a bottle episode, so that’s always at the back of my mind. But like Breaking Bad’s other bottle episode from season 2 (“Four Days Out”), “Fly” delivers some amazing character moments.
“Fly” is very much like a two-man play. It’s almost all dialogue, and hardly any action. “Fly” contains just two actors on one set, and it helps that Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are so talented. I mentioned once before that Breaking Bad can make the most boring, everyday speeches incredibly interesting. “Fly” is proof of that. I spent forty-seven minutes watching two grown men hunt a fly, and I was on the edge of my seat. It had nothing to do with the fly - it was all about the characters. I’d like to find another show that can accomplish that.
By the way, on a side note, the plot reminds me of a Richard Matheson short story called “Shoofly.” It’s a strange story - I don’t remember all the details, but it’s pretty interesting. You can find it at the back of the Tor edition of The Incredible Shrinking Man, if you’re interested.
Anyway, I love that “Fly” picks up on the Jane storyline from season 2. “Phoenix” is my favorite episode of Breaking Bad. It’s the episode where Jane begins to threaten Walt and make demands. The scene between Walt and Donald at the bar was so powerful, and we’ve never heard Walt’s take on it. “Fly” allows Walt to finally express his thoughts about that chance encounter, and it leads to an equally powerful scene. Walt finally apologizes for Jane’s death. He doesn’t admit his role in her demise, but you can tell he wants to.
Walt’s monologue about the exact moment he should have died is chilling. I literally could not take my eyes off the television for a second. He is completely breaking down, and I think Walt’s hit rock bottom. He was actually analyzing the time he should have died. His opinions about living too long seem legitimate. If you go back and watch “Phoenix,” you can see how content he was when Holly was born and Skyler was singing her a lullaby. I loved the teaser for “Fly,” too - Skyler’s lullaby in the background made for such a creepy atmosphere. It really set the tone for the episode.
Back in my review of “Caballo Sin Nombre,” I mentioned that Walt was developing an obsessive compulsive disorder. In that review, I wondered how far the writers would take it. While it’s been hinted at all season (think back to Walt flipping out at Gale when the temperature was slightly off), “Fly” is the answer to my question. Walt has gone off the deep end - he’s being destroyed on the inside. As I said, we spent forty-seven minutes watching Walt hunt a fly. His OCD stems from all the poor choices he’s made, and I doubt it’ll be going away soon.
“Fly” is just oozing with great writing, strong direction, and amazing performances. There are so many noteworthy moments. One I forgot to mention is Jesse’s anecdote about his aunt’s cancer. That was an amazing scene, too, and I love how the camera slowly panned in over the long monologue.
It’s starting to bother me that my Breaking Bad reviews never discuss any flaws. I suppose I can find a few if I look really hard, but there’s no point in doing so. This season of Breaking Bad has been stellar so far. I didn’t think anything could top season 2, but season 3 is even more gripping. Walt’s descent into depression is a fascinating ride. With only three episodes left, I can’t wait to see how it ends.