S2 was definitely the place to start because now that I've been through most of it, it kind of underwhelmed compared to what I vaguely recall being increased stakes in season 3 and, better yet, to what YouTube has just informed me looks like a WONDERFUL wealth of both Feelings and Danger in season 1, when there were no outside obstacles to the UST and where I really should have realized they'd be pulling out all the stops, particularly in the first 13, in case it was the only season they'd ever get. That said, here are a bunch of reactions in no particular order:
- I watched the first two episodes straight through because that's how weirdly addictive this show is (also: UNEXPECTED ALANA DE LA GARZA??) and then Busted-Face Ray made it too intolerable
- So I skipped ahead to episodes 6 (UNEXPECTED DIRECTOR'S CUT?? p.s. I love
David Wallace Andy BuckleyElia) and 7, and would have kept going if I hadn't already stayed up too late and then lacked the time today if I wanted to tour the whole set.
- The funny thing is that I have been through most of these episodes before, but strictly as a guided Quintis-seeking missile, and with a strict No-Walter filter if I did color outside those lines. It is so wild getting all the missing pieces. Like a new dimension has opened up.
- THE CHRISTMAS TEARS/HUG OMG. "I didn't want to lose her. I didn't want to lose my sister." I have very explicitly commented on this scene before and complained about how "not even this" worked on me. IT IS WORKING FOR ME NOW. LIKE A LOT. Thank god I did not try to force it into my brain before. I know myself well enough to recognize potential that needs to be buried in time capsules, but when the time comes, I COLLECT.
- The hospital quarantine episode before that? And him making it there just before she dies? Second best thing.
- (I still have not found much use for Megan herself outside of how she humanizes Walter. I also remain entirely disinterested in Sly, except briefly when he stands up to Walt "holds on too tight" O'Brien by marrying his way in between Megan and a hurtful court order)
- My enthusiasm for the Timster is...waning. He is just the absolute definition of "perfectly nice and stand-up guy who is perfectly bland." I wish the man well in other endeavors, because I can see us getting along well in something like Chicago Fire.
- [edit: OR HART OF DIXIE. AHAHAHA, HOW DID I FORGET THAT. Probably cause I only saw the pilot, but, George Tucker! I have already liked his face!]
- 2x20 or the Djibouti episode -- yeah, I'm gonna do a lot more in my head with his general panic when Paige is "shot."
- I have found a use for Ralph at long last and it is the utterly precious way that, particularly the younger he is, the more he idolises Walter and the more Walt dotes on him in return. 2x22 gave me A Lot of Feelings, between Walt's initial snapping at him (and Paige's ON IT reprimand), his reaction in the courtroom to Ralph's matter-of-fact statements that the day he met Walter is one of the most important in his life, and that ending speech??? OK show u win plz let him be Ralph's dad. I always thought that was kind of a weird thing for fandom to wish, since his emotionally stunted nature makes him much more of a friend-type than a father-figure type, but I see it now.
- 2x07 was also A Lot for me in terms of "please know I will watch 217 instances of Walter doing whatever it takes to protect Paige and/or Ralph, including/especially putting himself at great personal risk of certain death." I don't know that I've ever had a ship where I was so impressed by hands-off protection, but for someone so purportedly poor at emotions, he scores extremely high in the "Amazing Face of Pain and Feelings" department
- The final scene of the finale: Quintis is in a sorry state (glad I did not have to live through that!), but I love where it ends with Walter. Even though I suppose it's not technically a happy ending, it feels like such a cautiously optimistic one. Maybe it's the song choice, which sounds more encouraging in the music than its words suggest ("Black Magic" -- better want you wish for / you might get it). Maybe it's just that if the show hadn't been renewed, you'd know he was driving towards his happy ending.
- O maybe it's just so nice to hear him not only stop denying and repressing, not only outright admit that he loves her -- look how we just jump straight to that word! -- but be ready to throw his fear and over-caution to the wind and do something about it. But I really, really love it, and no amount of knowing it will take another year to succeed can dampen my enthusiasm.
- I skipped over a few episodes that I think are highlights -- 2x05 I saw had a couple of protective things in gifsets, 2x15 I am saving for when I need a hit of full strength "Walter directly and personally rescues a woman, any woman," because I remember liking the bits of it I saw even when I hated him, and 2x19 because "When Walter gets into a fender bender, he goes to the hospital and meets a nice little girl named Olivia who is in need of a heart transplant" sounds personally tailored to me.
- But right now I absolutely cannot wait one more second to pop the seal on season 1.
I have drafted a lot of posts about the S4 finale that I have yet to be happy enough with to post, but the gist of it is that I keep rewatching the "Cranial Affair" scene and just being in awe of the emotion in his face. I was really impressed by the raw emotion in the (otherwise stupid-ass) softball episode, too, where he confesses to Cabe why he tried to forfeit the game. Wildly Emotionally Volatile Walter is a good Walter, and the fact that I somehow didn't know this version existed is a pretty big part of why I have been so down on him for so many years, assuming him to be a robot whose only known emotions were arrogance and smuggery.
So. The hurt and betrayal over discovering a new lie of omission from Cabe, throwing him off the team, and being confronted shortly thereafter with Paige's exit strategy? Hot damn. "My son nearly died because he wants to be you." / "Is it so awful being me?**" (LEAVE-ME-TO-DIE.GIF) + "I don't need her and I don't need Cabe." (((SUICIDAL SPEED-DRIVING OF OVERWHELMING FEELS))) + incredbly good sound mixing of the crescendoeing score cutting off at the point of impact, leaving only the distant sound of crashing and crumpling metal followed by crickets? ALL OF THE AWARDS.
(**Other things I should mention: the way his face screws up when she snaps that she doesn't want Ralph to become him -- you actually get to watch it twice, once in long shot and once up close, because someone is either bad or a secret genius at editing -- before he gets control of it and redirects the hurt into an attack instead: "What is your solution? Keep him in a cocoon? Have him watch you? Move to Maine, to follow some guy -- who's already abandoned you?" ALSO his accent briefly goes rogue on "abandoned" and my heart does a triple axel in response every time. Up to this point I have been kinda like, "Meh, pass" as far as my interest in his other projects, but how I'm like "hold up maybe we should have a second look.")
As for the finale itself, oh gosh. It is everything I could want now. Lots of injury, lots of near dying, lots of heartbreakingly subdued but insistent need to talk to Paige even/especially if it's the last thing he does...you know what, let's just make a chronological list of all my favorite parts that are new to me.
- "Hi Walter. It's me again. Can you call me back please? I promise my call will be efficient... I just want to say goodbye." NO CHILD HAS EVER BROKEN MY HEART LIKE THIS. STOP IT.
- Paige believing he would actually ignore Ralph like this and leaving her own message chewing him out for it? A close second.
- Last time around I had no patience for Happy being upset at Paige's interference making Walt go MIA (MIA sounded like a blessing to me), or her apparent attachment to Ralph ("you get us used to having that kid around..."). Now it is darling.
- Oof, that impalement is nasty. (I love it.)
- Dr. Toby is in absolutely fine form throughout this entire episode.
- Non-Agent Gallo strolling in and taking charge of the situation with just his scuba certification and his Authoritative Voice is amazing.
- Walter's apology to Cabe just made my heart break for the 3rd or 4th time in this episode and it's not even half over
- HO SNAPS I did not until this moment know that Cabe had a daughter who died. Or if I did, I definitely forgot. I have always assumed he was just a Tragic Divorced Loner who learned to love again. No wonder he is so good at being the team's dad. Also, this story about Walter hacking sprinklers to keep her gravesite green is both wonderful and heartbreaking.
- The impalement was nasty, but having it jerked out of you? Worse. (I love it keep going. Give me ALL the pain varieties!*)
- (*Walter: *shocks himself w/ loose wires to stay conscious*) All right wasn't expecting a new one so soon but that works, thank you.
- Pain round 4: "literally stick this pen to an internal organ to cauterize the wound" (has the universe just been storing up presents, waiting to give them to me this year because it knew my tolerance level had gone so high from 2016-2017's embarrassment of shippy riches that the new TV season would never be able to keep up??)
- Also please note that my love for Walter & Toby's backstory of best friendship is over the moon.
- "The last thing Walter O'Brien wants to do before he dies is state facts, and the fact he has tried to tell us, in his own way, is that he loves us. So why do you think he wants Paige here so badly?" AW.
- (Savior Doggett remains the only ridiculous and awful part of this episode. I just want that on the record.)
- "I don't feel so well" before finally surrendering to unconsciousness once he's safe on a gurney. I just really love the line delivery w/ the attempt to smile at his two favorite people that is mostly just a grimace of pain.
- I can't believe my favorite part of an entire hospital wake-up/reunion scene was Ralph coming over to hold his hand. What is this child's magic power.
- Last and second worst: I am normally all for Florence Nightingale Syndrome, but um...Paige's after-hours 1-party-unconscious kiss is Not Good. I have to go with Toby's later "felony much?" reaction here. I understand that was your failsafe "just in case we don't get renewed" attempt to feed the shippers without having a bell season 2 couldn't unring before it was ready, but...that was not the way to do it.
- The hand stroking the side of his face afterward can stay though