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Meet Lydia: BREAKING BAD Season 5 Villain, Laura Fraser
Breaking Bad makes me jittery. I’ve made the connection before between the drama of the show and its principal subject – methamphetamine. Loyal audiences itch for a fresh dose, and when they get it, at least in my case, it only makes them jumpier. Breaking Bad season 5 has me on edge, as right out the gate they cranked the outrageous up to 11.
I’m hoping that the debut complication of this season, Lydia, helps dial it down a little. Judging by her role in the show and her comments in a recent THR interview, there’s a good chances that the narrative will come back down to Earth.
What about the Breaking Bad season five start had me looking ahead for sharks they’ll jump? Walt’s depiction as a four-color supervillain, of course. His gambit using Lex Luthor style technology to eradicate evidence inside a fortress-like lockup was alarm enough. Compound that with very few scenes of his soft emotional center, and we’re left with all indications that the final season will be as broadly drawn as the twin Mexican monstrosities that occupied the front half of Breaking Bad season 3.
Now, I get that Walt has to descend into a moral abyss and drag his family with him. But the hope is that this will be handled with as much sophistication and humanity as the show is famous for.
Lydia is a strong statement in favor of that sophistication. Portrayed by Laura Fraser, Lydia seems to be an apprentice of Gus’ and another homemaker who “broke bad,” much like the strongest principals of the series – Gus, Mike and Walt himself – are. Having her as the likely inheritor of Gus’ boots as chief antagonist is key.
If season five Breaking Bad had tried to beef up its central villain – say, cram another Cartel lord in there or take the Sons of Anarchy approach and bring in another, larger crime syndicate – things would have been shoved further toward the outlandish. I’m not saying that it would be unrealistic, but it would have led to such unusual events that the realistic spirit of the show would have suffered.
Not so with Lydia. Laura Fraser, in The Hollywood Reporter interview, describes her character as “an extremely highly strung, calculating, enterprising lady. Throughout her life, she’s learned to survive at all costs. She’s figured out tactics and skills along the way.”
If there’s a pack of descriptors for the characters who supply the sophisticated core of the show, it would be “extremely highly strung, calculating, enterprising,” who “survive at all costs.” Breaking Bad is about how we’re all just a necessity-inspired two-step away from full-blown criminality. From season 1′s ill-fated scion of a furniture salesman, all the way to Gus “Chicken Man” Fring, the best bad guys were the ones who weren’t born, but made that way.
So it seems with Lydia, and so I hope we have a rich moral exploration ahead. Yeah, given how season 5 Breaking Bad opened, I know we have an M-60 machine gun in our future. There will be explosions, shootings, maybe even a car chase. But so long as we have soccer moms who fell from grace as our central evil, the subtle soul of Breaking Bad remains intact.