Just when I was starting to feel good about myself as writer, I watched Breaking Bad's fourth season finale.
It is a perfect episode. It is absolutely flawless. There's nothing anybody could do to make it a better hour of programming. The characters, the script, the acting, the special effects, the story, the plot, the twists, the conclusion and the set-up for next season . . .
It humbled me. I know that artists are all different -- because we, as people, are all different. Present a group a problem and each person in that group will try to solve it in a different way. Give a group of writers a story idea, each writer is going to come up with their own way to tell that story. Sure, some structures will be the same, some content might be similar, there may even be identical dialog. But the pacing will be different. The tone will be different. The perspective, the reason, the conclusion, the moral, will all be different.
That is the only solace one can have in the shadow of an episode like "Face Off." It humbled me -- humbled me and challenged me.
I can be that good.
I know it.
I followed this episode up with a trip to the local cinema, where I took in the equally superb 50/50. Tonight just a cavalcade of good writing and excellent entertainment.
The gauntlet has been thrown down.