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Saturday, 22 of July of 2017

Tag » Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad – “Gliding All Over”

“Inertia.”

Breaking Bad title cardI’ve been covering Breaking Bad for most the season, but for the finale, Nick and I decided a conversation would be worthwhile since we had intended for us to alternate coverage. Below, we talk about devious characters, montages, and what could possibly happen next. -NK

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Breaking Bad – “Say My Name”

“This whole thing could’ve been avoided.”

Breaking Bad title cardI was a little underwhelmed by “Say My Name.”  It’s unlikely that Breaking Bad can be legitimately bad — it’s too well-oiled at this stage — so it just settles with tiny missteps, whether it be the train heist (for some, not for me) or the end of this particular episode. For me, there was just something lacking, even while internally, I can justify the actual act the episode ends with.

It’s one of the problems of writing about television, or even thinking fairly critically about it. You burrow into the series, understand its ins and outs, and while it may still has the ability to surprise you, as Breaking Bad does for me, you also may see a crack or something askew, but decide that, hey, it’s supposed to be that way. This could just be, in large part, because you want the series that you’ve invested time and effort and labor (and unpaid blogging is labor, in a sense) to still make sense, otherwise what’s the point?

So, yes, I could say that I don’t feel the episode completely earns its ending, even though intellectually I can argue for it, make it feel consistent within momentum of the series. But it sits there, in my gut, wanting to be validated, like Hank’s obsession with the Fring case.

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Breaking Bad – “Buyout”

“It’s like you’re eating a scab.”

Breaking Bad title card“Buyout” is not an exciting episode, but you don’t always need excitement. I’ve long maintained, across many posts here, that pacing is important, and episodes don’t always need to be white-knuckled, everything and the kitchen sink of whatever a series’s particular genre is. Breaking Bad often plays that, setting up intricate chess games between Walter and antagonistic forces, but it also knows when to take a step back and breathe, and “Buyout” is all about breathing a bit. Once you use an electrical cord to burn through your restraints, I mean.

And when Breaking Bad breathes, you tend to get episodes like this, as characters try to deal with the fallout of a particularly harrowing experience. I like that the show does this on a regular basis, and after Todd kills a kid in an effort to make sure there are no witnesses and to try and break out of his hum-drum life of robbery and killing insects, it’s kind of needed. But “Buyout” also makes gestures to answer some lingering motivational questions as Walter’s desire to keep the operation going comes under a sort of scrutiny.

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Breaking Bad – “Dead Freight”

“Give me a break. You guys were going to murder me. I thought you guys were professionals.”

Breaking Bad title cardAfter Lydia mentioned the train tanker of methylamine, my first thought was, “AMC must’ve wanted a train episode to coincide with the premiere of Hell On Wheels.”

My second thought was, “There was a train whistle at the end of the cold open. I wonder if that’s connected. Man, I really hope the kid stays away.”

Dammit. Read more »


Breaking Bad – “Fifty-One”

“Life is good, Skyler.

Breaking Bad title cardIt’s really not. But that’s pretty obvious, isn’t it?

I have to imagine that this week was flush with blog posts re-considering long held prejudices and grudges against Skyler and/or Anna Gunn. Or at least I hope they are. I admit that I’d be writing one myself, but I kind of want to interrogate why I’ve come around on Skyler, and the reason why frankly has me irritated with myself for being an asshole.

But we’ll get to that. I think “Fifty-One” may be one of my favorite episodes of the series so far because it shows the real threat that Breaking Bad‘s, as a friend of mine, Maria, called it on Facebook, “unchecked masculinity” has on the world. There are women trying to escape (not just get away from but actually escape), and the men simply will not let them. And if we weren’t sure about this, the cold open is Walter and his son pointlessly revving the engines of leased sports cars.

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Breaking Bad – “Hazard Pay”

“Just because you shot Jessie James, don’t make you Jessie James.”

Mike, Jesse, and Walt discuss the cost of doing business.

You’d think that, with all that cash, Mike could get a pair of pants that does a little something for his figure.

Skyler says less than fifty words the entire episode, depending on whether or not you count non-lexical vocables as words. My pleas to the universe that she have fewer words than that during previous seasons notwithstanding, it’s important to note what’s happening to her, now that she has become a woman with her life stolen from her.

Since the beginning of the season, her part has been dominated by the overwhelming fear she feels in Walter’s presence, the boot-quaking nightmare that is having no control over the monster in her bedroom. While she’s also had her Heisenberg moments this season (particularly while ensuring Ted keeps his big, stupid mouth shut), it’s nothing compared to the speechlessness she feels while Walter tries to mitigate his farce of a family life with his increasingly powerful role.

Whether you believe Walter is actually living two compartmentalized lives, is pretending to live one as a cover, or is desperately grasping at the last ounce of humanity left in him is irrelevant. The sum of his introspective and forward-facing action is the same: Walter is become the antagonist and everyone else on the show could be the hero that contributes to his demise.

Skyler, a woman living on the edge, is just as primed as anyone to eventually break down and be the person that ends this dystopia for everyone. Jesse, Mike, Hank, even Badger could contribute to the downfall Walt so desperately needs. She conveys this during three scenes at fifty words total. Give or take. Two of them repeated several times to sweet, cheer-worthy relief.

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Breaking Bad – “Madrigal”

“There’s no better reason than family.”

Breaking Bad title cardWhen it comes to Breaking Bad, I’m always changing who I root for. I’ve steadily stopped rooting for Walt (and as this season has progressed, IN ONLY 2 EPISODES, I find him truly despicable); I’ve never liked-liked Jesse, seeing him as more a victim (which this season has only intensified so far); the rest of the White family is a bit of hit of miss (I’ve come around on Skyler, but poor Walter, Jr. just loves breakfast). Gus is likeable due to sheer performance chops, Hank is perhaps the most insanely human character on the series, and Saul is a wonderful study of a guy in over his head.

So if there’s still a character I’m actively rooting for, that I actively get a un-guilty thrill from (which is what I get from Walt now), it’s Mike. And through this episode, I was wanting him to get out of this life. I want him to relax, drink beer and Ensure, and play Hungry Hungry Hippos with his granddaughter. Even though the man is the hardest of hard-boiled assassins and P.I.s, he’s a tired and beaten down man who wishes the world would just wise the hell up and leave him alone. Read more »


Breaking Bad – “Live Free or Die”

“Yeah, bitch! Magnets!”

Walt and Jesse cook up a plan to destroy Gus's laptop at the junkyard.

“You’re disturbing my oboe practice.”

Oh. That’s what breathless anticipation for next week feels like.

The finale last year left me a little disappointed. There wasn’t a cliffhanger in the traditional sense since Walt took care of the immediate danger looming over him. The threat was gone. There, seemingly, was nothing left for him to react against.

It turns out there are a lot of loose ends. Without an adversary to occupy his time, he’s left to deal with the repercussions of his lifestyle on his family, what’s left of his work, and his overall freedom. Last year’s “well, what now?” has turned into “Oh. Right. All that.”

After a depressing season of Mad Men that replaced any semblance of a cliffhanger with characters tumbling further down the hole of personal atrophy and irrelevance and a general apathy for the characters on The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones (except for Arya and Tyrion), it’s nice to get this show back to remind us what it feels like to painfully wait a whole week for another episode.

And it looks like Walt’s setting up a pretty breathless season for us.

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Breaking Bad – “Face Off”

“I musta saw it on House or somethin’.”

Breaking Bad title card
I sat still for a long time after the episode ended. Not blankly, not cursing the skies for ending this season of Breaking Bad and making me wait months and months for it to begin again. Not really any desire at all. Actually, just a furrowed brow.

Noel remarked last week that the penultimate episode was a little boring by Breaking Bad standards. The cliffhanger aspect wasn’t as demanding and reveals weren’t as gasp-worthy. That’s how I feel about this episode for the most part. Other than the ethical obstacles Walter obliterates in “Face Off,” the finale kind of tied itself into a nice bow. Okay, it’s a sloppy bow but — instead of feeling like I’m dangling off the edge of a mountainface, I kind of feel like I’m staring at the danger from a safe distance.

That’s a weird metaphor. Let me explain. Read more »


Breaking Bad – “End Times”

I don’t know when or how, all I know is it’s going to happen.”

Breaking Bad title cardGood grief, how intense were those last 10 minutes of “Crawl Space”? It was a pretty wild episode, but those last 10 minutes. I had goosebumps, folks, I was unable to sleep for a little while after the episode, with Walter’s laughter ringing in my ears (and that virtuoso shot that closed out the episode).

So that leaves “End Times” to set the stage for the finale. Which is incredibly exciting for me. Nick gave me the option to watch The Good Wife tonight (which is delayed in my market because of the NFL) while he took this week episode, but I declined. For one reason, I just wanted to watch The Good Wife tomorrow (I have nothing else, really, to watch), but for the other reason, well, it’s the penultimate episode of the season, and if Breaking Bad does anything well, it’s the episode before the finale (even in the event of a shortened season).

In essence, I wanted what I suspected would be the craziest episode of the season for myself.

And instead I got this.

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