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#599262 - 07/06/12 09:11 PM breaking bad : season 5
madget Offline
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Premieres July 15, next Sunday. Reportedly the final season.

Here's a few promo pics, which to me suggest a tone of denouement, and a deeper focus on the relationship between Walt and Jesse.









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#599266 - 07/06/12 10:25 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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I wonder if that series of ads suggests a story where Walt's left alone.
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#599269 - 07/07/12 12:08 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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There are a few others floating around as well.

I like the first one a lot. It's really nicely understated and ever so slightly evocative of mugshots.

I wonder if there's any chance of either character simply ending up in prison.

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#599272 - 07/07/12 12:43 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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My prediction is that Walt kills Jesse after he gets Jesse to kill Hank. And his wife learns to accept it all.
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#599276 - 07/07/12 02:11 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
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That might be pretty good. I think the purpose of the Jesse character ran out some time in Season three and didn't buy the "we've got a shorthand between us" line at all (reminded me of Ayn Rand's "When I see things, I see things" justification of Rearden Metal). The new lab assistant might as well have been named McGuffin.
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#599312 - 07/09/12 02:35 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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In fairness, I don't think even Walt bought that rationale. He somehow sees Jesse as a kind of son to him and simply wanted to save him. Since this relationship is very much at the heart of things narratively, it's difficult to envision Walt killing Jesse, although there would certainly be no question re: Walt completing the promised arc of "Breaking Bad." I don't think they'll go quite that dark. I think Jesse will survive and -- to a greater extent than other characters -- escape consequence. If I were a betting man I'd say it's more likely Jesse will kill Walt than the other way around. It's possible that what happened to Jane, and Brock, etc., will all come out this season.

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#599313 - 07/09/12 02:38 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Also, while it's a minor detail, in many of the promo pics Jesse's t-shirt is decorated with a grenade made of bones. It could imply Jesse is going to "explode" this season in some way. E.g. murdering Walt. Although I guess it could just as easily imply that he's going to get killed himself.

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#599482 - 07/13/12 08:32 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Maybe so, but do we all agree that Hank's a goner?
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#599483 - 07/13/12 09:06 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
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I'm not a fan of cops in real life, and typically loathe the TV variety, but Hank is the most likeable character on this show (yes, I realize that's not much of a compliment). So, yeah, probably dead. I doubt very seriously they'd have the guts to put the ending of Falling Down on this.
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#599484 - 07/13/12 09:34 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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I watched that last year, but can't remember the ending.
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#599485 - 07/13/12 09:52 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
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In the final meet-up between Michael Douglas and Robert Duvall, anti-hero Douglas essentially forces Duvall to kill him. You could really sense the lack of a desire to do that on Duvall's part (a testimony to his acting skills), whereas most directors and/or actors would have approached it as a "finally nailed 'im" way.

I doubt very seriously the BB formula would resolve like that in the first place, much less with the multiple layers of empathy that Schumacher, Duvall and Douglas gave Falling Down.
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#599486 - 07/13/12 09:58 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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The Michael Douglas movie? As I recall, he has a kinda cheesy moment of realization (a tearful "When did I become the bad guy?") and then sort of lets the Good Cop shoot him down, tumbling dramatically off the pier into the water.

I'm not sure I agree that "the Good Cop gets the Bad Guy on his last day on the force" is a "gutsy" ending, but I suppose it's conceivable BB could do a version of it. Some scenario where everything explodes into a potential bloodbath, and Walt realizes he's the one who really needs to be taken out. Gilligan has more often hinted at a Scarface-like trajectory; but then again, Walt is an entirely different animal than Tony Montana, with more nagging remorse, and has already admitted that he's "lived too long."

Personally I don't envision Hank dying either, even though it makes sense. I mean, something bad has to happen, presumably. I suppose this season will be the real test of how far the show is willing to take its premise. It could go all the way: Jesse, Hank, Skylar, Marie, even Jr. all die; and Walt is left standing. On the other hand, it has to stay true to the characters it's created, so I'm not 100% convinced a higher final body count necessarily = better quality storytelling. All depends. But if we're measuring the show's narrative success by the size of its balls, Walt sacrificing himself isn't the path there.

Thinking about Walt's motivations though, we might consider another possibility: there's always been this thread of it being for the family. Even Hank's treatment is paid for with the drug money, and Walt seems to consider Hank family. Instead of taking everyone out, the show could take a different tack, where Walt becomes a more mafia-style mob king, keeping the family *together* though its crime-life. Forcing Hank into knowing or unknowing submission would probably take stronger writing chops than knocking him off.

We'll see starting Sunday night.

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#599488 - 07/13/12 10:27 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Originally Posted By: madget
I'm not sure I agree that "the Good Cop gets the Bad Guy on his last day on the force" is a "gutsy" ending

Mainly I'm referring to Duvall's "let's not do this" performance. Sometimes Hank was written with that flavor, but in the last season he turned into Nancy Drew.
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#599489 - 07/13/12 10:48 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
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Seems hard to believe the same director gave us both "Falling Down" and "Batman and Robin".
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#599490 - 07/13/12 10:51 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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I like that idea, M.
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#599491 - 07/13/12 11:02 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Ted Kilvington]
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Originally Posted By: Ted Kilvington
Seems hard to believe the same director gave us both "Falling Down" and "Batman and Robin".

Also St. Elmo's Fire, Lost Boys and D.C. Cab. Schumacher's all over the map. He had an amazing little run with Flawless, Tigerland and Phone Booth. Then he does something like Town Creek where he personally hijacked the script and turned it into an incoherent mess. I guess he figured since he wrote The Wiz, he's infallible.
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#599493 - 07/13/12 11:39 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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I do think it'd be a great way to defy expectations while keeping in step with Walt's character. I can envision a story arc wherein Walt decides, "I run this family now," and sort of protecting Hank "from himself." Everyone's been hyped into expecting Scarface; maybe they suddenly go The Godfather route instead. Walt's certainly manipulative enough, and in Season 4 I feel like we actually witnessed his ability to lie improve. The whole story, if you think about it, really kicked off from his frustration with his passive, emasculated role within not only society, but his own family. Maybe Season 5 is about him showing everyone who wears the pants now, twisting them all into complicity, including even bit players like Saul. Jesse possibly being the renegade. Nothing in the previews would seem to hint at this though.

But to go with it as a prediction anyway, however unlikely, let's say this: Walt twists entire family and faux-family (Saul, Jesse, maybe even Mike) into complicity/submission to him, through various manipulations and subtle bullying, but Jesse becomes more and more haunted by the past and more and more wise to Walt's dishonest ways. Jesse tries to jump ship and divorce self from Walt's world; Walt is no longer willing to let that happen though. Confrontation between Walt & Jesse ensues in which Walt confesses -- or maybe brags, rather -- about how he's manipulated Jesse, also "for his own good/to protect him from himself, etc." One of them kills the other or maybe they both die, leaving the crime dynasty they've created behind to face the music on their own.

(As for Batman & Robin, it's hard to believe anybody directed that.)

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Edited by madget (07/13/12 11:49 PM)

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#599528 - 07/16/12 12:11 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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From this point on in the thread there will be SPOILERS.

Anyone needs tips on where/how to view episodes hit me up.

---------------------------------

Episode 1: I was happy to see some signals here that my prediction might actually have some legs. I liked the episode's systematic dribble-down illustration of the new hierarchy/way of things, the scene with Ted being the particular stroke of genius. Not only is the depiction of him harrowing in a way that jolts us out of having too much fun with it all, but the writers' sourcing the effects of the new fear to the subjects of that fear rather than the object of it (mostly, at least) is smart. Ted's submission is voluntarily given; Skylar need only accept it. Same with Skylar's to Walt. The final line of the episode, to me, nods strongly towards the more Godfather-like direction I mused on earlier. Walt, ego entirely on fire now, doesn't demand submission to his will as much as expect it. Once people fear you sufficiently, you can proceed with a light touch and the pretense of tenderness, the pretense of being the Protector. It's all very promising.

As for criticisms ... nothing major, for me. The magnet plan seemed a little out there, but it was certainly interesting, and they sell it sufficiently I think. My feelings are a little mixed on Mike's reaction to it all. His interactions with Walt and Jesse in this episode are maybe just a bit too pat and cute. But Mike not being a very deeply developed character, it only bothered me slightly.

K

PS - No idea what to make of the opening scene, quite, but as usual, it's intriguing and obviously a flash forward of some kind. It seems precursor to some kind of violent showdown, so I'm guessing we catch up to it somewhere in the last five episodes or so.

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#599540 - 07/16/12 06:03 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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I appreciate that PS, Madget. I only twigged onto Breaking Bad by the second season and wasn't sure whether that opening scene was a flashback of Walt at or before the beginning of the series.

Actually, I liked the magnet bit. A plan involving some straightforward action that begins, proceeds and finishes in maybe 10 minutes screen time was a good change of pace for the series. As long as Walt doesn't go full on super-villain and I don't think there's much chance of that.

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#599545 - 07/16/12 11:30 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
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Well, it's established as a flash-forward by what he does with the bacon; he shapes it into a 52, indicating that it's his 52nd birthday. The very first episode of the show, Season 1, saw Walt greeted by a breakfast plate on which his wife had formed the bacon into a 50. So two years will have elapsed. I hadn't dwelt on it much, but the sequence does give us a string of pretty intriguing information.

1. Walt has assumed a false identity.
2. Walt has assumed a new appearance.
3. Walt is somewhat subdued, distracted.
4. Walt is coughing again a little and taking pills, suggesting perhaps his cancer is no longer in remission.
5. Walt still has money to throw around. (I am curious how at this point in the story Walt obtains new money, since Skylar and Walt blew most of their existing load last season, what with treating Hank, the Beneke stuff, Walt's excesses, etc.)
6. Walt is purchasing heavy firepower with it, and a mystery item or items in the black bag (I assume some kind of explosives, but who knows).

What to make of all that info I don't know, but it certainly sets up a lot of interesting questions and possibilities about what's coming.

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#599549 - 07/17/12 08:57 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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This is why I can't watch this show, or others like it (Lost, etc.) as it's coming out. The whole structure is built on stringing viewers along.
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#599563 - 07/17/12 11:37 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
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I admit the show has a grip on me. Anticipation for how events will unfold is part of the ride. For instance, how will Hank react to the 'new Walt'? Hank is doing better physically than I thought possible and rejuvenated by his big score with Gus even though I don't think the cops, or even we, know Gus' full back story yet. Walt, in his now ascendant status seems to expect agreement in everything. As far as Hank knows, his buddy Walt was the guy who was too chicken to even drive by the dry cleaners/meth factory. Maybe Walt will assume a Clark Kent model when needed? His character is devious, but I don't think is supposed to have that kind of acting ability.

What I really can't predict is Hank's reaction when/if he discovers Walt is, well doing what he's been doing. Cover up because of his own involvement? Turn a blind eye? Go for an immediate arrest? Nothing seems to fit exactly.

So, have you been watching seasons by DVD then, Allen? I'd bet the experience is markedly different, especially as regards plot points.

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#599565 - 07/17/12 12:24 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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The first season-and-a-half or so I watched in a rapid, addicted flurry. There have been times since where I'll try to let at least a few episodes elapse and then view them as a bunch, but for the most part I just go episode-by-episode now, as they're released. One reason is I really don't want to run into spoilers on the internet -- I try to avoid even the video previews. If I'm up to date with BB nothing's going to be spoiled ahead of time. The other, probably larger reason is I just can't help myself. It's one of the few shows I get genuinely excited to see new content from.

Anyway, I kind of like letting each new episode stew around in my head for a week or so before the next serving.

As for stringing the audience along, it absolutely does. The difference from LOST, though, is that LOST became about little more than doing just that. The ideas didn't warrant it after a certain point, cohering less and less as things evolved; it was just a gimmick, cliffhangers for the sake of cliffhangers, and sort of insulting to the audience's intelligence. I don't get the same vibe from Breaking Bad. It's telling a finite, defined story, with a clear trajectory. Where it strings the audience along, it does so in a good way, building towards and delivering distinct narrative payoffs. By contrast, LOST left me feeling cheated. They had a lot of interesting ideas in the mix, but it was all very arbitrarily handled and riddled with stupidity.

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#599566 - 07/17/12 12:28 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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MQ- Yeah, it's tough to foresee Hank's angle in all this. I can't envision the confrontation between him and Walt, or even if such a confrontation is necessarily in the mail. I don't envy the writers' their task with this final season, but they haven't let me down so far, except maybe in little ways here or there.

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#599702 - 07/20/12 08:34 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Episode 1 streams for free at amctv.com, here:

http://www.amctv.com/breaking-bad/videos/episode-501-breaking-bad

Cranston, Paul, and Esposito (Gus) are all up for Emmys for Season 4.

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#599786 - 07/23/12 09:11 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Episode 2: Wow! I couldn't be more pleased. We'll see how it all progresses, but I think the writers, knowing this season was it, made a very conscious decision to push themselves, and bring their A game. Two episodes in, my feeling is this season is proceeding very smartly. Things I thought they would've brushed under the rug are being dealt with, with considerable intelligence, and without sacrificing tension and pacing. This episode particularly impressed me with the creators' ability to start with surrealism and bring it slowly -- at just the right, "what am I watching here?" pace -- into focus, coherence. Cf. the opening intro scene. It also successfully introduced an intriguing new character, while continuing to develop Walt in a believably dark way. No complaints this week, personally. Being the obvious BB superfan around here, I supposed I'm biased, but I really think Breaking Bad will go down as one of the great TV creations of all time. I'm so pleased to be in the midst of a new season.

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#599788 - 07/23/12 11:38 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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It was pretty satisfying and I have to say I enjoyed a Mike-centric episode. I don't think that character got the requisite screen time to be in the running for an outstanding supporting actor emmy, but the role is carefully crafted as any other on a show that garnered thirteen nominations. More Mike!

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#599789 - 07/24/12 01:53 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
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I'd forgotten who Mike was, had to look it up. Yeah, his character would probably make a more compelling show. Like a violent version of Fish.

All I want to know is, how much more weight has Anna Gunn gained?
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#599791 - 07/24/12 11:41 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
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A few pounds chunkier, not that I'd mind! Her weight gain, starting around Season 3 has been blowing up the internet I see. A quick survey of sites commenting on this, pregnancy rumors, ect. seemed to show a disportionate number of Italian sites, they notice these things more I guess.

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#599792 - 07/24/12 02:14 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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Anna Gunn's weight jumped a bit in the early seasons, but it's been pretty consistent since then, to my eyes. I wouldn't exactly call her chunky. She started out pretty skinny.

Oh, and if you like Mike, the first two episodes seem to have set him up as one of the central characters of Season 5.

As a side note, I have yet to see Marie at all.

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#599793 - 07/24/12 02:49 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Ah; just found out Episode 2 was directed by Michelle MacLauren, which makes sense. She has consistently directed some of the very best episodes in the show.

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#599794 - 07/24/12 03:01 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Inside Ep 1:



Inside Ep 2:



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#599804 - 07/26/12 12:28 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Finally had a chance to watch the clips, very interesting, thanks for those, Madget. It's clear that director Mac Lauren or maybe Gilligan, asks for very specific emotional cocktails from the actors at times and gets them too.

Oh and I was just wrong in describing Anna Gunn with the word 'chunky', if anything, she's only curvier and that's a very good thing. Right now, she's repulsed and afraid of Walt in equal parts, so bad times ahead for the self-styled Family Man.

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#599809 - 07/26/12 05:04 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
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I can normally take or leave little featurettes like that, but sometimes the BB ones clue me into something I missed.

I wasn't clear on who Lydia was at first, for example, but saw her sitting at the table with Madrigal and the DEA when looking back. Still not clear who she is, but understanding she's with Madrigal helps.

I very much like that we're forging into the corporate hierarchy behind Los Pollos Hermanoes and its links to the drug trade, and getting a sense of the surreal threat it represents. The show could've pretty easily dropped all that to keep its focus local to Walt; instead, we're going worldwide with the ripple effect of Walt's trajectory through the business.

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#599816 - 07/26/12 06:18 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Right! I'm sure that Mike knows better, but Walt seems to think he's at the top of the food chain now with Gus eliminated. You'd think someone with his intellect would be more concerned with the 'worlds within worlds' nature of his business.

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#599817 - 07/26/12 07:29 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
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Walt's academic intelligence is high and he's clever and ballsy when in a bind, but in fairness, foresight and broad vision have never, at any point in the series, been his forte. I remember the writers mulling in commentaries as early as Season 2 about Walt's blind spots, so I think at this point, his inability to see very far past himself is an intentional character trait. Even this late in the game, with everything going his way (on the surface at least) Walt is not so much a portrait of a man in control, but more of a satire of that portait, high on self-determinism while comically unaware of what a doomed cog he really is. Come to think of it, that's a small but critical part of why Bryan Cranston is so good in the role: his underlying comic doofiness. The audience is never allowed to take Walt quite as seriously as Walt takes himself.

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#599840 - 07/29/12 02:45 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Bryan Cranston's casting was what initially kept me from checking out Breaking Bad. He was a fantastic bumbling Dad in Malcolm in the Middle, but when I heard he had the leading role in a drama, I just thought, right, comic actors always want to do drama, dramatic actors always want to do comedy, show their range, increase employability. My narrow minded paradigm may actually have a little truth as far as actors motives go, but is obviously meaningless relating to their possible success in crossing genres. An opposite example of genre hopping, the actor who plays Hank was in the latest episode of Adult Swim's 'Eagleheart'. He didn't have a lot of lines, it's only a 15 minute show, but he was hilarious!

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#599841 - 07/29/12 05:39 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
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Dark as Breaking Bad can be, there is a lot of comedy in it, a lot of absurdity. And for all his serious moments, Walt is in many ways a fundamentally comic character. Think about how different the show would be if they had cast a purely dramatic actor in the lead role. There are times when I actually think BB pushes a little too far into cutesy humor, but overall I think the writers and actors very smart to keep one foot in that camp.

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#599848 - 07/30/12 06:52 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Episode 3:

I think Breaking Bad does a good job of choosing its moments to leap forward. For two seasons they drew out the dramedy of Walt lying about his activities to Skyler, to the point it dissolved his marriage; we await his big confession to her, but then, boom -- she's already figured it out. We're already past it. It makes sense, and it's done, and the story moves forward. Because the groundwork is so carefully and thoroughly laid, we don't think twice about the transition. It's time, and it happens. I feel that way with the evolution of Walter White this season. We've spent four seasons watching him doubt himself, be tormented, have pangs of conscience and guilt. But with the end of Season 4, and the high of winning his battle against the master opponent and the lows he sank to in order to accomplish that -- poof. There is no more transition needed for Walt: he is the Bad Guy now. And he does Bad Guy things, and he no longer thinks twice about it. And it works. It was time.

I'm also impressed that just 3 episodes into Season 5, they have Walt & Jesse up and cooking again, with an entirely new -- and quite clever -- model/scheme. I think they're doing a better job than in Season 4, writing-wise, of choosing what details and aspects of the story to explore, vs. what details to sort of gloss over. I sense they have a lot they want to get in this season, but the pacing still works.

I love little details like the mascot of the new pest control operation. In Season 3 & 4 we had that smiling yellow Hermanoes Chicken, and a clean, controlled corporate environment. Now, we have the kooky, yellow running vermin mascot, as Walt/Jesse cook hidden inside tents with cockroaches. And at the same time, Walt is cleverly diminished to Robert Ford by Mike ("Just because you shot Jesse James, doesn't make you Jesse James"). Gus's logo vs. Walt's logo reflect their respective status and subtly caricaturizes them.

Skyler's semi-breakdown seemed believable, although I'm not sure exactly where they're going with it; and Walt's manipulations with Marie appropriately creepy and evil -- this scene, along with his talk with Jesse about Andrea, show us very clearly how comfortable Walt now is with unbridled, self-serving manipulation.

I do think the manipulations re: Jesse were maybe a bit too easy, though. I'm not sure I buy Walt planting that one little seed of doubt, and it leading to the resolution of an entire major (if uninteresting) relationship re: Jesse all in the length of an episode. I do buy Walt's vague spell over Jesse, but I'm not sure I buy quite that level of totality.

I probably also could've done without the explicit Scarface inclusion. I get it's meant to be a joke the audience is in on at this point, but it was maybe a tad much.

Still, good stuff as usual.

K

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#599851 - 07/30/12 02:16 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
MightyQuin Online   content
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Scarface being on the TV worked well enough though it was a bit facile. Maybe I have a suspicious nature but, I don't think the fact that it plays on AMC this Wednesday is entirely coincidence.

Totally agree with you that the comedic parts of the show are very valuable. Somehow they serve to keep the action grounded in what seems like real life. The same is true for some of the drama. When I heard Mike's Jesse James line to Walt in the preview, I thought it would be delivered with over-the-top menace like something out of, well, Scarface, but seeing and hearing it in the show, it was practically conversational.

The idea of the new lab's site being in {So, we're long ago done with SPOILERS here, right?}

an average house that's being fumigated is just plain clever. Not knowing the real requirements for this kind of chemistry, I'll buy that the logistics wouldn't actually be impossible. Plenty of room for close calls and unexpected jeopardy like the baby monitor that had to be disabled as well. I'm especially getting a kick out of it because I worked on those tent fumigations thirty or so years ago. Part of the process prior to the gas release is to pull open every drawer and cabinet door so the deadly Vikane gets to all nooks and crannies. The result is that when the homeowners return, it looks as if they've been burglarized!

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#599861 - 07/30/12 10:21 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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How did you interpret the closing exchange, where Walt brings up Victor? Is it a veiled warning to Jesse, about the dangers of crossing Walt again? Or is it a reference to what might happen to Mike, if Mike displeases Walt too much? Or both? I see Jesse more as Walt's "Victor," than Mike who can barely stand him, but I'm a little surprised Walt would feel any impulse to threaten Jesse at this point. Jesse's so in the bag at the moment, for Walt, that it just seems needless.

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#599865 - 07/31/12 12:32 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Have to say, I'm as mystified as you about it. The comment came out of left field and Jesse reacted to it that way, but was his reaction because the comment was directed at him or just surprised him? It --seemed-- directed to Jesse, but as you say, that would've been needless. Possibly a transference? Mike has just exercised his independence, his control of the business, taken a big chunk of Walt's money, legitimately, but Walt doesn't see it that way. Walt can't do anything to Mike, so he kicks the puppy! That's all I got! It really stood out in a strange way though, so I have to think it has some significance.

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#599994 - 08/06/12 05:05 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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Ep. 4:

This season is shaping up to be an amazing study in psychological warfare. The current brewing battle between Skyler and Walt over the kids is pretty fantastic. His unhinged megalomania and the ways in which it clouds his view of reality is well-handled and believable, as is Skyler's emotional shut-down. You just cringe and feel for her every second she's onscreen this season. In terms of narrative craftsmanship, I think it was wise to sort of scrap mulling the remnants of Skyler's relationship with Walt too much, and instead shifting maternal instinct to the forefront, for her, motivationally speaking. And that could've been done badly, but is handled sublimely here.

It's like a great chess match. We have Hank shifting professional positions, upwards; but Marie manipulated into manipulating Hank, leaving him at a disadvantage while covering for Walt; Lydia, meanwhile, attempting a retreat right out of the game; Mike seeing through her ploy and tasked with herding her back into the fold; Jesse brokering peace for her out of conscience and sympathy, and Walt backing him up for his own reason, greed; and of course Walt and Skyler attempting to manipulate each other in a variety of intriguing and suspenseful ways, mostly in the confines of their own bedroom. That's an awful lot of pieces in play, and that's just in this episode -- but so far, to my eyes, it's all being juggled pretty flawlessly. Add to this the clever, subversive use of mixed styles: i.e. the slightly zany opening sequence revisiting the obtainment of manly-man cars for Walt and his boy. The celebratory, zig-zagging, havin'-a-good-time atmosphere, with Walt channeling his Malcolm in the Middle dad, is almost nauseating to the audience; more a merry-go-round we want to get off before we throw up, than a roller coaster we want to ride. It also makes me think back to the "KEN WINS" car Walt destroyed in the first season. In his own way, Walt has become a kind of Ken himself.

At first I thought the closing shot of the watch was supposed to imply some kind of explosive device, which made no sense and seemed cheesy. Since it's not alluded to in the Inside Episode 4 video and would make no sense anyway, I assume it's just meant to sort of cap off the atmosphere of doublecrossing, as well as emphasize what Skyler is now counting on -- the simple passage of time. It's actually, again, pretty clever -- Walt had just taunted her and attempted a fresh manipulation with this object that is representative of an abstract element she is counting on to save her, or at least her kids. Walt is focused on the material object and the gratitude with which it was given; Skyler is focused on what the object actually means, and measures. If cancer gets Walt before the DEA, the kids would still never have to know, and even Skyler could have a possibility of getting off without legal repercussion.



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#600002 - 08/06/12 11:44 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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The funniest scene this season is Walt pointing to his watch, explaining to Skyler how the guy who gave him that had a gun to his head only a few weeks ago, so she'll change her mind, too. Goddamn, that was great.
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#600003 - 08/06/12 12:06 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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I went through the same thought process as you regarding the closing shot of the watch, including thinking it was an explosive device initially. I might be mistaken (I don't tape these episodes) but wasn't the clock ticking the last three seconds to midnight? This would mark where Walt stands at the end of the day, the chess pieces are all in position now, a new game begins and, of course, the end of his birthday. Happy Birthday, Walt, you Machiavellian bastard!

There's really not much to add to what you've ably explicated about the episode, Madget, so I'm going to ask you something fairly unrelated. Have you been watching Small Town Security that follows Breaking Bad? I started watching just to get the additional Breaking Bad preview during the commercial breaks. Now, I usually have very little interest in Reality TV. Most of it, you could not pay me to watch. For some reason, I make exceptions for this, Cajun Justice and the History Channel's Mountain Men. So, is Small Town Security the perfect chaser to Breaking Bad, or is the shift from the sublime BB to the ridiculous just ... ridiculous?

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#600004 - 08/06/12 12:31 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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I don't know about funniest scene of the season, but it is a great moment of WaltThink.

As to the watch, it even looks a little like a chess clock. I wonder if that was intentional. Of all the kinds of watch they could've used there, it seemed a fairly unusual choice.

It was about ten minutes to midnight on the watch in the final shot, but the last few seconds of whatever minute the watch was at.

I don't have cable, so no, MQ, haven't seen any of those, I'm afraid. I also try to avoid BB video previews. When I enjoy something as much as BB I don't want the good bits fed to me ahead of time as a teaser, I like to go into each episode fresh.

I hate reality TV but it does have some inherently addictive quality. Often when I go home to visit my parents across the state, I end up getting sucked into some late night reality TV marathon. First it was America's Next Top Model; last time it was Hardcore Pawn. I watch that shit for hours when I'm there. Makes me glad I don't have cable at home.

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#600008 - 08/06/12 01:37 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Oh, one other thing I liked in this last episode -- just a tiny, tiny detail. This picture of Mike from Hank's corkboard.



Michael Ehrmantrout, disgraced former cop, PI, murderer, thug. Normally we're in Mike's world, and often amused by him, but this shitty-ass picture -- which we just get a passing glimpse of, it's not really lingered on -- is uniquely effective in putting us on the outside looking in, for a moment. It's not anything brilliant or anything, but it just stuck out to me as another one of those tiny details BB gets just right.

Also, on the other end of the spectrum: although obviously not meant to be the most likable character in the world, I find Lydia quite hot, and am vaguely wondering if that's just me, or if it's pretty much a given.

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#600010 - 08/06/12 03:44 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Oh, she's hot. But, that might almost be a kind of litmus test for the other characters. Mike is immune to it and perfectly willing to put the nervous little thing down. Almost too obviously, Jesse could be used by her as a pawn. And Walt? I wouldn't have thought so, but 'New Walt' certainly enjoys finer things like driving an expensive new car.

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#600016 - 08/06/12 10:17 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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Bad as things are with Skyler, I don't see Walt taking interest in another woman, let alone Lydia -- that's just not anything that's ever much been on his radar, except briefly as a possible way to punish Skyler for her own cheating. I mean, Jesus, he didn't even really want Carmen, and you don't get much hotter than that. Walt is, in his corrupted way, all about the family. Getting friendly with another woman would not serve his current purposes with his wife (i.e. "he changed his mind about me, you will too.") Besides, Walt's way too clinical about his work to mix business and pleasure.

As for Jesse, well ... Lydia and Jesse couldn't be less alike, and I'm not sure she's savvy enough to use him the way other characters have. But the dynamic between them was pretty funny, and it seemed to me that scene could've been planting the seed for some kind of development between them. He did now already rescue her from death, essentially, and Jesse has an impulse to protect, so who knows where that could lead with her. Maybe nowhere, maybe into her pants, maybe someplace I can't foresee at all. I note they did shed the Andrea character -- at least as far as we know -- one episode before Jesse and Lydia have their first interaction.

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#600017 - 08/06/12 10:29 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Oh, another miscellaneous thought re: funny Walt moments. My favorite is that tiny little moment when he's moving back into his house, unboxing things, and he comes across Whitman's Leaves of Grass. His obliviously nostalgic reaction is priceless. "Heh, I remember Gail introducing me to this. Ah, Gail. I wonder whatever happened to the old boy. Didn't I kill him or something? Man, that was a good poem. So many memories."

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#600019 - 08/07/12 01:05 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
MightyQuin Online   content
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You, my friend, have a dark sense of humor!

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#600124 - 08/13/12 08:55 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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EP. 5:

It amazes me this is only Episode 5 of 16, they're packing in a lot of content this season while somehow still maintaining that suspenseful, unrushed pacing typical of the show. Further drawing on Westerns for inspiration, BB adds a Great Train Robbery to its impressive collection of meth misadventures.

Of course mostly I'm pondering the ramifications of the episode's conclusion. This is going to devastate Jesse, who's ability to float along as the relative moral center of the gang, the peacemaker if you will, I must imagine has just been shattered. The fact of it being a kid will of course be a particular sore spot for him.

A part of me foresees a trajectory where Jesse falls apart after this, becoming the weak link, with the surprisingly ruthless new character Todd rising to replace him in Walt's esteem, setting the stage for a Walt/Gus-like face-off between Jesse and Walt. However, Jesse has now been established as very inventive in his own right, and just as Walt outsmarted his Master Opponent in Gus, Jesse may have a chance to outsmart his in Walt. But, I have some problems with this possibility and I think I hope I'm wrong.

For one thing, I don't see why the whole gang shouldn't come down pretty hard on Todd for this; maybe they will. I really don't see what harm there would've been for the crew in just shooing the kid along on his way. I mean, what does he know? That there were a few dudes doing some work out by a train track in the desert? Who would he tell, and why would it matter when no one on the receiving end of the shipment will know anything about the fact the train was robbed anyway? On Todd's part, it seems not only a ruthless act, but an incredibly stupid one -- and in that sense, maybe too forced, a macguffin. Not only did none of his superiors give him the greenlight for this action, but its potential ramifications are far, far more serious for the crew than the kid just having seen them would've been. A theft nobody knows happened with a practically irrelevant eye witness, vs. a dead child. One of those things is going to bring a lot more heat than the other.

Will Walt and Mike defend Todd here, or is Todd now a new problem for the crew? Mike may be willing to knock off a compromised player like Lydia, but an innocent kid that likely posed no danger? He does have a granddaughter,* for whose sake he does much of what he does. And Walt may have poisoned Brock as a manipulation tactic, but he didn't kill him. Ruthless as Walt has become, he seems too smart to not see how bad an idea murder was in this instance.

K

*PS - I'm getting a little tired of "children die" as the go-to plot device for BB ... anytime you start including children in a story like this, sheerly for the emotional value of them being innocent, doe-eyed children, it's a bad move IMO. At this point I'm thinking BB has played that card one too many times. Further, I could do without Mike having the granddaughter at all frankly -- it feels stuck in, and has a little of the stink of Character Development 101. Although I do like when Hank interrogates him about it.

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#600126 - 08/13/12 10:10 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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#600200 - 08/16/12 12:30 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Finally got a chance to see the Inside Episode 505 above. Good stuff, although no real insights as to future behavior, only because that has been crystallized so well in the show itself already.

You might add 'foreshadowing' to the list of story elements that are somewhat overused in Breaking Bad. When Todd says, "You've thought of everything", well that just begs for a wrench in the works. Likewise Mike saying something like 'there are only two types of crimes/jobs, ones with no witnesses and ones where you get caught'. They're both a bit too on the nose regarding the kid's murder. Still, a certain shorthand is necessary and I don't begrudge Gilligan's use of it for the most part. Even the newest victim of Walt's spider web of a life being a child has a 'it had to be' aspect to it. I agree with madget that it's overused in the series, but if the motorcyclist were a grown man, woman or even a teen, it wouldn't create the side of the argument that says the killing was largely avoidable and unnecessary. Of course, Walt didn't commit this murder, but if his reactions to it seem to Jesse to be more indifferent than they should be, will it put a seed in Jesse's mind regarding Brock?
Also, will we get a back story on cold-blooded SOB Todd? The other characters are so rich and defined, he will seem out-of-place as the main catalyst for the story until we know something about him by dialogue, action or flashback. Then again, a run of the mill, two dimensional punk would be novel for this show.

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#600201 - 08/16/12 12:43 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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"I'm getting a little tired of "children die" as the go-to plot device for BB"

Yep, this was #3, right? There are only 5 seasons. Wouldn't it have been more effective with an adult, who everyone would've been reasonably fearful might've reported something? As it stands, it felt too gimmicky.

Having said that, they did a good job making a heist movie this episode.
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#600292 - 08/21/12 03:54 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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EP. 6:

Great opening this week, with excellent scoring as usual by Dave Porter. The disassembly and dissolution of the bike is amazing; we can watch them do to the machine what we -- and they -- know will have to be done to the body as well, making the whole sequence a deft, emotionally loaded feat of visual substitution. The business-like atmosphere and the look on their faces are pitch perfect. And while it may not seem that striking out of context, the shot above is a wonderful visual moment, as Walt gazes out, waiting, to the dumptruck where Todd is digging out the non-mechanical body. This is what it has come to: dismembering and dissolving the body of a child. The gloves, mask, the filthy garage -- it's a great dialogue-free intro.

As to the subsequent handling of the Todd situation, I guess I'm mostly satisfied. I think they brushed off/played down the utter lack of the murder's necessity, but at least it was sort of debated, with the option of murdering Todd even being raised. While Jesse of course takes the whole thing hardest, it doesn't trip him up to quite the degree I anticipated, at least yet. But this works; it's a reminder that Jesse has changed a lot too, and is more in control of himself than in the past. I'm still wondering where this whole Todd subplot might lead.

As to the rest of the episode, it's probably not one of the most stand-out, but it covers some interesting ground. I didn't anticipate Mike and Jesse simply deciding to pull out (or sell out, rather); it's an interesting problem to throw at Walt, and by the end of the episode he seems to have devised some kind of solution, though we don't yet know what. It can't be some form of coercion, because Jesse wants Mike to hear Walt out and appears amenable to whatever proposition Walt has. But anyway, it's an interesting problem in part because it forces some onscreen confrontation about what Walt is really in this for at this point, because it's clearly not the money itself. "Empire building," Walt claims. I'm on the fence about how compelling "personal revenge against Gray Matter" is as a driving motive, but as Walt points out, he has nothing else left and little chance of getting the things he's lost back. The only direction is forward, deeper, more; in some ways Walt is as addicted to the Blue as his unseen customers. He's begun to remind me a bit of Plainview in There Will Be Blood, actually, and his "I have a competition in me" monologue.

Oh, and while I sometimes find "MacGuyver Walt" a little much, I like the way he gets out of his restraint; like the train robbery last episode, it was a clever twist on an age-old cliche.

K

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#600294 - 08/21/12 10:18 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
MightyQuin Online   content
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It was a pretty satisfying episode, as strange as that is to say about a show that begins with a young boy's connections to this world being totally erased.

I have to wonder about 'Gray Matters' as an ultimate motivator as well. It seemed a bit out of the blue as I was hearing Walt's explanation. However, if you were watching one episode after another, previous mentions of Gray Matters would've been more fresh and, after all,less than two years actual time have passed in the entire series timeline. Perhaps in the TPB version of Breaking Bad this would seem perfectly feasible? Walt probably could have begged or guilted his former colleagues into paying for his health care and even providing for his family after his death. That wouldn't have done for Walter White though. Definitely ego was involved in his decision to make the necessary money through his unique meth formula, so possibly envy, revenge and a need to right a past 'injustice' figure in also.

One thing I enjoyed with this episode that has been done before is the portrayal of different worlds coming into contact. We've seen plenty of Mike and plenty of Hank for a few seasons, but only seen them together, I believe, twice. It can't be comfortable for Mike in the police dept.'s hot seat, but you'd never know it. It's a world that he's familiar with, there are no surprises, only factors to be considered and dealt with. On the other hand, when Jesse sits down to dinner with Skylar, they're barely the same species much less on the same wavelength. The distance between them conveyed by the difference in their respective postures as much as anything else. Of course, we know why Skylar is completely removed from the niceties of the family table, but the way she and Jesse do not connect at all was well done.

Damn, what is Walt's new master plan to satisfy all parties? Will it be a science-ey solution that we just have to accept or will he offer to cook for the other meth ring? I guess the latter since we see him confronting them in the preview. Walt's ego won't allow him to adopt any position under full partnership though and this bunch seem to be cut from Mike's cloth, I'm worried about him!

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#600299 - 08/22/12 12:43 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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It occurs to me too that if Mike and Jesse are walking, that leaves Walt with one possible alternative assistant -- Todd. Todd clearly wants in, and if he's all Walt has, he may be part of the plan.

K

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#600467 - 08/24/12 09:22 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Here's a little article discussing the cinematography of BB with Michael Slovis.

http://www.wired.com/rawfile/2012/08/the-look-the-feel-of-breaking-bad/

K

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#600468 - 08/24/12 09:36 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Ah, *fuck* -- this is news to me:

--------------
AMC has decided to split the fifth and final season of its award-winning meth drama Breaking Bad into two parts, according to star Bryan Cranston.

In a recent interview Cranston announced the news of how the new 16-episode season 5 will be set up; “We’re splitting it. We’re going to shoot the first eight, then take a four-month production break, then the rest will air next year.”
--------------

In short, only two more episodes, then a long wait until 2013 for the final 8. Mrgh.

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#600470 - 08/24/12 11:14 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
MightyQuin Online   content
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I concur, mrgh. Makes me wonder if Cranston might have been offered a movie role for those four months that he just didn't want to turn down.

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#600514 - 08/27/12 12:56 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
MightyQuin Online   content
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An encounter in the desert:
"Who are you?"
"I am the cook. I am the man who killed Gus Fring. You know who I am. Say my name."

Completely realistic, yet practically biblical, it's going to be a long six months wait following the next episode.

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#600552 - 08/27/12 06:42 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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I thought it a little much, personally; I think I just felt like Walt needed something a little stronger than "who wants a world without Coke?" to seal this deal. On the other hand it underscores that Walt is now reduced to a brand name, valuable to others only as a product, as the rest of the episode excoriates the man behind the curtain. It's getting lonely fast, for Walt. That nobody is giving him the respect he now feels he deserves -- Jesse, Skylar, and finally, and most explosively, Mike -- is beginning to eat away at the seams of his megalomania. Despite his "victory," nobody needs or even wants him in their life anymore, except maybe Decklin (for what he can produce).

Not too much else to add I guess. I'm not in the know on police procedure, but it seems somehow improbable to me that the DEA could just show up and arrest the money-dropping lawyer like that. What's the charge? I realize the show isn't meant to be a police procedural and is well-served by skimming over certain things, but the mechanics of that whole thread are a little fuzzy to me.

As usual, I can't foresee where the narrative is headed exactly. Walt's demise obviously -- either legally, or literally, or both -- but I can't predict the arc. Todd seems like trouble, just as Walt seemed like trouble to Gus -- working with him purely out of necessity, as Gus did Walt, maybe Walt will find himself in Gus's shoes by the season's end, with Todd gunning for him. But Todd's just a dopey thug. I wondered if this season might introduce some kind of "the next Walt" or "the Walt who topples Walt" type of character, but I'm not quite seeing it. Which is fine; it's kind of an obvious route to go, the "always someone coming up behind you" cliche.

I wondered if the bug removal would be a problem; I felt like they'd throw a wrench Walt's way for round 2 of noodling with DEA computer equipment. Which I guess they did, in a way, but nothing that interfered with the bug deactivation in and of itself.

I wonder how Walt will spin Mike's disappearance to Jesse. Will he concoct a lie about Mike attacking him first, and if so, will Jesse see through it? I suppose since Mike was on his way to unknown whereabouts anyway, there's no need. Except it'll be up to Walt (and maybe Todd) to dispose of the body and evidence.

I kind of wish they were giving Skylar a little more to do; waiting it out as a silent prisoner seems to be all that's happening there.

K

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#600576 - 08/28/12 11:55 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
MightyQuin Online   content
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Yes, Walt is acting out of his megalomania more and more, but still has to rationalize his actions as being reasonable or at least logical. It was almost laughable that he tells Mike who is very close to death, 'I'm sorry, Mike, I could have gotten those names from Lydia. I didn't think of that until now.' Shooting Mike didn't get him those names! In fact, it broke what he thought was his only access to them.

Well, I know you don't care for the biblical allusion in the first scene and it was certainly ... broad. I thought it was nicely continued though in the power of 'the names'. Just as Walt must make Decklin say his name instead of him saying it and giving Decklin power, Walt won't be denied names from Mike and will kill to get them, as ineffectual as that was in actually getting them. I guess I have a weakness for broad drama, I'll blame Stan Lee for it, everybody else does.

I'm not any more versed in police procedurals than you are, Madget and don't know the exact chain of events here with the DEA. The money-dropping lawyer was seen on bank surveillance putting large amounts of cash into certain account boxes. That's just suspicious, not illegal, maybe it would provide enough for a Search Warrant, I don't know, but they could cross reference the account holders' names (whoah) for any association to the nine guys behind bars who worked for Fring. That's my latter day assessment anyway. At the time, the lawyer's arrest seemed thrown into place very precipitously to me too.

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#600603 - 08/28/12 02:50 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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Right. Is depositing money for the families of those under arrest for some crime or other illegal? And to show up in the middle of a safety deposit box drop like that -- that's supposed to be a sort of sacred/private area. It's not a huge sticking point to me, I just ... have questions, I guess. Does this also mean no more money left for Kaylee? If so, on what basis do they now confiscate it?

Have to admit I hadn't thought about "names" as an actual ongoing theme. And the episode is actually called "Say My Name" if I'm not mistaken. Which I'm not crazy about as a title, but it lends some credence to the idea that the writers were concentrating on that as a motif here.

K

PS - It was sort of a uniquely weird thrill to see Mike in real trouble for once. Sure, he's been shot before and all, but to see actual human fear register on his jaded, unflappable face as the police close in on the park -- and to have to abandon his granddaughter without saying goodbye -- was a subtle tipping point in mood and tone I thought. Although this said I found it a little much that he made his way to the shore for such a picturesque final moment at the end of the episode. Oh, and yeah -- Walt's "I just realized, I could've gotten those names from Lydia" is pretty funny. It seems to me Mike would've been much wiser to let Jesse make the drop. I guess he wanted to protect him, but he should've known Walt coming could mean trouble.

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#600660 - 08/29/12 12:20 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
MightyQuin Online   content
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Originally Posted By: madget
Right. Is depositing money for the families of those under arrest for some crime or other illegal? And to show up in the middle of a safety deposit box drop like that -- that's supposed to be a sort of sacred/private area. It's not a huge sticking point to me, I just ... have questions, I guess. Does this also mean no more money left for Kaylee? If so, on what basis do they now confiscate it?


I can't disagree with that. Maybe we'll find out the exact charges the lawyer was picked up on, but likely not. In real life, whatever evidence came to law enforcement would probably have resulted in surveillance of the lawyer and following a paper trail for months. It's not a sticking point to me either, I'll just chalk it up to events in TV time vs real time. I don't know if they could confiscate the money immediately. After a conviction though, RICO would take everything. I have a feeling that events in the series will never reach trials for the main characters anyway, that is, the still-living ones.

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#600709 - 09/01/12 01:56 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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Ah, I'd been wishing they'd do this for ages; maybe it's always been there and I just never saw it till now. Often BB features music that interests me; the non-scored music is now listed by season & episode at AMC's website.

http://blogs.amctv.com/breaking-bad/2010/03/season-3-music.php

That's season 3 but links to others are there too.

K

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#600745 - 09/03/12 10:25 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Well, that was-- actually, I think I'd better leave the initial analysis of the half season closer to Madget, this one is for the pro's! I have a question though. You're an observant admirer of the series music soundtrack. Is this the first time they've used 'Crystal Blue Persuasion' in the background? It's such an obvious, but perfect choice, I have to wonder, and in sync with Walter's timeline to be popular when he was a very young kid. Soundtracks often filter right through me effective but unnoticed. I may've heard it several times, and each time thought, "Wow, what a good and unexpected idea!".

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#600750 - 09/03/12 02:25 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
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I have a feeling they were saving that song for a special moment.
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#600754 - 09/03/12 04:51 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Jimbo]
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I like that we still see a bandage on Walt's wrist from the restraint escape last week ....

The song, yes, I am almost certain it is the first time they've used that. You're probably right -- they probably had been intending to use it for a while, but hadn't found the right time. Or maybe it was difficult to get the rights. Hard to say ...

I liked the first half of this episode better than the second half. The two minute mega-murder was pretty amazing, quite well done, and the obvious stand-out sequence.

Beyond that: I like the bug imagery -- obvious enough, but well-used -- overlapping with the twitchy, unpredictable Lydia and Todd characters (not to mention Todd's lovely uncle) as they become Walt's new right/left hands. The heavy, conscience-burdened days of Jesse, Mike, and Skyler are past, now. Todd, Todd's Uncle, and Lydia are the new circle, a decidedly shadier bunch better able to keep up with and match Walt's complete moral emptiness. It reminds me a little of No Country for Old Men (the book more than the movie) with its passages about the new breed of criminality in a changing landscape that is leaving an old-timer like the Sheriff outmatched. (Then again it takes very little to get me thinking about McCarthy's work.)

As Todd clearly replaced Jesse, I thought they might actually move to have Lydia begin to replace Skyler. Lydia is a more powerful, well-connected, willing partner; she can offer Walt Madrigal and worldwide distribution. Contrast this to Skyler and her little car wash. Lydia's also reasonably age-appropriate for Walt, gorgeous, and equally morally compromised; not to mention she seems to be single. But much as I thought some kind of new relationship was being brewed there, it doesn't look like the writers see fit to go anywhere with it. Which I can sort of understand; I'm not sure this is the time for a steamy new love affair -- these characters are in it for themselves, it's all business, now. But people will be people, and all the right elements for something to happen between these two are (or were) certainly in place.

Then, surprisingly, Walt reveals that he's out. Is he? Could be he's found a new way to launder his money, and this is just a ploy to reassemble his family for his remaining years. The show plays it pretty straight, though; we have no reason to doubt him at the moment. And with 8 episodes remaining, the show does have to start wrapping things up for whatever ultimate conclusion it has planned. Maybe Walt really is out; the remainder of the show could fall largely into Hank's hands. I guess we'll see.

To that end:

I love that Leaves of Grass is now a bathroom reader for Walt; in and of itself it's a nice touch. How I feel about it as Hank's window into WW as Heisenberg, is a little more conflicted. It's a little too dumb and narratively convenient for Walt to leave that kind of evidence tying himself to a murdered man lying around -- at the season's opening, Walt even got rid of the Lily of the Valley plant, just to be extra safe. If there was a more compelling Walt-esque reason for the oversight, I'd accept it better, but as it is, just seems ... a really stupid oversight. Every season of BB tends to bring a few of these too conveniently convenient moments with it.

My mild dissatisfaction with this plot turn isn't helped by the fact that the corresponding cliffhanger is facilitated by a pretty run-of-the-mill, purely functional flashback, a made-for-TV moment well beneath BB's usual level of quality and craftsmanship. Not to mention that really, anyone up on the show's narrative doesn't need that flashback for the moment to communicate what it needed to. It should've ended with just a steady shot of the interior text, in silence, held long enough for the audience to take it back in, and maybe a cut back to Hank briefly, if needed.

Anyway, this all points to a final showdown between Hank and Walt. While I don't doubt that that will be a highly entertaining thing to see, it's a little more obvious than I might've hoped for, and I think the remainder of the series might prove a bit weak compared to everything up to this point. My original idea about Walt taking ownership of the entire extended family, including Hank, I think could've been a more unique way to go. Instead it looks like it's going to be the Good Cop gets the Bad Guy. Although, I could be wrong. That ricin is probably going to end up in someone's system, at the end of the day (maybe even Walt's own). The show has been incredibly daring at times, and it is possible that Walt will take out Hank. Jesse already knows he has to be very careful lest Walt choose to dispose of him too; Walt's become so dark, I'm not even 100% convinced Skyler couldn't end up in Walt's line of fire. Walt is now believably fully transformed into the "monster" Hank speaks of.

Anyway, in conclusion, I do have a couple nagging annoyances -- much as I love BB, every season tends to throw in a few little aspects that don't quite clear the bar. But hey -- it's been a wonderful eight weeks, and nothing else on TV I've yet encountered gives me as much pleasure as this show.

I'm still pissed, of course, that they broke this season into two halves. We have to wait until NEXT SUMMER for the end. Buhh. I'd rather have had a full Season 5, and a renewal for Season 6 as the finale. Much as I appreciate that they have chosen to opt for a finite narrative with a beginning, middle, and end, I really do think they have more than enough to work with to have gotten a complete 5th and separate 6th season out of it all.

K

PS - Quick follow up thought on the episode that opens with disposing of the dirt bike, which I watched again. One thing that makes the trick they pull in that sequence work as well as it does struck me more so the 2nd time around -- it's *long.* Not only is the deconstruction of the bike well-done, but there are two or three points you think it's over, and it's not. They need to strip the wheels. They need to saw the body in half. Some things won't fit as well as hoped and must be further broken down. It's a great thing to drag out, inviting gruesome speculation on similar problems that might be encountered with the body itself. Although on 2nd viewing, it also occurred to me that the kid's pretty small; the only real reason to dismantle the body would be to be extra careful. They probably didn't need to do much more than dump the body in the barrel. But the sequence works anyway; we don't really know what exactly occurs after the dirtbike is dealt with.

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#600755 - 09/03/12 05:05 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Jimbo Offline
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Originally Posted By: madget


I love that Leaves of Grass is now a bathroom reader for Walt; in and of itself it's a nice touch. How I feel about it as Hank's window into WW as Heisenberg, is a little more conflicted. It's a little too dumb and narratively convenient for Walt to leave that kind of evidence tying himself to a murdered man lying around -- at the season's opening, Walt even got rid of the Lily of the Valley plant, just to be extra safe. If there was a more compelling Walt-esque reason for the oversight, I'd accept it better, but as it is, just seems ... a really stupid oversight. Every season of BB tends to bring a few of these too conveniently convenient moments with it.



Someone over on the SHH forums mentioned G.B might be Gretchen Black, not Gail Boetticher. Still an astonishing coincidence, but not quite as sloppy on Walt's part.

Regarding Walt's body count: I was surprised Skyler made it this far. When she started her talk about taking the kids away I was pretty sure that would have pushed Walt over the edge to taking her down. She got lucky, I think.
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#600756 - 09/03/12 05:21 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Jimbo]
madget Offline
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Hmm.

Well, I have to admit, I do like that idea, connecting it back to Gretchen -- no less coincidental, but it would be a pretty interesting twist, and it would help make this plot turn more forgivable. Sadly, the idea made me curious enough to go back and compare, and while not an exact-exact match, I'd say it is Gail's handwriting.

See below; top is from Gail's notebook in Season 4. Bottom is closing shot of latest episode.



K


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#600757 - 09/03/12 06:11 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Here's Inside Ep. 8:



Seems that Walt truly is "out" from the writers perspective, or intends to be; no ploy.

I also find it interesting that they are "in the process of writing" the final 8 episodes, because the forward-flash at the season's opening is as yet unaccounted for, and nine months (in the show's timeline) away. Though I guess the flash-forward might have been the last thing shot, and constructed after the rest, even after this featurette; who knows.

K

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#600759 - 09/03/12 06:36 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Jimbo]
MightyQuin Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Jimbo
I have a feeling they were saving that song for a special moment.


Agreed. It was a great counterpoint to the action. This sweet, kind of sappy song about the hippy Age of Aquarius coming, there used to be a lot of those, overlaying Walter's work. Spreading his product internationally and probably tripling the business might be a 'new age dawning' for him I guess.

All the business partners are prepared to kill one another should it become necessary now. Jesse had his hand on a concealed weapon, Walt was ready to drop a capsule of what I assume was Lily of the Valley powder into Lydia's tea and several 'loose ends' were tied up. All that and everything else is kind of moot depending on Hank. He's got to confront Walter about the book inscription. I confess, I don't know if Walter can be convincing saying it's from Gretchen B., a former colleague with Gail's same initials. Both inscriptions were block printed, so difficult to track to a certain individual. Going only by the expression on Hank's face, he'll confront Walt in a very heated way, Walter realizing the jig is irrevocably up, will smack him with a drinks tray and be on the run. And a mini-storage unit of money will be forever out of his grasp. Then again, Hank's expression could indicate the mother of all deuces. People do die on the toilet, could Walter White be that lucky? In any event,I'm expecting an immediate flurry of action come next summer as in an almost literal fashion, the shit has hit the fan!

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#600761 - 09/03/12 06:48 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
MightyQuin Online   content
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hmmm, I was still writing when you posted the Inside Episode 8 clip, Madget. I guess Hank won't immediately confront Walt after all. It's difficult to imagine him being duplicitous enough to play it close to the vest when he rejoins the get-together though. He's not Walter White!

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#600764 - 09/03/12 08:07 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Originally Posted By: madget
We have to wait until NEXT SUMMER for the end.

My dad watches that other stringalong, Hell on Wheels. He asked me what the commercials saying "the last episode of 2012" meant. I told him that probably meant new episodes were coming in January. The big three networks usually drop off with new eps around Thanksgiving and pick up again after the New Year, maybe a six week break. You're saying AMC is taking a ten-month break?
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#600768 - 09/03/12 09:12 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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I know it doesn't continue until 2013; I thought I saw something about the rest not airing until next summer entirely, but maybe it'll air earlier in 2013. I hope so.

MQ: I disagree about Hank, he can be very duplicitous and knows how to play things close to the vest. Cf. his interrogation of Mike; most of the questions Hank asks he already knows the answers to, he's just testing him, prodding to see if he can catch Mike in a lie. Realizing Walt is his Heisenberg is of course much more personally rattling. But, Hank's smart. He will need time to think this discovery through and consider how to proceed. He will probe Walt with little questions to suss out more. This book isn't exactly the kind of evidence that could put Walt away -- it just signals the truth to Hank. By knowing Walt is Heisenberg, Hank has a tremendous new advantage. He'll know better than to blow that, but will undoubtedly be conflicted about what to do with that advantage. Surely he doesn't want to tear Walt's family apart. I figure covert surveillance of Walt may be Hank's next step, to see if he can find more evidence to support his discovery; but, Walt now being supposedly "out," this may not actually yield much on Walt. But it could lead Hank back to Jesse somehow; and putting any kind of squeeze on Jesse, may lead to heightened confrontation between Jesse and Walt.

Hank is in a pretty fascinating position. The above guessing aside, I really don't feel confident I know exactly what's next, as usual. It'll be interesting.

K

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#600769 - 09/03/12 09:14 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Charles has been pretty mum on this season; you still watching, Reece? Any summary thoughts on S5 Pt. 1?

K

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#600783 - 09/04/12 12:47 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Yeah, it's Hank's personal involvement with Walt, the personal betrayal that I thought would trump reasoned detective investigative methods. The actor himself in the clip you supplied indicates that he'll use this new information to build on though, so that's the way it will play out I guess.

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#600821 - 09/08/12 01:01 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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(from nerdapproved.com)

K

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#600822 - 09/08/12 01:13 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Also, sound editor talks about the signature sounds for BB.

http://www.fastcocreate.com/1681539/meth-for-your-ears-behind-the-signature-sounds-of-breaking-bad

And this.



K

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#600823 - 09/08/12 10:49 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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Originally Posted By: madget
Charles has been pretty mum on this season; you still watching, Reece? Any summary thoughts on S5 Pt. 1?


I've just been enjoying your analysis. You follow the show a lot more closely than I. I've mostly been enjoying what's been going on, but the whole return to normal life segment left me a bit cold, including Hank's discovery of the dedication. Also, one thing that's really bugged me logistically is the short time line of all of this. Why make it just a year? That doesn't seem plausible in the least. Walt was at the point of selling meth overseas in just over a year!?! Come on.
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#600824 - 09/08/12 10:55 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
Charles Reece Offline
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Quin and Madge,

Have y'all read this takedown of the show?
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#600825 - 09/08/12 12:51 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
MightyQuin Online   content
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Rats, my TV Guide cover had Jimmy Kimmel in Game of Thrones drag.

Jimbo was right that Gilligan picked a special moment for Crystal Blue Persuasion, not surprisingly it appears he's hands on in all the series' departments. A comparison to Alan Moore comes to mind.

I don't know what to say about that critic's lambasting of the show, Charles. I can't say that he doesn't have a handle on it, but what he regards as creative failures in the series seem to be some of the shows working elements to me. I've always been of the opinion that Walter White was only considered a nice guy because he didn't do all those evil things previously. He had that potential though and has become more capable of them. See? He's an inspiration, learn by doing!

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#600829 - 09/08/12 09:51 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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Originally Posted By: Charles Reece
Also, one thing that's really bugged me logistically is the short time line of all of this. Why make it just a year? That doesn't seem plausible in the least. Walt was at the point of selling meth overseas in just over a year!?! Come on.


I hear you, but this doesn’t bother me very much. The narrative trajectory of Walt’s transformation works and is believable to me in itself. That is, I wouldn’t even know we’d only seen a little over a year elapse thus far, or thought about it at all, if the show hadn’t spelled it out with the birthdays. Certainly the brevity of the timeline given occurred to me, and I’ll agree that any realistic scrutiny of it stretches plausibility. But on the other hand, it really doesn’t affect anything. “This whole story takes place in a two year time span? Huh. Seems like it should be more like five.” It’s a valid point, but it just doesn’t matter that much, so I can shrug it off.

The convenient conveniences I’ve previously mentioned, bug me more. They’re more substantial imperfections with an actual effect on the quality of the narrative itself. But, hey: even within the show, Walt’s product is only 90-something percent pure.

As to the critic’s article, I’ll take them point by point:

1. I agree Walt was never really “a nice guy.” From the very first episode, there is an emasculated frustration and nerdy sort of egotistical rage abrew in WW. But this is why his transformation works and is so believable. It’s why no matter how horrible his transgressions become, it works. However, while Walt may never have truly been “a nice guy,” he did have remorse; a conscience; self-doubt; confliction and sorrow over the transgressions he was rapidly being sucked into committing. He functioned well within the bounds of the law and of social norms, and he was (and to date, still is) a very loyal husband and – in his way – a dedicated father. So while I would agree that Walt’s ethics were always more a matter of convenience, inertia, perhaps even some cowardice, rather than of conscious moral conviction, I don’t see it as a problem in any way. On the contrary it is part of why the character’s evolution works. There are many people in our society whose ethics are largely ethics of convenience. This show illustrates the trajectory of a character for whom those threads get tugged a little too hard, and the whole facade begins to unravel, revealing the ugly, wounded, villainous core.

2. I can understand his disappointment with the female characters in the show, but don’t share anywhere near his degree of it. I don’t find them inauthentic or non-believable characters. The writers try to do some interesting things with them, but ultimately they do get short shrift to Walt, Jesse, Hank, and even Gus. The decision to focus on those characters isn’t something I hold against the show. If a show with a set of female protagonists focused on them to the exclusion of better developed secondary male characters, it wouldn’t bother me much either. Focus on what’s interesting and the story that you want to tell. I think people are a little hard on Skyler, and at first I thought they were too hard on Marie too, although I confess the writers seem to have given up trying to do anything of particular interest with her. There’s only so much time. Additionally, quite frankly, some people are simply not that deep or interesting – and there’s nothing wrong with a show reflecting that reality, as long as they aren’t dwelling pointlessly on what isn’t interesting at the expense of what is. And for the record I thought Jane was a pretty good character. Andrea, not so much. Lydia I like a lot, but sadly, with her late introduction, there doesn’t seem to be time to squeeze in a huge role or a lot of backstory for her. And in defense of Lydia’s twitchiness, they introduce her into the story at a point of – for her – extreme crisis and fear of being brought down. The final episode of the season did at least give us some reminder of her considerable value to the previous – and present – operation. And while a bit high-strung, she’s nothing if not careful, so I disagree Gus wouldn’t work with her. Again, we are introduced to her at a time when her world is unraveling and at which she is in the dark about a lot of what has happened or why.

3. Jesse’s “lame drug montages” – I don’t see it. Have there really been so many, outside of Jane introducing him to heroin (which was mostly handled in one shot)? He started out as a drug user and falls back into that in times of stress, sure – personally, I’ve never felt this aspect of the character or show to be overplayed a la Trainspotting, though. If anything, the opposite – the temptation would be to dramatize and dwell on Jesse’s own drug dependence in the face of their operation a good deal more, but the writers seem resistant to that. There was admittedly a point in Season 4 where I’ll confess I was getting a little bored with Jesse’s repetitive bouts of self-loathing, but it was short-lived, and quite frankly, it’s a functionally appropriate counterpoint to Walt’s trajectory. Jesse’s generally a pretty amazing character, if you ask me, one who vastly exceeded my expectations and who’s been full of a lot of (mostly) believable surprises. The caveat to this is I do admit that I think he sometimes magically becomes a little *too* intelligent/competent when the plot demands; but, not to the extent it renders the character inauthentic or less than compelling.

4. How is “Yeah, bitch! Magnets!” machismo Hollywood dialogue? I loved that, just seemed like Jesse being Jesse again, in a moment of brief excitement. “Do you understand?” I don’t recall as a piece of dialogue, nor can I imagine why it would be a particular problem. Walt's machismo in general is admittedly taken a little more at face-value in Season 5 than in the past, where it was undercut and mocked at every turn, but hey; it was probably time to let Walt just be a a pure bad-ass for a few episodes. We all know he's going to fall shortly. And for all his purported bad-assery, he's still being painted meta-narratively as a cowardly insect, slinking about the shadows. It's not a preachy show, but nor does it really glorify very much about Walt. Walt's a dickhead, just a really fascinating one.

5. I agree here – Breaking Bad’s plotting is far from air-tight, and at least once or twice per season, a little too gratingly convenient. However, I still say it stacks up quite favorably to almost anything else on TV. Le Samourai is full of plot-holes, it’s still a great fucking movie.

6. I get what he’s saying, but I like BB’s use of flash-forwards. They’re always handled with such style, and they genuinely, effectively create a great deal of guessing and suspense, at least for me. I wouldn’t be one to heavily defend the climax of Season 2 though, which I felt to be one of the show’s goofiest twists. In retrospect I sort of appreciate the surreality of it all, and Season 3 is so compelling that my disappointment was short-lived. But even if the substance itself was a little much, I’ll give them this much: I never would’ve guessed it was coming. And while the plane crash may not be the show’s strongest twist, it’s fundamental ability to continually surprise me – without going off the deep end completely, or losing its central narrative focus – is part of what keeps me watching.

7. The show is formalist and stylized, by nature. Personally, I like that – it’s part of what makes spaghetti westerns appealing, film noir, the aforementioned Melville. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s a style I enjoy when it’s done well, which I feel it is in BB, at least relative to the landscape of TV entertainment. Your mileage may vary.

8. I haven’t seen The Sopranos, Deadwood, or Mad Men, so I won’t poo-poo them or rule out the possibility – unlikely as I find it – that they are superior to BB. They are three shows I would like to and plan to eventually see. Now, I have seen The Wire; The Wire has just as many flaws and problems as BB is purported to have by this critic, and I enjoyed it less as a whole. It was better than a lot of other shit on TV, easily, but it was preachy, uneven, and self-congratulatingly hyper-topical. And for as broad as the cast of characters was, I only liked or found myself engrossed by a couple of them in any given season, and none of them to the same extent as WW or even Jesse, with the possible exception of Stringer Bell.

9. Addressed this above. The timeline is strangely short; it’s a bit baffling. It also matters very little.

10. Fair enough.

I enjoyed The Onion’s forecast:

"Breaking Bad Creator Thinking Maybe Next Season Should Take Dark Turn"

Quote:
LOS ANGELES—Following last Sunday’s Breaking Bad midseason finale, creator and showrunner Vince Gilligan told reporters that in a departure from the “light, fun tone” that has characterized the program thus far, the concluding episodes may take more of a darker turn. “Ever since the very first episode, in which [main character] Walt is diagnosed with cancer and forced to sell meth to provide for his pregnant wife and cerebral-palsy-stricken son, I’ve thought that perhaps one day we could begin taking the show in a grittier direction,” said Gilligan, adding that while the program’s ongoing depiction of a man slowly succumbing to an illegal lifestyle defined by power, violence, and alienation was fine for four and a half seasons, he “wouldn’t mind” eventually exploring some grimmer themes. “I know our audience has gotten comfortable seeing Walt regularly kill drug dealers, endanger his family, and poison small children, but, personally, I think people would be interested in seeing a slightly more sinister side to the character.” Gilligan’s announcement comes just weeks after fellow AMC showrunner Matthew Weiner announced it was “entirely conceivable that the next season of Mad Men may touch on how men deal with marriage.”


Incidentally, now that BB is on hiatus for some ungodly amount of time, the next show in my queue is Game of Thrones, which friends have been pressing me to watch. I got sucked into Showtime's cheesy-ass THE TUDORS, so I'm guessing Game of Thrones should pass the time pleasantly enough. We'll see. It may be time to give Mad Men a go as well.

K


Edited by madget (09/08/12 10:25 PM)

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#600831 - 09/09/12 03:16 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
MightyQuin Online   content
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I think we all feel some extra justification with BB after Madget's examination of the show's merits and, for that matter, its shortcomings and compromises. Very focused and meaningful analysis there!

But, I have a minor question, minor because it wouldn't affect the series characters in any major way. I have mentioned that I've only seen a handful of the episodes of season 1, 2, 2.5 So, am I right in thinking that Walter never personally sampled his product in early days, or ever, for quality control or even out of intellectual curiosity?

I seem to recall a scene when he and Jesse were working in the Bounder that he asked Jesse what snorting his formula felt like. Jesse said something to the effect that it felt like the whole back of your head lifted off and Walt opines that it didn't really sound pleasant at all. This would indicate that Walt had never tried it himself, but my recollection here might be totally paramnesiac, concocted in my own brain. I don't think he would have tried it as that wasn't where his interests lay and he just thought he was 'better than that'. It also reinforces his perspective which is to look at his customers as merely cyphers in his plan rather than human beings. So, does he or doesn't he? Only his hairdresser knows for sure, wait Walt doesn't have one!

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#600832 - 09/09/12 07:53 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
madget Offline
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I can say unequivocally that Walt has never sampled his own product, nor ever been shown to have any interest in doing so. On the contrary, from the start his stance was and remained a hardline "we're pushers, not users," which in the early days of the show, Jesse was not fully on board with. As such Jesse has used their product at times, and vouched for its quality, as did the drug lord Tuco from Season 1-2, as well as some of Jesse's druggie friends.

Walt did smoke a little of Jesse's pot, at one point, and seemed to enjoy it at the time. But that's about the extent of Walt's own drug use.

If there are episodes you missed, FTR they're all on Netflix streaming now, all of the first four Seasons anyway. At 7.99 a month, it's a vastly better deal than cable.

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#600833 - 09/09/12 10:37 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Thanks! Right now DirecTV encompasses my entire budget for entertainment and I like the array of channels in their basic package, but I'll look into Netflix.

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#601052 - 09/28/12 01:51 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Charles Reece
Have y'all read this takedown of the show?

I read "Jen Girdish is a writer and editor in DC" as "Jen Girdish is a writer and editor *FOR* DC" and got depressed for a second that I might agree about anything with an editor for DC Comics.


Vince Gilligan was on Colbert tonight. He insinuated that the ending is still in flux. Prepare to get suckered again, kids.
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#601215 - 10/08/12 02:26 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdo5BwQn2yM

This Breaking Bad spoof was on the Emmy Awards show, it's a bit thin on real content, but cute nonetheless.

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#602291 - 08/11/13 04:49 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: MightyQuin]
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Currently on episode 5.5 with commercials and no fast-forward. This is torture.
_________________________
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602292 - 08/11/13 06:09 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Originally Posted By: madget
I don't see why the whole gang shouldn't come down pretty hard on Todd for this

Because Todd was 100% right in choosing the correct answer to the trite conundrum. These guys are stealing chemicals to make drugs that will end many more kids' lives in much slower and more disgusting ways than just getting shot.


This Skylar and the kids crap is getting sooo tiresome.
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
— Bob Kane

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#602293 - 08/11/13 10:05 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
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Guh. Slow-motion train wreck.
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
— Bob Kane

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#602297 - 08/12/13 08:32 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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Quote:
Because Todd was 100% right in choosing the correct answer to the trite conundrum. These guys are stealing chemicals to make drugs that will end many more kids' lives in much slower and more disgusting ways than just getting shot.


But not Drew Sharp's. And nobody's forced to use meth.

Ep. 9 (spoilers): I'd have rather they took a different route for the final leg here than Hank finding out Walt's secret and the two facing off. The vague absurdity of the "my brother-in-law is a drug dealer and I didn't even know!" vibe will begin rearing its head more now -- I can't fully immerse myself in Hank's shock right now, it's all just a little too contrived. Still, being Breaking Bad, this protracted face-off is at least likely to be well done. So far, so good: I was surprised that Walt and Hank confronted each other so quickly, and enjoyed that because I didn't expect it so soon. In addition to it simply being entertaining to watch the two characters comprehend each other's positions and interact with that new knowledge, Hank's dilemma is pretty interesting in that Walt will (probably) be dead of cancer fairly soon anyway. What is the price of trying to bring Walt down? What can Hank meaningfully do, and how? Although he remains a great character, Jesse's position is not terribly interesting at the moment. I feel there will come an episode where he finds out everything (the fates of Jane, Mike, etc.) -- and that's another thing I'd probably rather they didn't do. But it'll be interesting. And maybe I'm wrong, who knows. I loved the opening/pre-credit sequence, and Walt's droll "Hello Carol," even if her reaction was a bit much. Moments like that knowingly lean on the fundamental absurdity of the show's premise and characters in a smart way. The "I need you to believe this" line with Jesse (though not funny) was nicely played too. The cancer returning was expected and previously hinted at, but well introduced. My general nit-picky quibbles aside, good start to the final arc.

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#602298 - 08/12/13 08:55 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Oh, and I have to add that while I'm having mixed feelings about Dean Norris, I think Cranston remains about as perfect as one could hope. Listen to his delivery of the final line in the episode, his veiled threat to Hank. It would be soooo easy to overplay that line and the emotions and ideas feeding into it, to skew it wrong. Every little emotion that flickers across Walt's face and into his voice during this or pretty much any pivotal Walt scene is always so complexly in-character. Remember his speechifying to Gus at the opening of Season 4 when Victor is killed? The layers of delusion, awareness, dwindling embers of humanity, and self-made conviction are all so tangible. I've seen Cranston in other things and he's pretty "eh" much of the time, but his command of Walter White is astonishingly thorough and complete. Cranston is right to recognize it as the role of his career/life. And all in all Paul isn't too far behind.

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#602299 - 08/12/13 10:02 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Originally Posted By: madget
But not Drew Sharp's.

Selective morals? How is that a valid defense of Jesse's crybaby bullshit?


Originally Posted By: madget
And nobody's forced to use meth.

So addiction doesn't exist?


Originally Posted By: madget
I was surprised that Walt and Hank confronted each other so quickly

I was surprised the episode didn't end when Hank closed the garage door.


Originally Posted By: madget
Walt will (probably) be dead of cancer fairly soon anyway.

The flash-forward in the beginning is at least a few years in the future. So, no, Walt will not be dead of cancer soon. There has been no story about that side of Walt's life recently, and not showing every excruciating detail is just not in Gilligan's playbook (they've got way too many hours of TV to fill). Walt is lying about his cancer coming back.
_________________________
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602300 - 08/12/13 10:42 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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Quote:
Selective morals? How is that a valid defense of Jesse's crybaby bullshit?


People choose to use meth. Drew Sharp didn't have that choice. Wrong time, wrong place. Didn't even understand what he was seeing. Murder was an excessive response to the encounter. Jesse understood that. I'm not sure what you're arguing. That Jesse is somehow in the wrong to be troubled by the needless murder of a kid? I'm not crazy about this particular plot turn/device, but that seems a natural enough reaction to me. If you're saying Jesse is a little picky-choosy about which transgressions get under his skin, that is probably true. Jesse's a fallible human. Child murder seems a reasonable transgression for his still very active conscience to be rattled by.

To Walt the entire encounter and outcome is simply a business event. Not one he's happy about, but any unhappiness he experiences arises not from human compassion for the life taken, but its effect on his operation and crew morale. I like the way the show illustrates the link between evil and the efficient machinations of the self-made man.

Quote:
So addiction doesn't exist?


You can't become physically addicted until you've already chosen to repeatedly use it.

Quote:
I was surprised the episode didn't end when Hank closed the garage door.


Oo. That would've been cruel. I hadn't thought of that.

Quote:
The flash-forward in the beginning is at least a few years in the future. So, no, Walt will not be dead of cancer soon. There has been no story about that side of Walt's life recently, and not showing every excruciating detail is just not in Gilligan's playbook (they've got way too many hours of TV to fill). Walt is lying about his cancer coming back.


It's the day of his 52nd birthday, two years after the start of the whole series. It's not "a few years into the future." I'm not sure where we are on the timeline, but birthday 51 already elapsed. It was mentioned before that the two-year timeline of the show presents some significant plausibility problems -- but, plausible or no, that's the timeline. What we're seeing in the opening is probably a few months into the future, not years.

And no way Walt's lying about the cancer. Not a terrible idea, but they show him receiving chemo again, and the coughing during the first Season 5 flash-forward was a giveaway even before this new half-season began.

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#602301 - 08/12/13 11:02 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Originally Posted By: madget
Drew Sharp didn't have that choice. Wrong time, wrong place. Didn't even understand what he was seeing. Murder was an excessive responsive to the encounter.

No, it was not. Re-read (or re-watch) V For Vendetta. The detail about how even a description of the clay would be enough for a smart man to find the location of V's lair.


Originally Posted By: madget
I'm not sure what you're arguing. That Jesse is somehow in the wrong to be troubled by the needless murder of a kid?

That Jesse is a flaw that would have been eliminated long ago if it weren't for the contract of the actor playing him.

Originally Posted By: madget
You can't become physically addicted until you've already chosen to repeatedly use it.

And the suppliers of the super-quality product are entirely blameless. Sure.

Originally Posted By: madget
It's the day of his 52nd birthday

Where was that established? The condition of the house looked worse than what might have occurred in the span of nine months. I haven't gone back to try and recall who "Carol" was, but it looked like both she and Cranston were wearing makeup to make them look older.
_________________________
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602302 - 08/12/13 11:39 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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His age in the new flash-forwards was established in S5E01, in the opening. He forms the bacon into a "52" which is a flashback to Skylar forming it into "50" in S1E01 when the whole thing begins.

He didn't look very healthy, but I think that is the effects of the cancer, not age. I guess it would probably take a minimum of 3 months to grow that much hair out. The beard could be fake. The house does look pretty bad though. I feel like birthday 51 wasn't too long ago in the "present" story; so I'm guessing what we're seeing is maybe 6-9 months out? I thought Carol was the neighbor he used as kill-bait in Season 4 but I'm not sure -- she might be a new invention.

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#602303 - 08/12/13 11:44 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Quote:
And the suppliers of the super-quality product are entirely blameless. Sure.


I'd say they're complicit. So is Coca-Cola, and KFC. So are the manufacturers of anything with any harmful effects upon the human body and/or mind, particularly things addictive and prone to abuse and to the detriment of healthy living. World of Warcraft?

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#602304 - 08/13/13 03:49 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Okay, I missed the bacon 52. I was sporadically passing out about six hours into that marathon.

I just really hate how many of the BB characters are written in the same cadence of giving just enough information to keep themselves from being offed (and gun-aiming characters who are willing to listen). Jessie is the prime example, but there are so many others. In real life, it's usually shoot first and don't even ask questions later. Todd's decisive (and non-verbose) action was, for me, a refreshing departure from Gilligan's formula of dragging out how everyone "feels" about every little nuance of every situation.
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602305 - 08/13/13 06:19 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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Any particular examples? The show does have a lingering, exploratory pace. I.e. it's rarely "action!" It's usually: blurry obscure shot of something we don't recognize; slowly it becomes recognizable; ambient sound; ambient music; close up depth-of-field camera tricks; facial expressions and other details we have to read into for ourselves; THEN something might happen or be said. I like this unhurried style; I find it aesthetically pleasing, an effective mood-builder, and preferable to too much exposition-through-dialogue. But it is what it is, can't be everybody's cup of tea. I can't think of any confrontation scenes with Jesse where it seemed like he should've been shot but instead the characters got to talking about their feelings, with the exception of him confronting Walt in his home about the poisoning of the boy in Season 4. But "shoot first ask questions later if at all" doesn't really apply there. It's not like Jesse spent much time discussing his feelings with Gale before killing him, even if he was sad about it. And Mike certainly never showed much interest in the discussion of feelings when knocking off his former associates.

Some post-E1 reading:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment...anymore/278552/

Quote:
"Blood Money" framed the upcoming season in dueling terms of redemption. Walt seems to think that he can die a good man simply by ignoring his past sins. Jesse, on the other hand, wants to atone for what he's done.


http://popwatch.ew.com/2013/08/12/breaking-bad-star-trek/

Quote:
Now, Badger’s idea for an Enterprise pie-eating contest lacks the thematic density of other AMC-character metafictional TOS spec scripts, like Paul Kinsey’s “The Negron Complex” or Sarah Linden’s “The Sweaters of Triskelion.” And one imagines that, if you asked Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan to explain the hidden meaning of Badger’s Star Trek pitch, he’d laugh his famous Georgia gentlemen laugh and say, “Well, heck, I don’t know much about ‘symbolism’ and whatnot. But who doesn’t live pies?” NOT BUYING IT, GILLIGAN! If you look closely, Badger’s fanfic contains hidden layers of meaning which illuminate the whole arc of Breaking Bad…and which might give us a clue about the show’s ultimate endgame. (continues..)


http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/20...plot-twist.html



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#602308 - 08/18/13 09:14 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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So the rest of this season is apparently going to be everybody trying to show off how much "acting" they can do.
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602309 - 08/18/13 09:53 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
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Ah, they're going to re-hash the "idiosyncratic drug lord" plot device from Season 4, but this time with the nervous lady who should have been dead already.
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602311 - 08/19/13 12:03 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Charles Reece Offline
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I was glad that they didn't drag out Hank's discovery of Walt any longer. Basically, we're in mid-season, so that's when things should be getting really shitty for the "hero" and he has to start working on a way of getting out of it.

My prediction going in to this half-season: Hank gets killed in ep. 4, Jesse in 6. Walt walks away with Skyler completely corrupted. I'd love to see Marie and Walt Jr. killed.

Not so glad about the way Jesse conveniently gets caught. The show has suffered from contrivances like that throughout all of its seasons. The emotional resolutions are usually better than the getting there. I suspect it's because Gilligan has a good idea of where he wants his characters to go, and the writers construct a method for them to get there, like reverse-engineering. It's kind of the anti-Lost.
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#602313 - 08/19/13 08:18 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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There must be betting pools going as to who gets offed when, at this point. Oddly, I actually don't think that any remaining major character is going to die, except Walt. Jesse might kill him, maybe with malice, maybe without. Walt has chosen his path and for the most part is unrepentant; that ship sailed with the show's central premise and kudos to them for seeing it through. But Jesse is actually sorry, and I think the show will offer him some sort of redemption (albeit probably a very muted one).

This isn't necessarily my preference and as usual I have little confidence in my capacity to predict the show's precise path. I'm not sure I have a specific preference or path I would take it down -- it largely depends on the execution -- but I think I'm more partial to Walt being the last man standing. The cost and ostensible value of his "victory" can quite easily speak for themselves. Season 5's tag line is "Remember My Name," and of course the name that will be remembered is "Heisenberg."

(Ep 10 spoilers). And motherfucker, they decided against the "end with the door closing as the two characters are about to confront each other" option for Ep. 9, but indulged it in Ep. 10. I guess it had to end sometime. Very curious how round 2 of Hank v. Jesse will be handled. Last time Jesse knew a lot things Hank didn't; this time Hank has the upper hand. On the other hand, Hank is rattled -- he isn't the deliberative detective he was back in Season 2. He's desperate at the moment, and playing a somewhat sloppy game. The situation with Skylar is pretty interesting. She didn't choose her path in the conscious way Walt did, but I am glad the writers are noting the complexity (if not impossibility) of her now steering off of it. The dialogue was scripted to carefully omit her making any blatant confessional statements. She says almost nothing really, besides asking for a lawyer and whether or not she is under arrest. For all the wrong Walt has done, of Skylar's two options, he remains the force dedicated to keeping their family adhered together. Hank and Marie want to tear it apart. I can sympathize with disappointment that Skylar is reduced to choosing between the two powerful men in her life who are now facing off, but I think her character is consistent and believable, at least. In sometimes surprising ways. And she's a smarter character than she's often given credit for.

I agree with the reverse engineering theory, which has its pluses and minuses. It provides the show both its (for TV) impeccable sense of structure and formalist aesthetic, and its occasional drift into transparent contrivance.

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#602319 - 08/26/13 07:10 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Ep. 11 (spoilers):

Best part: Walt's confession. As Charles once pointed out (rightly, I think) one of the best aspects of the show is watching Walt lie. Fitting then, that his trump card against Hank should be one great big atomic bomb of a lie -- Walt's masterpiece, in a way, and the evil mirror image of the sincere confessional video that opened the series. The frantic, earnest, pantless Walt, in the middle of a desert, panicked into honesty, into doing the "right" thing; now, the composed, remorseless Heisenberg, comfortable in his home, clinically producing his Oscar-worthy monologue of familial double-crossing. What a gloriously riveting load of neatly weaponized horseshit it was. Fun as it was watching Walt, say, blow up a drug lab with the MacGuyvery power of Science, it's more interesting to see his Evil manifest itself as mind-blowingly shameless fiction, a willingness to use words (and to manufacture emotions) in whatever way suits his end.

Worst part: Jesse's epiphany. We touched on the show's occasional problem with transparent plot contrivances last week, and this is a good example. Sadly I think this final wrap-up half-season will have a few more to come. You can almost see the writers writing in this arbitrary bit about Jesse lighting up a joint in Saul's office, so that Saul/Huel has a superficial reason to pickpocket him again, and thereby Jesse can, with dubious suddenness, put it all together in a flash. I just didn't 100% buy it, but watching Jesse go lone wolf after Walt should be entertaining and interesting all the same. And it looks like we may now know what happens to the house! All in all, I preferred plot-shifting moments like when Skylar first learned the truth -- her being one step ahead of the audience. In Season 5 the audience is left more conventionally one step ahead of the characters, leaving the "revelations" (Hank's, Jesse's) feeling somewhat manufactured.

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#602323 - 09/02/13 03:14 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Ep. 12 (spoilers):

I'd probably have to concede to those who are deeming this a somewhat weak episode, building on and worsening the contrivances that accelerated the action last episode. Some reviews complain of Hank's 'nick of time' arrival to stop Jesse. While hardly representative of the show at its best, that didn't particularly bother me, in the sense that one way or another, Hank is surely still keeping a close eye on both Goodman and Walt. And the re-introduction of Gomez into the fold this episode would seem to imply he may have never pulled his guys off Goodman to begin with; I think this is the idea, anyway.

On the surface of things, the bigger problem I had was swallowing the way the meeting with Walt unfolds, and Jesse kind of doofily mistaking a surly looking bystander for an assassin. It's hard for me to see any narrative benefit in making the further escalation of this end-game war between Walt and Jesse the result of a simple, kind of stupid misunderstanding. This situation is similar to Gus avoiding the car bomb in Season 4; I suppose the writers wanted to make this more Jesse's "version" of that. Where Gus's finely honed instincts of self-preservation and intelligent processing of the info gleaned from Jesse in the hospital saved him from Walt's assassination attempt in that instance, Jesse would be saved by his own doofishness and dumb luck. Then again, while it's not decisively established, my sense was that Walt did *not* have any real assassins or any plan to kill Jesse in place for this meeting -- but that now, because of Jesse's misreading of the situation and subsequent threats, Walt feels he must. Quite frankly, I feel a little cheated -- I would much rather have seen that conversation between Walt and Jesse unfold. And Jesse being wired could've just made it that much more interesting.

The complex relationship between these two characters has been so central to the show, I feel a little let down watching it forced down this road. Walt's blind spot of actual human compassion for Jesse is touched on in this episode, but not really explored -- it is noted, and dispensed with on the basis of a dumb misunderstanding, so we can move into the end-game of everyone gunning for each other. And while there's 4 episodes to go, it seems to me it deserved better than that.

As a general principle, I think I appreciate this episode's reminder that Hank has never been all that sympathetic himself, is driven largely by a need for revenge, and that Jesse is now just a pawn on his side of the chess-board. This article about last week's episode touches a little on some of the underlying themes in the Walt v. Hank dynamic. E.g.:

Quote:
"Confessions" returns to the theme of the dangerous fragility of crushed American masculinity, which has always been Breaking Bad's grandest concern. Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Hank (Dean Norris) are both struggling working-class men who've recently experienced unexpected surges of great power with Walt's advent of the "Heisenberg" master criminal, but the latest episode in the series appears to pave the way for a circular narrative structure that will return the men to their stifling humble origins while potentially destroying everything and everyone else in their wake.


But while Jesse's manipulation and abuse by both sides should heighten audience sympathy for him, BB missteps in this episode -- he now seems as much a pawn of a struggling writers' room as of Walt or Hank.

Another complaint I saw was Skyler's "Lady MacBeth" moment -- she is now advocating the murder of the one person other than his immediate family that Walt truly wants to protect. (Incidentally, Anna Gunn posted an op-ed about the vitriol directed at her character -- and by proxy, her -- on the internet). She doesn't share Walt's blind spot on Jesse or Walt's history with him: he is simply another meth-business related threat to their family, and that threat needs to be removed. Jesse is nothing but a disposable junkie fuck-up problem to anyone *other* than Walt at this point -- this episode makes it clear that Hank, Skyler, and Saul are perfectly okay with Jesse dying. Walt is the only one who isn't. Heisenberg has protected Walt's family, and Jesse is Heisenberg's true family.

That is interesting and dramatically critical to Breaking Bad, so again, it's kind of a shame to see it being handled clumsily here. It may redeem itself in the remaining episodes, but more likely it will all just race into everyone trying to bring everyone down -- there's only 4 episodes left, after all. That's fun on its own merits and I'm sure I'll remain entertained through the end, but some of the twists and turns being taken feel a little cheap.

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#602329 - 09/16/13 03:43 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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Last episode was clunky, but this new episode ... man oh man! What about those extremes in Walt's behavior: gloating about how he watched Jesse's gal die to giving up his family to save them? That sequence where he realizes he's now lost any semblance of his family was really well put together. Gilligan promised on this episode and delivered.
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#602331 - 09/16/13 07:41 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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<SPOILERS> It was something, all right. This episode is a good representation of the special level of drama you can hit when you take the time to build up characters piece by piece, properly investing in them before you really bring the hammer down. On the one hand, it's probably one of the more predictable ways that things could've played out (Walt gets Hank killed, family finds out, everything falls apart in shrieking and tears). On the other, it still manages to be 'Rains of Castamere' levels of haunting, and I can't complain much given the complexity and fine touch with which it was executed. The creators really cut down through all the illusions they themselves have built up, here, particularly in that illuminating, vaguely surreal moment where 'Flynn' guards his mother, while phoning the police, from a crazed man 'who may have killed someone.' While not as openly surreal, it's almost as jarring as Mulholland Drive's uncomfortable shift back into reality, vs. the fantasy we've all been lost in.

And while I'm not a big fan of meta-narrative winks, I thought it funny and clever to hear a thousand angry BB fanboys in the unhinged, blamey, spewing rant Walt delivers to Skyler over the phone. Male BB fans have been calling Skyler a "bitch" since Season 1. That the moment in the show where Walt actually does the same (and using the fans' own logic!) should be one of the most heartbreaking, is somehow strangely poignant.

And although they had to take a couple uncomfortably forced moves to get here, I think the twist-off side-situation with Todd and Jesse is pretty intriguing. Crazy as Todd is, he didn't seem the Mr. Blonde type to me, exactly, so I wasn't sure where that was going. In retrospect, I feel silly that his motives in stepping in re: Jesse didn't occur to me immediately.

I was hoping the writers wouldn't feel the need to have ALL SECRETS REVEALED! (Brock, Jane, etc.) But if the Brock revelation was a bit of a stretch (like everything related to Brock, really) the Jane revelation was about as good as one could hope, I'd say. Not a tearful confession, or an explanation, or a random contrived discovery on Jesse's part -- just a bitter, past-the-point-of-no-return Fuck You from Walt. Or Heisenberg, I suppose.

While I've considerable respect for the show's creators not dragging this series out just to drag it out, it is frustrating as such a fan, that we're so near the end -- there's plenty of material left for at least another half-season or so. Todd, Jesse, Lydia, post-family Walt, post-Hank DEA -- there's a lot there that could be explored, still. It saddens me that two episodes from now, it's all over, except for a very ill-conceived Saul spin-off show. Saul's a fun character, and has had some great lines, but, muh......

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#602332 - 09/16/13 07:42 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Side note: probably not the first time I've mentioned it, but as it all wraps up, Walt reminds me a little of Plainview in There Will Be Blood.

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#602333 - 09/16/13 11:37 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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http://www.vulture.com/2013/09/breaking-bad-recap-season-5-hank-dies-ozymandias.html

Picks up on some nice details I missed. Love the crying clown statue in the opening that Skyler seals in a coffin-like box. And they couldn't have picked a more fitting poem to reference for the title:

Quote:
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


Also worth a read: http://www.grantland.com/blog/hollywood-...t-in-ozymandias

Walt's pants' cameo: http://www.hypable.com/2013/09/16/breaking-bad-season-5-episode-14-walts-pants-cameo/

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#602334 - 09/17/13 12:03 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Hmm, one thing none of those writeups discuss, maybe because no one cares about her, is that if anyone's a bitch, it's Marie. Instead of the sympathy Skyler displayed when Marie was having her own problems with illicit behavior, she uses her sister's current problems in a oneupmanship with an air of condescension -- I mean, the way she insists on Skyler taking down her family, which Marie has always been jealous of. Skyler, at least the way I remember it, never took any schadenfreude in Marie's difficulties. She even risked problems with explaining where the money came from in helping Hank when he needed it. Marie chooses to hide behind the law and justice for what's really petty jealousy.

Man, I hate Marie. (And Walt, Jr., too, of course, but only because he's so fucking irritating.)
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#602335 - 09/17/13 12:15 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
Charles Reece Offline
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And I think one of the great points about this show that hasn't been done properly in any other show that I can remember is the way it shows evil to be a dialectic between an individual and his environment. Walt puts himself in situations that he didn't have to put himself in, but once there, he's only got a limited range of choices, which he then justifies as doing what he has to do, "given" his situation. I say that's about how evil operates. Maybe Hank's death was predictable, but it fits what we know about Walt. He would've never directly killed Hank, but he's responsible for his death, nonetheless, isn't he?
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#602336 - 09/17/13 07:43 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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I wonder how Gilligan feels about Marie/Hank. The authors of most the write-ups I've seen tend to, if anything, put themselves in Marie's camp, excited by the "epic dressing down" she gives Skyler, as I believe at least one writer put it. I've never felt either Hank or Marie to be particularly sympathetic. They did a wonderful job evolving Hank into a real character, vs. the more one-dimensional cartoon he started out as, but he's still an unimaginative, cocky cowboy, and it's always seemed to me that he does what he does professionally for the same reason Walt does: to feel like a Man. He proves a surprisingly deft detective, but most of his time on the job is spent mocking and putting down the "scumbags" him and his boys are charged with rounding up. Remember when he blew off how destructively he upended the life of the school janitor, who was growing a little marijuana for personal use? It's fitting that Hank has a wife like Marie. The two of them fuel and nurture their mutual condescension for everyone less fortunate than themselves. Meaningful self-reflection isn't a part of their world any more than it is Walt's; they're just on the right side of fence.

I agree Marie is pretty uninteresting on the whole; I feel like the writers just didn't have time to take her anywhere. They started prodding for something interesting with the shoplifting, and I was intrigued, but they never had time to focus on it much or do anything with it, and she's been mostly relegated to snooty back-patter for Hank. Maybe there just wasn't much to be done with it. Really, Marie's crime was a fitting reflection of her: petty, superficial, simple. I do find her rather attractive, even though she reminds me of people I can't stand in real life.

I think you're right about the contrast between the tone with which the sisters' deal with one another's wrongdoings, but let's be fair, here: Marie's shoplifting wasn't nearly as significant a transgression as abetting a murderer and then filming him and standing by him while he forges a confession that blames it all on your husband. And while I don't think there was any schadenfreude from Skyler, she wasn't exactly nice about the whole shoplifting incident. The irony at the time was Skyler was pretty bent out of shape about Marie's actions, while Walt was already murdering people in his free time.

As for Walt Jr., he has grown more irritating by the season. I think again, it is partly due to the writers just not having time to do all that much with him; and partly due to him being a believably typical teenager. Teenagers are boring, irritating people. He's not a bad kid, just an uninteresting one, even to Walt.

As for Walt being responsible for Hank's death, I suppose, sorta, but I tend towards relativism, and we can tug that thread all day. Hank also put himself in dangerous situations he didn't need to be in, and his ostensible motives are about as paper-thin as Walt's. Walt does it for "family"; Hank does it for "justice/the Law" (and in Walt's case, personal revenge over being one-upped and used by his nerdy brother in law). What Hank's doing with himself professionally is less wantonly destructive, sure, but he's not exactly Columbo -- he's a DEA agent, throwing people into prisons on the basis of what recreational chemicals happen to lack legal sanctuary at the moment. Nobody has to do drugs. The janitor wasn't hurting anyone. I'm not altogether anti-Hank, but that's the great thing about the show -- there aren't super easy, obvious sides to choose. The characters are just characters, one more or less interesting than the next, one more or less compromised than the last. I've seen more popular dramas trending in that general direction and I support it. I've always liked the color gray.

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#602339 - 09/18/13 01:09 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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I had missed the last three or four episodes, but I just watched them. Guh. The writing on this show is such an incredibly painful experience (thankfully, I downloaded them off Pirate Bay and could play them back at +50% speed). Every character is so dumb, I want them all dead. Except maybe Todd and his uncle — the only smart and honorable characters are Neo-Nazis. Even the baby made an asshole of herself in the last ep. And the herculean task of moving those money drums around! I'm guessing none of the writing staff have ever done any physical labor in their lives.
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#602342 - 09/18/13 07:27 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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BB may not be particularly realistic on the whole, but what is it about a thin, cancer-stricken, middle-aged man not being able to simply up and carry a giant drum full of cash through sweltering miles of desert that you just don't buy? Or was it the fact he was teetering on the brink of exhaustion after spending an entire evening digging a giant hole in the sand to manually bury six of them that you were referring to? Either way, my own suspension of disbelief somehow survived in tact.

Walter rolling the barrel through the desert is a great image. One, it's just kind of funny to see. Two, evokes mythology. Three, it recalls Hank's first advice to Walt and Jesse when he first saw them carrying away a similar drum on tape: "It's a barrel, idiots! It rolls!"

I agree, though, who doesn't love a few Neo-Nazis? And for once they're being fairly depicted as the easy-going, Burt Reynolds lovin' good ole boys they really are. Maybe for the big finale, they'll chase a gay into traffic. With swords!

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#602343 - 09/19/13 12:20 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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At this point, almost anything resembling action would be welcome.
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602344 - 09/19/13 05:36 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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Right. The last episode included a desert shootout with automatic weapons, the death of two major characters, Walt having most of his money stolen, Walt assenting to Jesse's torture and murder, Walt revealing to Jesse his role in Jane's death, Todd turning Jesse into a deformed lab rat, Walt getting into a knife fight with Skyler and then abducting their baby, Walt confessing his crimes to the police, and Walt fleeing the state. I wish they'd pick up the pace a little and get to something good.

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#602345 - 09/19/13 09:19 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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The shootout started in the previous episode and was cleft in twain by a boring and pointless flashback. The way Walt lost his money to a bluff was too close behind Saul's man also falling prey to a bluff — characters are only as smart as their writers. It took way too long for Hank to get shot (the Neo-Nazis couldn't hit him standing in the wide open?); his partner was more a minor nuisance than a major character; then Jesse miraculously and conveniently evades a bullet yet again. Jane is a dim memory at this point (if I hadn't read this thread before watching the episode, I'd have had to look up who she was). We didn't get to see Jesse receiving the beating he so richly deserved. The "knife fight" wasn't much, a missed opportunity to off Junior. I'm assuming the driver of that minivan who picked up Walt must be someone we've seen before, because I can't imagine some random person helping a total stranger load up a dirty 250-pound (assuming all $100 bills) barrel on their vehicle's upholstery.
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602346 - 09/22/13 02:26 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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Cliffhanger: I was irritated by the cliffhanger, but having seen how it plays out, I think I am good with where they chose to split it. I guess they could've shown Gomez and Hank taking their bullets to leave less ambiguity for the audience, but when I play it back through all together in my head this works out better. The chaos before the cut told us enough. It wasn't going to end well. People were dying. The show needed to step back for a moment and recalibrate, then let us take in the body count and aftermath as its own set piece. This is important because of how directly linked up that aftermath scene is in initiating a number of new narrative pathways.

The flashback and cut are also a more useful way to play off the "time slows down in a crisis" effect that most shows and movies just rely on extended slow-motion to produce. This was more interesting and less lazy than that, and gives the audience more credit.

When I think about what makes the scattered "action" scenes of Breaking Bad so consistently effective, there are a couple things at play. One, while it pops up a little bit, they avoid overuse of the whole shaky-cam/quick-cut/confusion-heightens-the-excitement notion that a lot of modern action editors lean on. They keep it old school -- cuts and actions are coherent and progress meaningfully from one moment to the next. Two, they eschew slow-motion. I hadn't thought about that much before. Not that they never use it for anything, but almost never for action. They do lean on music, but sparingly, and never the kind of cliche dark orchestral swells that would be the go-to; it's all Dave Porter's buzzing, ambient industrial drones and pulses, which are just a fantastic tone enchancer throughout the series.

Walt giving up the $80 million to save Hank was interesting. I don't find it either plausible or implausible -- it relies on information about Walt I don't feel I had as a viewer up to that point. How important to Walt is Hank? "Family" has always been the go-to justification for Walt. The concept gives him one loose tether back to his old humanity. The writers made a decision about Walt and conveyed it. Family is still more important to Walt than his money; even Hank. Even Hank after Hank has apprehended him. Of course, Walt was in the heat of the moment. Maybe with more time to reflect and stew, with Heisenberg at the wheel, Walt would've reached a different place. But retirement Walt has been a little more emotional and careless than pre-retirement Walt. It flows. It was a valid option for the writers.

Too long for Hank to get shot: I can see why you would say that, but I like that they played this out a little. I contrast it with an episode of Game of Thrones I watched not too long ago (spoilers) where Tyrian has to confront Sansa and Shay about his new unwilling engagement to Sansa. He says, "this is going to be awkward," -- and they cut to another scene, leaving us to understand that the information has now been conveyed. I was let down. I felt like the writers said, "You know what? This conversation is going to be kinda hard to write. Let's just crack a joke and move on to something easier." It's based on books so it's a little different; but I felt like the way the aftermath unspooled in Ozymandias showed some dedication by the writers. It's an interesting situation with a lot of things going on, both above surface and under surface. They handled it well.

Hank avoiding bullets: It was a little eyebrow-raising they both didn't get immediately taken down during the first spray of machine-gun fire, but Hank had a large vehicle to use as cover. From what I understand machine-gun fire isn't all that accurate, and I'm not sure Todd and Co. are exactly crack-shots. All in all, I think this shoot-out is far less implausible than most tv/movie shoot-outs. End result is still that both the targets were hit, with varying levels of lethality.

Jesse avoiding bullets: He was furthest from the action and immediately crawled under the car.

Jane a dim memory: Depends when you watched Season 2, I suppose. She was an important character that season and the circumstances of her death was one of the most talked-about tipping points for Walt's morality in the entire series. The wounds are certainly fresh enough for Jesse to be effectively salted. Interestingly, Rian Johnson also directed the episode "Fly" in Season 3, which is the closest Walt ever came to telling Jesse about Jane prior to Ozymandias, and one of the few post-Season 2 episodes in which she was explicitly referenced by name.

Didn't get to see Jesse's beating: Had slightly mixed feelings about that, but overall, I think not seeing it serves a purpose, rather than just being lazy or a matter of allotted time. It tells us: 1) Todd is not averse to beating a man to a bloody mutant pulp to get information, or just because; we could've guessed as much, but it's confirmed by showing that Jesse was badly beaten. 2) While allowing this to be established, by *not* showing it happen, and instead showing Todd chaining Jesse up in the lab, they appropriately guide our focus: the 'torture' thing isn't the main point, but an intermediate step to Todd's real motive, which was learning to cook like Jesse (presumably to impress Lydia, Uncle Jack, etc.). They focus on establishing the real motive. And a more interesting situation for Jesse, than just torturing him for the hell of it. Of course if you just simply want to see Jesse beat up, none of this applies, but you can always go back to Season 2, where Hank gives it to him pretty good. I don't get pleasure out of seeing Jesse harmed, myself.

Knife fight: It was brief, but I thought it worked well. Although he's a bit irritating, I don't want to see Jr. die. I was very happy with this scene. But I explained this part in a previous post.

Driver of minivan: I hadn't thought that it could be someone we've seen before; that could be interesting, but I can't think of anyone that would be a likely suspect. BB has a relatively contained cast of characters. In any case I doubt the person is worried about their upholstery. Their job is getting people out of town in desperate situations and getting them a new identity. A certain messiness undoubtedly comes with the work.

Last two episodes are 75 minutes each. Not sure if that's with or without commercials though.

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#602347 - 09/22/13 10:59 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Penultimate episode. Meh. I didn't care much about Jesse's girlfriend one way or the other — she's just kinda dumb and has poor taste in men — but Gilligan and his crew may have finally figured out how to entertain me: making Jesse suffer. I'm guessing Jesse will make it to the end, though, while Todd won't (unless they've got a sequel series planned, and I wouldn't bet against the likelihood of that — the announced Saul series is supposed to be a prequel).

A lot of loose ends left to tie up in one episode. As slow and plodding as the pace has been thus far, I don't see how they can do it satisfactorily. Somehow tying the Gray Matter couple to Lydia and Todd would make a convenient shortcut.
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#602348 - 09/23/13 02:20 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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No sympathy for Jesse at all? Sheesh.

I too am wondering how they tie everything up in one more 55 minute episode. Again, I can only say they easily have at least a half-season's worth of material left here.

At the same time, they've kind of already cycled through a lot of availble endings at this point. Walt wins (against Gus). Walt wins, purges post-Gus loose ends, retires; nobody's the wiser. Walt is apprehended by Hank, after Jesse turns on him. Hank dead, Walt leaves town for who-knows-where, his double-life exposed. Walt dies of cancer in the middle of nowhere, reflecting on the ruined lives he's left behind.

Any of these could have been executed as endings to the series. But those aren't the stopping points the writers and Gilligan settled on. It's whatever comes next week.

Now, even if next week is a let down -- and I'm guessing it's bound to be in one sense or another -- it's hardly going to ruin what was an amazing show overall. But by God, I hope they don't decide to end with "Walt (and maybe Jesse) machine gun down some Nazis!" I guess if it goes that route I can enjoy the absurdity of it, but man would that be a cartoonish finale all in all.

Given the end of this week's episode though, and the show's general penchant for the unexpected (did anyone think the Season 2 flash-forwards were going to be the result of a plane crash caused by an as-yet unknown character's father's grief after Walt let them die of an overdose?) -- maybe the Nazis aren't Walt's target at all. Maybe it is Gretchen and Elliot. That would be more interesting and is loosely implied as a possibility.

On the other hand, while narratively coherent, I would say that too little time has been spent on the Gretchen and Elliot angle to make it fully resonate now. Gray Matter and Gretchen/Elliot's betrayal of Walt sort of indirectly created Heisenberg; now the tortured monster, having accurately identified his creator, returns for vengeance. It works, and it's sorta cool; but it's a little pat. If that's the way it goes, observing the specific execution will definitely be interesting.

If it's just plain old gunnin'-down-some-Nazis time, because hey, Nazis are REALLY evil! -- well ... I'll just try to be entertained and leave it at that.

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#602350 - 09/23/13 12:35 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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Yeah, I don't picture Walt going after G&E. That was simply the needed reminder to Walt to get back on point: Heisenberg was reactivated. I think he's going after the Nazis, and doesn't much care if he lives or dies at this point (the cancer is still with him in his hiding, after all). The ricin is probably for him.

I don't see how the writers can wrap all of this up. There will be the showdown between Jesse and Walt, which is the main reason that I don't see the latter going off after G&E.

Jesse had all the best moments in this episode: the prison escape scene was very tense and the killing of his ex- is, to me, the most stripped down, horrific death in the entire series. She was nothing but a poor innocent whose death could be in no way justified by being tied into this criminal world (Jane, for example, overdosed and even the kid Todd killed was a witness). She was entirely reduced to a means by which to get at Jesse. That they pulled back camera, reducing the size of the scene (for the audience, which then put us into Jesse's position) made it all the worse. Perfectly shot.

What I'm wondering is did the Nazis discover her existence because of Jesse's telling them where his interview was (at Hank's, where that pic likely was), or did Walt give her up?

Also, think about how fucked Jesse is during his imprisonment: all evidence that he tried to help the law has pretty much been erased (unless the Nazis keep the evidence for writerly convenience). Granted, he was pretty much fucked even had Hank lived.
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#602351 - 09/23/13 06:32 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
madget Offline
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I suppose you're right, but I felt like in the context of evaluating all he's lost, and them coming on TV in that moment to disavow him -- Walt has just about given up but then there they are: someone/something else to blame. Which is something Walt thrives on. The original source of the Frankenstein monster.

I expect the show to do something somewhat unexpected for the finale, and having Walt murder Elliot and Gretchen in cold blood -- or otherwise confront them in some way -- could be it. Of course you don't need a machine gun to do that, and I agree that time is too problematic for that at this stage. And the Nazis/Jesse/etc. do need to be wrapped up in some way.

Maybe it's nit-picking, but re: Jesse's escape -- when exactly did Jesse learn how to pick handcuffs? Is it really that easy?

As to him being fucked, yeah -- I would not have anticipated things going quite this rough for Jesse. A lot of fans seem to just want to see him die at this point just so that he's put of his misery. Living on after this with all he's witnessed and learned would almost be crueler than death. Agree about Andrea's murder. Pretty chilling.

I also loved the scene where Skyler discovers Todd and Co. in the baby's room. I didn't see it coming and that first take of a bunch of masked men standing around the baby's crib was just great. Todd was excellent in both scenes. He's such an interesting character and becomes more interesting with each new scene; it's a shame we've gotten relatively little time with him due to his late entry.

I enjoy how much care they have put into new characters as we've moved through the series. First there was Tuco and his gang. Now, I thought they worked fine and that Tuco was a great character, but it was bit typical/obvious compared to what would come. They upped the ante by adding Theo and his bell, which gave more nuance to Tuco and provided a great additional character on top of him. Then they introduced Saul, and wisely offed Tuco to shift over to the far more interesting Gus (and Mike). Feelings seemed mixed about Jane, but I thought she was great and that they did a good job of making her more than just a plot device (sadly, they failed to do as good a job with Andrea/Brock). Around this time they also introduced the cousins. The cousins I think were too over-the-top, too cartoony, too unlike real human beings -- but they were pretty entertaining, made a nice visual, added a slight surreal flair, and Hank's parking lot duel with them was one of the best action set pieces I've ever seen in a TV show. Go back and watch it again -- it's really masterful.

Todd, Lydia, and the Nazi gang are all pretty solid late editions they could get a lot more mileage out of if the series wasn't ending. They're all very different from one another and from past characters, and add something interesting. I liked Robert Forster as the mysterious Eraser, as well. Relatively inspired bit of casting there. Shame that's probably all we'll get of him.

Oh, about the Nazis knowing where Andrea/Brock live, they know from Walt. Recall that Walt had them wait outside her house when he placed the hit on Jesse. He had Andrea make the phone call to Jesse, who he thought would rush to her house, and the Nazis were to wait there to take him out when he arrived. But Hank intercepted that call, so it didn't pan out. But that's how the Nazis knew about Andrea/Brock (and their importance to Jesse).

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#602352 - 09/23/13 07:03 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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#602353 - 09/25/13 03:18 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Originally Posted By: madget
No sympathy for Jesse at all? Sheesh.

Jesse has annoyed me so much from the very beginning, I can't even stand the actor. His torment in this last episode was so very tasty. I felt like a Cenobite.
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602354 - 09/26/13 05:31 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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Hmm. What exactly is it that keeps you watching, Allen? You don't seem to enjoy the show in general very much.

Some news today about Gillian's next project, though he won't be the actual showrunner. That'll be the creator of the tiresome 'House' series. There's not much to go on, but so far it sounds breathtakingly uninteresting, save for being set in Battle Creek, MI (which is notable mainly in that Battle Creek, MI is a very uninteresting place).

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/breaking-bads-vince-gilligans-detective-636593

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#602355 - 09/26/13 08:14 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
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Everybody was going nuts for BB, so I watched the first four seasons in pretty much one sitting, erroneously thinking it was done. In this deep, I figure I'll finish.

I also tried The Wire, but only made it through one season of that snooze-athon. You realize these are the same general format as soap operas, right?
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#602356 - 09/26/13 10:26 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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I was going to ask how you get through 4 seasons of a show you're not even enjoying all that much, but then I remember how I watched all of Lost in about a one-month period ....

I liked The Wire well enough, but prefer Breaking Bad by a mile. The Wire was interesting, well done. But I never felt particularly invested in the characters, and I found long stretches of the show to be unfocused and too boorishly topical. I also thought some of the show's tonal missteps were pretty egregious (whereas most of Breaking Bad's missteps seem minor to me, things that don't really drag down the overall quality).

As for the soap opera comparison, to me it's like this. One, I don't think "soap opera" is necessarily an entirely bad thing. At least soap opera style storytelling keeps things in a state of flux. Characters change, stories weave in and out of each other, the emotional landscape transforms a lot, while remaining grounded in a basic addictive tension. It is a style that can be used very cheaply, or can be used very well. Two, I don't see The Wire or Breaking Bad as soap operas, really. In The Wire, each season seemed to kind of have a basic theme and arc, and a lot of it was very political. It seemed very much an examination of corruption through different overlapping layers of a specific cultural and political environment. In the week-to-week flow of things, it certainly employed some soap opera-like mechanics, but I'm not sure why that's any worse than a show that has a specific formula that every single episode conforms to, like a sitcom or a Law & Order type drama. Breaking Bad, though, is way too focused for the comparison to apply, to me, outside of the fact that it's fond of cliffhangers. You can certainly see the writers lap themselves a few times narratively because early on, any season could be the last, but overall it is pretty tightly structured and well thought out. It is a story about two specific characters that has a beginning, middle, and end, and it's a thoughtful examination of personal moral decay. It also functions on various meta-narrative levels without being all in-your-face about it the way The Wire tended to be.

Game of Thrones, by contrast, does strike me as a soap opera. It's about a lot of things, but at the same time, nothing much at all. It's just sort of a free-form open-world environment of betrayal, romance, and drama. Little stories rise and are told and fall away, but there's no really specific main character or central narrative. That said, I enjoy Game of Thrones. It's a ballsy soap opera and very entertaining.

Any particular shows that you specifically admire?

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#602357 - 09/28/13 08:28 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20302134_20737170,00.html?stitched

EW took the time to rank every single episode of Breaking Bad from worst to best.

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#602358 - 09/29/13 04:41 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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http://tv.yahoo.com/blogs/tv-news/breaki...-150629521.html

Interview with Uncle Jack. Had no idea he was Buck in Kill Bill.

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#602359 - 09/29/13 10:40 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Allen Montgomery
I'm guessing Jesse will make it to the end, though, while Todd won't

Didn't take Nostradamus to figure that one out. I am left wondering, however, what kind of future anyone thinks Jesse has in front of him (Jesse included).
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602361 - 09/30/13 03:44 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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Well, much like the initial confrontation with Tuco in Season 1 (when Walt blows out the room with the magic of Science) his plans work out rather implausibly well. And, much as I loved the confrontation with his former associates, I think it'd ultimately be pretty easy for Elliot and Gretchen to wriggle out of Walt's bluff once the initial shock of the encounter passes for them.

Overall though, while the blatant effectiveness of the machine gun trick was pretty eyebrow-raising for me, the finale was very satisfying in that it certainly wasn't inconsistent with anything that came before. They even bothered to establish, via Jesse a few episodes back, that Walt is blessed with tremendous luck, time and time again. As finales go, much as Gilligan promised, 'Felina' did an impressive job of avoiding any deliberate ambiguity while tying up more loose ends than I would've thought possible in a 55-minute episode that didn't even find it necessary to eschew Breaking Bad's usual contemplative pacing. It was a very Walt-centric finale, sparing almost no time for Jesse, but his box-making reverie sufficiently made up for that I think, an odd little callback to Season 3's "Kafkaesque" episode.

A few odds and ends:

http://entertainment.time.com/2013/09/30/breaking-bad-watch-say-hello-to-my-little-friend/

http://www.vulture.com/2013/09/dream-of-jesse-pinkmans-happy-ending.html)

http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2013/09/29/breaking-bad-finale-recap-felina/

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/vince-gilligan-walt-is-not-darth-vader-20130925

I'm sure I'll find out with a little more internet surfing, but at the moment, I'm unsure of and wondering why the episode is called 'Felina' ... ?

Favorite bits:

- Walt confronting Gretchen/Elliot. The image of them tagged by red lasers as bedraggled Walt looms behind them like a phantom, admonishing them: "Cheer up, beautiful people," might be one of my favorite moments from the final half-season. This whole scene was really terrific. He has always been a dark phantom looming in the shadows of their privileged life (even if we never do get the full details of their ambiguous falling-out); here that is made manifest, and the performances (especially Cranston's) are pitch-perfect.

- Walt's close call with the police in the opening. Unique, visually interesting way of executing a moment of near-capture.

A couple minor bits I could've done without:

- The flashback to the pilot as Walt roams his house. We get it; this was totally unnecessary, a cliche trick BB usually knows better than to indulge. At least it was dispensed with pretty quickly.

- The call from Lydia at the end, where Walt explains he poisoned her. I just see no reason we needed this. Maybe a shot of her dead to confirm the poisoning worked as intended, but not a conversation.

- The final song as things close. I think BB has time and again done a surprisingly great job choosing music to use. That final song though, eh.

But nitpicks aside, I feel pretty positive about the finale overall.

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#602362 - 09/30/13 03:56 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Sure enough -- didn't take long.

Quote:

"Felina" is an anagram for "finale", and is also the feminine version of the word "feline" in Italian and Spanish.

The title is a reference to the 1959 song "El Paso" by Western music artist Marty Robbins. The song concerns an unnamed cowboy who falls in love with a woman named Felina, gets shot by his enemies, and dies in her arms. The song plays in Walt's stolen car in New Hampshire, and is later hummed by Walt as he assembles the M60.

Walt's birth year matches the year which Marty Robbins song "El Paso" was released.

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#602363 - 09/30/13 05:51 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Also a bit putting the ratings explosion for the final episodes in perspective:

http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/09/30/breaking-bad-series-finale-ratings/

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#602364 - 10/01/13 08:05 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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http://www.avclub.com/articles/felina,102961/

The directorial care and the way Walt is treated as a ghost gliding peripherally into scenes stuck out to me more on 2nd viewing. Really good work by Gilligan as director this episode.

Also, one of the funniest moments in a long time, right after Walt's "pop!" to Elliot and Gretchen, is the way he mumbles: "Darkness." Man that was great.

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#602365 - 10/01/13 10:40 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Too many convenient logistical details. As I recall:

— The Gray Matter couple apparently don't subscribe to a security monitoring service.

— Super-nervous Lydia owes her demise to being written as a repetitive cartoon character (and the bizarre Deus Ex Ricin).

— Skyler's apartment has some weird pillar in the kitchen which allows for dramatic camera shifts.

— The Neo-Nazis not only allow Walt to drive his car into their compound and park it how he wants, they don't check the gigantic trunk (bomb, maybe?).

— Walt is hit only once in the machine gun barrage, lives to keep acting and finish the episode.

— Todd and Jack survive, as well (but no one else), for a trite dramatic payoff.



Then to address the great revelation that Walt actually cooked meth because he enjoyed it, not for his family's benefit — this really makes his getting so chewed up over Hank's death much more difficult to swallow; and the price he paid for his attachment to Jesse further makes no sense. Additionally, the Ricin should have been used much earlier... on Marie. Never once did I ever believe Walt was "evil," but rather purposely written to be as morally conflicted as possible.


All in all, if you think about it, this series was carefully constructed yet a nonsensical mess. If you only *feel* about it, it was probably great.
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602366 - 10/02/13 12:06 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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The show powers through logistical implausibilities time and again, which has been true since the first episode, really. But that's not the same thing as being a nonsensical mess. The smallest details are incredibly well thought-out, particularly in Season 3-5 (though the attention to detail in 1-2 is nothing to sneeze at either). The show rewards multiple viewings, rewards thinking about at length, studying carefully. But this isn't realism we're dealing with. I think getting too hung up on how realistic certain things are -- though I fully confess I'm frequently guilty of it it myself -- is kind of a waste. The implausibilities of Breaking Bad are certainly no worse than any Western you could point to, and that's what the creator thought of the story as. There are plenty of terrific Westerns, but anticlimactic realism isn't exactly what that genre trades in.

What's important is that the show is consistent to itself, and the characters are consistent to themselves. The themes are consistent to themselves. And I don't think they ever fully dropped the ball on any of those things. There are a few bits here or there that I question a little, in terms of characters' decisions or actions, but there's nothing that I just flat-out don't buy or that jars me out of the show's spell. I wasn't too thrilled with Jesse's doofish confusion about a bystander being a hitman Walt hired; and Uncle Jack plays into Walt's final gambit a little too easily, probably. But these things are so minor compared to the sins of most serialized TV shows, and counterbalanced by such dazzling high points.

I don't find it to be a very cloying show, emotion-wise. It gives wide berth to a lot of sentimental gimmicks, when compared against the rest of the medium. That's not to say it doesn't manipulate viewer emotions, but, I mean, come on -- that's simply a part of storytelling. I vaguely remember you (I think it was you) had high praise for the movie Source Code, which threw its whole set-up away to end on a cheesy Kodak moment, as I recall. Gilligan & Co. manipulated audience emotion with intelligent precision, interesting aims, and an appreciation/respect for the audience's own intelligence. Making you feel good just for the sake of making you feel good isn't something I think very many people would accuse Breaking Bad of.

If we're just nitpicking logistics though, of your bullet points: #1 didn't bother me (Gretchen deactivated the main house security, and I accept that Walt is smart enough to get as far as their courtyard without having to be walked through his whole process). #2 -- I like the AV Club write-up's attention to the finale's focus on machinery that keeps moving on its own, and tying that to the predictability of certain characters. Walt is a chemist and by the finale, people are just another ingredient. He knows how to use them now, mix them, predict them, almost as skillfully as chemicals in a lab. This is illustrated early in the episode with the phone call he places to get Elliot/Gretchen's address. But anyway, yes, Lydia's fastidious, schedule-oriented nature was embraced as a fundamental part of who she is, a part that could be reasonably counted on, and exploited. #3 -- I liked the shot you're talking about, but I do get a kick out of your description, made me laugh. #4 -- I agree with this. #5 -- if anything, I thought it more strange that he got hit at all, especially with any degree of lethality. He was safely below the horizon-line of fire. #6 -- I didn't find the dramatic payoff to be trite, but yes, it all works out a little bit pat.

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#602367 - 10/02/13 12:14 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
madget Offline
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Oh, and as for Walt's "great revelation" -- obviously it's not much a revelation to the audience at this point, but it's a fairly significant revelation (or at least admission) for Walt himself. But I don't think that's that, on that particular point. I think he did do it all in part for his family, but that that became a convenient excuse while blinded to how much (and how destructive) of an influence his ego was wielding over his decisions. Admitting it was for himself, because he liked it, was important, and represents a self-awareness Walt had been missing or too busy to pay much attention to, previously. But one thing that always struck me about Walt, even when the show wasn't specifically focused on it, was that he really did value his family, and valued providing and caring for that family. Walt's evil was believable because his course into evil always was in character. Infidelity or freedom from the family was never of any interest. His only act of direct infidelity to his wife was quite clumsy and quite obviously motivated by her infidelity to him, which he was genuinely hurt by. And in the end he does leave his family a $9 million payday. Sure, he put them in mortal danger and kind of ruined their lives in the process, but hey, just sayin'...

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#602368 - 10/02/13 01:02 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Charles Reece Offline
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I was busy finishing up a post on comparing the shooting of Andrea to the shooting of Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke and why this isn't misogynistic. Hopefully, y'all might find it fun. I'll be back to read the commentary on the finale, which I loved, later.
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#602370 - 10/02/13 08:56 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Charles Reece]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Andrea did deserve her fate, as she chose to get involved with that loser, Jesse; and the way she let a stranger position himself behind her like that. Stupidity has consequences.
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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#602371 - 10/05/13 02:40 PM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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That was interesting, although I've never read The Killing Joke.

Here's a little NY Times piece about the morality of 'Team Walt':

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/29/opinio...t.html?src=recg

Quote:
The allure for Team Walt is not ultimately the pull of nihilism, or the harmless thrill of rooting for a supervillain. It’s the pull of an alternative moral code, neither liberal nor Judeo-Christian, with an internal logic all its own. As James Bowman wrote in The New Atlantis, embracing Walt doesn’t requiring embracing “individual savagery” and a world without moral rules. It just requires a return to “old rules” — to “the tribal, family-oriented society and the honor culture that actually did precede the Enlightenment’s commitment to universal values.”

Those rules seem cruel by the lights of both cosmopolitanism and Christianity, but they are not irrational or necessarily false. Their Darwinian logic is clear enough, and where the show takes place — in the shadow of cancer, the shadow of death — the kindlier alternatives can seem softheaded, pointless, naďve.

Nor can this tribal morality be refuted in a laboratory. Indeed, by making Walt a chemistry genius, the show offers an implicit rebuke to the persistent modern conceit that a scientific worldview logically implies liberalism, humanism and a widening circle of concern. On “Breaking Bad,” that worldview just makes Walt a better kingpin, and the beautiful equations of chemistry are deployed to addict, poison, decompose.


Here's another that spends a little more time on Hank's arc:

http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/the-hero-of-breaking-bad/

Quote:
That person is Hank Schrader, Walt’s D.E.A. brother-in-law, who (I said there would be spoilers) breathed his last in Sunday’s episode, taken down by the clutch of neo-Nazi gangsters who seem to be emerging as the real winners from Walt’s long descent into criminality. Hank was introduced in the first season as the jerkish, bullying foil to a put-upon, underappreciated protagonist who back then had the audience’s sympathies. But over time the apparent foil been gradually revealed as, if not the show’s hero, then at least it’s (if you will) anti-anti-hero: A better husband than Walt, a better father (figure) to Walt’s children, and the only man in law enforcement capable of consistently putting his brother-in-law’s twisted genius to the test. In the course of the show, as Walt has sunk to ever-lower depths of turpitude, his brother-in-law has been given the classic hero’s arc: The repeated testing, physical and moral and physical again; the near-successes in which the prize is plucked away the last moment; the temporary falls from grace; the persistent brushes with despair. And he has followed this arc without either turning into a plaster saint (the flawed, crude, bullying character of Season 1 is still recognizable in the Hank of Season 5) or doing anything bad enough to make him an anti-hero in his own right. (His one huge moral lapse, the beating of Jesse Pinkman in Season 3, took place under extenuating circumstances and was followed by Hank taking full responsibility and accepting his potential dismissal from the D.E.A. without a fight.)


This willingness to let a major character be genuinely heroic — again, not flawless or entirely saintly, but heroic all the same — is something you don’t see on a lot of the “Sopranos” imitators that now crowd the cable landscape, where the pursuit of grittiness increasingly means making everyone an adulterer, everyone a crook, and writing characters who tend to converge in corruption, until it’s anti-heroes all the way down. And it’s very easy to imagine a version of “Breaking Bad” in which Hank wasn’t allowed to occupy a steady moral center — a version in which he was on the take from the cartel, for instance, or a version in which he was a good cop but a lousy philanderer of a husband, like Jimmy McNulty on “The Wire” or countless other examples on lesser shows.

But the fact that he lived and died essentially uncorrupted, having chased an evil man without entering deeply into that same evil himself, has been crucial to the distinctiveness of “Breaking Bad,” and to its dramatic success. It’s not only that having a good man on Walt’s tail has given the audience a moral stake in events, a sense of personal interest that’s increasingly slipped away in the grim, “isn’t everybody just awful” later seasons of a show like “Mad Men.” It’s also that in the lived reality of human beings, everyday heroism and moral decency aren’t actually as rare — or as easily crushed by the world’s Tywin Lannisters — as you would think from turning on a lot of prestige television these days. And so having a good man on Walt’s tail has actually made “Breaking Bad” more realistic than shows that deliberately write virtue and heroism out of their storylines entirely.


That's a portion above, worth reading the whole thing. There are also some very interesting and well thought-out counterarguments in the comments.

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#602372 - 10/06/13 02:03 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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Originally Posted By: Allen Montgomery
— Skyler's apartment has some weird pillar in the kitchen which allows for dramatic camera shifts.

SNL parodied this tonight.
_________________________
"The trouble with being a ghost writer or artist is that you must remain anonymous without credit.
If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
— Bob Kane

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#602373 - 10/07/13 12:00 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: Allen Montgomery]
madget Offline
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Can you be more specific or better yet, provide a link? I'm not watching an hour of Miley Cyrus host to find this.

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#602374 - 10/07/13 12:46 AM Re: breaking bad : season 5 [Re: madget]
Allen Montgomery Online   content
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You'll sit through 60+ hours of tediously calculated soap operatics, but thirty minutes of a fairly amusing institution is apparently a bridge too far.

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/piers-morgan-reviews-the-clinton-biopics/n41625/
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If one wants the credit, one has to cease being a ghost and become a leader or innovator."
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