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Showing posts from September, 2013

Breaking Bad 515: Granite State

One of the many, many recurring themes I love on Breaking Bad is how it plays with dichotomy, duality, pairs, parallels, etc. For every situation, character, visual, whatever, there is a similar element to contrast it. As with past episodes, there was a lot of that in Granite State: the seclusion of both Walt and Jesse, the 180 contrast between ABQ and Walt's new (temporary) home in New Hampshire, Todd's visits to both Walt's wife and Jesse's ex-girlfriend, Walt's two sons, Jesse and Flynn. This show has always been about the connectivity of everything that occurs, particularly every choice that Walt makes, and these dichotomies serve as brilliant devices to increase the sense that every circumstance is indeed a product of the actions that preceded it.

We went into this episode knowing the big transformation Walt was going to make, over a period of months, but that didn't prevent the writers from dragging us back and forth with him and his thoughts. He seems to…

Breaking Bad 514: Ozymandias

This is the kind of show in which even the baby deserves an Emmy for her performance.

I think a lot of television relies heavily on elements of shock and surprise, these days, scoffing at the notion that an audience can be so overcome with emotion over a story whose endings are predictable (The Red Wedding is a recent example that comes to mind). So, it's all the more powerful when a show like Breaking Bad comes along and absolutely traumatizes its viewers with an episode of events they mostly could have seen coming. We knew Hank and/or Gomez would die in the shootout, we knew Walt and/or Jesse would be captured and forced to cook for Todd and the gang, and we knew there'd be a confrontation of sorts between Marie and Skyler that would somehow lead to their discovery that the news Marie had just learned over the phone from Hank had basically been undone...and then some.
In true Breaking Bad fashion, we're not taken back to the cliffhanger from the last episode, right away.…

Breaking Bad 513: To'hajiilee

Let's see, how to talk about the first half of the episode first, without jumping straight to THAT ENDING.

Todd (I believe we call him "Creepy, Less Attractive Matt Damon" at our house) is a character the writers have quietly built over the last season, from an almost unassuming worker bee who takes initiative and does what he's told, but speaks up or takes action when he feels it's necessary to the job at hand, to a major player in the Heisenberg empire. I won't lie, I kind of liked him from the beginning. Yes, he's absolutely one of the scariest characters in Breaking Bad history, but if you're looking to get away with the biggest meth business in America at all costs, he does what needs doing, no questions asked. Was it awful the kid on the bike was killed? Of course. But he knew the task was to get away with the train heist, and that kid potentially stood in the way - what other choice was there that wasn't an equally as awful solution?

At fir…

Breaking Bad 512: Rabid Dog

The cancer metaphor that has formed an arc over this entire show is in full swing in this episode. We all know Walt has cancer, but we figured out long ago that he himself is a cancer to those around him, and Rabid Dog made such an excellent display of that as it methodically had every character other than Walt proceed to break bad. This episode is such a brilliant and ironic turn for the show, in that for once, it's got everyone else selfishly willing to kill for their own benefit, while Walt is actually the one trying to save the rabid dog.

It's so fun, to me, that even in the very last episodes of the series, we're gifted with a new character pairing that brings a whole other dynamic to the show. Who knew Hank and Jesse's relationship could be so multi-layered?! Jesse has had a pretty good track record of choosing awful father/mentor figures - they either die (yes, I still miss Mike) and/or they horribly manipulate and abuse him, leaving Jesse even worse off than he…