Tag Archives: AMC

Breaking Bad “Granite State” Review (5×15)

23 Sep

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“Stay a little longer?”

Walter White is afraid of isolation. He’s always needed something: his family, his money, his business. However, he’s never been more utterly alone; he’s trapped in a cabin in the snow, forced to sit there all day and contemplate what he’s done. It’s the ultimate coffin for Walter White, a man that will be killed by cancer, but destroyed by his own mind.

Walt’s never been the kind of criminal mastermind he aspires to be. I don’t mean that he isn’t a force in his business, but rather, he can never really become Heisenberg. That’s certainly what he wants, but it’s not something that will come to fruition unless he loses everything. At heart, he’s always been Walter White. He’s made poor choices and been overcome with desperation, but none of the actions that result are truly Heisenberg’s. He’s poisoned his mind, deluding himself into thinking that all those around him should be grateful for everything he’s done for them.

In “Granite State”, he’s still reaching out for that one speck of sympathy, paying his caretaker $10,000 to stay for two hours. Cranston is magnificent here, portraying a disheveled and depressed shell of a former man. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t let go of his past. He dons his Heisenberg hat, but isn’t able to leave the property for months. He tries to use his “We’re done when I saw we’re done” schpiel on Saul, but he breaks down coughing. He, one last time, tries to contact Flynn, but is verbally assaulted in a perfect bout of acting from RJ Mitte. This is the final straw. Walt can’t get any money to his family. He can’t feel useful. He can’t feel needed. He calls the police, fully intending to turn himself in. However, he sees something that gives him pause.

The Gray Matter folks surprisingly show up again, and they’re looking to bury Walt. Everything’s changed. Walt’s going to live out his Heisenberg persona for the first time, ready to prove to the world that he’s truly a man to be feared. He’s not weak. He’s not gone. He’s angry. What’s getting him into this is what got him into the situation in the first place: a sense of honor. It’s always been about the chemistry.

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It’s a slow place-setter for the finale, but the theme song closing out the episode makes you excited to see what will happen to the once-great Walter White. The eye of the storm has passed.

GRADE: B+

Other thoughts:

-Jesse’s been so brutalized that we just can’t help but wonder if he’d be better off dead. Andrea’s death feels so cruel, pointless, and terrible, and Aaron Paul’s face after that scene reflects the anguish, the horror, and the gravity of the situation in a brilliant light.

-Jesse’s escape is extremely nerve-wracking, too…here I am, yelling “RUN JESSE RUN!” all Jenny-like.

-Todd has really become a terrifying character. He’s entirely happy to be a pawn in all of this, and his infatuation with Lydia is becoming stranger every day. Lydia’s interesting as well; she expects everything to be handed to her on a silver platter, and she avoids trouble when she can.

-In addition, Todd appears in Holly’s room and threatens Skyler. That’s a no-no.

-“I watched a few Youtube videos..the trick is finding the vein.”

-Ice cream for Jesse

-I hope Huell’s still just sitting in that room.

-If Walt had just listened to Saul, he could’ve avoided all this. What’s terrible is that his seemingly decent phone call last week turns out to be for naught, as Skyler will always be a target as long as Walt stays hidden.

-Walt has Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium...just two of them!

-Congrats to Anna Gunn and the show on their Emmys. They’re well deserved.

-“If you look around, it’s kinda beautiful.” Walter White will never be able to fully appreciate his surroundings.

-Seeing snow in the show is weird. However, it makes sense thematically. Walt’s always been stuck in the  snow, but he hasn’t been able to realize it. Now that he does realize it, he can strip away his Walter White layer and embrace the Heisenberg. Watch out, Carol.

Credit to AMC and Breaking Bad for all pictures. I own nothing.

“Mad Men” final season to be split in two, and AMC executives let out a collective sigh of relief

17 Sep

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In just one of the steps leading up to a world in which every single TV season is split into two, yet is called one season, AMC has decided to split Mad Men’s final season in two. AMC executives reportedly spent about 6 seconds deliberating, then made this decision while rolling in piles of money and giggling like little schoolchildren. In a statement read to the press, AMC president Ilike Money announced, “Because we’re AMC and our new shows suck, we’ve decided to do this because we don’t like sucking. We also like Emmys.” AMC will spend the next couple years holding onto Mad Men as they drown in a sea of mediocrity, and will probably renew “The Walking Dead”, and its spinoff, for at least 36 more seasons.

Each half-season will consist of 7 episodes, with the first batch titled “The Beginning” and the second batch titled “The End of an Era”.  So, the first batch will presumably be just a bunch of clip shows of Don Draper as a kid, frolicking around in a whorehouse while gaping at naked women. The second batch will consist of seven episodes of Matthew Weiner feeding his child, Ego.

“We plan to take advantage of this chance to have a more elaborate story told in two parts, which can resonate a little bit longer in the minds of our audience,” Weiner said, in a statement that makes no sense because they could’ve easily just have slapped “The beginning of the end of an era” on the final season and told an elaborate story that resonated in the minds of their audience. This is a show that usually takes a couple episodes to really get going, so by the time each really gets going, we’ll already be at the finale.

Anyway, I guess it’s time to speculate who’s going to end up on the toilet in Season 7A’s finale. Or, maybe an army of Bob Bensons will destroy everyone before we can get a chance to say goodbye.

Or, maybe Jon Hamm will finally get that Emmy he deserves.

“Not a chance.” -Emmy voters

Credit to AMC and Mad Men for all pictures. I own nothing.

Saul Goodman to be Saul Goodman in “Breaking Bad” spinoff about Saul Goodman

11 Sep

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After months of speculation, AMC announced today that Bob Odenkirk will reprise his role in a spinoff of Breaking Bad, and that said spinoff will be airing on AMC. The series will involve Saul Goodman doing Saul Goodman-y things, like telling young, unsuspecting idiots to not drink and drive, but call him if they do. The series will be one hour, and will presumably consist of 20 minutes of “Better Call Saul” ads, 20 minutes of “Better Call Saul” ads, and 20 minutes of “Better Call Saul” ads. 

Vince Gilligan will be involved in the creative process, and the series will most likely air sometime next year. That gives us enough time to finish screaming at the top of our lungs in reaction to Breaking Bad, and will give our families and friends enough time to look at us strangely, then move out of the country. By the time we have digested the series finale and have gone through withdrawal from the show, most of us will probably be a melted puddle of human, almost as if Walt himself dissolved us in a vat of acid.

Those of us that survive will be able to see Saul’s origins, as the series will trace his route from sleazy lawyer to sleazy lawyer of Heisenberg. Hank and Marie will probably guest star so Hank can throw in a “Jesus Christ, Marie!”, and Jesus Christ will probably descend from the skies in the form of Huell. Walt Jr. will also spend the whole series gaping idiotically at Saul.

Credit to AMC and Breaking Bad for all pictures. I own nothing.

Breaking Bad “To’hajiilee” Review (5×13)

9 Sep

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Walter White has given up. We’ve seen the cracks in his facade, most noticeably last week, with his flustered demeanor around Skyler and Walt Jr. However, this episode marks the true downfall of the cold, calculating Heisenberg. Or is it?

In a way, it is. Even though he once again finds luck on his side, it’s all due to a rag-tag group of Nazi lovers that are nothing like the foes he deems worthy to oppose. If he ends up having to face off with them for his life, it’d be a final middle finger from everyone to Heisenberg. It would be strangely fitting that he’d fall to the hands of real criminals.

Nevertheless, the episode is a perfect encapsulation of the road Walt’s been heading down. Cranston does tremendous work with Walt’s facial expressions, conveying both a sense of finality and of relief. His rage is transformed into something quieter as he realizes that he’s trapped. He’s betrayed by the sight of Jesse stepping out of that vehicle. He’s underestimated Hank, Jesse, and Gomez, and he just can’t take it anymore.

Now, this is much like Jesse, who has used up every ounce of effort to take down his former boss. He allows himself a small smile as Walt is arrested, yet he’s also astonished at how everything has turned out. How can a nobody like Jesse Pinkman outsmart a criminal mastermind like Walter White? How can Jesse be Walt’s greatest weakness? Those are understandable questions, but the answers have been telegraphed since the start of the season. The first eight episodes were all about Walt’s victory lap, but recently, he’s started to outsmart himself. As he races through the desert (in an expertly directed scene by MacLaren), he’s so overcome with rage that he starts screaming at Jesse. Everything is crashing down around him as he speaks, and he reverts back to his “family” excuse; he tries to hold family and his cancer over Jesse’s head, but he’s too angry to see that it won’t work. Much like his excursion to Brock’s house, Walt still believes in the fact that others care for him. The thing is, everyone else has already figured out his tricks.

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That doesn’t mean they’ll be successful, though. The final shoot out is telegraphed throughout the episode, and when Hank picks up that phone to call Marie, we know something’s going to happen. His smugness level is off the charts. He’s waving to Walt, professing his love for Marie, and is smiling gleefully. It’s the mark of a man that can just taste that sweet, sweet success. He is so in the moment that he doesn’t stop to think about his career. This revelation will ruin his life, but he’s won, so he pushes that off to the side.

Then, everything explodes. The smash cut to black prevents us from seeing what has transpired, but we know that nothing will ever be the same.

Grade: A

Other thoughts:

-Walt Jr’s delight at seeing Saul is absolutely priceless.

-“Don’t drink and drive, but if you do, call me!”

-It’s ironic how Walt reverting back to his old ways is actually what helps him get away. He agrees to one more cook, and that earns him the services of the Nazis.

-The cold open is hilarious. We can clearly see that it’s not blue, but Todd trying to say it is is a thing of beauty. Speaking of, the way Todd shoots all nonchalant during the shootout scene is a funny shot amidst an intense atmosphere. He may seem like a light-hearted character, but in reality, he’s terrifying. He has absolutely no morals, and he’s essentially a machine.

-I forgot to breathe during that last segment.

-Brock knows! If I was him, I’d make sure those Fruit Loops weren’t laced with ricin.

-It’s been wonderful to watch the work of Michelle MacLaren. She will continue doing amazing things with the camera.

-“Remember, where we used to have cookouts as a family?” Hank has turned the tables.

-Oh, Huell. You’re awesome.

Credit to AMC and Breaking Bad for all pictures. I own nothing.

Breaking Bad “Rabid Dog” Review (5×12)

2 Sep

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“Deep down, he really loves me.”

This is a facetious line said in passing by Saul Goodman, but it is extremely interesting in the context of the other characters. For example, does Walt really care about Jesse? Deep down, do the experiences they’ve shared transcend the suffocating nature of Walt’s current situation? There’s no question that Walt has looked at Jesse as a son, but does he still? That’s something to be debated upon, but I’d argue that it isn’t until he picks up that phone, and the end credits roll, that he truly turns on Jesse. He’s been heading down a path in which his paternal feelings have become feelings of necessity, as his whole family’s been turning on him.

As for Jesse, all throughout this process, his mind is telling him that Walt doesn’t care at all. Walt’s burrowed deep into his brain, filling him with fear and paranoia. He doesn’t look at Heisenberg as a father figure, but he looks up at him; he believes that Walt’s the devil, capable of anything and everything. This is exactly what’s gnawing at his mind as he walks through that plaza, in a scene reminiscent of “Half Measures”: the same angle, the same expression on his face, and the same feeling of “This is the longest walk ever.” Everyone around him is appearing and disappearing, reflecting those “godlike” qualities he’s so afraid of. Then, he’s able to fixate his attention on one person, causing him to completely change his mind and threaten Walt over the phone. Sure, that creepy guy standing there in the plaza is a plot contrivance designed to increase tension, but it works because it gives Jesse a new direction to take.

Let’s back up a bit, though. The set up for that final sequence is extremely interesting; it’s full of conversation, but those conversations shake up the character dynamics. First, we see Walt trying to explain to Skyler and Walt Jr. why exactly gasoline is all over the floor. Then, we see Walt and Flynn bonding by the pool, and later, we see Walt continuing to avoid telling Skyler the truth. Heisenberg’s always been a cold, calculating man, capable of creating an elaborate plan months in advance. However, when he’s confronted by Flynn and Skyler in this episode, he’s shocked. He’s flustered. He’s confused as to why his lies aren’t being lapped up. He’s starting to crack. It’s chilling, though, that in the same episode that Skyler puts off confronting Walt because of the presence of Walt Jr., the father and the son get closer than ever before.

Then, we have Hank. He’s become embroiled in his quest, and he’s entirely willing to bring Jesse down if that means nabbing Heisenberg (ironic, isn’t it, how only Walt seems to care about Jesse in this episode?). His way of responding to Walt’s “confession” is to acquire a confession of his own. However, Jesse’s the voice of reason here. He has no legitimate proof of Walt’s criminal activities, and his full and honest confession has less of an effect than Walt’s “manipulating the truth” confession. We see two different men in these videos; Jesse’s slouched and mumbling, but Walt’s staring straight into the camera, exuding power and confidence.

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So, that brings us back to Jesse’s final decision. We don’t know what it will be. Perhaps he’ll claim to be Heisenberg, or perhaps he’ll move to Alaska and build a snow fort. One thing is for sure, though: Walter White cannot be a part of him any longer.

Grade: B+

Other thoughts:

-The episode is “Rabid Dog”, drawing comparisons to Season 4’s “Problem Dog.” It was an episode in which Jesse had to explain why he killed Gale, and this episode serves as a complete shift from that, as Jesse’s now the one being treated like a dog. Who is the dog? Jesse could be, but it can just as easily be Hank.

-“Okay, but, say, you know, just for the sake of argument, the kid’s not in the mood for a nuanced discussion of the virtues of child poisoning…”    Oh, Saul. You’re amazing.

-The shot of Jesse out cold in Hank’s bed is a powerful image. He’s lost, beaten down, and emotionally drained.

-Of course, he wakes up to a picture of Walt as Santa. His reaction to that is golden.

-When Jesse’s phone went off, I thought that we were going to get a montage of Marie making lasagna. Maybe next week.

-Marie goes to therapy, and we see more purple stuff.

-The directing of the show always impresses me, and Breaking Bad directors in particular are brilliant at “hallway shots.” The framing, the pull backs, and the zooms are pitch perfect, and I’d like to point out the scene after Jesse wakes up. He’s at one end of the hallway, and Marie’s at the other end. It’s a wonderful shot.

-The B+ doesn’t mean the episode is bad, but I think it does move a bit slow. However, that’s what piece-setting episodes do, and while the episode is less compelling than the last three, it sets up for what should be an explosive episode 5.

Credit to AMC and Breaking Bad for all pictures. I own nothing.

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