Next week's episode: "The Do's and Don'ts of Financing a Hollow Log"
Nice write-up, Anna. I loved the series but found the finale a bit disappointing. I guess I was hoping for a little more thought-provoking ending. Instead, it was a pretty predictable shoot-up. I thought maybe Walt finally succumbing to his cancer, quietly, alone, might have been more poignant. And the machine-gun in the trunk seemed a bit far-fetched. (we knew Walt was a genius chemist, but now apparently he is also a brilliant mechanical engineer....(?)) My favorite seasons were 1 and 2; those seemed to be the most realistic to me. After that they sometimes seemed to try a little too hard. Still, I loved all of it. I think it's the greatest psychological suspense/thriller i've ever seen (movies, TV, or otherwise).
After capturing three Emmies this year alone (Best Dramatic series; Best Supporting role }Anna Gunn, Walter White's wife 'Skyler'[; Best Production/Technical values (or similar)) I would have to say that the ending episode of the series, it's ultimate conclusion, was satisfying. The series was always praised by TV critics.
One of the things underlined before the final episode by said critics, and myself also here in this thread last year, is the playing out of the series on a lean, spare run to it's logical conclusion. That is, every episode had something to contribute to the plot line and there was no playing out tangents that had nothing to do with furthering the dramatic content of the series, with the possible exception of the "fly in the super-lab" (not it's official name) episode.
Now, as for the ending.... It wasn't one of those confusing or ball-bustingly unsatisfying endings that leaves you gnashing your teeth and wanting to yell at the ceiling. For instance, it would have been a bummer if Walt had left Jessie slaving away in a Meth mine for the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang bent on supplying the Czech Republic's meth-head population. It would have been unsatisfying had not the whole Aryan crew not been taken out by a simple but tech-savvy swiveling machine gun in the huge trunk of an old American car. An older car, but an American classic that logically had room for such a device.
The ending continues to play out with such things as Walter being able to pay for his son's college education (coincidentally, with the amount he originally set out to make in the first episode) and getting back at his old lover and her new husband who had used Walter's brilliant technical research for their ultimately wildly successful high-tech start-up called "Grey Matter" or something to that effect. Brilliantly, Vince Gilligan's writer's manage to kill a third bird by including Jessie's two old cohorts whom he has using laser pointers to convince the couple that they are guns for hire who will kill them should they not give "Flynn" (the nickname for Walter's son named Walt Junior) his college cash. that Lydia, the conniving bitch who plays the materials handler for the big German conglomerate that provided a necessary, hard to get precursor chemical gets hers with a simple phone call from Walter saying ricine had been spiked into her stevia sweetner packet at the cafe (slightly unbelievable unless you believe he is willing to kill everybody using stevia at said cafe that day).
The number of people who end up being killed on this series during it's six year run is truly staggering and if I had to hazard a guess I would say the number is somewhere around two to three hundred starting with an obscure character chained up in the basement of then Jessie's aunt's house. There is poignancy being developed even at this early point as neither partner in crime wants to kill somebody and they end up having to toss a coin to see who will do the deed. Walt shows a father's tenderness by cutting the crusts off the sandwiches he is feeding his prisoner and showing some real angst about the matter, an angst that is only dispelled when he realizes, by solving the cognitive puzzle of a missing piece of dinner dish that is a jagged shard, that his prisoner intends to kill him with should he get the opportunity.
Fast forward one or two seasons when Walt, Jessie and Gus Freyne narrowly avoid being killed by an apparent drone missile attack called in by the DEA, I think, on the marriage of an important cartel relative that is also a summit between two cartels and thus a prime target. The missile kills probably 50-100 people. Fast forward to the last episode while Jessie slowly strangles to death the baby-faced Aryan brotherhood sociopath stone killer whose uncle runs the prison gang. Walt kills the uncle without any compunction at all. The scene that follows is what I found most interesting about the whole final episode: Jessie picks up a pistol and prepares to shoot Walter, who seems to welcome the death which is impending from all angles. Jessie finds this too easy and asks Walter's permission, which he enthusiastically grants. Jessie finds that all too easy and drops the pistol, telling Walter to do it himself. Well thought-out ending by Gilligan's writers of the interaction between these two main characters. Jessie then high-tails it out of the compound, busting a gut laughing while he busts the gate. Walt, meanwhile, takes a final tour of yet another meth lab on the premises of the Aryan compound Jessie has been forced to labor in as the police close in. Whether it be from the cancer, the cops or the bullet wound he has sustained in the final scene, Walt knows he is dying and is no longer running from the law.
The most telling scene in the entire episode comes earlier when he is talking to his wife Skyler about why he did this continuing series of crimes when he had had multiple opportunities to just walk away with mad stacks of Benjamins. He says something to the effect that he likes it. It was something that made him feel alive, even as he was dying.
Two supporting characters that are worthy of mention and probably rate Emmy's for their support roles, are the lawyer Saul (not even his real name in the fictional mode) who was always good for a laugh whenever he made an appearance. He had the lawyer/criminal/lawyer role nailed right down to the white Cadillac with the license plate "lawyrup". The other was Mike, the former cop turned hard core criminal security chief. The show would have paled somewhat without the brilliant performances turned in by these two.
I have to say for a final time that I loved the pathos of this show and the social commentary it provides as a plot for so many people's lives in America, whether it be for the ongoing $800,000 a year lifestyle or the Eighty million dollar empire built up over time. Otherwise good people are turned bad for the slightest of justifications. In America there are ever so many more people "Breaking Bad" rather than "Breaking Good". Thank God for the example of those Breaking Good. May their example always shine brightly!
(Please excuse the length of this review, I hope you found it a good summation and a good read.)
Breaking Bad is but one more (absolutely exemplary) story of the human condition. Love of family, love of life, facing one's own mortality and the complete and utter corruption of all of that love for.......money. Clearly knowing right from wrong (legally and, more importantly, morally); knowingly producing one of the most addictive substances known ('if I don't do it, someone else will' rationale) and the acceptance of and willingness to be deadly violent in order to keep the machine running that "pays the bills".
Love, corruption, ego and greed......Vince Gilligan has outdone everyone else with this series. Period! The show is more addictive, imho, that the 99% pure blue meth that Walt churns out. It's a combination of crystal meth, crack and nicotine.
If you have not seen this series yet, you need to.
Breaking Bad took the "Best Dramatic Series" Emmy last evening during the penultimate 60th episode showing live on AMC. One more show to go!
Some people call this the best TV show ever. Is it a reflection of out times and American culture?
A high school teacher with broken dreams and lost potential develops cancer and builds a drug empire by being the best meth cook ever, eventually accumulating 80 million dollars, to take care of his family after his imminent death. But he kills so many through circumstance in the meantime his family doesn't want anything to do with him or the money.
You're either bad or you're good, there ain't no grey angels.
...in other words, follow the dollar. It'll lead you to the primary perpetuators of the sisyphean struggle. I saw that documentary as well (I actually prefer his "Why We Fight"; an engaging documentary on an equally tough topic). $1 tln spent logically leads to someone is getting paid in the status quo! The 'good news' is our corporate overlords have begun to see greater profit potentials in weed being legal. I just wonder how the private prison lobby is going to react, and for whom they will be taking out the long knives next. In the meantime, chief on!! (as they say, "Smoke 'em if ya got 'em")
an outstanding documentary from filmmaker Eugene Jarecki from 2012 regarding this country's war on poor people and minorities, aka, the war on drugs. Far too much to review for my meager writing abilities but lets just say, it's extremely honest, accurate and informative. "jury nullification" is the name given to the procedure whereby a juror, completely legally, disregards the judge's instructions and votes with his/her conscience and can thereby throw an entire case. It is one method, recommended here, to help change the terribly unjust drug laws and sentencing guidelines used to fuel the highly profitable prison business.
The documentary opens with this: "Since 1971, the War on Drugs has cost over $1 trillion and has resulted in more than 45 million arrests. During that time, illegal drug use has remained unchanged."
Judges, lawyers, police, prison guards, prisoners, psychologists and historians all weigh in on this ludicrous system.
Be a good citizen and smoke some herb before you watch this :)
I can't believe I haven't commented on this TV show yet! Daniel Tosh is a 30-something comedienne with his own TV program and production company called "Black Heart Productions" (with his own almost fictional Black Lab called "Ubu" (Sit Ubu, Sit!) The name of the production company, by the way, mirrors his brand of post 2000, i-phone video, quick hook-up generation now cutting it's teeth on 50 Shades Of Gray.
The Dark Humor is what mostly sets it apart and is more than a bit scary in it's reflection of reality. "Sit, Ubu, sit! She said seductively as she rolled down the dark nylons...
Hope the show hasn't been canceled from the FX Network.
Stave final cut -
Sonar 2012 -
The track is an edit of Internal Collapse by The Black Dog theblackdogma.com/ The track is from the album Tranklements, due for release on May 20th 2013.