Breaking Bad Final Countdown: Part 8 of 8

September 29, 2013 will mark one of the saddest days in television history: The conclusion of Vince Gilligan’s game-changing dramatic series, Breaking Bad.

Truly, few samples of film, standalone or episodic, can match the skillful pacing or narrative flair of this show. And for that reason, I will pay my personal homage through the blogosphere: Episode-by-episode critiques and recaps of the final 8 installments of the series.

Be warned, there will likely be spoilers abound. This is primarily for fans who crave a post-viewing play-by-play. Comments are encouraged.

So without further ado:

Season 5 Episode 16 (Original Air Date: September 29, 2013)

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It’s over my friends. One of the greatest shows that’s ever been on TV is done.

I’m writing this in the hope that I can get everything out before I’m assaulted by any internet chatter on the matter. Because right now, I’m sad. But I’m also remarkably satisfied.

I wanna get sappy with y’all. And I will. But first, a run through. I’ll include details, but this time around, I wanna make it quick. So here we go:

We start with Walt in NH. He slithers into a car that ain’t his. Under cover of snow, he panics over a passing police cruiser. Then, by pure luck, finds the keys. He’s off.

Our lovable hero is on the hunt for Gretchen and Elliott. His in: Journalism! Because duh! Why not?

After a weirdly casual break-and-entry, Walt bargains with his estranged business partners. You put $9million into an irrevocable trust account for my children, and I call off my “hit-men”. Fair enough. It’s a deal!

Cut to a beautiful scene of Jesse building a box. A warm glow about it. It’s peaceful, sure, but don’t get used to it. His leash snags and we’re right back to his depressing meth-filled present.

10am on Tuesday. Walt intervenes during Meth D and Lydia’s meeting. Ricin handy, Walt’s got a plan to sabotage the stevia. Silly Rabbit. Ain’t you know not to put shit in your chamomile when Walt’s in the room?

They arrange a meeting so Walt can offer a new cooking method and disband.

In the desert, Walt gets busy building like, a propeller or some shit. Who knows? It’s probably not important.

Breaking Bad ep 509, shot on 12/6/12 by Ursula Coyote

Onto more relevant matters: Marie has some dirt about Walt, so she calls Sky. He’s been sighted. Good to know. Thanks Marie. Oh, and by the way, He’s at my house.

5 minutes. That’s all it takes for Walt to tell her the first honest thing, like ever.

“I did it for me.” That’s right, he liked it. He would like it. That sexy little rattlesnake.

He gives her coordinates to the buried bodies of Hank and Gomez, which just might help her in court. Then it’s a final good-bye to Baby and he’s on his merry way.

Night time. Hangin’ with the Nazis. He parks his car next to the clubhouse. He’s searched and enters.

Once inside, Uncle Jack determines that this situation would be far more dramatic if Jesse were present, so he brings him in.

The pieces are set. Walt reclaims his confiscated car keys, pounces on Jesse, and activates his desert-made robot machine gun thing. M.D. is the last man standing. Jesse’s on it.

That’s right – chains to the throat. Revenge is sweet.

Now it’s just Jesse and Walt. Papa tells Son to shoot. He knows that Jesse wants it.

No way dude, you want it. Admit it.

Walt fesses up. He’s ready to go. But Jesse’s done with that shit.

“Then do it yourself.”

Jesse bolts. A man in pursuit of a life building wooden boxes. A life of self-made boundaries. One of order. Comfort. Creativity. And above all, new beginnings.

Thank you Vince. It’s exactly what I wanted for the misguided lil’ scamp.

Walt’s now alone. And he’s hit. A bullet to the head won’t be necessary. He’ll just bleed out. Peacefully. He enters the lab. Admires, quietly, the work that once consumed him. His art.

He falls to the ground.

Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” sends us off.

And we’re out.

It’s perfect. Lydia and the Nazis are eliminated. Jesse gets his tear-filled freedom. Skyler is absolved. And Walt attains his peace in the only possible way he can: Through death.

Melancholic, yes. But so wonderfully poetic.

The story told in the course of the series was excellent. Unpredictable. Exciting. Meditative. Puzzling. But also purposeful. Always alive. And the resolution was so pitch perfect. The writers never lost their balance.

As someone who would love more than anything to be a career writer, I am absolutely inspired. In many ways, Breaking Bad is the new standard. A compelling argument for the cultural significance of serialized storytelling. There’s a reason that comic book franchises have invaded film and TV in recent years. We all want good stories. We need those familiar characters. And we’ve got an insatiable hunger for the complexities of an alternate universe.

Gilligan and the gang labored over this story with so much love and an undeniable sense of adventure. Modern storytellers can embrace the idea that good drama never changes. But that the situations – the characters, the premises – are ever-evolving.

We need to believe in new concepts. Many thought Breaking Bad would have no chance at success. And look at it now. It’s a legacy we won’t soon be forgetting.

So good-bye my friends. Thank you for being so bold. Thank you for taking risks. Thanks for everything.

To review last week’s episode, click here.

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A Plea to Vince Gilligan

Dear Vince,

In 2 days, you’ll be gone. Not forever, sure. But the work that will probably come to define you is on it’s way out. And myself, along with all the other kool kids, have quite a few feelings about that.

Rest assured: We know you’re doing the right thing. We trust you. You’ve done right by us for 5 incredible seasons. That said, we have invested a lot of time in this series. Meaning the end has got to be totally satisfying. And it’s in that spirit that I must make a few requests.

Ahem:

1. Let’s cut to the chase. We all know you’re gonna kill Walt. The whole show was founded on the premise that he would inevitably die in the end. And it’s not going to be peaceful either. The last episode sends this message, loud and clear. It’s just a matter of how.

But here’s what he needs to do: get his money to his family. All of it. If not, you’ve gotta make it up to us (ie. give him the most dramatic demise ever – with tears and blood and a shit-ton of gunfire). Oh, and a bullet-hole through the tattoo on Jack’s neck would be greatly appreciated.

2. No more Marie. She’s served us well over the years as a comic side character. But unless she shoots Walt personally, she has no more purpose in this story arc. And if she does – somehow – end up being Walt’s killer, I will unwatch every episode of the series, unwrite all of my glowing reviews, and start using meth just to contradict your moral indictment of the drug trade.

3. Give us one more breakfast with Junior. For old time’s sake.

4. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let Jesse live. He can finally head out to Alaska or New Zealand or wherever the hell he wants and start anew. The poor kid needs a break. And I want to believe there’s enough good in his heart that he might be ok.

Walt

Original Art by Amanda Fullwood

I know he’s made mistakes. Over. And over. And over again. BUT, I think if he really started from square one, he could fix good (get it? it’s a play on break bad! me so clever). We all know he just got caught up with the wrong crowd. Plus, in another life, he would be a great dad.

I know you’re not one for storybook endings. While it would be great for Jesse to see Brock one last time, I don’t expect it. But let’s be real here – You gave that sonuvabitch Hank a moment, it’s only fair that Jesse have his. SOMETHING. Just give us this one shining beacon of hope you sadistic jerk! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

5. If Jesse doesn’t pan out, there’s always Skyler. Right now, her future is bleak. Even if Walt manages to give her the money – which he BETTER, so help me Gilligan! – it’s not gonna fix her thousand other problems. We are an insecure folk, us devoted followers. We need to know that there’s something about Walt’s downfall that makes it all worth it.

The rollercoaster ride that is Breaking Bad has been like really crazy sex. It had all the suspense, anticipation, fun surprises, and foreplay that makes that shit so fun. Now we just need that satisfying climax. Sure, there will be tears. But as long as we don’t have collective blue balls, it’ll be ok. Don’t be that guy, Vince. Finish what you start. And for Pete’s sake, make it mind-blowing.

I’m being considerate here. Seriously. I’m giving you a whole 2 days to go back and re-film or edit based on these demands– er, suggestions. And we all know how tremendously easy it is to round a team together and make movie stuff. Just look at Joss Whedon – he filmed an entire MOVIE in 2 weeks. What’s a few scenes here-and-there?

So that’s that. The rest is in your hands. No matter what happens, I am so in. This series has totally raised the bar. You’ve given us some great entertainment, and you’ve done it in such a bold way. As a fan of dramatic storytelling, I love you for it.

And just ask the internetz. I’m not alone in that.

Love,

Spencer

Need to Catch-Up? Look no further:

S5 E09: “Blood Money”

S5 E10: “Buried”

S5 E11: “Confessions”

S5 E12: “Rabid Dog”

S5 E13: “To’hajiilee”

S5 E14: “Ozymandias”

S5 E15: “Granite State”

S5 E16: “Felina”

I ♥ leftovers!

joehortonI am a member of the Salisbury Singers Community Chorus with fellow crooner and friend Joe Horton. Before our Monday night rehearsals, we go to dinner at Tweed’s Pub and have the same waitress, Luan, every week. After dinner, even if it might make us late, we get coffee from Starbucks. We are creatures of habit and we know it. But we often kid ourselves by asking, as if it’s a fresh idea, “Want to get a coffee?” It lends a rhythm to our weekly ritual.

One thing I also keep the same is that I change my dinner choice. Tweed’s has too long a list of simply awesome choices. It practically demands a consistent change of perspective.

This past week we chose the same meal from the list of specials; center cut pork chops over fajita onions and peppers, with melted swiss cheese. We also copied each other and selected the steamed veggies on the side. Tweed’s is far from stingy. When we were totally stuffed and forced to stop eating, the skillets were still more than half full. I immediately began mentally noting the options for use of what became 4-5 cups of nicely cooked onions, peppers, carrots, brocolli, zucchini and summer squash.  When Luan asked about to-go-boxing, I was asking Joe for his leftovers.

Pork Chops Fajitas!?! Yeah, it felt weird. BUT when it’s together, it’s just right!

A couple of days later, I got hungry. In my fridge was this white Styrofoam cube of fond memories. What to do…what to do!

Eat ’em! This is the path to my achievement (4 servings):

  1. Pre-heat the oven. Bake. 350 degrees.
  2. Warm the whole hodge-podge of veggies in a 12-inch skillet. (There was between 4 and 5 cups of cooked vegetables.)
  3. fajita frittata servingIn a separate bowl, scramble
    • 6 eggs
    • 1/4th cup ricotta cheese
    • 1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
    • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  4. When the veggies are 75% warmed, gently fold in the egg mixture into the skillet. Evenly Distribute.
  5. Bake 25-30 minutes. Let Cool on counter.

Fajita Frittata! Whatevah! Enjoy-ah!fajita frittata

Everybody’s Talking Bad

Get ready, folks. The end is nigh.

The most lethal show on television is in the midst of its final bow. Blogs and social media are alive with speculation, praise, and good-tidings. Its a merry cacophony of  ideas! And be it homage, parody, or critical reading, everyone’s got something to add to the conversation.

Ask the webiverse – this show’s a pretty big deal.

Better yet, don’t bother. I’ve rounded up some WordPress notables to drive home the fact that this is the only show that matters.

PREDICTIONS

The Movie Snobs

Asking the question on all of our minds – who gets out alive?

The Great Breakdown

Separates the Walt from the Heisenberg. And offers a pretty sensible theory about the ricin.

Metro

Features a neat little tidbit from writer Peter Gould, who wrote last week’s Granite State.

The Flip Side in Sante Fe

A fun psych-up piece about how things might end. And there’s no room for ambiguity.

ANALYSIS

Screenworm

What the success of shows like this says about the future (or non-future) of television.

Introduction to Ethics

Breaking Bad and Aristotle’s ethics.

Samir Chopra

The War on Drugs.

FAN ART

Read At Joe’s

Some phenomenal comic book-style fan art by J. Scott Campbell.

Popwatch

A handful of totally rad episode posters. One of which is this post’s featured photo.

Amanda Fullwood

Incredible hand-drawn to digital art of Walt and Jesse. Beautiful. Alive. Some of the best I’ve seen.

VIDEOS

General Tso’s Revenge

If you haven’t seen Cranston’s Erotic Fan Letter Reading on Conan. Get on it. Seriously, Click it! Click! … Click it!

Dot to Trot

Get off your ass, lazy! Also from Conan.

So have fun with that! Not enough? Then enjoy some cute little gifs (Because who doesn’t love cute little gifs??)

Born & Raised

Oh Boy! The Boynton

boynton-family-restaurantOn certain Tuesday nights, my friend Tina and I go to “get soup” at The Boynton. Truth is, for me, it’s soup for the soul. It is for her, too, but she also loves their Chicken Rice Soup ($3.99). A Comforting Chicken Stock with an abundance of Rice, Chicken and bits of Carrots.

The Comfort continues in our conversation. Tina is a life gift. She’s a lady that leaves a mark on a person’s life. A good woman. No doubts here. We are growing people and we cheer each other on. We take time to talk to each other and listen to each other too.

The Boynton has grown quite a bit during its time in Worcester. I started enjoying their good food when they were a pub and a neighboring pizza shop. The bartender or, on certain nights, a waitress would assist with food. As you know, I am here for food, so all I’ll mention about the drinks is: they don’t skimp.

The Boynton’s food is indulgent. In the last 15-20 years, the growth of the business has been revolutionary. They’ve:

  1. Remodeled and reorganized.
  2. Rebuilt the pizza shop into a full-sized state-of-the-art all-stainless-steel, shiny, new kitchen.
  3. Implemented an entirely new menu.
  4. Purchased neighboring property to increase the size of the parking area.
  5. Grew more and more. They even put dining room additions onto the dining room additions!

It’s great!! This growth was mandatory. The Boynton is packed on most Tuesday nights at nearly 10pm. The energy is high and environment relaxed with populations of all ages and walks of life coming together. The table and bar service is really good. I’ve never been wary of this destination. Click here to make a reservation and beat the crowd.

boynton_barThis past week, we ventured there after Tina got out of work. I arrived first and secured a table on the outer border of the main bar area. Our waitress, Nikie, greeted me within a few minutes and was knocking my socks off from the very beginning. I ordered our beverages and an appetizer. We were off to the races. I was feeling a win coming my way.

What did we eat? Tina had her soup and shared the appetizer with me. I was craving pizza and decided that I would chance a suggestion from the waitress. I was thinking she’d suggest something healthy and she delivered. A small pizza with eggplant, broccoli and garlic. I added onions, peppers and feta. Y’all know how I feel about Feta.

Spinach Artichoke Dip ($10.99) Spinach and Marinated Artichoke Hearts blended with Garlic and Herb Cheese topped with Parmesan Cheese and oven baked. Served with Pita Chips. I asked Nikie to replace the chips with simple pita bread wedges. I can’t get the thought of deep fried bread into my wellness plan. LOL. She was happy to help.

Sm. Cheese Pizza + Broccoli, Feta, Garlic, Eggplant, Onions and Roasted Red Peppers = a mound of a pizza prices fairly at $13.73. This pizza was 4 meals. Very pleased.

We love to chat with servers. We also learned that Nikie is a vegetarian, a factory farm activist and a climate activist.

For those of you reading my meanderings, you may remember The Sole ProprieterThe Boynton is directly across the street. This Highland Street neighborhood must have good eating in the water or something. Try The Boynton – you can order online and pick up or eat in the brick-walled comfy space you see here. They are always going to make you happy with your decision.

This is direct from the Boynton website and I AGREE: “Highly recommended for a night out with friends, dinner with the familly and a popular spot for students. Named after one of the founding fathers of Worcester Polytech, the Boynton Restaurant is located at 117 Highland Street, (Route 9), ample parking in the back.”

Go. Experience. Enjoy!

photo credits: http://www.boyntonrestaurant.com/

Breaking Bad Final Countdown: Part 7 of 8

September 29, 2013 will mark one of the saddest days in television history: The conclusion of Vince Gilligan’s game-changing dramatic series, Breaking Bad.

Truly, few samples of film, standalone or episodic, can match the skillful pacing or narrative flair of this show. And for that reason, I will pay my personal homage through the blogosphere: Episode-by-episode critiques and recaps of the final 8 installments of the series.

Be warned, there will likely be spoilers abound. This is primarily for fans who crave a post-viewing play-by-play. Comments are encouraged.

So without further ado:

Season 5 Episode 15 (Original Air Date: September 22, 2013)

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Choice. Its a funny thing, isn’t it? I mean, its nice to be altruistic. To act in pursuit of our needs and desires without implicating other people. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

Depending on our choices, shit can get brutal. Like, car crash brutal. Whereupon impact, pieces shatter and fly into a million different directions. In these situations, no one gets out unharmed.

Just ask any of our key players. Even the not terribly relevant ones. Sorry, Andrea.

Mr. White’s made a few pretty bold moves. The infamous phone call, for one. Which had [almost] entirely abdicated Skyler of her role in the couple’s crimes. The kidnapping. Which, in retrospect, could have been just another layer in the phone call scheme. And then, of course, his sudden disappearance.

We pick up with the red getaway van that whisked away our troubled hero last time. Ed the Extractor pulls into the Vacuum Sales and Service Shop. Out of public view, he opens the backdoor. Howdy Heisenb– uh, Saul?

Our lovable Kevin Costner lookalike has a plan: to become a “douche-bag with a job and three pairs of dockers.” He’s thinkin’, best case scenario, to be a manager at Cinnabon. But first thing’s first: He needs a new photo for a phony Nebraska ID. He wonders about the huge gash on his face. Worry not, Ed assures, we’ll photoshop that shit out.

Saul’s to lay low for a few days. In the meantime, he’ll bunk in the basement. Oh, and by the way, hope you don’t mind having a roommate.

Who could it be? You guessed it: Walt. Erratic and vengeful with way too much time on his hands. He’s got a plan, but first, let’s check in on our mournful little mouse-faced Marie.

She’s got escorts. They promise they’ll find Hank. Ok, that’s comforting… Until they pull up to her home and find it trashed and gutted. Two of the men scout the home while Marie’s promptly removed from the situation. So that’s, what? 30 seconds of screen time? Uh, did I write this episode?

The men search. Then Jesse’s voice, low and broken, invades the scene. The sound carries us to the lair of the thieves with the confession tape.

Jesse’s on screen. Eyes red and puffy. The Nazis laugh as if they’re watching an Episode of 30 Rock [RIP] and they skip ahead. Oh– what’s this?

The crew conveniently land on a bit about Todd. Specifically, his cold-blooded murder of a little boy. “BOOM,” Jesse emphasizes, “Like it was nothing.” He and the victim are identified by name. Should of re-thought that one, lil’ pup. Now you’re the rat.

Meth D’s a bit proud about Jesse’s retelling of the story. After all, with the life choices HE has made, it pays to be perceived as a psychopath. But Uncle Jack reacts from a slightly different point of view: one of his men has been identified. That ain’t cool.

He’s ready to put the kid down, but Meth D intercepts. Its funny how often the interests of Lydia align with the presence of Jesse. He can provide her with the product purity and color she wants. And he also carries information that can help or harm her empire. Which would also mean, if the Nazis comply, that they can get even MORE filthy rich.

But above all, Methy’s got a crush. And he’ll stop at nothing to gain Lydia’s approval.

Jesse knows nothing about any of this. He’s still in his cell. Staring at the photo of Lydia and Brock. Then he notices his ticket to freedom.

A paper clip.

In a faraway land, Walt and Saul play catchup beneath the Vacuum Shop. Walt is madly focused on reclaiming his stolen money. He asks for about five “hitters and mercenaries” to enact his revenge.

Saul, ever the pragmatist, puts things into perspective. Walt being gone will solve nothing. His family won’t be safe. And there’s no simple way to transfer his money to them.

It’s clear to everyone that Walt’s got a bad hand and should fold. But why let that stellar poker face go to waste? Walt assures his audience that it’s only over when he reclaims his rewards and gives them to his family. No more effin’ around.

It’s not over, he gasps over a strangled cough. Ok, Old Man. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Meanwhile, Skyler’s effectively receiving her death sentence. Sort of. Really, its a warning about the legal action she might face for withholding information about her hubbie. The details of which are unclear beneath the the droney squealy noise ringing in her head.

As was the case when Walt received his diagnosis in Episode 1, those specifics aren’t really relevant. What matters is time is running out. And the course of action is anything but certain. Skyler’s at a standstill.

So that night, she quietly complies to surveillance. She sits in a darkened living room of a home once occupied with thoughts of future children. A loving husband. And the knowledge that her sister and DEA in-law were just a phone call away. But this house is no longer a home.

Reflecting over a cigarette, the silence is busted by Baby. Skyler walks into the room.

It’s Meth and the gang. In black masks. Circled around Baby’s crib. A man grabs Sky and covers her mouth. Todd is checking in to make sure nothing has been or will be mentioned about his “girlfriend.” He doesn’t want to come back. Cuz it’s kind of out of the way and gas is CRAZY expensive.

He makes sure the threat REALLY comes through with a shoulder-touch and leaves Sky to mull over things.

Later, Meth and Lydia connect at a coffee shop. He lights up as she steps in and dumbly attempts to follow when she sits back-turned at the next table. She corrects him, as I imagine she would do frequently in the inevitable erotic fan fiction about these two.

He procedes to boast about his good work scaring the shit out of Skyler. But she’s not satisfied. Subtle ain’t her game. Too much risk involved. She suggests taking a break from MD, Jack and the rest of his cronies.

Then Meth D plays his Ace. “We’re up to 92%. And its blue. And We’ve got Jesse locked up in a cage.”

Oh. Thinks Lydia. This changes things.

It’s back to Walt, taking refuge in his New Hampshire hideaway. Ed gives him a tour. Its basic. Month’s worth of canned goods. Steaks in the freezer. Generator. Woodburner. Bad TV reception. Two copies of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. No cellphone or internet access.

It’s casually mentioned that Walt is the subject of a nationwide manhunt. That being the case, Ed promises to bounce in the event that Walt leaves the gate of the reservation. Because no way is he risking his life for that.

Ed will be back next month with newspapers and supplies. Which gives Walt ample time to “Rest up,” and “Think about things.”

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As Walt willfully hides, Jesse plots his escape. His paper clip lock pick works swimmingly. Now he stands on a ladder built of a folded mattress and a bucket. He reaches for the top of the cell. Then the chatter nears.

When Meth D arrives with a bowl of ice cream, Jesse’s back in position. Good thing, too. Who would wanna miss out on a delicious mish mash of Peanut Butter Cup and Americone Dream? Guys, I’m pretty sure we were wrong about this guy all along.

I mean, he even takes the tarp off of Jesse’s cage so he can watch the stars! How precious.

Sucker. Now Jesse’s got one less obstacle in the way of freedom. In a quiet moment, he resumes his escape plan. I want to point out how incredible this feat is. Possible, sure, but the upper body strength one would need? Forget about it. I’ll just cook meth till they kill me.

Still, the little man makes it. He runs toward the barb wire fence. He leaps. Ravages his way toward the top. But his captors follow his trail. They picked him up on surveillance. He’s cornered. Helpless.

So he barks. Loud. He’ll never cook for them. Not again. So they better kill him now.

Poor Jesse. You really should have thought this through. Your choices effect the world outside of you. The people you care about. The things you want to protect. They are extensions of you. Just as accountable for every one of your actions.

The photo was designed as a reminder. It was a subtle way of saying, “there are worse things than killing you.” But Jesse is all heart. He took a risky opportunity and it backfired.

So MD and friends take him out for a late night drive. They visit an old friend. Lure her out of her home with the promise of seeing Jesse again.

MD explains that its nothing personal. And in the blink of an eye, she’s gone. Done. Dead. Nobody’s innocent. Nobody’s safe.

Jesse sees it all. And he’s reminded about the boy. Effectively they warn, “Don’t pull the trigger.” Its a matter of choice.

It’s 30 days from Walt’s arrival, and he waits like an adorable puppy at the gates. There he is! Ed! My Master who brings food and supplies!

He’s got replacement glasses. Stacks of newspapers. And updates on the family. They’ve moved out of the house. It’s fenced up now. Largely due to teenagers breaking in.

Skyler now works as a taxi dispatcher. She uses her maiden name. And there’s talk about Grand Jury.

Ed assists in administering Walt’s chemotherapy. He mentions that he’s now a pro after taking a course at the school of Youtube. Solid.

When he tries to leave, Walt begs him to stay. $10k for 2 hours, he proposes. Make it an hour, he bargains. It’s a deal. They start a game of cards, and Walt asks the tough questions.

In the likely event that Ed comes to the cabin and finds Walt dead, what happens to the money then? He asks if Ed would bring his money to his family.

Ed’s answer is honest and brutal. “If I say yes, would you believe me?”

That night, Walt sleeps. Photos of Skyler are all over the wall. Walt’s ring falls off his finger, waking him. He tries to place it back on. It won’t fit. He picks up a string and forms a necklace. Then he sits up. Struck with inspiration.

He takes a box and packs it with money. Then packages it nicely. Next morning he takes it outside to the gate. Overlooks the fresh tracks. And exits.

Next we see Junior in class. He’s got a phone call from Aunt Marie. And you thought we’d seen the last of her, huh? No such luck, buddy.

Junior takes the call in a secluded office. “Aunt Marie?”

We cut to a bar with a woman who is decidedly NOT Marie. “Hold on a sec, Honey.” She passes the phone to Walt.

He’s genuinely elated to hear his son’s voice. He rambles, trying to find an apology and a proclamation of love. None of it quite solidifies. But then comes the plan.

He asks about Junior’s friend Louis. He’s a good kid. Is his address the same? He wants to send a package to him that’s actually meant for Junior. Its important that he say nothing about it to anyone. Its got $100k. He wishes it could be more, but that’s all that fits.

Do you understand?

Junior’s quiet throughout the phone call. We can’t get a good read on him. But when he starts, its clear.

“You killed Uncle Hank!”

Then he pulls a Marie.

“Why are you still alive? Why don’t you just die already?! Just die!”

A screenwriting teacher once instructed that, when creating good drama, we ask ourselves, “How hard should I be on my characters?” To which the response is always the same:

“Harder.”

Be unforgiving. Be brutal. Let them fight through it and fight hard. Jesse’s there. And I thought it couldn’t get much worse for Walt, until the next scene.

Walt makes another phone call. To the DEA of Albuquerque. He tells them who he is, and leaves the phone dangling on the hook. His cover is blown.

He heads to the bar and orders a Dimple Pinch. Neat. Then he notices something curious on the television.

Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz. They’re being interviewed about their recent $28 million Grant for drug abuse treatment centers throughout the southwest. It’s perceived as a political move to distance themselves from their Grey Matter co-founder, Walter White.

They minimize Walt’s involvement. He had nothing to do with anything but the name. What’s worse, the Walter White they knew – the kind, wonderful man they befriended – is gone. Buried. Dead.

Walt swells with fury.

The police arrive. But not in time.

And now, there’s

One.

More.

Left.

To review last week’s episode, click here.

How To Not Be A Villain

Sometimes, we have bad days. AWFUL days. Unrealistically proposterously poopyfart stink-ass days. And on said days, it’s hard to self motivate. Why do it? Is the operative question. WHY DOES IT EVEN MATTER?

Really, why?! Nobody else is trying. Nobody cares! Everything you’re fighting so hard to do means zilch to the greater population. How could it possibly be worth the headache?!

As you may have guessed, this past week presented such a dilemma. I hated everyone and everything. This then turned inward and nothing I could do was right. I’m very disappointed in you, spoke my inner Bowie voice. You’ve let me down.

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This all became soul-crushingly unmanageable until, after about 3 hours of self-coaching, I talked myself away from the ledge. So what did it? What was the proverbial vaudeville hook pulling me off-stage?

It was my inner Gilbert Gottfried shouting “GET OUT OF YOUR FUCKING HEAD!!!”

Alright, I thought. I’m being an asshole. Do I really think I’m the only person who may be having a bad day? And would I be forgiving if someone else acted out on every testy impulse they had? No! Those people are jerks!

What? Yeah yeah, I know – this is a movie and food blog. I need to tie that in somehow. Hm.. Uhhhhhh…

Ok! Got it. So Ozymandias, from Watchmen – total dick right? He orchestrated a major distaster that killed, like, MILLIONS of people. No one with any regard for human life would ever let that slide, right?

Wrong! Well, sort of. Ozymandias’ intention was actually to save humanity. He found a scapegoat that could unite the people. Something otherworldly and foreign that didn’t really exist. So in the end, despite the casualities, he was sowing the seeds of a brighter future for all. It was an investment.

His character represented the modern dichotomy of hero and villain. What defines each? And how different are they really? With a lot of time and a good dose of skewed morality, one could actually deem Ozymandias heroic.

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Another example! This one a bit more of-the-moment and familiar to my readers: Walter White. We love him. We hate him. We love to hate him. But we know how committed he is to providing for his family. His INTENT, from the start, makes him a hero. His actions do not. Because for all the millions he throws at Junior, Skyler, and Baby, he still can’t undo the fact that he watched a woman choke to death on her own vomit.

The point is, any one of us can skirt the line. You are not wholly good just because you want to be. Nor am I. And somewhere inside of you, there’s a festering little a-hole who wants to step on kids’ sandcastles and push old ladies in front of double-deckers.

But, with the exception of a few, you KNOW better. You can practice restraint, because you have at least a slight sense of human decency. And just like everybody else, you are not forgiving when some one who isn’t you allows their insecurities to get the best of them. We may not always notice or appreciate gestures of kindness, but those lapses of propriety sting. Because believing I hate you is much easier to accept than believing we’re besties.

One slip is all you need to ruin the way society sees you. Remember that the next time you want to stab a guy for not saying “Thank you.”

Realize, like me, that your anger is fleeting. Better yet, let it hurt you. Wrestle with that pain. Channel it. Convert it into positive energy. Think Superman. Think Wonder Woman. Think, I dunno, Tiny Tim. Because really, who doesn’t love that guy?

It sucks, man, I know. I’ve been there many times. We all have. Which is why no one really has an excuse. So don’t act up. Treat people the way you want them to treat you. Because with your luck, 10 years down the line, you’re gonna need that d-bag you told to suck an egg that one time. Or, if you’ve conditioned yourself properly, you’ll just feel really guilty about it. And that’s almost as bad.

In the meantime, relax. Enjoy yourself. Unwind.

We’ll see you Monday!

Featured Image by Barbara Kruger