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”

Breaking Bad Final Countdown: Part 2 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 10 (Original Air Date: August 18, 2013)

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I handle large quantities of money daily. I’m a banker – it’s my job. So I can confirm that this episode’s banded bricks of cash litered throughout the slums of Albuquerque have a value of $10,000 USD – each. In other words, the early bird will never want for worms ever again.

Our lucky no-name trucker almost reaps his rewards cleanly, too, until he catches Jesse haphazardly playing on a roundabout. Our dim-witted pseudo-hero is really starting to scare me. He needs a cookie or a hug or something.

Same can be said for Walt. Remember last week’s ballsy threat to Hank? Well, that happened. And the intimidation tactic didn’t quite work. Hank is now so close to his goal he’s practically foaming at the mouth. Moments after last episode’s final confrontation, he beats Walt in the chase to contact Skyler. The games have begun.

Hank naturally lures Skyler to a super bumpin’ neighborhood diner to discuss the situation. What are his motives here? Note that he instantly frames Skyler as the victim, then leads in to a request for a recorded confession, sans lawyer and in public view. Hank’s thought about this for far too long not to suspect Skyler’s involvement, but that doesn’t matter. Walt is the guy he wants. And Skyler’s the only person who can offer Hank the evidence he needs. Not to mention she’s his wife’s sister. For all intents and purposes, she’s an innocent bystander. Still, Skyler doesn’t trust Hank for a second. You go girl.

Amidst the set-up, Walt and Saul are doing some major damage control. Huell and Kuby are enlisted to gather Walt’s earnings from his storage garage. Jesse’s missing in action. Walt gathers his barrels of evidence into a van and takes advantage of the Arizona terrain. Ah, the convenience of crime when the desert’s in your back yard. What’s that – you’ve got illegally obtained firearms and a dead hooker in your trunk? Grab a shovel, I know just the place!

Skyler’s pretty shaken by this point. She’s back at home trying desperately to contact Walt or Saul when everybody’s favorite buzzkill Marie comes knockin’ at the door. Ah, great. She brought the DEA. Skyler wisely has Hank wait outside and brings in her far less intimidating adversary.

Once she penetrates the fort, Marie lays it on thick. She mentions the carwash and the gambling story. Then she probes for a timeframe: “Did you know since before Hank was shot?” Skyler’s been dealt a pretty shitty hand, but she withstands Marie’s endless barrage of questions like a champ. The most she gives her is an apology, which is as close to a confession as her self-seeking sister would ever need. Marie gives her a good whack and makes an expectedly self-righteous exit, even going so far as to try to take the baby. Hank steps in, corrects Marie’s obnoxious behavior, and the two leave Skyler alone with her screaming satan spawn.. er, child. Have I mentioned I hate babies?

Back in Hank’s car, the world’s most annoying couple decide that revenge is the best course of action. “You have to get him,” Marie asserts. My first thought? It’s about time they’re on the same page about something.

Nighttime in the desert. Walt buries his bone and finally heads home. A panicked Skyler assures Walt that she hasn’t said a word to Hank. Keep in mind that, until Hank and Skyler’s little catch-up, she was totally in the dark about Walt’s cancer recurrence. So on top of the fact that their secrets are out, Walt’s about to die again. And just in case Skyler was planning on ignoring this fact, her despondent near-naked husband falls to the floor after disappearing for hours. So, you know, nothing out of the ordinary for our dysfunctional TV family. Cue laugh track.

When he comes to, Skyler’s got questions. Walt confirms the whole cancer thing, and fesses up to spilling the beans to Hank. Then, in a moment of vulnerability, he begs that Skyler protect Walt’s earnings in the event that he’s gone. “Never give it up. Don’t let me have done all this for nothing,” He pleads. As spectators, we’re reminded of the old Walt. The one whose singular focus was to provide for his pack. Skyler displays a firm read on Hank, dismissing his accusations as baseless. Her proposal? Stay quiet. The ball’s right back in Hank’s court and Mrs. Heisenberg barely breaks a sweat.

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My favorite scene of the episode comes next. A blindfolded Lydia is taken to a business meeting with her under-performing meth pushers. She echoes the concerns from the last episode, citing a $50 million shortfall. Additionally, the quality’s substandard, and the Czech Republic ain’t havin’ it. She gently suggests that Todd, Walt’s former collaborator, join the new team. They refuse the bait. It’s a trust thing. Fair enough: show me the lab then, Lydia insists. She needs to make sure everything’s in order.

Their workspace is an abandoned bus buried a good 10 feet underground. Its a tight squeeze, hardly comparable to Heisenberg’s superlab, and Lydia’s not impressed. The inspection’s interrupted by a guy upstairs. “We have a problem,” he warns.

Lydia preparedly tucks into a corner and covers her ears as the others head right up into raining gunfire.

Afterward, Todd escorts Lydia through the carnage, her hand safely over her eyes. The lady can devise and direct a mass killing, but she can’t bear to see it. Go figure.

Hank the Heisenberg Hunter is still chasing any sign of evidence at home. But something’s different. He’s off. Makes sense, too. The only thing worse than chasing a ghost is finding out that the ghost is your in-law. Hank’s pride comes on full-force. In a candid confession to Marie, he admits his fear in disclosing his discovery to his colleagues.

But he returns to work, and perpetuates his dickish jokester self with fierce commitment. I kind of admire Hank’s resilience here. The Heisenbergs give him every reason to roll-over and quit, but he privately carries his anguish and marches straight forward towards his goal. We wonder how he’ll broach the subject, but that all gets sidetracked when he’s informed of “the money thing,” involving none other than Jesse Pinkman.

Ever the opportunist, Hank steps into the interrogation room. Option A was a no-go, now for Plan B. Its a suspenseful moment that quickly cuts to black, leaving me bitter and impatient and REALLY sleepy. Though that last part probably has more to do with the white wine than the series itself.

‘Til next week…

To review last week’s episode, click here.

Inline photos borrowed from http://whatculture.com/tv/breaking-bad-5-10-buried-review.php – check it out!

Breaking Bad Final Countdown: Part 1 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 9 (Original Air Date: August 11, 2013)

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The first few frames remind me how little I enjoy skateboarders. They’re loud, for one. And they’ll literally convert anything into their own little skatepark. What’s worse is when they do it to your emptied in-ground pool. But wait, is that Walt’s? It’s a flash forward to the future and this shit’s straight up destitute.

We see Walt, totally feral, approach his dilapidated former home. He’s armed with a crowbar and is (per usual) up to no good. He breaks in, scans over the abandoned property and uncovers a tiny vial of ricin. What could he be up to?

You would like to know, wouldn’t you? But not now. For after all, horrible things happen to those who wait (in Gilligan’s world), and you’re surely not going anywhere. So we’ll just let this hang there for a second, shall we?

Let’s snap back, picking up exactly where Episode 8 left off, as Hank totally flips shit over the “Leaves of Grass” discovery linking Walt to Gale. Panties-in-a-twist, Hank makes a hasty retreat with the wife who won’t stop talking and… yep. Drives straight into a neighbor’s lawn.

Later, an oblivious Walt and Skyler go about their carwash business as if everything’s just dandy. Lydia pays Walt a visit, and begs him for tips to enhance her declining product. Walt politely declines and Skyler tells the bitch off for good measure.

Meanwhile, Hank is totally hung up on the whole Oh-crap-my-brother-in-law-is-a-ruthless-druglord thing and has missed a lot of work over it. He has some of the guys send over years of police files on every major villainous player in the series and attempts fruitlessly to find some really solid, totally damning evidence against Walt.

You may be wondering what Jesse is up to? Well, his soul is clearly broken. And only partly because of Badger’s horrendous pitch of an unwritten Star Trek script. Eyes glazed and bloodshot, he quietly leaves his lowlife former business associates with the crap-ton of money Walt gave him.

Naturally, he takes it to Saul’s office. Here we’re briefly reacquainted with Saul’s bodyguard Huell (the big black one who inadvertently gave Ted a coma). Jesse tells Saul he wants his $5 mill split between Mike’s grandkid and the parents of Drew Sharp, the boy needlessly murdered by Todd Alquist earlier in the season. Saul reluctantly agrees, but calls Walt in a panic to inform him of Jesse’s state. Walt takes the call in the midst of chemo treatment and assures Saul that everything’s under control.

He pays Jesse a visit at his home and the two chit-chat about Mike’s disappearance and why Jesse shouldn’t be handing out large amounts of money all willy-nilly.  Jesse’s no dummy, he knows that odds are Walt is Mike’s killer. But Walt flexes his incredible capacity for denial til Jesse verbally complies then leaves him with his blood money.

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It’s dinnertime at the Whites’ residence and Walt gets sick, no doubt due to his weakened state and continued treatment. He barfs a bit and conveniently notices the dumbest decision he’s made in the entire series (one of the few I have a really hard time buying). Where’s my book? You know, the one laying around in plain view for my DEA in-law to find? Nice going, Heisenberg.

Just when he thought it couldn’t get worse, Skyler informs Walt that Hank’s been home sick all week. She nods off and he does what any informed major drug king-pin would do in this situation: check his vehicle to make sure its not– oh no. Its bugged.

Zombie Jesse finds himself rudely awakened by a dirty homeless person in the Dog House parking lot. His highly visible cash bags ride shotgun, and suddenly he gets an idea. Enter: sketchy neighborhood in the dead of night. Jesse plays paperboy, only instead of newspapers, he’s tossing large denominations of banded money. Its red-neck Christmas.

Then comes one of the series’ most intense confrontations to date.

Its day-time, and buzzing loudly is a remote controlled toy car at the very bottom of Hank’s driveway (Sound familiar?). The remnants of his week-long re-investigation are strewn about, and his officer buddies are there for moral support.

Then comes Walt.

Hank shoos them away and they talk, man-to-man. Civil, if awkward, conversation. “How’s the carwash?” “Hope you’re feeling better.” “Call me if you need anything.” It’s pleasant all ’round.

Walt turns to leave and the buzzing rages. He hesitates. Then he turns back, reaches into his coat pocket…

And that’s all I’ll give ya. The following 5 minutes or so will blow your mind, but typing it all out here would be a disservice. Let’s put it this way: the end is imminent. And with the direction the final episodes are going, it will surely make for a satisfying payoff. Hold on to your butts, folks.

See y’all next Monday!

Inline photos borrowed from http://whatculture.com/tv/breaking-bad-5-9-blood-money-review.php – check it out!