Love the use of Fever Ray in the new episode...
Love the use of Fever Ray in the new episode...
How long until Hank asks Walt to take a look at Gale's lab notes...
*based upon tedious fact checking.
is skyler pregs in real life? she seems more poofy in the last couple episodes.
She added the phrase "meany head" to my profile.I hardly think I'm an attention whore.
maybe she'll get introduced to the blue stuff to combat it
Man, their baby is sooo cute. Wanted to jump through the TV set into the back seat last night and entertain it while Skyler was on the phone pwning the car wash guy.
P.S. Regarding the possibility of Hank and Walt reviewing the lab notes together, Walt better hope his name isn't in there. Hank looks like he could strangle someone right now, anyone. Even his caretaker wife.
As someone who had previously worked in chemical labs for years, I'll say that there would be no reason for Walt's name to be in there if he wasn't using it, or didn't have to sign it for regulatory reasons (obviously that wouldn't be an issue), so I would be surprised and a bit disappointed if that's the route Vince G. chose.
However, Hank asking Walt to check it over, and maybe see how sophisticated this guy was, if he had a science background, etc etc... very plausible, and I agree that that's probably where they will go with it... looking forward to seeing Walt try not to freak out when seeing it.
yeah, I doubt it will go that easy way too. At the most maybe an initial ("W").
She was actually interesting for the first time last night. All those either pre-planned or spur-of-the-moment lies and the thieving of random useless shit. The hidden Marie was gloriously forced out, I suspect mainly by Hank's groggy and ungrateful nature, for all to enjoy.
Earth below us....
I love this show.
I'm a reasonable man, get off my case....
Last night's episode was definitely better than the last two, but I can't help but feel that some of the situations seem a bit forced. For example, in the past Jesse has descended into addiction for various reasons, but this season there's really no explanation. He just does.
I'm not quite sure what to make of it so far.
That's true. It just doesn't show him grappling with that much.
Finally a good episode! Tough to top the season opener though.
Pretty solid episode last night.
And, looks like a 16-episode Season 5 will be the conclusion of the show. :/
My recording ends during the last scene with Hank and Marie. What does Hank say?
He's talking about Gail's case file and how Gail was a vegan or vegetarian or whatever. He shows something with Gus's chicken place's logo on it and makes a comment about it being odd a vegan would eat fried chicken, suggesting he will look into the chicken place ...
think at this point they are all lucky that Hank can't walk
Loved the look Skyler was giving Walt at dinner when he was mouthing off like "shut up you drunken windbag". We need to have all of our details down together and there is no room for error! Indeed.
For anyone that collects their TV shows on DVD, season 3 is on sale at Best Buy for $14.99 this week. I'm about to start S2 on DVD and it'll be great to watch 2 seasons back to back.
Bastard Machine for Episodes 3 and 4:
Having these Spoiled Bastard deconstructions delayed because I had no time do them at The Death March With Cocktails at the very least had one beneficial side effect. It made me reconsider "the puzzle" that showrunners and their writers put together for a season (an act that, fulll considered, relegates the weekly dissection of a show to smaller importance). I think crafting the overall story arc is interesting on a number of levels (is it super detailed with no room to spin off; is it crafted loosely so a writer can flesh out characters in unexpected ways, thus changing the direction of the series and/or arc even slightly?).
I've used Breaking Bad as part of a visual studies class I teach at an art college for two semesters now, and rewatching never gets old -- and reaffirms original insights. For example, I still believe Season 2 of Breaking Bad had zero missteps and was the impetus for my assertion that Breaking Bad was a series that reached greatness faster than most other great series. And Season 3 speaks directly to this point of dissecting/deconstructing episodes weekly. While it was engaging and fun to analyze the morsels that Vince Gilligan dropped along the way -- from the opening segents until the last episode, there was no way to guess until that final episode the enormous finale he planned with the plane. Which is a long way of saying that sometimes each individual piece of the puzzle doesn't tell much about where it all goes and navel-gazing at it doesn't always lead to entlightenment.
And yet, that's why I've tended to stick to the really great series when doing this, like The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Those creators are attempting so much more than any other showrunners out there. And they are all vastly different. David Simon liked the long story. David Chase treated every Sopranos episode like a movie (and thus, there were far more loose ends or red herrings, if you will, than the other series). Matt Weiner is similar to Chase (partly because he wrote for The Sopranos) in his approach to Mad Men. And Gilligan's singular vision for Breaking Bad is to go maximum volume on the storytelling/pace, but with a deft touch when it comes to absorbing emotional fallout (see Jesse after Jane's death), which is really what the beginnings of Season 4 are about.
Certainly "Open House" was focused squarely (again) on the domino effect that Walt set in motion in Season 1. Hank isn't in a wheelchair without Walt's foray into meth making. Everything connects. And to have him cope with his personal perception of being a half-man by taking it out on Marie only sped up the recurrence of her kleptomania but also her need to create an alternative universe where she was someone else. She reveled in the making up of names and husbands (or not) and the freedom of being someone completely other than herself -- which I would argue is what's happening in smaller doses with Skyler, even though she's much less aware of it than Marie is.
"Open House," of course, also cleverly used the title to refer back to Jesse, who has become a supernova of internal rage gone unexpressed (which has morphed, through these first four episodes, into a kind of dying star moment best expressed in "Bullet Points," where his utter lack of fear of Mike and lack of fear of dying are meshing into a horrible vacantness that all of that decadent open-house partying couldn't jump-start).
"Open House" also appeared to be Jesse's last great attempt to feel anything after killing Gale. The level of contempt he has for the smoke-em-up husks of humanity in his house and his uttter need to have them around to keep his mind from fixating on morality is a superb conceit by Gilligan and his writers. The Go-Kart experience was both simultaneously real and like some strange hallucination. For a series that uncovers ever more creative ways to position a camera, that scene was like sticking a mini-camera into Jesse's dead soul.
I kept thinking that Jesse's interior rage was going to blow up on Walt, but it only manifested itself in that way during a brief scene in "Bullet Points" where Walt forces him to rethink every small step in the Gale killing (the pain evident on Jesse's face -- he's held basically the same "whatever" look on his mug for few episodes, but this was one of the few cracks). No doubt there will be (or should be) more on this. Because I'm fascinated with how the writers are very subtly pinpointing Walt's selfish inability to see what he's done to Jesse. Is he worried that something happened to Jesse in this last episode? Sure. But only after being pissed that he was late for work. The sad unspoken element here has been Walt's ability to swallow his own morality while missing out on Jesse's inability (until Season 4) to do the same. He dragged him further into the business each season and has scantly paid attention to the toll -- which is what Gilligan did in those early Season 3 post-Jane episode and is doing now in the post-Gale killing episodes. The difference between the two, of course, is that Jesse didn't know Walt's role in the first one, but very much understands it here, plus Jane's death pinned Jesse to the floor in depression while killing Gale has sent him over the edge, mentally.
I think we're going to find, in Ep. 5 and beyond (which I haven't seen and I never watch promos) that Mike/Gus or some other force will shake Jesse back to some semblance of normality. Partly because, as the bullet-riddled chicken truck will attest, Gus' territorial drug expansion has caught the attention of a major rival. To further that storyline, it will be difficult to have Jesse in this state of emotional implosion. And too early in the series to kill him off, though I think Gilligan is unafraid to do anything to any character (plus, I believe Jesse, conventional wisdom's most likey to die first, could eventually be the last person standing, relative to impact, when the series ends; Walt Jr. being, in my mind, the chess piece of death that Gilligan will use to hurt Walt and Skyler when the story demands it).
In any case, I think the fallout we've witnessed in the first four episodes of Season 4, as it pertains to Jesse, will ratchet back a notch. I still think there's more to mine in the newfound explorations of the female characters, Marie and Skyler, and how they're changing, as the season progresses. No doubt Skyler's own moral compass is now suspect and rationalized -- and that should be great fodder.
Unrelated, I'm enjoying how the writers/Gilligan are using Gale as both tragedy and comedy, which is the definition of deft. (And if I'm not mistaken - because I forgot to go back -- when Walt was flipping through Gale's lab notes that Hank has, there appeared to be a Ron Paul sticker in there; which, combined with the recipes and other as-yet-unfound elements, was hilarious and noted-detail-perfection for the character).
Also, we're four episodes into Season 4 and Walt has only had a minor presence. That speaks well to the series and how it has blossomed. But it's pretty clear that Walt will be front and center again soon (loved the two moments of him stepping up: reiterating with firmness to Skyler that everything he's done has been to take care of the family; and yelling at Gus, via the lab camera, asking what the hell has happened to Jesse).
I figure most of the extraneous stuff has been picked over anyway, so that should do it and I'll be back on the ball for this Sunday's episode (but again, I don't look at this as some kind of race to get it posted quickly; I'd actually like that rare interweb allowance - a chance to think, critically, about something before spouting off).
Can't wait for the next episode.
*based upon tedious fact checking.
Bastard Machine for Episode 5
As expected, a lot of the well-earned moping disappeared this week on Breaking Bad, thanks to a dubious but entertaining idea by Gus to bring Jesse out of his doldrums. But mostly this was an elaborate episode to highlight Walt's ever-changing moods. And how those moods affect the people around him.
Few episodes do opening scenes as well as Breaking Bad, but you had to wonder if the frenetic opening was just getting everybody's blood pumping so that the end could suck it all out again as Walt's ego -- damaged by years of abuse pre-Heisenberg and post Gretchen and Elliott’s Gray Matter company – was let loose by the gods of red wine. Walt couldn’t let Hank’s description of Gale as a genius go by unremarked upon. “This genius of yours,” Walt says smugly, clearly drunk, “maybe he’s still out there.”
Of course, that brings Hank back into the investigation he had shelved as “closure” – just one in a long line of dumb moves by Walt.
But before we get into all of that, let’s revisit the opening scene and ask the obvious question: Who knew the Aztek could handle like that? Credit the professional stunt driver for even being able to get that awfully-designed monstrosity into a slide. (By the way, I’ve said this from Season 1, but the Aztek goes right to the exhaustive detail used in Breaking Bad – such a perfect car back then for a sad-sack loser like Walt. One day people will be writing thesis papers on the Aztek, as they must have on the Joads modified Hudson Super 6 in The Grapes of Wrath.)
Speaking of cars, raise your hand if you think Mike needs a new one? And I don’t mean because of what happened in that elaborate Gus ruse. Most of “Shotgun” was a road trip movie that took place in Mike’s car and I have to say that if he’s making those kinds of money collection runs on a regular basis, it’s going to end badly for him on the side of the road with no cell service anywhere. That’s not a car that has “reliable” written on it. (And by the way, who doesn’t carry a shovel in the trunk? Essential.)
OK, I digress.
One of the beautiful elements of “Shotgun” was the continued stunning use of exterior shots. An argument could be made that no series uses location as well as Breaking Bad, but then most shows are shot in a city that is pretending to look like another city and just having the vast expanse of Albuquerque at your disposal must be such an advantage for the director of photography. But those aerial shots of Mike’s car on the dusty roads or weaving on the blacktop between curves lined with identical green plants on a brown canvas were a thing of beauty. That just never gets old as a viewer.
By now you should know that another signature of Breaking Bad is camera location – and specifically putting the lens behind some obscure glass-protected spot, as when Walt poured the redish-black chemicals into a vat (I’m waiting for someone to go back and list the hundreds of amazing places they put a camera in this show, starting from the pilot onward).
And every episode tends to have at least one memorable and visually stunning camera effect. In “Shotgun” there were two – the fast-forward montage of Jesse being bored out of his mind riding shotgun with Mike, and mounting the camera inside Walt’s goggles as he huffed and puffed around the super lab.
Visuals (and sound) are two of the strongest elements in Breaking Bad and are, together – and linked to the writing – the backbone of what makes the series so brilliant. Breaking Bad doesn’t enter the pantheon of truly great television series without its specific cinematography and compelling use of sound (and at the tail end of this episode, the BB theme music cropped up, reminding us how long it has been missing, replaced by Jesse’s drug music and the Latin hip-hop of this episode).
Of course, the crew has more than a little fun with the visuals, as we meet Hank in this episode wearing a “DEA Fun Run” shirt (!) complete with legs under the letters. Just amazing. And I’ve talked a lot about the specific use of color for each character in this series (and how those colors mutate along the episodes and seasons), but Marie and her purple are nearing new comic heights. A purple Rabbit wine opener? Purple eco shopping bags? I liked how the shot of Marie’s purple tea pot meshed with Hank looking through the crime scene pictures of Gale’s place again and noting the bullet hole in Gale’s tea pot.
Of course, it’s not a visual that was most important in “Shotgun,” it’s the language. (“It’s like Scarface had sex with Mr. Rogers” qualifies as an instant classic from Hank, as he looks at Gale’s lab notes. “Since when do vegans eat fried chicken?” is the line that closes the episode and reveals plainly that Hank is back on the case.)
Also on the dialogue front, how about this domino effect: As the crazed Aztek run that opened the episode unfolded, Walt – loaded gun on the seat, seat-belt unbuckled (God he’s come a long way from Season 1, when he put his seat belt on with Hank and the DEA agents to drive one block) – Walt leaves a surprisingly calm message for Skyler. It’s a message that ends with an I-love-you and sparks Skyler’s rekindled passion for Walt and a romp in the bed. But of course that leads to Skyler suggesting they move back in together, which clearly makes Walt hesitant. We then find out via Walter Jr. that Skyler has already told her son that Walt is moving back in on Tuesday. “Tuesday, is it?,” Walt asks. “How about that?” Then Walter Jr. raises his mug of coffee with “Beneke” on the side, a combination of events which leads directly to Walt imploding, via red wine, at Hank’s house and the loosing of his tongue as mentioned earlier.
Ah, Walt. He’s come a long way. Even in this episode, we see so many sides of him, none of them flattering. In the opening scene with the runaway Aztek, he’s on a death mission to find Gus in some ill-advised ploy to help Jesse. And yet, as mentioned in the last couple of these deconstructions, Walt has never grasped just how screwed up he’s made Jesse internally.
And once Walt is at the Los Pollos Hermanos where he believes Gus is, we get another glimpse of his paranoia and his poorly thought out and executed plan to bring a gun in there and shoot Gus if need be. Let’s face it – Walt’s a fool.
Lastly, we see how his jealousy of Ted Beneke drives him to drink and reveal to Hank, through hubris, that the real Heisenberg was still out there.
Brilliant. Despite all he’s done to Skyler, he can’t forgive the affair (which of course is what Skyler thought Walt was up to at one point, driving her closer to Ted). And since his personality revolution, Walt doesn’t like to be told what to do any more, which is why Skyler telling Walter Jr. that his dad was moving back in on Tuesday pissed Walt off so much.
This is not a flattering portrait of Walt. He’s paranoid (the all seeing cameras of Gus), he’s reacting on emotion, he’s missing critical shifts in attitude from those around him, and he’s letting pride get in the way of his own safety (and future).
Not a good episode for Walt. But a great one for old, beaten-up cars.
With Hank putting aside his minerals for what was looking like a cold case, things are going to heat up going forward.
*based upon tedious fact checking.