Posts tagged Breaking Bad
Posts tagged Breaking Bad
The holiday season is upon us once again, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to get mad at another best-of list! Year-end lists are a holiday tradition along the lines of mistletoe and eggnog. Some people love it and some people hate it, but like clockwork, every year critics and viewers alike start listing the shows that were naughty and the ones that were nice.
“There’s nothing good on television anymore!” is a common complaint. After the harrowing process of winnowing down a list of the best shows to a measly 12, I can say with some authority that this complaint is now invalid.
In fact, there are just too many good shows to watch on television and too little time to watch them all. Which is why if your favorite show didn’t make the list, there’s a good chance I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Last year FX’s sitcom Louie didn’t make my top 11 of 2011, not because it wasn’t fantastic, but because I just hadn’t had the time to check out CK’s brilliance in action. This year that mistake has certainly been remedied.
So here, in a vaguely unscientific order, is my list of the top 12 TV shows of 2012 that made us laugh, cry, and believe in dragons:
On the mid-season finale of Breaking Bad Walt finally decides to give up the meth game, but it might be too late to make a clean getaway when an obscure clue gives Hank pause.
The first half of this season of Breaking Bad has been almost entirely devoted to showing the devolution of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) as he becomes more and more ruthless. Thus we got the kaleidoscope of brutal death sequences as Walt takes out Gus’ former minions in prison in a brilliantly staged orchestra of death. As everyone comes to hate and fear Walt, he realizes it’s lonely at the top and cashes out. But can Walt ever really wash his hands of all the blood he’s spilled?
How Much Is Enough?
Even Lydia (Laura Fraser) realizes quickly that with Mike out of the picture there’s very little to ensure her safety. So instead she makes a hail Mary gamble and tells Walt about a new distribution destination: the Czech Republic. With the center of the action so far away, Walt is able to make millions upon millions easily and without all the bloodshed that usually accompanies a Walter White scheme. So much money, in fact, that Skyler (Anna Gunn) can’t even launder it all.
The End of Heisenberg?
As we’ve seen throughout the course of this half season, the money isn’t what’s important to Walt. It’s the power that comes along with donning that Heisenberg hat and shades and playing like a gangster. Without a nemesis to fight or anything to overcome, however, the unthinkable happens: Walt just seems bored. Perhaps the hospital scan might have also gotten him back in touch with his own mortality, but he finally decides to get out of the game and get his family back. He seems to realize that without his family, or even poor terrified Jesse (Aaron Paul), the drug game is just not what it used to be.
After all the bodies, the bloodshed and the terror Walt finally seems as if he’s out of the game. The episode begins to close on an idyllic scene of Hank (Dean Norris) and Marie (Betsy Brandt) over at the White house as the kids play in the background. When Hank excuses himself to go to the bathroom, however, it all comes crumbling down. He reads an inscription in Leaves of Grass from G.B. to W.W. that makes him remember Gale and makes him question everything.
Is Hank really onto Walt? Is Walt’s cancer back? How long will Jesse stay out of the game? What do you think the end of Breaking Bad will bring?
In the aftermath of the shooting Jesse and Mike want out of the meth business for good, but Walt isn’t ready to hang up his Heisenberg hat just yet.
Breaking Very Bad
So far the first half of the final season of Breaking Bad has concerned itself primarily with just how bad Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has gotten. Whether it’s manipulating Jesse (Aaron Paul) or holding Skyler (Anna Gunn) hostage in their sham of a marriage, this is a far different man than we met in the pilot. This episode drives home that point by having Jesse vocalize just how far he’s fallen down the criminal rabbit hole.
Whistle While You Work
This season has shown Walt to be a highly functioning sociopath with no real regard for the emotions or well being of others. Minutes after emphasizing with Jesse over the murder from last episode, Walt goes right back to cooking with a smile on his face and a whistle on his lips. Throughout the years Breaking Bad has trafficked in a lot of scary moments. But few have been as off-putting as watching how carelessly Walt actually felt about the death of an innocent child. Last season might have proven Walt capable of harming a child for a purpose, but this season has proven him capable of a startling lack of emotion.
From Walt to Heisenberg
Unfortunately for Walt, Jesse and Mike (Jonathan Banks) don’t feel the same way. After the death of the young boy, both decide it’s time to get out of the meth game for good. For Mike this decision might have been a bit more selfishly motivated as the DEA is now trailing him almost full time. The plan is to sell off the methylamine, giving them all about five million each. But Walter White doesn’t want to settle for five million dollars anymore. He wants to be the kingpin of a meth empire. The criminal disguise is now his true personality. He’s Heisenberg full time now.
When Jesse goes to talk Walt into accepting, we get some back story on the company he helped create in college. He sold his shares for five thousand and it later went on to be worth billions. Walt is the kind of guy who checks the stock to see just how much the company is worth every week, the kind of guy whose bitterness can finally be avenged in the drug game. So he will go to great lengths to stop the gang from selling his share. He burns the plastic cuffs off his wrists and doesn’t even flinch when Mike has a gun to his head. According to Jesse he has a plan for what to do with the meth. “Everyone wins,” Walt assures Mike.
Will Walt’s plan succeed? Will Jesse and Mike manage to get out of the meth game? Will Jesse ever find good frozen dinners? Share your theories in the comments!
The gang pulls a high-stakes train robbery that goes right, until it goes oh-so wrong.
The Final Shot
Another week, another strong episode of Breaking Bad. Protecting children was the central theme and through-line repeated often throughout the episode. Hank and Marie bond with baby Holly, Skyler continues to try to protect her children, and Lydia tries to bond with Walt over their shared status as parents. It’s one child in particular, however, which makes this episode heartbreaking. Seen in the beginning of the episode collecting spiders on his bike, he’s brutally shot by Todd (Jesse Plemons) who was following Walt’s (Bryan Cranston) security maxim to the extreme.
Another Pinkman Plan
This show has a fairly bad track record when it comes to child-safety. Throughout the seasons we’ve seen several children killed or put in harms way. But this is perhaps the first time we’ve seen a fatality as violent and direct as what happened in the shocking conclusion to this episode. Jesse (Aaron Paul) once again thought up a brilliant plan which allowed the group to go about their mission without killing anyone. But this plan turned out to be all in vain in the most brutal way possible.
Before the shooting, however, the episode was a fun Western-style romp as Jesse, Mike (Jonathan Banks), and Walt work a complicated train robbery. Unable to steal the methylamine from Lydia’s (Laura Fraser) warehouse, they instead listen to her detail a train route carrying the stuff. Mike is against, of course, because it will bring down too much heat. Walt seems tactically for the plan, even though it might mean killing two innocent train conductors. That is until Jesse once again solves their problems by pointing out the obvious. What if no one knew the methylamine was stolen?
On The Tracks
Donning his Heisenberg hat, Walt looks like a great Western villain as they lie in wait for the train. Everything goes according to plan, at first, with the truck they planted in the center of the tracks distracting the conductors. But soon enough things start going wrong when a friendly driver helps tow the truck off the road. Rather than abandon the project, Walt waits until the last moment, causing the train to literally run over poor Jesse. Soon the group is celebrating their good fortune…but the celebrations are short-lived and come to a violent end.
Walt’s 51st birthday turns sour when he realizes the extent of Skyler’s hatred, while Lydia continues making trouble.
This week the show takes a step back from the meth trade to explore the repercussions Walt’s (Bryan Cranston) permanent transformation into Heisenberg is having on his home life. The show also takes the time in this first half of the final season to wander down memory lane, looking at how far Walter White has come. While it’s been four seasons on television, it’s only been a year in the universe of the show, but as Marie (Betsy Brandt) notes, it’s been a long one. In that time, Walt has gone from mild-mannered teacher to brutal meth kingpin.
In the one meth-related plotline, Lydia (Laura Fraser) is still making trouble for the gang. She’s supposed to be supplying the methylamine but the specter of jail keeps spooking her. Instead, she shows Jesse (Aaron Paul) a tracking device on one of the containers. Mike (Jonathan Banks) quickly figured out she was the one who put the device there and decides it’s time to finish the job and kill her. He’s overruled by Jesse and Walt, however, so it looks like we’ll be getting more development on paranoid Lydia soon.
Worst Pool Party Ever
The biggest part of the episode, however, was dedicated to exploring the deteriorating relationship between Walt and Skyler (Anna Gunn). This season the cracks in Skyler have become more pronounced as Walt becomes a more and more chilling figure. Walt wants a big party for his birthday, but Skyler only throws him a small get together where she tries to drown herself in the pool. Talk about a party foul.
Whatcha Waiting For?
Walt quickly figures out the pool stunt was just one in a line of attempts made by Skyler to get the kids out of the house and out of harm’s way. There have been a lot of truly chilling and disturbing moments on this show but few have felt as goosebumps-inducing as Walt debunking all of Skyler’s plans to get her kids to safety. When she finally admits she has no plan other than waiting, Walt wonders what she’s waiting for. The answer is for the cancer to finally kill Walt. Looking back on the first season, it’s shocking how far these two have come, which is the point of this excellent final season chapter.
Walt and Jesse find the perfect front for their new meth cooking operation, while Skyler begins to unravel.
This season of Breaking Bad is all about Walt (Bryan Cranston) embracing his dark side. Gone is the teacher we met in the first season just trying to save up some money for his family in light of his cancer diagnosis. Every scene of this excellent outing in the show’s last season brought home the point of just how bad Walt has broken. The most shockingly cold blooded scene was the moment Walt met Brock, the child he poisoned last season, without even a subtle hint of remorse.
In fact, this entire episode seemed to be centered on reminding the viewer just how far Walt has come and how outsized his ambition has become. As he talks to a concerned Marie (Betsy Brandt), she reminds us it was just a scant year ago that Walt was diagnosed. Marie is worried after Skyler (Anna Gunn) has a “shut up” meltdown in front of her. To cover, Walt tells her about Skyler’s affair with Ted, even getting a hug from Marie. Talk about sympathy for the devil!
A Bigger Piece of the Pie
As the three amigos become the four amigos, Saul (Bob Odenkirk) shows the crew new cooking locations. All are nixed until Walt comes up with a brilliant idea: they will use the cover of a pest control operation in order to set up shop in houses and cook there. No one will be the wiser. As a smaller operation, the profits aren’t exactly what Walt hoped, especially since they have to pay Mike’s (Jonathan Banks) guys to keep quiet in jail. Suddenly Walt is wondering if Gus didn’t have the right idea in disposing of his lackeys when they flew too close to the sun.
Walt isn’t done playing the master manipulator though. After the run in with Brock, he begins quizzing Jesse (Aaron Paul) on his relationship with Andrea (Emily Rios). After asking Jesse if he’s told Andrea what he does, he subtly suggests he should eventually tell Andrea all his dirty deeds, including Gale’s death. Jesse can’t deal with the idea of telling her all the terrible things he’s done and ends the relationship. This is, of course, exactly what Walt hoped would happen.
Walt cleans up some loose ends and dives back into his life of crime while Mike gets pulled back into the meth trade.
All for the Family?
As Breaking Bad moves steadily towards its final season conclusion, the walls are closing in around everyone. But you wouldn’t know it from Walt’s (Bryan Cranston) smug demeanor. We know from the premiere that Walt is eventually going to end up in a bad spot where he needs an arsenal to defend himself and it’s possible his current attitude will be his downfall. This season has already seen a more confident and in control Walt than ever before, but on Breaking Bad that only means we’re seeing the calm before the storm.
The Most Deadly Cigarette
First, however, Walt has to deal with some season four clean up. In this case he has to put to rest the mystery of the ricin cigarette. Jesse (Aaron Paul) is freaking out, thinking the cigarette might be anywhere. Walt handily takes out the ricin to hide and lets Jesse find the cigarette in his Roomba. Jesse breaks down, remembering how he almost killed Walt. Walt tells him it all worked out perfectly and that they’re stronger together. Of course Jesse doesn’t know that everything really did work out exactly according to Walt’s plan. Poor Jesse is still being played like a fiddle.
New Players Enter the Stage
With Los Pollos Hermanos going under, we’re starting to see the bigger picture of the corporation Gus worked for. That corporation is Madrigal, a German company surely up to no good. Certainly the episode begins in a dramatic fashion as one of the top dogs of the company kills himself to avoid the inevitable jail time. We also meet Lydia (Laura Fraser), an associate of Mike’s who is paranoid about getting caught with deadly repercussions.
Mike’s Very Bad Day
Mike (Jonathan Banks) is having a terrible time. After turning down Walt’s offer to get back into the game, his tea date with Lydia doesn’t go much better. Lydia wants him to kill the 11 people that could connect them to the meth ring. When Mike turns her down, she goes to another member of the list desperate for money. Mike nearly kills Lydia, but seems to have a change of heart based on her love for her daughter. Instead he asks if she can get methylene because he’s decided to get back into the game.
Is this a wise decision for Mike? How is Lydia involved? And what role will Madrigal play moving forward? Sound off in the comments with your theories!
On the season premiere of Breaking Bad, one of television’s finest dramas returns to clean up the wreckage of last season’s explosive finale. Also there are magnets. The Clean Up
The season premiere of Breaking Bad really was all about dealing with the fallout from last season, while hinting at a dark future ahead for Walt. Last year’s explosive finale saw the demise of meticulous villain Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) at the hands of Walt (Bryan Cranston). It also saw Walt go darker than ever before when he poisoned a child in order to lure Jesse (Aaron Paul) back to his side. We find out more about that heinous action and see Walt deal with the unexpected fallout from Gus’ destruction.
What About Magnets?
The first mess to clean up is handily noticed by Hank (Dean Norris), who quickly sees the cameras set up in the ruined meth lab. Walt realizes the same thing once his high over beating Gus subsides. Those cameras have footage of everything that has happened and can implicate he, Jesse, and even Mike (Jonathan Banks). So the three team up to get rid of the evidence using a giant magnet, Jesse’s brilliant contribution. They manage to destroy Gus’ laptop in police storage but the police soon uncover an address in the Cayman Islands hidden in one of Gus’ old photos. Where will this lead?
Meanwhile, Skyler (Anna Gunn) gets some mixed news from Saul (Bob Odenkirk): Ted (Christopher Cousins) is alive and awake. Skyler visits him in the hospital and he promises not to say anything because he’s terrified of what might happen to him if he talks. Skyler is also terrified of the increasingly dark Walt. We find out it was Saul who switched Jesse’s cigarette and when he wants out, Walt doesn’t allow it. At home, Walt chillingly tells Skyler that he “forgives” her. Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t look comforted.
A Darker Future?
We’ve seen Walt go to a lot of dark places on the show, but this premiere might have been the consistently darkest we’ve ever seen him. With the victory over Gus assured, Walt has the self-confident toughness he’s always lacked. When Mike wonders how they know the magnet works, without missing a beat Walt snaps, “because I said so.” The episode starts with a taste of what’s to come for Walt. It includes a solitary birthday breakfast and a lot of weapons, which doesn’t seem to bode well for our favorite meth dealer.
Why is he coming from New Hampshire? Why does he need so many weapons? What’s in Walt’s future? Share your theories in the comments!
What would a good show be without a good villain? The answer to that is a whole heck of a lot less interesting. This year the dial was chock full of great, delicious villains making our small screen heroes look even more heroic. It was a tough call picking out just five of the best TV villains of 2011, but these characters’ dastardly deeds put them ahead of the pack.
Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) - “Breaking Bad”
Can you think of a more frightening villain from 2011 than the mild-mannered chicken man from “Breaking Bad”? Because I can’t. Giancarlo Esposito was perfection in the role turning Gus into one of the scariest villains on televisions, often without saying a word. The meticulous Gus always seemed five steps ahead in the game, until his anger finally got the best of him. Even still, Gus got one of the coolest send-offs of any villain in recent memory.
Who knew straightening a tie could be so disgustingly cool?
Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale) - “Justified”
There are few villains that can make apple pie terrifying, but Margo Martindale’s Mags Bennett from the second season of “Justified” was one of them. Martindale won a much deserved Emmy for her turn as the matriarch of a truly twisted Harlan clan. Steely and vulnerable at once, Mags would literally kill you with kindness. Mags was a woman who would do anything to get what she wanted, but her struggle to lift her family out of a life of crime and drug trafficking made her infinitely human and relatable. “Justified” will have to work hard next season to find a bad guy even half as great.
Klaus (Joseph Morgan) - “The Vampire Diaries”
Last year, the quest to first avoid and then kill Klaus drove the plot of CW’s supernatural “The Vampire Diaries”. Having heard much about the character without ever seeing him, Klaus certainly had a big reputation to live up to. And he did in spades with Joseph Morgan confidently inhabiting the part of the murderous vampire-werewolf hybrid. Yet the show doesn’t shy away from Klaus’ vulnerability. His quest to make more hybrids is motivated at least in part by his loneliness. Plus he has more family issues (patricide and matricide?) than you can shake a (pointy) stick at. “The Vampire Diaries” loves a good bad guy, and we can’t help but love Klaus.
Victoria Grayson (Madeline Stowe) - “Revenge”
It’s a bit hard to pick out just one villain on ABC’s primetime soap-fest “Revenge”. After all, heroine Emily Thorne (Emily VanCamp) is on a mission of vengeance that includes most of the characters on the show. With a fun anti-heroine at the center of the action, who is villainous enough to take her on? Enter Madeline Stowe’s campy, amazing Victoria Grayson. The former lover of Emily’s father and the matriarch of the Grayson clan, Victoria always has a lot on her plate. But that never keeps her from delivering amazingly catty bon mots. How can you not love a woman that hugs a frenemy and declares the warmth of her body is her hatred burning through? Even her hugs are scary!
The House - “American Horror Story”
Sure, the latex gimp suit got a lot of the scary play on FX’s horror serial “American Horror Story”, even landing on the cover of Entertainment Weekly beside show stars Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott. But after finding out that lovestruck, whiny teenager Tate was the one embodying the suit, the scary got a bit zapped out. But the house where all the creepy madness took place never stopped being terrifying. Looking for a mad scientist, a school shooter, a pig baby or an angry gay ghost? The house has those to spare!
The creepy atmosphere of the “murder house” was a great backdrop for the disturbing happenings for “American Horror Story’s” freshmen outing. The house became like a malevolent character in itself, scarier than the sum of it’s parts. Although house didn’t work out very well for the doomed Harmon family, if you want to try your luck the actual house in Los Angeles where they filmed is on sale. Ghosts not included…or are they?
1. “Justified” - The show that manages to balance drama and comedy so seamlessly you don’t even realize you’ve gone from laughing to crying. It also sports some of the best characters on the dial and this year featured a show-stopping, Emmy-winning performance by the great Margo Martindale as the terrifying Mags.
2. “Breaking Bad” - Yes, “Breaking Bad” ends up on the best of list every year but this year seems particularly worthy. The tension was ratcheted up to almost inhuman levels every week this season and it was glorious to see just how bad Walt would break.
3. “Friday Night Lights” - One of the best, most naturalistic shows on television left us with a season of renewal and hope. Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
4. “Parks and Recreation” -The sweetest comedy on TV got even sweeter this year with the introduction of the love story between Leslie and Ben. Political nerds have never been as sexy.
5. “Community” - Please watch this show. NBC has taken it off the winter slate, which is a mistake because it’s one of the freshest and most inventive comedies on television right now. Six seasons and a movie!