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Breaking Bad 5.13, To’hajiilee Review

Published July 22, 2014 by gossipzoo

Handshake

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Hug someone you love before watching this week’s Breaking Bad.

To’hajiilee is an action-packed return to form after the last couple of sluggish episodes. A chess analogy continues to invite itself: with all the pieces finally maneuvered into their final positions, the big bang everyone has been waiting for finally happens. Unfortunately, we don’t yet know the consequences. We get to see everything explode, but we don’t get to see who’s still standing. And that’s really not a metaphor.

The neo-Nazis are back in the forefront of the action. They take the entire show down an even darker path than it’s tread before. All the villains used previously have been endowed with a handful of redeeming personality traits, but Uncle Jack’s pure, skeevy malevolence makes the show almost frightening to watch.

In the cold open, Todd cooks his best batch of meth yet: 76 percent pure. Uncle Jack, who doesn’t need to wear any sissy gas masks, and Lydia are both present. Unfortunately, despite the higher grade, Todd’s meth is not blue. Lydia insists that it must be. Bizarrely, Todd has developed a crush on her and is fairly forward about it. Actually, even though this is a man we’ve seen execute a 13-year-old, his advance toward Lydia is one of the most aggressive things Todd’s done. The camera is right up against Lydia’s face to highlight Todd’s invasion of her personal space, but she rebuffs him and tells him to get the cook right, seemingly unaware of his flirtation.

Then we see Walt’s phone call from the end of last episode from Todd’s perspective. Any doubt about who Walt wants Jack to kill is gone. Jesse is the target. While Todd is on the phone, he notices Lydia’s lipstick stain on her coffee mug and puts his lips over it for a drink. Again, it’s a creepy moment, but significant for the characterization of Todd. Up until now he’s been almost sympathetic, portrayed mostly as an order-taking, highly loyal top lieutenant. When he escorts Lydia away from the mass killing at Declan’s lab in Blood Money, it seems he’s doing it because his momma raised him to be chivalrous. In this episode, we see Todd for the first time evince a personal desire, a lustful one. We knew already he’s a murderer, but there is now an even baser darkness to Todd than we’ve seen before.

Meanwhile, Jesse, Hank, and Gomez are concocting their plan to nab Walt, and it’s a good one. When Jesse told Walt at the end of last episode that he’d get him where he lives, it seemed like a clear threat to Walt’s money. Sure enough, the team goes that route. How they do it is actually one of the most interesting schemes the show has ever detailed. They’re met with setbacks but are continually clever enough to make the plan work anyway.

Jessebrains

First, Hank brings Huell to a safe house for questioning under the phony premise that Walt is tying up loose ends and Huell is next. Huell isn’t buying the story until Hank shows him a picture of Jesse with his brains blown out. In the previous scene, Hank plopped a raw brain straight from the butcher onto his kitchen floor and poured blood around it. It’s a gas when you find out why – the picture he shows Huell is of Jesse lying next to the mess. After he sees the picture, Huell sings like a canary. Sadly for Hank, Huell is being honest when he says he doesn’t know where Walt took the money.

What he does know, however, is enough for a lead. Walt probably buried the barrels full of money and Huell tells them the rental company. Hank finds out the rental company took its GPS units off their vehicles so there’s no way to track where the van went. It seems like another busted lead until Hank gets another idea.

Meanwhile, Walt negotiates the price for Jesse’s head with Uncle Jack, but it isn’t money the neo-Nazis want. They want Walt to show Todd how to cook. This scene puts a vacuum right on Walt’s already-forfeited soul. For the first time since the Heisenberg side of Walter White fully took over, Walt is small, weak, and holds no leverage. When Jack names the price, Walt initially says no, but he is significantly less confident than in his first dealing with Jack. In that meeting, Walt had all the moxie in the world; this time, he is on a chair in the center of the room and surrounded by neo-Nazis who aren’t interested in taking no for an answer. There is intimidation pouring out of this scene; Walt cannot simply put what he’s asking for back on the shelf and leave the store. He agrees to a single instructional cook with Todd to be done after Jesse is killed. The smiles on Todd and Jack’s faces say it all: Walt is theirs now.

Walt then visits Brock and Andrea in an attempt to draw out Jesse. Unfortunately for him, things continue to not go his way. When Andrea calls Jesse, the phone she dials is actually in Hank’s pocket. After listening to her message, Hank says exactly the same thing Jesse said at the payphone last episode: “Nice try, asshole.” Andrea has no idea what’s gone on between Walt and Jesse so she treats Walt politely, but Brock looks at him suspiciously. After the revelation that Walt poisoned Brock, the two of them have been in the same room twice, but while both meetings have been awkward it’s never been clear if Brock recognizes Walt. I hope the question of who actually fed Brock the Lily of the Valley berry is addressed, because it isn’t clear yet that Walt actually did it. Nor is it clear when, where, or how he could have – sneaking up on him in a playground, perhaps?

Carwash

Everything is really being pushed to the wire at this point. Walt is growing impatient and concerned that Jesse hasn’t shown himself. Saul shows up at the car wash looking for Walt and has a funny repartee with Walt Jr., who recognizes Saul from his ads and thinks lightly of the unlikely visitor. Bob Odenkirk peels off an especially funny line when he tells Junior not to drink and drive but to call him if he ever does. At one point, Saul, Skyler, Walt, Holly, and Junior are all in the same frame; it’s a weird moment and a comical one as an embarrassed-looking Walt pops in the door, sees Saul, and quickly heads back out. But neither Walt nor Saul know yet that Jesse is working for Hank, and that’s a big advantage for the good guys.

At the car wash, Walt receives a picture message showing a barrel full of money buried in the dirt. Immediately after, Jesse calls and tells Walt he’s found his money and is prepared to burn all seven barrels of it. Walt speeds off to the money, blasting through red lights, while Jesse treats him to a Speed-esque ultimatum: if Walt doesn’t stay on the phone, Jesse is going to torch all the cash. Aaron Paul delivers an Emmy-worthy performance here, sounding like a man in a very serious position of authority. He calls Walt by his first name with a special amount of contempt. It’s a role he’s never played before and he’s incredibly convincing. Moreover, Walt spills the beans about everything, copping to murders and more during the doubtlessly recorded phone call.

Actually, Walt makes a good point during the phone call: Brock is alive. For all Jesse’s anger, I’ve always felt the Lily of the Valley thread seemed like an inadequate nail for Walt’s coffin. The plant is poisonous, but non-fatal; Walt didn’t kill Brock, he only used him. Of all the evil things Walt has done, this action seems to be not among his worst. But only a sociopath could truly rationalize the poisoning of a child, and Walt is unable to get Jesse to see it his way. He drives straight to the desert where he expects to find Jesse waiting.

In my last review, I made what I thought was a snarky comment about the show ending in a hail of gunfire. Turns out it was an accurate prediction.

Upon arriving at the site where he buried his money, Walt figures out pretty quickly that he’s been set up. He braces himself for battle with Jesse and calls Uncle Jack for reinforcements, reading to him the coordinates from his lottery ticket. As Jesse pulls up with Hank and Gomez, however, Walt calls Uncle Jack off. Walt won’t be responsible for Hank’s death. He hangs up the phone with an excited Uncle Jack asking, “What do you mean, don’t come?”

Waltarrested

Everything about the next several minutes is profoundly satisfying. With Walt bested and prepared to give himself up, Hank’s voice echoes through the rocks: “Walt! Come on out! It’s over!” The look on Bryan Cranston’s face is extremely emotional, as though he’s trying desperately to stretch his last few seconds as Heisenberg, unbeatable drug lord, as long as possible. Eventually he comes out of hiding and moves toward Hank for a textbook arrest. Hank slaps the handcuffs on him with a dramatic clink. Jesse’s utterly stunned face watches as Heisenberg falls before his very eyes.

But the satisfaction is not to last. Breaking Bad is extremely good at setting up a scene, and the longer Hank and Gomez stand around in the desert the larger and more palpable the specter of the neo-Nazis showing up grows. It’s one of the moments of the show where, as a viewer, you want to slap some sense into the characters: didn’t it occur to them Walt might have called for backup? Why not drive him to the precinct as quickly as possible or at least call the arrest in? What are they standing around so long for? It’s knowledge of what’s coming that you have and the characters don’t that make the scene so intense. When Hank calls Marie to tell her about the arrest and says he loves her, text saying, “Bad things are about to happen” might as well have popped up on the screen. But obvious foreshadowing is a useful dramatic tool when the event is right around the corner.

In one of the saddest episode endings yet, Uncle Jack’s gang shows up and opens fire on the hopelessly outnumbered Hank and Gomez. Jesse slinks away, apparently unseen by the neo-Nazis. He is Hank and Gomez’s only hope; they may live if the neo-Nazis don’t want to draw the kind of heat that comes from killing cops and go after Jesse instead, but as the episode ends it doesn’t seem like that’s going to happen. The way Hank is heroically framed with the sun behind him, just after his finest moment and his phone call with Marie, makes the scene completely heartbreaking. Walt’s plaintive, desperate, futile cries from the backseat of Hank’s car make it even more gut-wrenching. Maybe for the very first time, Walt truly seems to care about somebody and fear for their safety, but he is powerless.

Aryan Gunfire

Nobody’s death is shown and the episode cuts to black with bullets still being fired. Actually, this alone is the reason for To’hajiilee’s half-star deduction. Like this season has been in the unfortunate habit of doing, To’hajiilee ends not on a cliffhanger but with an unfinished scene. This time in particular it’s agonizing. If Hank dies, this episode will rank as probably the cheapest cliffhanger the show has used. I can already feel the sucker punch of spending an entire week wondering by what incredible method Hank might escape with his life only to have him die as it seemed he would anyway.

But such is the strength of Breaking Bad, the completeness of its characterizations, that a death like Hank’s is one I feel myself. It’s the kind of emotional impact that is the domain of the world’s great literature, and here it is on American primetime. Last week I lamented the show’s lack of action; now I feel I’d give anything for a dozen more Hank and Jesse-centric episodes where nothing happens and everyone stays safe. It seems pretty clear that these are the events leading to Walt’s “on the run” future. It also now seems clear that, as many fans predicted, the weapon Walt purchases in the season’s flash-forward is for a standoff with the neo-Nazis. Even if Hank, Gomez, and Jesse all die in the desert, there are plenty of others still in danger because of Walt’s actions, not the least of which are his wife and kids.

Roller coasters are often called upon as metaphors for great drama. The past three episodes have been a steady uphill climb, but now the car has free-fallen down a completely vertical hill. Your heart is in your throat and it feels like the car might just crash through the track and into the ground below. It’s an unsettling feeling, but this is Breaking Bad. Nobody said it would be easy.

The post Breaking Bad 5.13, To’hajiilee Review appeared first on WhatCulture!.

TV Review: Dexter 8.6, “A Little Reflection”

Published May 22, 2014 by gossipzoo

Episode 806

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

After reaching the half-way point in Dexter’s final season I expected the story to be in a very different place. Whereas the first half of the season was apparently all about seeing Deb hit bottom so she could start to accept Dexter back into her life while introducing Vogel, the second half will of course result in Dexter’s end one way or another, but getting there is still no more clear than it was at the beginning of the season. Having killed Yates, a figure which loomed high in the background of the story before revealing himself to be much less deserving of so much focus, the season has shifted to the Zach Hamilton arc which “A Little Reflection” spent the most time developing. When this plot was introduced last episode I rolled my eyes and groaned for mostly the same reason why I did so at the beginning of season three – it’s predictable. What’s worse is by now we’ve seen it done more than once: Prado, Lumen, Hannah. Dexter, you cannot have a murder “intern” – it never works out. We’ve learned this lesson, why can’t the writers? As I’ve mentioned before, the biggest strength of this season so far has been knowing it’s the last, not any significant element of the story itself, which is a real shame. I hoped the final installment of the series would really go for broke and instead things feel about as par for the course as ever.

Just as abruptly as the Yates arc was “resolved” (or impaled, whichever) the Zach arc is here established. I appreciate how much time was spent on attempting to build Zach up as a tangible character with as authentic a fascination with blood and the macabre as Dexter, but the kid’s presence taking pictures at crime scenes still felt sudden and stilted. I think besides this story’s predictability, familiarity, and synthetic quality (elaborated in my comment on my previous review regarding the very similar Jeremy from season one), the core problem is that I can’t buy into a new character’s homicidal psychology when our protagonist’s – even after all these years – has still yet to find much definition or clarity. I was more intrigued seeing Dex and Vogel discussing the role of serial killers in society; this felt like a much more promising frame within which to watch Dexter make real progress toward a satisfying conclusion. The “intern” angle is just redundant. (And I have to say also slightly ironic in that the newest character I felt was the most effectively introduced – the actual intern, Louis Greene, of season six – had the most potential, but was eventually (and literally) cast aside as nothing more than a creepy extortionist in the beginning of season seven as an obvious loose thread.)

There were contradictions both in the characterization of Zach and Dexter’s impression of him. This episode succeeded in portraying Zach as a creep (his line about “that dead chick spill[ing] all her blood just for [him],” and Dexter’s remark that the boy, “Treats the blood like a swimsuit model,” were effective in this vein), which is why it was difficult for me to buy into feeling sympathy for him as Dexter did on his killing table. And why was Zach taking so many photos of Sophia, his father’s new mistress, if his intended target was his father all along? I guess he suddenly changed his mind? He is new at this after all, but it’s bad writing when the audience is forced to fill in the blanks not out of an effective use of ambiguity, but to fill in plot holes like this. The episode worked hard to paint Zach as a deviant foil of Dexter then thought it would pull the rug out from under us by revealing Zach as a directionless kid just trying to relieve himself of the “evil” inside him by protecting his alcoholic mother from his father’s affairs, but instead it just came off as inconsistent and unbelievable.

Dexter’s initial reaction to Vogel’s suggestion of The Code’s potential to save Zach from himself (and Dexter’s knife) rang much truer than his decision to spare Zach by the episode’s end. Instead of watching Dexter fail (again) in attempting to share The Code, I’m much more interested in hearing Dexter argue against Vogel (verbally or in action) with the obvious truth of the matter that although Dexter is more than likely better off for having Harry and The Code in his life, it hasn’t exactly “spared” him from tragedy. The simple fact is that no matter how prepared an individual is, no one is ever spared. This is one of the high-minded discussions for which the series’ premise was made, yet time and again they are introduced as isolated incidents early on in a season then eventually neglected in favor of action and plot masquerading as actual story.

Speaking of plot fodder, “Reflection” updated us on Masuka’s daughter, Angel’s decision to promote Miller over Quinn (two threads which honestly aren’t even worth discussing here), and Deb’s relationship with her boss, Elway. This subplot was the only one which really worked for me because even though Angel’s decision to promote Miller over Quinn sent him to Zach and in Dexter’s way, it yielded nothing more than a minor plot contrivance whereas Deb’s dealings with Elway at least reflected what she’s gone through with Dexter in a general sense (protective brothers making the sisters cry) as well as more specifically what Dexter experienced with Cassie. Both interactions Dexter had with Cassie were terribly awkward for the same reason Deb was so put off when she finally realized Elway is romantically interested in her – the siblings don’t know how to let others in while avoiding the murders which have come to define their lives. Whereas this makes sense with Deb – it’s all still relatively new to her – I figured that even though it’s been a while since he’s dated, Dex should’ve figured this out by now, especially since Dexter’s sexuality, formerly quite contained and wrapped up in his damaged psychology – a character trait that not only made sense but was legitimately intriguing – since season six’s random high school reunion and convenience store clerk hook-ups, has gone pretty bro, as evidenced by this season’s premiere.

This commonality between the two Morgans is what made it so sad (or just maddeningly frustrating) when Dexter wasn’t truthful to Deb about taking on an “intern”. After apparently repenting since the attempted murder-suicide, Deb is allowing Dexter to be an active part of her life and could be his only true collaborator. Granted he didn’t have much of a chance to come clean before Deb mysteriously passed out just before Hannah waltzes in out of nowhere (yet another red herring, I’m sure), but he didn’t seem to be very eager to let Deb back into his unseemly private life. This makes sense as Deb is still in a delicate state regarding the situation, but returning Dexter – the character and the show – to places of relative normalcy are boring and supposedly not an option in this final season. Regarding Hannah’s reappearance, considering she was in the episode for all of ten seconds there’s nothing really to comment on, other than the fact that it, like the Zach arc, feels like a waste of time, just another distraction before the big finale which increasingly looks like it will absolutely fall flat.

A moment in this episode which already fell flat was the scene between Dexter and Harrison. I’ve noted how Harrison has been slightly acting out, which, while normal for children, takes on a new significance on a show about a serial killer who is also a father (for the most part – Astor and Cody who?). Apparently the build-up was merely leading to a confrontation in which Harrison accuses Dexter of lying for disposing of a bloody stuffed animal and telling Harrison it was lost. That’s it. All the (arguably) suspicious behavior we’ve seen Harrison exhibit has resulted in some potentially damning evidence. Maybe. Well, you know what they say about Chekhov’s stuffed puppy…

ritas kids

“Yeah, I’ll still love you guys in Orlando…totally.”

It’s kind of funny to think that despite having made some strides compared to the weaker elements of the series, this season is still failing to rise to its former glory. One could argue it’s a marked improvement that the episode structure has not necessarily relied on Dexter vetting, stalking, and killing someone new each episode; that the narrative structure has shifted from this model to one which is built around larger arcs. Unfortunately even this late in the series I don’t feel these arcs flow with much momentum or cogency (based solely on this season). I’m glad the subplots aren’t as disconnected from the primary plot as much as they have been in the past, but I still really don’t care about Quinn’s professional trajectory, and especially not Masuka’s estranged daughter. Although I’m sure we’ll hear more about Dr. Richard Vogel in episodes to come.

Even within the main plots there were just too many suspensions of disbelief in “Reflection” which took away from the fun of the show as opposed to contributing to it. For example, when Dex called the yacht club to see if Zach’s supposed target, Sofia, was working, her supervisor immediately let Dex know she just left. When I worked as a restaurant manager I never gave out information on employees’ schedules, especially not to people calling without identifying themselves. Also, it was far too easy to manipulate Jamie into calling Quinn off of Zach’s trail, but this is just another example in a long line of conveniences which allow Dexter to do what the episode requires. Also, finding the photos of Norma Rivera bleeding out were one thing, but to include in them a mirror reflection of Zach holding both the camera and the murder weapon? We get it, okay? Dex is always the good guy and there is no gray area! The trouble is the show is interesting because of its gray areas, at least it was back when they existed. The bottom line is that after the barren and fruitless valley that was season six, and the steady (though not flawless) climb upward that was season seven, I hoped season eight would be a peak on which we could all be satisfied with departing from the show. Instead I feel about as low to the ground as one of Dex’s trash bags at the bottom of the sea.

dex breaking bad shot

By the way, anyone else get a Breaking Bad vibe from this shot? The episode was directed by John Dahl who’s directed episodes of Dexter in the past (also Hannibal, Justified, True Blood, and Battlestar Galactica, among many others) as well as the second season episode of Breaking Bad, “Down.” I can’t remember if that episode had one of the show’s patented worm’s eye view shots, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

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Walt’s 7 Best ‘Breaking Bad’ Alibis

Published March 14, 2014 by gossipzoo

Brought to you by Alibi Whiskey.

In the series finale of Breaking Bad, fans watched Walter White lay dying, his criminal adventures having finally caught up to him.

Yep, Walter survived with a combination of ruthlessness and luck that would have made Tony Soprano jealous. But for all his skill in the lab, what Walter was really good at was cooking up some grade-A alibis.

As a final salute to a show we couldn’t get enough of, here are some of our favorite – and most – creative Walter White alibis and excuses from the glorious six season run of AMC’s Breaking Bad.

1. It all begins with a simple lie. Walt’s very first alibi was also his simplest – when cooking his first batch of meth with Jess in the series premiere, he tells Skylar that his boss had him working late. As we watched him cooly offer to pick up a pizza for dinner, little did we know the massive web of lies to come.

2. The Fugue State. In season two, Walt blames a fugue state associated with his cancer treatment on his absence from the family. It’s a long-shot alibi that seems to placate his wife Skylar – and keeps her from discovering that he and Jesse were actually engaged in kidnapping and murder at the time. You know, just your average Wednesday.

3. The Donation Game. Walt is crafty when it comes to finding ways to “cleanse” his ill-gotten earnings. In “Phoenix”, one of our fave episodes from Season 2, he decides to donate money to himself via the charitable website set up to aid his handicapped son. Stay classy, Heisenberg.

4. The Massive Head Wound. When Walt’s son confronts him about the massive gash over his left eye in the show’s final season – Walt tells him he blacked out and hit his head because his cancer had returned – not the truth that he had been punched out by the boy’s uncle Hank.

5. “A magnet did it!” – it’s not quite an alibi, but it sure is a quick way to remove evidence of your own guilt. At the outset of the show’s final season, Walt uses a big-old magnet to wipe clear a computer that held video evidence of his daring break in to a chemical supply warehouse.

6. “Hank did it.” In one of the greatest twists in recent TV history, Walt’s so-called video “confession” ends up turning the tables on his DEA brother-in-law Hank. It’s a virtuoso performance that chilled us to the bone – and showed just was Walt was capable of when it came to staying out of jail.

7. The gasoline incident. When an enraged Jesse douses gasoline all over Walt’s house, he has to think fast before Skylar gets home. In a little-too-detailed story, he blames a pump malfunction at the gas station for dousing his clothes in petrol – but at this late stage of the game, even his own family ain’t buying what he’s selling.

8 Lovable TV Characters That Would Be Insufferable In Real Life

Published January 2, 2014 by gossipzoo

Sheldon Cooper1

You love to watch them on the small screen, but you wouldn’t want to share a pint with them and would probably cross the road to avoid some of them, too. Yes, some of the greatest, most neurotic and charismatic TV characters are also people whom, if they existed in real life, would never find themselves ordering a table for two at their local restaurant.

From the pompous to the whiny, the shrill to the cloying, and featuring a few who would probably benefit from a nice lie down on a psychiatrist’s couch, here are 8 popular TV characters who would make for unbearable company. If there are any characters more deserving of a place on the list, or you feel I’m being too harsh on this particular selection, share your thoughts in the comments section below…

8. Frasier Crane

fraiser

Dr. Frasier Crane has long since been beloved of audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. With his quick, dry wit and lovable fallibilities, Frasier has charmed millions of fans of Cheers and his eponymous spin-off show.

You can only imagine, however, that he would be treated to a different view of the psychiatrist’s couch in real life. Pompous, needy, aloof, vain and a borderline egomaniac, the facets of Frasier’s personality that we laugh at on the show would make him seem overbearing and irredeemably irritating were you on the table next to him at Caf Nervosa.

In his defence, Frasier does seem almost grounded compared to his brother, Niles, who also happens to be one of my all-time favourite sitcom characters and a man the producers described as “what Frasier would be like had he never set foot in Cheers.” Still, he remains a doctor you would hope doesn’t do house calls.

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5 Mundane Objects Breaking Bad Changed Forever

Published November 1, 2013 by gossipzoo

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Vince Gilligan, you clever goose. That’s all I can think as we go barreling into the end of Breaking Bad. Without seeing the last three episodes, I can confidently say that I am going to think that this was the greatest show of all time knocking anything else out of the water, regardless of the ending. Hell, even if the end of ‘To’hajilee’ (S5 E13) was the ending, I would probably be happy.

So that kind of brilliant finality got me thinking about how Breaking Bad would affect my life for years to come. How some seemingly mundane things could bring about waves of nostalgia for this wonderful series. Because after all, Breaking Bad has a distinct focus on the ordinary and how it can all get mixed in a lot of blue meth trouble.

So after a lot of glorious re-watching, here are 5 Mundane Objects Breaking Bad Changed Forever.

5. Toilet Reading Material

hank breaking bad

You know the score. There’s a lot of down time when you’re sitting on the pooper. You need something to get you through it. Well here’s a tip from Walter White – don’t leave a book signed by a former criminal acquaintance where your DEA brother-in-law is going to possibly go number two. Believe me, it’s pretty good advice, especially if that acquaintance is dead under suspicious circumstances.

The ‘toilet book’ (as it shall forever be named) is undeniably Walter White’s downfall, as DEA brother-in-law Hank now has it out for Walt and won’t stop until he’s behind bars. It’s still unclear how everything will play out, but it surely won’t be without mess. If only Walter had put the Walt Whitman away.

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Breaking Bad 5.11, Confessions Review

Published September 25, 2013 by gossipzoo

Confessions

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

For an episode titled Confessions, the characters on this week’s Breaking Bad stay relatively clammed up. At this point, everyone in the show except for Holly is guilty of something, but nothing you thought would be revealed this week is.

Hank tells no one at the DEA about his knowledge of Walter’s illegal activities and Jesse gives Hank no information to help his investigation. When Walt sits down with Junior for what seems like it might be a talk about his criminal activities, he tells him instead that his cancer’s returned in a successful ploy to keep him from talking to Marie. And maybe most revealing of all of this non-confessional theme is the opening teaser in which Todd tells his uncle about Heisenberg’s great train robbery while leaving out the part where he murders a 13-year-old kid, describing the heist as perfect and witness-free.

But the episode isn’t without its profound revelations for some characters. Despite its inconsistent presentation, Confessions does more to move the story along than last week’s Buried. Now, Hank has a genuine obstacle in his investigation of Walt. We know Todd and his gang are moving into New Mexico with the huge tank of methylamine (which is being pulled along the highway in plain view). Most importantly of all, Jesse’s allegiances are totally up in the air. He is officially out of Camp Heisenberg.

The way things are shaking out, the principle actors – Hank, Jesse, Saul, Walt, and Todd – are not neatly filing into alliances for a final showdown. They have all become independent movers with loyalties all their own.

Unfortunately, the episode is quite a bit weaker than the first two of the season. It is weaker right from the start. While the opening teaser with Todd’s gang is fine, if a little overlong, Hank and Jesse’s conversation is nowhere near as dramatic as last week’s cliffhanger teased. All the scene ends up establishing is that Jesse knows that Hank knows. They make no deal and the whole interview is interrupted by Saul’s entrance after only a couple minutes. There are consequences to the conversation, but they come much later. Obviously the show’s writers are under no obligation to meet audience expectations, but my disappointment at the anticlimactic scene is hard to suppress.

Part of what makes Confessions weak is the more far-fetched plot threads. Last week I mentioned that the show is typically very good at justifying its characters’ actions, and last week’s episode held true to that principle. Confessions falls somewhat short of that standard.

For one thing, Hank seems to know a little more than he should in the scene with Jesse. While he knew of Jesse’s connections to both Walt and Heisenberg before he even knew Heisenberg and Walt were one and the same, his assumption that they’re partners is both a little presumptuous and a betrayal of a belief expressed by Hank earlier in the series that Jesse was not likely a major player in the Heisenberg operation. Of course, finding the kid with millions of dollars changes that assumption. But he also seems to understand that Walt and Jesse are having a little “trouble in paradise.” Hank is a very good cop with excellent intuition, so it’s not out of reach for him to draw these conclusions; he just moved to them a little quicker than the show usually depicts, apparently putting it all together in the few minutes it took him to drive to APD and almost perfectly deducing the exact nature of Walt and Jesse’s relationship.

I’m also not especially impressed by how Jesse came upon his very important revelation. The whole thing with Huell stealing Jesse’s dope felt a little contrived. Jesse’s behavior in Saul’s office is bizarre. The gravity of what he’s about to embark on seems to be setting on Jesse as he prepares to meet Saul’s vanisher, so why he wants to hold onto a little bag of weed in the first place is hard to understand. I know he’s a loose cannon and that placing more emphasis on his drug habit is an attempt to highlight that, but it still seems a stretch. Huell is also tough to imagine as a master pickpocket; call me a skeptic. It’s all just too convenient and too obvious of a plot device to take seriously. The way Jesse stands by the side of the road and suddenly knows for sure because his weed is missing is even thinner than the Leaves of Grass book Hank found.

But how he found out matters less than that he did find out. Jesse knows now that Saul, on Walt’s orders, had Huell steal the ricin cigarette from Jesse’s pack so Walt could poison Brock and blame it on Gus. Before finding out, though, Jesse meets Walt in the desert to discuss options for how to navigate Hank’s investigation. Jesse’s been onto Walt’s game for several episodes now and calls him out for “working” him. This scene, in which Jesse pleads with Walt to be direct and upfront, culminates with one of the most bizarre hugs I’ve ever seen.

Hug

In my review of Blood Money I pointed out that Walt has been treating Jesse the same way he did Skyler throughout the first half of the fifth season. He treats both Jesse and Skyler as though their loyalty is a given; he affectionately embraces them even as they’re telling him what a monster he is and how he’s made their lives a living hell. But Jesse is not Walt’s spouse. He’s seen up-close what the man is really capable of. Even after Walt begs for Jesse’s trust, Jesse remains convinced – correctly – that Walt killed Mike. Walt can’t hold Jesse hostage the way he can Skyler.

What’s interesting about the scene is that Walt really seems to care about Jesse. Obviously, his suggestion that Jesse leave town is to suit his own purposes. But murder has never been off Heisenberg’s list of options. He needs to tie up the Jesse loose end and would rather do it non-lethally. It’s small consolation, but it’s a sign that for Walt, Jesse, like Hank, is off-limits. The desert tarantula crawling around is certainly an homage to the tarantula from the train heist episode, in which a 13-year-old boy is shot, but it won’t be possible to interpret its symbolism until we find out what Walt and Jesse are going to do with one another.

One of my favorite moments from the episode is its other very important revelation. Namely, Hank finds out for the first time that Walt paid for his medical treatments after the cartel’s attempted assassination. While I think Walt’s gambit with the phony confession is a little farfetched and probably a bad idea, using the fact that he’s given Hank nearly $200,000 against him is brilliant. This scene illustrates for me the true genius of the show’s writing. People often assume the entire show is figured out and elaborately schemed from the very beginning. On the contrary, the writers just have incredibly good memories. They live and breathe in this universe. Events unfold in a way that is not spectacularly coincidental but an organic progression. The Whites paying for Hank’s medical bills seemed so insignificant before; now it’s absolutely crucial.

The scene at the taquer a where Walt hands Hank the phony confession is unusual for the show. It seems straight out of a 90s sitcom; never before has there been so many extras doing something so normal as eating in a lively restaurant. Any time there are a large number of people assembled on the show, it’s usually an awkward party, a bunch of criminals, or a roomful of cancer patients. Thanks to the waiter, the incredibly tense scene tries to also be most of the episode’s comic relief. It doesn’t really work.

Breaking Bad is normally very good at making the audience feel what the characters are feeling. Often, everything in a scene builds to a similar emotion. If someone is about to commit a murder, there will be tension and dark lighting and moody music. Instead of that, Confessions is filled with tonal dissonance, not the least example of which is the taquer a scene. Elsewhere, though, the show is more successful. When Skyler is concerned about their phony confession and Walt tells her, “We’re fine,” the lighting is such that he is almost completely hidden by darkness. Clearly, they are not fine.

By now, the show has several new meme-worthy tropes to go along with Junior’s love of breakfast. Hank does entirely too much whispering, particularly in the first scene with Jesse. It reminds me of last week’s hard-to-understand scene with Walt and Skyler in the bathroom. I had to rewind the episode to watch several of Hank’s lines multiple times so I could hear what he’s saying. Enough already with the whispering; I recognize that people do whisper and much of the dialogue is not the kind of thing anyone would scream, but it’s frustrating to have the volume turned all the way up and still not be able to understand a word. Additionally, every phone conversation with Walt and Saul seems to just be Walt saying, “Saul, listen… Saul, just stop… Saul, listen to me… shut up… I’ll be there… Saul!” Either Saul needs to learn to stop interrupting or Walt needs to learn to listen.

Jessesaul

Like Buried, Confessions ultimately felt too short. Both episodes ended right as they started to pick up steam, right as they seemed to be setting up a wow moment. In this case, Confessions ends with Jesse dousing the White home with gasoline after beating a confession out of Saul and Walt on his way – with a gun – to intercept him.

What helped make Blood Money such a strong episode was that we got to see Walt and Hank’s dialogue. If it had ended instead with Hank’s garage door closing, it might not have been nearly as satisfying. Given the anticlimactic resolution to last week’s cliffhanger, I’m a little nervous about how this week’s cliffhanger will pan out. Will Walt get to his home in time? Will he kill Jesse? Is Walt Jr. in his room listening to his headphones oblivious to what’s going on in the living room?

Most importantly, why can’t I know the answers to these questions this week instead of having to wait until next? This isn’t an idle gripe; my favorite episodes of Breaking Bad are those with self-contained stories. They give you a chance to reflect on what just happened in addition to wondering what will happen next. Almost every episode ends on some kind of cliffhanger, but the last two episodes ended with an unfinished scene.

Still, frustrating as it is, I know I’ll be back to see how things shake down with Walt and Jesse. Breaking Bad is good enough at subverting audience expectations that Walt’s revolver might not even be meant for Jesse. I don’t know who else it’d be meant for, but I believe Walt wanted things to end peacefully with Jesse when they met in the desert. We’ve known for more than a year that the show is heading to Heisenberg on the run. It could be that Jesse is one match away – or Walt one bullet away – from setting that scenario in motion.

The post Breaking Bad 5.11, Confessions Review appeared first on WhatCulture!.

Breaking Bad: Top 10 Most Twisted Heisenberg Moments

Published March 20, 2013 by gossipzoo

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Peter Griffin didn’t get it wrong when he saw fit to remind Stewie and Brian that Breaking Bad wasn’t slowing down, whilst flying a rocket through Space. It really isn’t. With the final few episodes set to grace our screens in the Summer, the magnificent character arc of Walter White will be set to reach an unavoidably tumultuous conclusion.

Its this character arc, that serves as the driving force of the show. Drugs, deaths and exploding wheelchairs aside, its Walt’s journey that interests us and with it, the parallel arc of Heisenberg – the psychotic, reckless alter-ego – the foil to the good-natured, fully-haired, car washing Chemistry Teacher of Season One.

When things go down on Breaking Bad, you can guarantee that the infamous Heisenberg Hat isn’t far away – probably on the head of its psychotic owner. Because it’s true, when he’s wearing the hat, Walt is a nutter. Any other character in any other show and we’d be baying for blood but somehow we always find it in our heart to forgive lovable Walt.

Well no more… I’m going to highlight some of the worst atrocities committed by our empire building anti-hero to the point that you’ll finish this article and hope that Hank comes off that toilet and puts a bullet in Walt’s skull… okay we could never wish that, if just for Hank’s sake… but it’ll certainly raise attention to the twisted acts we’ve witnessed Heisenberg commit!

The post Breaking Bad: Top 10 Most Twisted Heisenberg Moments appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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