Friday, July 13, 2012

Breaking Down: Breaking Bad - Season Four Finale & Season Five Talk

Season Four ends with Walt orchestrating his last ditch effort to kill Gus. Following the failed car bomb incident, Walt badgers Jesse for a place where he thinks Gus is vulnerable, but Jesse gets nabbed for questioning by the police about the possible ricin poisoning of Brock. Saul saves the day once again and relays information to Walt concerning the interest in the nursing home bell ringer, Hector Salamanca, who proceeds to give Hank one last spin around the wheelchair for old time's sake. If you're a fan, you know what comes next. Gus goes boom, the superlab gets torched, and we find out that Walt was the devilish poisoner of Brock all along.

Come on back to Inconsiderate Prick early Monday, June 16th for the recap of Breaking Bad's Season Five opener, "Live Free or Die."

Kevin Costner starring in Walterworld
Stan Earnest: Kaboom! The last episode of Season Four is Aztek-crunched with action. Did you know the title was "Face Off?"

Craig Scholes: More like Toyota Matrix-crunched with action. I did actually know this episode was titled "Face Off", the good ol' double entendre at its best right there.

SE: Yeah, thankfully it wasn't a homage to the Travolta/Cage thriller, although there is an ironic re-watchability to that one.

Jesse takes a back seat in this one, but he is still the moral backing for the show. I loved how he chastised Walt for bringing a bomb into a hospital, and the added touch of the magnet sticking to the hospital door is that little wink of comedy we've grown accustomed to with Breaking Bad. Even when doomsday is upon Walt there is still some laughs to be had.

CS: I loved the baby bag sticking to the elevator door, I would love to see a minisode with the camera staying in the elevator to see how the Doctor reacted to the strange event. Also, it's kind of hard for Jesse to be a major player in the episode when he is basically in the pokey the entire episode.

Walt is getting better at this criminal stuff, evading the people sent to get him at his house.

SE: Fun fact: the lady he sent over to flush out the goons was played by Vince Gilligan's mom. That was a point where I was like whoa, Walt really is willing to do anything. I like how he endangers everyone he comes into contact with in this episode. Another fantastic touch was Walt exiting Saul's broken door in the same way he broke in instead of just unlocking it. And how about a golf clap for Saul's assistant? Extorting the great Heisenberg was a well-played move.

CS: It's very conceivable that Walt and Jesse aren't actually paying Saul enough money.

SE: If it's the 5% Walt ground him down to when he re-upped, it definitely isn't enough. Saul has saved their asses more than once. I love YouTubing compilations of Saul quotes. And it sounds like Jesse has been following House as closely as Old Man Duggan.

CS: I really want to know how Hector's comments to the DEA ended. Suck my ferret? Fuchsia?

It was a pretty spectacular plan to have Hector fuck with the DEA one last time. Have they ever disclosed what Hector Salamanca has? I would assume its Lou Gehrig's Disease.

SE: Yeah, it's likely ALS because of the oxygen, as the neuromuscular symptoms of the disease hinder breathing, but I'm about to get all psychology nerd up in these digs. It could be a stroke with damage to Broca's area in the brain, the section that is largely responsible for speech. Damage to the area can cause weird things to happen with language, like with Hector, where he understands language because other areas of the brain process it, such as the frontal lobe, but he can't speak. Patients that have undergone split-brain surgery to cure severe epilepsy experience similar problems when viewing items with the left eye, which is processed in the right brain which doesn't have a Broca's area; they can point to the word corresponding to what they saw but can't speak it. This can seem very confusing to the person, but with both functioning eyes witnessing the object there is no problem and split-brain patients complete almost any normal life task with no difficulty. With that said, I researched and didn't realize ALS patients still had bladder control (the DEA is not impressed), so it is likely Stephen Hawking's Disease. Shouldn't we rename diseases by the most recent famous person that has it just for awareness?

CS: It's kind of remarkable how long Stephen Hawking has lived with ALS. After having checked with the official internet fact checker Wikipedia (which has never been wrong), it was in fact a stroke. And apparently Hector can still wink, because he shot one at Hank as he was being wheeled away.

SE: Wow, all that schooling is actually paying off. So I know Mike has some inside info on the cop front, but there almost certainly has to be someone close in the DEA tipping Gus's team off to Hector's "chattiness." I'm not discounting Gomez from the equation; he may have only had time get out a modicum of info and couldn't share the poignancy of Hector's messages. Gomez gave the lab entrance an awful strange look while surveying the laundry, and he's still sporting the Walt goat you know.

CS: I'm still dying to know who the cartel member's brother is, which leads me to believe it is Gomez; he didn't leave Albuquerque for very long when he got that promotion that Hank turned down.

SE: I thought the brother was just a local Mexican sheriff, but not much info was given from that phone call. The previews for Season Five show some scene with commotion at a police department, so maybe we'll find out.

So, as fellow Inconsiderate Prick Wordy Ginters put it, "Gus goes boom." Apparently the writers have had that particular idea for ending Gus on their "big board" for a long time, and it took them a while to figure out what pieces would fit to get to Hector's bell being the instrument that ignites the demise. I just want to give praise to Gilligan for shooting Gus's death march into the nursing home with some intense, sentimental music. We know Gus is a goner. That is how Walt becomes Scarface. I appreciate not being insulted and getting a sort of tribute to Gus at the same time.

Every time it comes on TBS, you can't leave the house.
CS: I thought the idea was great, and clever. Using Hector's bell as the device to end Gus was fantastic. I also loved the sheer look of panic on Gus's face when he realizes he's been had, but Jesus Christ, that cartoonish walk out of the room missing half a face was pretty stupid. I get that it's TV, and they were trying to create a superhuman--albeit brief--image, but I hated Two-Face Gus.

SE: Fun fact: The Walking Dead team helped with the Two-Face Gus makeup and effects. Was it a little hokey? Okay, I will give you that, yes, but for me the whoa factor was worth it. I am not talking about the visual effects that a lot of people were fans of, but rather the split-second where I thought Gus was still alive. I was pissed in that moment--my biggest fear is the show getting bombastic and formulaic--and then Gus straightens his tie and crumbles. Is it entirely implausible? Not at all. I've seen a guy on foot get clocked by a 50 MPH train with my own eyes, and he was still alive and moaning for an hour. I've heard EMT friends tell me disgusting stories of trying to save guys that they knew were brain dead from a skull crush, were still moving, and (**warning gross alert**) spewing chunks of brain matter. So shortly after first-viewing I convinced myself I liked the over-the-top shot. At least we know immediately and definitively that Gus is dead.

CS: I'll concede most of that, and I didn't mind him stumbling out of the room as much as how ridiculous it looked. My problem with it was that it looked like he took all of the damage to the one side of his face. Having said all of that, yes, at least we know that he is definitely dead.

SE: My soul cringes because there are people that actually theorize that Gus is still alive. I think that, like most post Season Two Breaking Bad plots, Gus's death is not necessarily about the fact that it happened, but how it happened. It happened because he underestimated Walter White in much the same way that Don Eladio underestimated him. No matter how cold and calculated he had become, he couldn't detach himself from the emotional weight he wanted to release on to Hector Salamanca.

CS: This show is different than other dramas. Most shows are about the story, where Breaking Bad is actually about Walt. The show really couldn't go on without him, so it's about how he evolves, as pretty much every other character is disposable. There really isn't a supporting character in Breaking Bad that could get offed that would anger me. This isn't to say that I wouldn't be bummed if certain characters were killed, but I am also very much interested in how Walt would take on any new challenges.

SE: I want to know how Walt snagged Gus's henchman and got him in that elevator. Jesse definitely has to be looking at Walt in a different light now. He is competent and ruthless. Not only did he dust Gus, but he smoked the other two clowns without any hesitation, and Kafka's snub-nose finally gets some use. They definitely weren't part of Gus's A-Team. How about the destruction of the superlab? That was masterful. One more shout of praise for the music. I know the music team contemplated several different tracks for that scene and finally found a song written by the teenage Taalbi Brothers, a 13-year-old and a 15-year-old. I don't know about you Craig, but that just pisses me off. I've been playing guitar for 12 years, practicing three to four hours a day for probably three or four years in the middle of that stretch, and I have never written anything as technical or cool-sounding as "Freestyle". Kudos young men. Kudos.

CS: Walt was all like, "I hate my job. I'm gonna burn this mother down." I'm a total fan of the way the lab was torched. I've been playing guitar for about twelve years now, and I'm lucky if I pick mine up every three or four weeks, there is no excuse for me not to be better at that thing than I am. One of these days I may just bite the bullet and actually take lessons.

SE: Bite the hollow-point and find a good guitar instructor. I progressed more in the first three weeks of lessons than I had in the first year of playing solo, but I also happened to have a worldwide superstar guitar teacher, Jason Riley. I am not joking, that guy has played all over the world, has about ten bands he gigs with, and works with the incomparable, Pulitzer Prize nominated Anthony Glise from time to time. If one is ever serious about guitar, those are guys to look up.

The phone call to Skyler was pure genius from Gilligan and Co. Instead of just saying it was over or that it wasn't him that orchestrated the whole deal or just anything that wouldn't shake Skyler to the core, he says, "I won." Walt is a complete madman now.

CS: Definitely. Walt has full on swung to the dark side now, and I fully expect that next season he is the guy to fear. Pretty much the only guy that isn't going to be scared of him is Mike. I can't wait to see how that dynamic evolves.

SE: There was an original line on the hospital parking garage roof where Jesse was supposed to say, "Mike is gonna be pissed." That is a good line; I kind of wish they would have left it in. I have to admit that I haphazardly stumbled upon the surprise that ends Season Four. That Apollo Sunshine song was so great that I YouTubed the scene from the previous episode where Walt is playing spin the .38 just to listen to the song a few times and noticed Walt pausing in pensiveness when it pointed towards that plant, and I figured it out. Walt really is going to be more evil than Gus ever thought about being.

CS: It just seems like a convoluted idea to go through Brock. I don't get the motivation for using him, or how you could logically go through him to accomplish what needed to be done, and that's for Gus or Walt. It just seems to me the Gus and Walt battle could have been done without dragging Jesse through a furlong of shit again. Regardless, I don't think there is any doubt that Walt has broken bad.

SE: Walt basically had a day before he or his family was dead, so he just closed his eyes and threw the haymaker. He had to find some way to get Jesse back into his camp. I'm positive Huell lifted the cigarette pack off of Jesse too, but how deep was Saul involved? Did Saul give Brock a poisonous Baby Ruth or something? I hope we get a flashback scene to some of this for Season Five, but that isn't really how the show works. Flashbacks are used on this show to advance the plot line forward, not muddy it with this-is-how-it-happened scenes. I thought for sure that Season Four was going to end with a Keyser Soze moment for Hank, maybe while Junior and him witnessed Walt meet with Gus on a stakeout, but now Hank might think he has already found "Heisenberg". You have any predictions for Season Five? I would be pretty disappointed if we didn't get a Gus flashback pretty fresh into the new season.

CS: I think they can definitely throw in a flashback to what went down with the end of Season Four. Mainly because Brock is old enough to be asked questions. As for genuine predictions, I think we find out that Walt has full-blown inoperable cancer. His coughing really started pick up with "The Fly" episode, and clearly Hank is going to find out at some point. It's really only a matter if the cancer is bad enough that he isn't going to try soil the name of a dying man.

SE: Interesting, so Hank might find out and then break bad himself to save Walt's family from shame. That would be one hell of a standoff. A lot of people, including myself, have predicted that Walt will eventually kill Hank, but I will tell you why that is not likely to happen: Skyler knows who Walt really is now and if Hank turns up missing, Marie and Skyler will be tougher for Walt to deal with than the cartel and Gus combined.

CS: I don't think Hank not selling him out would necessarily be him "breaking bad." I guess it would depend on how much time Walt had left. I still don't see Walt killing his own, including the in-laws. I do see something happening to his immediate family, maybe a kidnapping or even a family death.

SE: At first, I thought that Season Five would provide Walt with a new enemy to run from or destroy, but the more I think about what happened, with Gus's team being decimated and the cartel to blame for it, the more I think the show might just fill the rest of Walt's prophesy by putting a brick on the gas pedal and letting an insane Heisenberg run rampant with no ax-wielding enemies to track him down. This has certainly been touched on by the AMC promos. Hell at this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Walt dug up some Uranium-235 and torched half of New Mexico just for a laugh. The writers have done their job and then some. I am just going to kick back and watch Walt scorch every bridge he crosses.

However, there are a lot of loose ends left. Did Gus's lab cameras leave any recordings behind? Who exactly was Gustavo Fring in his Chile years? Is Beneke dead?

CS: I doubt the lab black box will be recovered, as I doubt Gus was dumb enough to have any type of backed-up surveillance to incriminate him. I'd like to see how Gus became a successful business man in Chile, and Beneke is definitely dead. Also, there is always a cartel, and I imagine they will be more than willing to try to move into a perceived weakness in the New Mexican market.

SE: I guess I am clinging to the idea of Ted surviving his kerfuffle with Chekhov's rug for one final skirmish with Walt. From the looks of it, Mike is going to be forced onto Team White, but, like you said, it will be interesting to see how that conversation goes down. If Walt could punk Mike, that would be some kind of a feat. Any chance Mike has any new faith in Walt, or will he just be happy to have his old job back? Another loose end is the video of Pinkman cooking meth in the scum lab that might be circulating on the Mexican black market.

CS: Mike is a very practical man, I don't think he cares who he works for, he just knows not to bite the hand that feeds. So provided that Walt pays him properly, Mike is going to do his job and not really say anything about it.

SE: But what if Mike and Gus were secret lovers?

CS: That would be insane, though highly unlikely.

SE: There is a good chance that Mike will think that Gus's death was solely the cartel's work anyhow. Or do you think Walt is crazy enough at this point to sack up to it?

One thing we know about Season Five is that Walt and Jesse are going to continue to cook their blue meth. Any chance Walt sifts through his old buddies and finds a Gale type to hook him up with some lab equipment and maybe work for him? I know I bet Jesse and Walt wish they had the time to lift some of that pricey equipment from the superlab before it got toasted. Then again, if they keep Mike happy, I'm sure he has the connect.

CS: I think Mike is smart enough to know that Walt did this, but I also don't think Mike had any real loyalties to Gus.

Of course the blue meth is going to still be manufactured, hell they may even get themselves a new Winnebago temporarily until they can get a more secure setup. The hard part isn't the lab equipment, it's the materials.

SE: I have just one final plea to all television shows before we close this mother out: please stop with the "previously on" segments directly before a show airs. The annoying segments where every single plot line that is to come is spelled out in spliced clips from the show's past episodes, like Gus, have to go. Dexter is the worse about this, showing like two-to-three minute versions of these. Look, I know that the goal is to get as many viewers as possible and if people watch the show for the first time without knowing a key plot line it might detract them from the show, but any real fan would back track to figure out what was missed. There is nothing worse than getting all excited for what is to come in the episode and the "previously on" segment tips it off. It's a cheap way to shave a minute or two off of a television budget, and it must end. Give me all the preseason promo videos and pics as possible, but don't dick with me in season. And to Breaking Bad, if there is a super-violent scene, don't tip that off with a violent warning directly before the scene. Pay the FCC guy off or something. Good television is a commodity rarely witnessed, and I want to enjoy every second of it while this show lasts.

CS: I hate to rain on your rant, but I don't mind the episode previews. I don't understand why they don't just run the same warning before every episode. It would be easy to just show the warning with every mature subject in the season, listing that the episode may have one or more of the following.

"How much to put the Winnebago back together?"
SE: They do serve a purpose, and it's essentially what we do at the beginning of these articles, but some steps have to be taken to avoid a tip off. When something from ten episodes ago is shown it is pretty obvious that subject or certain character will be touched on in the coming episode. I think they need to be more concise and more vague. It's a fine line. It's weird, I don't have any problem with Breaking Bad tipping off viewers with the plethora of sneak previews and photos preseason. But Breaking Bad is an anomaly; I think I could read the entire script beforehand and still enjoy the show. I'll leave with a preview pic that shows Walt, Mike, and Jesse back together in a junk yard. You have to be happy that Carl from Billy Madison makes a triumphant return right?

CS: Super stoked for the return of Crazy Carl, I cant wait to see what other laws he has mastery of that give him an advantage in his shady business dealings.

Ok, folks, see you Monday. We look to cover each episode throughout Season Five, which will sadly only be eight weeks long for now. Look for an article each Monday morning. We don't have the privilege of having an advanced screening, so give us at least a couple of hours to deconstruct the episode and post our thoughts, and, as always, comments are encouraged and we will likely respond. If you have an idea or theory about the show--maybe Walt is going to start trying the product and get all Tuco'd out--we want to hear it.

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