Monday, July 30, 2012

Breaking Down: Breaking Bad, Season 5, Episode 3

 "Hazard Pay" brings us back to the beginning. Yet again, Walt and Jesse devise a scheme to cook methamphetamine. The operation nestles itself in bug infested territory while Team White and Pinkman get back to the good ole days, cuddling and drinking beer. The White family takes in a living room matinee of Scarface and the ongoing saga of Mike versus Walt continues to rear its collective bald head.

Walt & Jesse don patriotic garb at the 2012 Summer Olympics
Stan Earnest: First off, unpopular opinion alert, this is the best episode of Season Five so far. It has a little bit of everything. Walt is a complete mastermind, and he knows it, which causes problems for other people and makes for great television.

Craig Scholes: It’s definitely better than the first episode, but I think last week's was a little better. It’s definitely starting to pick up.

SE: You know Vince and Co. were scouring the internet to figure out what a semi-intelligent-but-under-funded meth lab operation ran like. They have a penchant for real world ideas; I want to find the internet news article for the real life Vamonos Pest. And how many upstart bands are going to name themselves Vamonos Pest? I'll set the over/under at 53. I'm taking the over.

CS: Not gonna lie, I think the mobile bug tent meth lab is freaking brilliant, and, of course, Skinny Pete can shred on the keys.

SE: Badger is so avante-garde.

Whoop whoop, sound the alarm, man battle stations. We have a television series faux pas: solid character from another solid television show (Friday Night Lights) popping up as a new random dude. I'm calling it right now: that guy is an informant.

CS: HOW DARE YOU! Snitches get stitches, and Landry ain't no snitch.

Badger, is a horrible guitar player, combined with a horrible guitar, and a horrible guitar sound. Badger is the inverse of Jack White.

SE: He is like Jimmy Page if Jimmy Page lived in suburban America, practiced five minutes a day, and fashioned his interests after The Offspring.

CS: First you take a shot at Landry, now you are taking a shot at the Offspring; sir, you are teetering on fragile ground.

"Senor Badger, power chords are for Miller 64 drinkers"
SE: I'm just channeling what I would be like if I succumbed to advertising and drank a Miller 64. Dear Miller, your ads are great... if I was 22, hated my job, and didn't know what good beer was supposed to taste like. But, hey, whatever foots the Breaking Bad bill.

CS: Don't forget the token Scarface clip to bring in Mob Week.

SE: I can not believe Gilligan went ahead and threw it in an episode. At first I thought it was absurd and then I realized how genius it is for Walt to reminisce about that movie with Junior, sequester him to the dark side. Second unpopular opinion alert, I'm not a big Scarface fan. There is a lot of dead air in that movie before the big finish. It's good, it just isn't Casino good or Goodfellas good. I can't wait to see what line Walt uses with his Rambo gun. Any guesses?

CS: You know why you aren't a Scarface fan? Because that movie fucking sucks.

SE: But Walt will likely be shooting at fans of Scarface! I hope he screams, “Lung cancer saved my life!”

CS: I have a sneaking suspicion the Rambo gun situation will be similar to Walt watching a guy on a roof with binoculars, which will kind of be a bummer. I fully expected Skyler to lose her mind about the baby and Walt Jr. watching Scarface.

SE: Walt is at the top of his game controlling Skyler through Marie. He spun Marie a few times in the meth lab laundry and hung her out to dry in the desert sun.

CS: Totally, this whole episode is about remembering good guy Walt and then twisting that theme to focus on where Walt is now. He totally mind-fucks Marie, and you remember, oh wait, Walt is a selfish piece of shit. Walt also mind-fucked Jesse with the “atta boy” speech.

SE: Back to advertisements, I love how in the AMC ads they make it clear that the shows are available on cable and satellite, but, "not available on Dish." We are getting Total Recall-ed by AMC. My new favorite thing is to talk to my buddies that are Breaking Bad fans that have Dish and are seeking shelter elsewhere, and inform them that the "second half" of Season Five doesn't start 'til Summer of 2013. The look of horror on their faces is priceless. I truly am a sadist.

CS: I know the feeling, I sent a Dish-subscribing friend the same text I sent you that just said "LANDRY." He proceeded to flood me with a ton of questions and then told me to stop teasing him.

SE: Oh no, Walter White is rubbing off on us. So I've noticed a couple of--what should have been obvious-- things about the first few episodes. The show is looking at Walter White in a whole new way. Instead of getting a glimpse into what Walt is doing the whole time, sometimes the viewer gets the back of his head or just an arm. There is this move towards not showing exactly what Walter is up to at all times, which started with the Lily of the Valley last season. I have a feeling we are going to find out Walt has been awful busy doing dirty work behind the scenes by Episode Seven or Eight. Mike or Hank will find themselves in a precarious situation, and we will be thrown off scent, but it will be Walter pulling the strings.

CS: If this holds true, perhaps Walt will be getting too close to the sun himself.

SE: You know, I really enjoyed the throwback to early Breaking Bad though. Walt and Jesse have to configure their operation from scratch once again. Saul is rock steady. We even get some porno music while Walt and Jesse do their thing to some hi-tech camera work. Perverse and sublime married once and for all.

CS: At any point do you think Mike and Walt won't absolutely hate each other, or is this relationship going to spin completely out of control? The tension between those two is utterly palpable. First Walt essentially vetoes a vote in the car. Then it gets touch and go again when they attempt to split up the money. Mike is going to kick the shit out of Walt again.

SE: Here is the deal with Mike and Walt, one would think they could have it out, come to an understanding, and move on, but that isn't happening because of what has transpired in the past, with Walt getting cock-knocked by Mike at the local watering hole and then eventually coming out on top. Mike had his chance to join Team White a long time ago and denied it. I will say this, Walt has every right to question Mike's handling of the money. How does he know that Mike isn't extorting him? Besides that point, what does Walt care about the men that had their hazard pay yanked? I can definitely see where Walt doesn't think that is his problem.

CS: The funny thing to me is that those guys hate each other so much that they will never be able to have a true conversation about it. Mike just tells him, “Deal with it.” And Walt has this desire to attack anything he doesn't have more than a basic knowledge of. Jesse is going to get an inadvertent butt fucking from those two. Walt, of all people, should have had a grasp on the knowledge that they are making less total, but a higher percent.

SE: Mike is not a man of words, and that helps him in almost every situation, except with Walt. Walt needs to be informed. At this point, he needs to know every nook and cranny of Gus's operation to keep his flight above the clouds. Mike really needs to just put the bitch slap on Walt and tell him how much respect he owes for saving him from the Salamanca twins that were carpet bagging his bedroom.

CS: I guess that is the core of it: Walt really doesn't know as much as he thinks he does, and it shouldn't be that hard for him to realize that his actions will cost him in the future. That, after all, is the very definition of consequence. If Mike's guys start ratting, eventually his ass is going down.

SE: Ever notice that Mike looks a helluva lot like Walt if they were both done up by a sketch artist? If Mike was pinned as Heisenberg, would he rat Walt out?

CS: I don't think Mike would rat on anyone, except for Walt. Mike has no reason not to. He flat out doesn't like the guy, and if Mike ever gets locked up, Walt will be the reason anyhow.

SE: Getting Brock and Walt in the same room was textbook drama. Walt is such a bastard, you know he looks at Brock loafing and playing games on his phone and just thinks, "Loose end."

CS: How did Walt slip Brock the flower? Because I could have sworn Brock shot Walt a look where he was thinking, “Hey, I've seen you before.”

Uncle Tio, in the nursing home, with the bell
SE: I got that vibe too. My guess is Saul, with a Snickers bar, in the family room. Fun fact: Mrs. White was a character in the board game Clue.

CS: Fun Fact: Skyler is losing her fucking mind, and she looks like haggard dog shit too.

SE: Somebody had to tell Marie to shut up.

CS: I've been telling her to for five years, apparently she couldn't hear me.

SE: So we both kind of thought like Walt about why Victor was offed. The problem is Walt is right, but he is wrong too. Victor was seen at the scene of the crime and Walt doesn't know this, but he is in Gus's Italian leather shoes now, and Mike's days are numbered. It is going to be interesting to see how Jesse takes being an employee of Walt's when Mike gets some ricin in his Ensure.

CS: Walt is probably going to be given the ricin in a competition of wits versus a Sicilian.

SE: How great would it be if Walt accidentally ricins himself to end the show?

CS: I don't see how Walt, who pays so much attention to everything, could accidentally do that though. I can see someone finding out that Walt has it, then tricking him into giving it to himself, but I don't think any accidents would be involved.

SE: Maybe the ricin finally gets used by Jesse on Walt and the last scene is a lengthy Jesse monologue about the dastardly life of Walter White while he is slowing dying, and Jesse becomes the new king of thrones.

CS: What if Skyler finds it on accident, then gives it to Walt?

SE: It is fun how Breaking Bad has gone from Walt and Jesse painting themselves into corners and then finding the escape hatch at the last second to them controlling their own fate. The magnet heist wasn't needed for the encrypted laptop, but the reveal of the bank accounts actually helped them out this time. Otherwise, Mike wouldn't be a part of the team.

CS: It’s amazing, the more you break bad the better you get at it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Two, Episode Seven

We're back. Once again, your sherpas for Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey are Wordy Ginters and Josh "Old Man" Duggan. Tell your friends, family, and even foes--nevermind, send your foes to people (dot) com--that they need to get their fool asses up in this joint. Once again, you can buy the second series on Blu-ray and on DVD. They're the original versions as aired in the U.K. (Series One available here on DVD and Blu-ray.) Why the British versions? Because they're unabridged, unlike what aired in the U.S. Do it (but follow those links if you do).

For those who need a reminder as to what happened in this episode, the calendar year has just turned to 1919, and the last of the army hospital's shit has been loaded into the back of a lorry. Lord Grantham wanders around the manor searching for meaning in his life. Sir Richard Carlisle attempts to enlist Anna as a spy to keep him apprised of Lady Mary's movements, an offer which she refuses. Having been asked by Carlisle not to say anything to Mary, Anna does tell Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson, who decides that he cannot follow Lady Mary to Hacksby. Matthew stands on his own two feet; all of Downton is shocked and ecstatic. Thomas spends his life's savings on foodstuffs from a rascal he met in a pub in the hopes of exploiting the post-war shortages of food via the black market. Lord Grantham impulsively kisses the new maid and war widow, Jane. Matthew announces that he and Lavinia are to marry in the coming spring. Violet, the Dowager Countess, visits Matthew in his bedroom and tells him that Lady Mary is still in love with him. Bates shares the information with Anna that he was actually tasked to buy the arsenic that his wife died from ingesting and later shares a letter that Vera sent to a friend a day before he came to visit for the last time in which she stated that she was worried for her well-being in relation to his visit. The choady Major Bryant's parents come to visit Downton. Ethel barges in with their bastard grandson, but Mr. Bryant is a dick, showing exactly from whence his son's shitheadedness originated. With the working man finally wearing down the Lady's defenses, Sybil and Branson slink off into the night with the intention of eloping. Mary finds that Sybil is gone, and Mary, Edith, and Anna hunt them down in the night, bringing Sybil back as to avoid the pain it would do to their parents.

Wordy Ginters: Gasp! Double Gasp! I'm insinuating that this episode was gaspy. Plot twists and soapy goodness in the best sense. Who doesn't love a good old fashioned television serial? Christ, after a fairly tame couple of episodes, a lot to unpack in this one.

Old Man Duggan: Things wuz happenin'.

WG: I should have known trouble was afoot when Isis got some early screen time. That dog portends chaos. The second sign was Thomas still sitting downstairs with the staff. What is that munch still doing moping about, I thought aloud to myself. And then his Lordship, dressed in his walkabout gear, literally upsets the apple cart with his little titillating run in with Jane. Is that the right name? It feels like it should start with an "E." I thought she was going to take a bite out of him before their moment was rudely interrupted by Mr. Shitheel's hoopty. My lawd, goodness, how little did I know. By the way, I only know this because a friend mentioned it, but Jane is a ringer for internet porn sensation Camille Crimson.

The taint of Game of Thrones nearing Lady Mary
OMD: It is Jane. Jane Moorsum. See does look like an Eliza or maybe an Eleanor. After thorough research, there is a striking similarity between actress Clare Calbraith and saucy beej queen Camille Crimson. To delve further into that conversation would be uncouth, unfortunately. Leave it to that bastard Sir Richard Carlisle to ruin everything, by the way. It's probably the taint of Game of Thrones working its way to Downton.

WG: Grantham shows he's human by having his little mid-life crisis. He recognizes the bill that others have paid. I kind of like seeing him get all existential, needing a shave, snapping at Cora, and pining for the days when his life had meaning. I loves me some anachronisms, was hoping that Grantham would pull Nauseau off the shelf of that gorgeous library. He's been building up to this for awhile, chafing at the idea that he's an aristocratic clown, ever since his military gig was revealed to be nothing more than window dressing back in episode one.

OMD: Robert is definitely in the full throes of an existential crisis. The fact that his daughters are preparing to leave the nest--further taking a bite out of his place and usefulness in the world--obviously plays into this as well. Lord Grantham is a man whose fortune isn't his, whose progeny are leaving home, whose heir is merely a cousin because he was unable to sire a male heir, whose wife is pulling strings behind his back as relates to his eldest daughter and his adopted son, whose past as a soldier was marginalized in wartime, and whose existence (at least in his eyes) has been relegated to caretaker for an estate that up until the 22-minute-mark of this episode is to be handed off to a cripple. Fellowes basically spent the entire second series emasculating him in swift little blows. I think he desperately wants for his life to have meaning.

WG: Did you feel any pull or sense of betrayal for Cora?

OMD: The second time around, no. It's strange; the first time I watched Robert's transgression really bothered me. Not now. Maybe it's that I see what Cora is doing in attempting to thrust Lavinia into Matthew's arms at the behest of Carlisle, an odious chap to be sure, but her taking up with a conniving bedfellow has left me disenchanted. Perhaps this was Fellowes's intent. She has definitely grown less sympathetic after losing her child.

WG: Carlisle. What a dick. He totally plays Anna for a chump. Weaving a tapestry of bullshit assuming she was dumb enough to fall for his spying scheme. Come on Carlisle, Bates doesn't run with that kind of crowd. More loathsome than Thomas. By far. And I love it.

OMD: He's a real bell-end. As I think we said in one of the last two entries in the series, there's nothing worse that an insecure prick with massive amounts of power. As big a shitbag as Thomas is, he doesn't have any power. Carlisle is as big a shithead as Thomas but is loaded to boot. There's a desire to escape his station that makes Thomas at least in part sympathetic. The only point of sympathy with Carlisle is that he wasn't born rich. That isn't something that really endears a character to the masses. That Jay Gatsby was as sympathetic as he was is a testament to F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterful way with words.

WG: Have you seen the boys haircuts the girls are wearing in Paris? Isn't that a Blur song?

OMD: I guess we know what song's getting embedded at the end of this post.

WG: Jesus, I see where Cap'n Bryant got his asshole from. Daddy. He's afraid of his grief. Yeah, right. I think he's probably just an insufferable prick.

OMD: Insecure pricks. Insufferable pricks. Pricks all around. Major Bryant's father is a total shithead. That walrus-looking motherfucker represents the worst of the aristocratic class. Telling the staff that his chauffeur would stay in the car and needed nothing to eat established that early on. Needing acknowledgement of paternity? What a shit. You raised a fucking shithead, Mr. Bryant. That said, fuck Ethel, too. If there's a story arc I wish had never happened, it's Ethel's.

WG: What did you make of the forbidden kiss between Grantham and Jane? I buy it. She's obviously scheming. He's not right in his head. What was stopping these Lords and Ladies from whoring around anyway? Nothing.

OMD: I actually think she's not scheming. I think there's a sincerity to their attraction. He certainly isn't right in the head.

WG: Another show stopper was Matthew standing up out of his chair. Reminded me of a scene from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Once again, lets recognize the masterful production of story lines and plot twists that could be laughable in less delicate hands. I don't know how Fellowes escapes the ridiculous, but he does.

OMD: Both times I've sort of chuckled at the development. Obviously it's foreshadowed, so it isn't unexpected. My main issue with the scene is that there are no signs of atrophy. He seems to stand too easily to come to Lavinia's aid. His legs haven't worked for how long? Yet he stands with ease? I'm glad for the man. I feel like I know him like a brother. I just wish I could not laugh when he gets his feet back under him.

WG: Great scene between Carson and Hughes, where Carson gives up some backstory for his kind concern for Mary. Excellent dialogue. Great lighting. Made me nostalgic for something I don't even understand.

OMD: That was easily my favorite scene of the episode. Hughes telling him that Mary got the better of the deal for six pence. The clear paternal affection evident through a cute anecdote. Mary wanting to take some silver into the village to fund her running away.

OMD: Before we shove off for the week, We've left two big developments and one small bit of comeuppance unspoken of:

First: The Dowager Countess goes against what is prim and proper, bursts (insofar as the Dowager can burst) into Matthew's room, and lays it all out there. "Mary is still in love with you." Matthew extols Lavinia's virtues, of which she really does have many, and then the Dowager drops the fucking hammer: "Marriage is a long business. There's no getting out of it for our kind of people. Now, you may live 40, 50 years with one of these two women. Just make sure you have selected the right one."

WG: Another highlight from this episode. The Dowager can be a cold and conniving bitty, but typically it's rooted in some type of pragmatism. Everybody loves Mary. She's been a sympathetic character for much of this season. Interesting that she appears to be souring like curdled cream just when most of Downton has her back.

OMD: Second: BRANSON!!! Yeah, bud. The elopement is postponed/off, but that sonuvabitch did it. He landed her. Way to go, you crazy Irish bastard.

WG: Fists were pumped in my household. I ain't ashamed. Comical to see Edith and Mary chase them down with more efficiency than Javier Bardem from No Country for Old Men (Bardem and Edith share the same hair style). And Sybil caved a little too easily for my liking. But I'm holding out hope.

OMD: Comeuppance: Thomas, you got had. Obviously, Fellowes has taken measures to humanize Thomas a bit. The mantle of Heel of Downton has been passed on to Sir Richard Carlisle, but it still feels good to see Thomas penniless after trying to make his way into the black market via a guy he met at the pub. What a rube.

WG: Yes. Delicious comeuppance. Thomas gets rolled and revealed as a soft touch. For me, his financial ruin was worth every pence just to see the plaster cake spit takes from Patmore and Daisy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Man on Film: The Amazing Spider-Man

One could spend time, words, and effort lamenting the fact that Sam Raimi actually made the steaming shit-pile that was Spider-Man 3, but it happened and was deemed so disastrous by Marvel Films as to necessitate a reboot of the franchise. One could also use this as a jumping off point for whining about the idea-less state of Hollywood, but that is an incredibly tired topic of discussion that does not need to to be explored here either. 

On its own merits, The Amazing Spider-Man is not particularly good. On the creative side of the film, director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) and screenwriters James Vanderbilt (The Rundown, The Losers, Zodiac, Basic), Alvin Sargent (Paper Moon, Spider-Man 2 and 3, White Palace), and Steve Kloves (all of the Harry Potter films, Wonder Boys) fail to fully endear the characters to the audience. It does not take much to sell the audience on Peter Parker, but for nearly every other character the development is sorely lacking. The death of Uncle Ben in particular rings fairly hollow, which is sad because it means that the presence of Martin Sheen is wasted. The burgeoning relationship between Gwen Stacy and Peter is entirely rushed, going from zero to 60 in roughly three minutes of shared screen time, going from asking out to being in love without any cause being presented on-screen other than the simple passing of time. 

And this is all too bad, as from a basic level, they improved conceptually on what Raimi was doing. 

In this inception of the series, they elected to hew closer to the story arcs from the comics. The purist that resides somewhere within me was always bothered by the fact that Mary-Jane's introduction was moved to high school, negating the importance of the Gwen Stacy storyline. They also cast Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, both of whom I personally prefer to Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst. I also like the explanation as to why Peter would be so naturally inclined to being a prodigious scientific mind. These facts leave me hopeful for the future of the franchise. It is just that the future hopefully involves different talent on the creative side because the talent because The Amazing Spider-Man certainly failed to carry the emotional weight that it should have, falling utterly flat and feeling roughly half an hour longer than its actual run-time--in a bad way.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Breaking Down: Breaking Bad, Season Five, Episode Two

In "Madrigal", the wheels are turning, smoking on the hot pavement left behind by The Chicken Man. Everyone tied to Gustavo Fring is looking for a way out. Meanwhile, Walt hides a ricin cigarette in DJ Roomba while it plays some catchy, darkly accented tunes, decidedly not Boz Scaggs. Mike is backed into a corner, and the DEA confiscated his loot and the loot of eleven others that a new female character with a penchant for breakfast teas and fidgeting has her target on. Mike Ehrmantraut has other plans.

Mike, the rock always beats scissors
Stan Earnest: First thing on the docket: shout out to my home slices A.Ron and Jim at Bald Move. They throw down a mad podcast after every episode called Breaking Good. Come here for immediate coverage then on your morning commute, roll with audio from those guys. They cover all the angles.

Secondly, the Breaking Bad Insider podcast with Vince Gilligan himself is quite amazing for sheer fanboy material. This week I learned that Walt’s new friend, the M60, is “the Rambo gun”; Mike used wasp spray for the camera, which is apparently what criminals use for highly positioned security cameras; the pizza toss from Season Three was a first take without effects and Cranston couldn’t do it a second time; the fall on the vat from “The Fly” was a stunt double mixed with computer effects to make it look like one solid shot; and Vince welcomes Myth Busters to test all things Breaking Bad--namely the magnet heist--to see if they would actually work.

On to the episode, one word for the opening sequence: anticlimactic.

Craig Scholes: First off, I like where this season is going. Secondly, I can vouch for the authenticity of the German bathroom. I don't know if the scene was actually shot in Germany (I doubt it), but they at least paid enough attention to detail to recreate it. I liked this episode. Anticlimactic? The fact that we are let in on this thing being global is HUGE!

SE: There are a lot of angles with this episode. It is like the olden days--pre, say, 2006, for you modern hipsters--making a CD album for someone special. You don't just mesh together 14 random tracks; you hit 'em in the face with the first track, make sure the second is slower tempo, but better, and plot together the rest fittingly, making sure to crash land the final track. We have grown accustomed to Breaking Bad's pace. The first episode is the "we're back" episode, and this episode is the sizzle before the pop. Maybe I'm just in the wrong place here, because Mike plus a gun silencer doesn't really add up to anything anticlimactic. I was really just hoping for another flash forward of crazy Walt.

CS: The premier really pulled the patented Lost move, teasing you with something that you are in no way prepared to deal with. I felt like this episode stayed true to what the show really is, introducing new characters while sticking to the current story.

SE: Yeah, Walt really is a total bastard. The thing is, while everybody is so anti-Walt right now, and anti-bad guy/Paterno/Sandusky period for that matter, I embrace completely-off-the-hinges Walt. I love a complete idiot hellbent on the idea that he controls his destiny. Seems realistic that way.

CS: That is, until Skyler kills him.

SE: After he kills Hank.

So who's name is Walt's account under? There are grumblings his fake ID name from last episode is Skyler's maiden last name.

CS: I actually don't think Walt has a secret account. He had all that cash, and he really didn't work for Gus all that long.

It takes money to make money
SE: It is going to be awfully awesome when Hank has video of Skyler withdrawing money from the account...better yet, Marie, to pay for Hank's bills.

CS: I guess I really never put any thought into how Walt got paid. I still think it would be easier to get paid in cash.

SE: I loved the snippet of Walt putting the ricin behind the electric outlet. It is a perfect move to show how far Walt is gone. What a lunatic.

CS: He has to have a plan for that ricin, who do you think his planned target is?

SE: He doesn't know it yet, but it is Hank. I just think that is the ultimate move that would show just exactly how bad Walt has broke. Screens are black, we're losing cabin pressure, needles are spinning, flux capacitor broken, WE'RE GOING DOWN!

CS: So in your mind the show ends with Walt on top, leaving no one behind?

SE: Something like that, I like the scenario where Walt has spun himself into such a mess that his family is all gone, he knows he is the cause, and he toasts himself from a beach house in Jamaica.

CS: I think Walt will finally be done with the craziness at some point, and when he gives up someone will get him. Jesse eventually will find out how Brock was really poisoned.

SE: The thing is, as the boys at Bald Move have pointed out and Vince Gilligan has said himself: karma is a factor. So if we see what has happened karmicly to, say someone like Don Eladio, imagine how big the barrel is that Walt is looking down into.

CS: If that's the case, then there is no way Walt is going to be the one that offs himself.

SE: Me personally, I don't believe in karma. Good people die from cancer every day while some scumbags live beautiful, healthy, wealthy lives. Walt on top, using his product off of a prostitutes ass, surrounded by bars of gold is where I want to see this thing go.

CS: I don't really believe in karma either, but of course we are talking about fiction, where anything is possible.

SE: Back to the task at hand, my favorite scene from this one was Mike vs. Hank and Gomez. Mike is backed into a corner. You know who Mike is this season? Season Four Walter White.

CS: Oh Man, Mike is awesome. I can't wait to find out more about the Philadelphia incident

SE: He knows Walt is trouble, because he was Walt at one time.

CS: The flashback scene where we first see how Mike and Gus met, is going to be awesome.

SE: Most definitely. We HAVE to have a Gus flashback scene. So the new character, we all in on her?

Brock's new Lego set, "The Crystal Ship"
CS: I don't know what to think of the new lady, clearly she is still green and wet behind the ears.

SE: I'm thinking she is the opposite, that she is a total bad ass that is just fidgety as hell. I like the contrast between Mike and her. Boy, you can tell Mike's distaste for Walt's measures when he talks about keeping his eleven guys safe.

CS: Which leads me to believe that Walt isn't going to have a bank account. If he did, he would have been on that list. I don't think she has any idea who Walt even is.

SE: I'm interested to see what she is made of, it took Walt a hail mary pass to evade a Mike silenced gun to the face, all she had to do was bat her eyelashes.

CS: Walt killed Gus. She refers to a chemist, and I don't think she knows that the chemist killed Gus. I think Walt is the independent contractor in this who won't have a paper trail leading back to him.

SE: Methylamine is all they need? Hell, Walt and Jesse can get that. I want to see them steal a rail car full this time. I wish Mike could break down video of their previous heist with a John Madden video board.

CS: How long before Walt just starts manufacturing his own methylamine?

SE: Certainly at some point he is going to attempt it. What I want to know is how the hell is Mike going to operate under surveillance?

CS: That could be what finally tips off Hank, the first time Mike is seen with Walt.

SE: I like that after Hank and Gomey whip out the $2 million knowledge, Mike realizes he is exposed, decides to give 'em hell and says, "I don't know nothing about any money." I love that he says it in a you-guys-know-who-I-am-but-you-can't-do-anything-about-it voice.

CS: They also know why he isn't a cop any more. So there is a very good possibility that he isn't a cop because of something very similar.

SE: Pretty soon, Mike is going to be Pesci from Casino, switching five different cars out in a parking garage before he sets on a criminal course. Tracphones will be the least of his expenditures, finding 1980s model Lincolns will be.

CS: Also, the DEA basically knows who is on that list, and if all of the people on that list started turning up dead, isn't that going to raise even more questions about the ones who aren't dead? Will Mike keep a shovel in each on of those Lincolns?

SE: Ok, now I am pumped for Episode Three. Who dies next week?

CS: I don't think anyone dies next episode, which means like ten people will die.

The Salamanca twins hated The Shining
SE: I'm still not quite sure if Skyler is headed towards Laura-Linney-from-Mystic-River status or going to reenact Shelley Duvall's The Shining performance, so what's the odds the car wash is the place for the new lab?

CS: There is no way the new meth lab isn't going into the car wash.

SE: So, Walter tells Skyler almost perfectly in the Season Five opener, "I forgive you," because he has to be forgiven by her, although he clearly forgives himself. This time around, he gives her some chilling advice. Does she fall into his sinkhole, or does she fully understand every calculated move he is forming with his words at this point?

CS: Neither, this is where she realizes he is a monster, and she is going to fake it until she has the opportunity to kill him, to ensure the safety of her and her family.

SE: Clearly, many of us are on board with some kind of an Omar scenario. Walt is going to get got in a bittersweet way.

CS: Well, if Walt is following the Omar story arc, I can't wait to see who his gay lover is.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey: Series Two, Episode Six

We're back, much less late than the last installment. Progress. Once again, your sherpas for Wordy Old Men on Downton Abbey are Wordy Ginters and Josh "Old Man" Duggan. Tell your friends, family, and even foes--nevermind, fuck your foes--that they need to get their fool asses up in this joint. Once again, you can buy the second series on Blu-ray and on DVD. They're the original versions as aired in the U.K. (Series One available here on DVD and Blu-ray.) Why the British versions? Because they're unabridged, unlike what aired in the U.S. Do it (but follow those links if you do).

The antepenultimate episode of the proper Second Series kicks off with Mary pushing Matthew around the estate while Sir Richard Carlisle looks on and rhetorically asks Lord Grantham if he has reason to be jealous. Carlisle eyes a nearby manor owned by a family that has fallen on hard times. A horribly burned soldier by the name of Patrick Gordon asks to be transferred to Downton to convalesce. Isobel has her sights set on continuing on in using Downton for a recovery center. Carlisle asks Mr. Carson to come work for him at Haxby Park. Mrs. Patmore turns Thomas onto the idea of hoarding rations for the coming hard times. While eating alone for lunch, Lord Grantham engages the new housemaid, Jane, in conversation about her son. Patrick Gordon picks Edith to pitch a tale about him being Patrick Crawley, the heir who perished in the sinking of the Titanic but suffered from amnesia, which prevented him from remembering who he was until the memories were jarred back with the explosion that burned his face to the point of being unrecognizable. Carlisle and Cora conspire to bring Lavinia back into Matthew's life. Sybil tells Branson that she'll have an answer for him at the conclusion of the war. The Dowager Countess turns Cousin Isobel onto the notion of helping refugees. When the family is faced with the news of Patrick's alleged return, the Crawley's are all suspicious of his claim except for Lady Edith. The supreme fuckwad Major Bryant is discovered to have died in the Battle of Vittoria Veneto, leaving his bastard child with Ethel a fatherless one. Armistice is announced to be happening on 11/11 at 11:00 AM. Bates heads to London to deal with his wife, who has managed to get their divorce stricken again. He returns as says things went horribly. A lawyer can neither verify nor nullify Patrick's story, but Patrick leaves as it seems clear that the family will not buy what he's peddling. As Mary's affection for Matthew becomes increasingly obvious and Lavinia returns to pledge her undying dedication to Matthew, Carlisle threatens Mary with the prospect of being ruined by release of the tale of her night of Turkish anal pleasure should she jilt him and then, like a stone-cold killer, kisses her straight on the mouth. Armistice is officially signed. Matthew gets a tingle when Bates takes him by the wheelchair. Carson prepares to leave Downton. Bates receives word by way of telegram that his wife was found dead.

Wordy Ginters: Do we need to address the Laura Linney intro? I’m assuming you are blessed with it? I’m streaming my Downton via Amazon, and I’m always put into that special Downton mood by Laura’s plucky and strangely knowing intro to each episode of Masterpiece Theatre. The barely contained emotion and flaming eyes make me wonder what in the fuck is going through her pretty little mind. Would you?

Old Man Duggan: I am actually not seeing Laura Linney at the beginning of every episode. On the UK Edition discs, she does an intro to the season but it is left at that. I did watch the last few as recorded from PBS originally, so I have seen them. Laura Linney is weird to me. There are certain roles where I don't think too much about her, at least in a lusty way. Then there are others (You Can Count On Me comes to mind) where I find her extremely appealing. Her clear, dirty love of Downton Abbey is certainly good for some points in the Would You column.

The real Jack Johnson
WG: I liked the Jack Johnson reference when Mary was pushing Matthew across the lawn. Jack Johnson should be in this series. I imagine him having F2FA with the Dowager. Flouting conventions and race cars and operas and all that. Stomping across the landscape. Boxing.

OMD: We can only hope that Jack Johnson makes his way to Downton. While F2FA with the Dowager Countess would be awesome, it seems as though Lady Edith would be helpless against his special brand of cocksure interracial courtship at high speeds. By the way, kids, we're not talking about that feel-good beach guitar choad that you were/are into until your 19th birthday. Get your shit together.

WG: What kind of tires are on that wheelchair anyway? They leave all kinds of hideous steep walled ruts thru the lush green turf, right? Now I know why we never see the gardener.

OMD: I think they're Turf-Killer© brand tires. Post-war, they'll likely have to hire on a new groundskeeper or just pave the entire manor--introduce a little bit of post-'Nam Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex to Downton and turn it into an endless hellish pavementscape hurled right into the heart of stodgy old England. I'm sure that's the route Fellowes will take everything in Series Three, which is likely why he's laid the groundwork with all the car talk thus far.

WG: Carlisle, rocketing up the shit-heel charts at Downton, up three spots, ahead of Thomas but still behind O’Brien. First, the “ought I to be jealous?” quip to Grantham when he spied Mary and Matthew carving up the lawn. And then later, getting tough with Mary, basically telling her that she has given him the goods that he can destroy her with, and she shouldn’t get too uppity, or he will use those goods. But my favorite part of that scene is the awesome villain power move when he then leans over and plants a tender kiss on her lips. He knows his money is too new, and he’s not really accepted in those circles, so he’s a little chippy. I like it.

OMD: From the onset of the episode Carlisle shows his crass nouveau riche nature. He's like a Jay Gatsby Version Douche.0. His combination of insecurity and power is a dangerous one. Even his approach to courting Carson's employ is uncouth, showing his complete lack of refinement. The kiss was cold-blooded. I got a shiver and wanted nothing more than Matthew or more likely Carson to barrel down the hallway at Haxby to throw the brash clod into the 21st Century.

WG: Carson is definitely the man for clod clearing. Dude blocks out the fucking sun with those shoulders when he's in the frame. And the eyebrows reek of pungent virility. I'm putting my money on Carson when time comes for the Downton Abbey MMA Warrior Challenge. I'm eager to see where Fellowes takes Carlisle. He might as well be from Mars. A piranha in a goldfish tank. It doesn't appear that Lord Grantham has the same appetite, ambition, or street sense to parry effectively with shitheel Carlisle. Maybe having an ounce of humanity will balance the scales a tad.

Daisy is in a STATE… if you didn’t catch it

Hand-wringing 101
OMD: In this episode, it was clear that Sophie McShera had taken extensive courses from the Joan Fontaine School of Acting with a heavy emphasis in Relating Pensiveness with Fidgety Hands and Avoiding Eye Contact with Everyone in a Scene.

WG: What the fuck happened to Isobel this episode? She’s lost her marbles. A little bit of a stretch for me. Perhaps with Matthew virtually legless, and the ghastly experiences of the war, she’s found herself on soft ground regarding the mental faculties. The way the Dowager manipulated her into a social cause and off of Downton seemed a little convenient, and not worth Isobel’s dignity. Good for a laugh I guess. Seeing the Dowager and Isobel scrap is one of my favorite elements of the show, I hope sending Isobel to wander amongst the Fugees doesn’t mean the end of those pissing matches. I suppose she’ll have her hands more than full dealing with Lauryn Hill. Wyclef Jean is filming a remake of Woody Allen’s Bananas in Jamaica last I heard. Regardless, the Fugees and Isobel will be on the same page regarding justice that is social.

OMD: The first time I saw that turn of events it caught me off guard as well. I have to say it makes more sense upon second viewing, as the Dowager Countess has to cast out three times to find something that she'll bite on, and it has always been abundantly clear that Isobel will go for the cause that needs her most. Clearly Isoble's favorite album is The Score, and that's coloring her judgment. As for pissing matches amongst the geriatrics in the cast of Downton Abbey, I can't imagine that this extremely popular element of the show will be cast aside any time soon. The Fugees didn't stick together for long, and Isobel will only be able to help them so much. By the time, she's done with the displaced, Downton will likely have been converted back to its original use and Isobel will care only about what happens in Jamaica. It's a win-win for all involved.

WG: I love the undead Titanic heir! I’ve always thought Downton Abbey would benefit greatly from a bit of strange. Sure, the make-up job looks like chewed taffy covered in silly putty, but what the hell. The guy playing undead Titanic heir is sufficiently off-kilter as well. A spazzed out pile of soiled dressings with one great leering eyeball and the voice of an adolescent careening through puberty. Weird hand gestures and just enough stories to create some legitimacy. Of course Edith is all in. She thirsts so deeply for approval it makes her an easy mark.

OMD: Patrick Gordon/"Crawley" strangely reminded me of Bill Irwin in an episode of Northern Exposure. In the episode (Season Four, Episode Six, "On Your Own"), Irwin plays The Flying Man from the circus that rolls through Cicely. He's a mute and has eyes for Marilyn. Something about Trevor White's mannerisms as Patrick Gordon summon the image of Bill Irwin specifically in that role. No idea why. This is definitely an atypical plot device for the show. I'm not sure it works completely--one of the few times I've said this about a choice of Julian Fellowes's--but it does create some drama for the future of Downton Abbey. As for Edith, I wish someone as gullible as she with mounds and mounds of cash would happen into my path. I've got some beachfront property in the desert for sale.

WG: The Carlisle/Carson free agent negotiations apparently were filmed in the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks. The red curtains signify that Carlisle is a scheming evil toadshit. That’s what it says in my copy of TV Symbolism and You textbook from Ripon Grammar school.

OMD: I lost my copy of TV Symbolism and You. Is it back in print?

WG: Nice cinematic scene with Hughes providing graft for Ethel. Rain, darkness, and more shit end of the stick for poor Ethel and her child.

Novello is Bryant? Bryant is Novello?
OMD: The Ethel storyline is getting pretty tedious for me the second time around. There are so many other storylines that don't involve Ethel. I'd prefer that she just went away. It was impossible to give a shit about her in the first place, as she was the randiest broad in the Western Hemisphere and was so openly contemptuous of her life that I'm glad she doesn't get to live it anymore. Just sack the fuck up and go whole hog on pretending you're a war widow, Ethel. Stop bothering the saintly Mrs. Hughes with your problems. More importantly, stop bothering me with your entitlement issues and lack of personal responsibility. I do not give any fucks, Ethel. I give no fucks at all. Also fuck her ugly kid, and I'm glad that Ivor Novello-looking motherfucker Major Bryant bit it. Their offspring will surely be a horrible person regardless of upbringing.

WG: Ivor Novello? I like it when you go Welsh.

“Your lot buys it, my lot inherits it.” One of my favorite lines in the series so far.

OMD: I found it impossible not to laugh at that line even when I knew it was coming. Que delicioso.

WG: Bates. Yes, you are a stupid bastard. Did he whack his wife? Maybe I’ve been watching too much TRU TV, but that may have been the only real solution.

OMD: Having seen the show through the Christmas Special, I am reticent to dive in here. If he did, I'd be glad for him because fuck her. And regardless of how she died, I hope it was excruciatingly painful and exceedingly gruesome.

WG: “I am the cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me, I have nothing to give, and nothing to share, and if you were not engaged to be married, I wouldn’t let you anywhere near me.” Nice.

OMD: It's hard not to really like Matthew in this episode. He's walking this fine line that he never crosses wherein he never gets so self-pitying that you want him to stop. Every word that pours forth from his mouth is gold. When presented with the prospect of cousin Patrick coming back to claim Downton as his own to inherit, Matthew takes it in stride and strangely has the best interests of everyone but himself in mind. It's like he knows his being crippled will be a suck on everyone else and doesn't want to be a bother, but he's taken to this mindset with a refreshing candor and a bit of morbid humor. The exchange about jumping in the river was hilarious. Also, his comment about Carson being willing to open his veins for Mary fit the bill. Great episode for Dan Stevens's reel.

WG: With Bates getting soft and addled in his thinking, Matthew is fast becoming my favorite character. If he's able to muster wood again, its a no doubter. I'm glad you brought up the river scene. I wonder if it was improvised. Mary's laughter was genuine. For me, the Matthew/Mary plot thread is much improved by the chemistry between the two.

Two thoughts at the end of the episode. Matthew got a boner when Bates got behind him. And Bates’s wife can’t be dead--I didn’t see any evidence of salt being poured in her mouth and/or her lips being sewn shut.

OMD: I'm pretty sure The Coug sang about the feelings stirring in Matthew's nether-regions. Who could blame him? I dream about the day where Bates wheels me around in my wheelchair. As for the evil, late Mrs. Bates, perhaps she was shot with silver bullets. They kill werewolves; do they kill your run-of-the-mill hellbeast?

WG: "Little Pink Houses?"

OMD: Mmm-hmmm.

When Mrs. O'Brien excuses herself from the table to eavesdrop on Bates's phone conversation, she does so by saying, "I've got to fetch my button box." Are we to take this as yet another coy double entendre from the quiver of Julian Fellowes? It sure as shit sounds like she's about to go pleasure herself while listening to Bates's bad news. Thomas's knowing/winking glance does little to dissuade me from this assumption. Her hands are nowhere to be seen when it is revealed that she's listening in on Bates and Anna's conversation, and I can't imagine that there could ever be an expression of joy on O'Brien's face, even--hell, especially during climax.

WG: O'Brien pleasuring herself to Bates' bad news seems entirely plausible and wildly hilarious at the same time. Somehow, I missed the "button box" reference. O'Brien is almost surely a sexual scowler. Give credit to Fellowes for pushing healthy alternatives to premarital sex. After Patmore buttered her own biscuit a few episodes back, I gave up the practice myself. Temporarily of course. Respite was had.

OMD: I really liked the scene in the garage (in my head, I pronounced that as I would were I British) between Branson and the luscious Lady Sybil. The sunlight from without bleeding out the background in the garage leaving Branson and Sybil in a gauzy island of restrained lust was affected a strong bodily urge in me in the same vicinity that Matthew presumably had stoked by Bates's firm handling of his chair. It was sort of like a tasteful (and 30 second) version of Somewhere in Time. Only it was awesome and didn't suck. I guess it's not really like Somewhere in Time at all, but it is gauzy just the same.

I love that Lord Grantham's plans for his brand spanking new tuxedo are to sit around the house in it. Oh, to be ridiculously wealthy...

WG: First world problems.

OMD: I really liked the moments shared between Lord Grantham and Matthew where Robert says, "I never think about anything else" than Matthew and then just a bit later between Carson and Mrs. Hughes where Hughes intimates her deep respect for Carson in her reserved British way. Both reached a tone so touching, sincere, and knowing that it's hard to recall an episode that got two little moments so right and so meaningful in such a minute amount of time. The fact that those scenes are then followed by Cora calculatedly co-engineering Lavinia's return and Sir Richard's threat to Mary coming hot on that scene's heels is a credit to Fellowes. He really has this balancing act down. He's a deft damn storyteller.

WG: We revisit this time and again, and rightfully so, but hell yes. Is it as daring as big time cable darlings like The Wire or Deadwood? No. But as a TV drama, it's an extremely well-crafted piece of work. From the production values to the storytelling, to the characters, there are very few missteps. It's easy to take potshots at stuffy period dramas on PBS, the riffs practically write themselves. But screw that noise, this show is a gem.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Prick Tunes: Madvillain "Accordion"

L to R: Madlib and MF Doom
If somehow you are not familiar with this tune, "Accordion" comes from Madvillainy, the brilliant 2004 collaboration between MF Doom and Madlib. Honestly, there are few albums that I still find myself listening to as much eight years later as I do this album, and "Accordion" is one of its best tracks. Let's hope their second proper album comes out this year as they've alluded to over the past year.

Breaking Down: Breaking Bad - Season Five, Episode One

Meet Walter White, he has a full head of hair, but this is not the same guy we saw in the very first episode. Walt is now operating under a false identity and buying weapons at a Denny's in preparation for Armageddon, but then again, what's new? The episode "Live Free or Die" follows Walt's transgressions as a mad man, Mike jumps back on board, and a plan is hatched to magnetize their problems away. 

There must always be a Stark in Winterfell.
Stan Earnest: The first thing we see is Walt looking like reheated spinach exchanging pleasures with the same guy that sold him the .38 snub. What kind of gun did he buy this time? And is Walt's new mission to end Judgment Day before this season is over?

Craig Scholes: I have no idea, apparently I haven't watched enough Sons of Guns to be up on my fully automatic assault rifles. If I had to guess, I'd say something like an AR-15, but don't hold me to that.

SE: I don't think I will hold you to that because it looked pretty powerful, and he had quite a few rounds. Definitely looks like we could have a Scarface ending.

CS: Thanks to some clever Google work and DVR-manship, I have deduced it is a M6 Assault Rifle. I don't know what Walt is going to do with this gun, but I imagine it will end horribly for him in epic fashion.

SE: Well done, Matlock! I will say, you also called Walt having full-blown cancer again.

CS: It's always seemed to me that for Walt to be truly carefree he would have to be dying. The ability to live with regret would really alter his decision making. Of course, you nailed Beneke still being alive.

SE: I have figured out what the weaponry is for: I am finally going to get the showdown I asked for between Beneke and Walt, because they are clearly rebuilding Beneke RoboCop style.

CS: Your RoboCop reference is way better than my Max Headroom reference. Clearly Saul's A-Team is pretty much a D-Team.

SE: This whole episode feels like another homage to Pulp Fiction like the beginning of Season Four, from the breakfast scene (how much does Denny's pay for advertising, or do they even want that kind of advertising) to the way the night shots in the car were filmed like sequences of Mia driving, which makes it fitting that Mike the Cleaner is the star of this one.

It's the one that says "Aztech Messiah" on it.
CS: I would imagine Denny's paid about as much as Dell paid. I also got the Pulp Fiction vibe in the Denny's. If only Walt's billfold said Bad Mother Fucker on it when he left the tip.

SE: What would Walt's wallet say if it was personalized? Like if it were a gift from Junior?

CS: I dunno, probably something incredibly lame; I'd go with Aztek Messiah

SE: And thus a new rock band name was born. Mike has so many great lines in this one; I can't pick a favorite, but, "Keys, scumbag, it's the international sign for keys" was pretty stout.

CS: That line did get a pretty hearty chuckle out of me. His hatred for Walt is pretty evident.

SE: Mike really deserves his own spinoff show.

CS: I wanna see the buddy comedy spinoff of Mike and Saul.

SE: He does have some balls to question Walt's magnet plan and then go in full-bore without a mask on. I laughed when he asked if they were going to drop out of the sky, and I was thinking, "Well, they did it before wearing snow masks with the little yarn balls on top."

Did you notice Skyler's tone with Beneke went from sad and horrifying to very relieved and bossy when she realized he hadn't talked? She clearly enjoys power, even if she doesn't realize it. I really hope she isn't scared all season long.

CS: I don't know what to think about Skyler. I do know that she isn't aging very well. She is probably my least favorite character on the show, and if she isn't it’s Walter Jr.

SE: Ah, the inevitable Skyler hate has its grips on you. I have no clue what direction her character is going to go.

So, Jesse has a hard time getting his thoughts out, so he plays charades with Mike and Walt. Magnets, yo.

CS: Right, that seemed the obvious answer to me; I'm disappointed that Walt didn't have the idea first. When they first brought up the laptop, I thought they were going to walk into Gus's office with a big magnet on a handle, stick it to the laptop, and leave.

S'all good, man.
SE: Walt was clearly too busy orchestrating his master poisoning plan to worry about the cameras. And I totally called Huell lifting the cigarette; we even got a Saul joke out of it.

CS: I'm surprised a man with such sausage fingers would be such an adept pickpocket.

SE: I like that Mike has clearly underestimated Team Walt/Jesse again and wanted to bail first thing after aligning with them. That discussion made the whole episode for me. It is so dark and so funny that they have to have that conversation.

CS: I find it hilarious how many phones Mike burns through.

SE: Yes, and again they are snapping flip phones in half again! What year are we in on this show? High comedy, the show hasn't lost its touch. I love that Walt really is over the top now. I think he blasted the magnets just for fun. He probably even knew the truck would tip.

CS: 42 car batteries ain't cheap either, but the coyness of Walt takes over, "21 batteries in series works great, lets run 21 more in parallel and fuck shit up."

SE: "Yes, Mr. White let's do this bitch." I don't think we got a "bitch" in this episode, but we got a "Mr. White," so that was fun. And Walt had to ask for money. Now that is a level of comedy I didn't think was attainable. Jesse is clearly enjoying his role as full-blown sidekick.

CS: Definitely. Jesse has demonstrated that he isn't a complete loser and is finally being treated accordingly.

SE: One of the main reasons I love this show I have explained before: it is meticulous and doesn't brain you with explanations of presupposition. I love that Walt has solved a problem and at the same time opened up another. Gus's fortune will now likely be seized by the feds. That was a bank account number to the Cayman Islands, right?

CS: I was going to ask you what it was. I didn't get a good look at it, but that seems like a weird place to keep a bank account number.

SE: Well, maybe it was an account for his boyfriend Max's family, because it was in a picture of Max and him. All I saw was "Cayman" and made some deductions. Vince Gilligan is a tricky bastard; I am really itching to know who Walt is going after. That was one hell of a tease in the opener.

CS: I have a suspicion that whoever Walt is either going after or protecting himself from hasn't been introduced yet.

SE: And them bastards at AMC, tricking me into watching some more of their programming by putting the preview of the next episode of Breaking Bad in the commercial break after the beginning of Small Town Security. Do you remember when Comedy Central first started and all their commercials were for Comedy Central shows? I always wondered how they made money that way. Now AMC has previews to their previews. "Coming up next, the preview that will tell you when to watch the preview of the preview, right after the first 20 minutes of some show you hadn't planned on watching."

CS: How many people do you think watched that horrible Small Town Security show for the Breaking Bad preview and The Walking Dead trailer? I was going to stick through it long enough to see The Walking Dead trailer, but I couldn't do it. I'll just wait for it to be on the webbernets Monday.

SE: Reason #2,098,309,737 the internet was invented. So, any predictions going forward?

CS: My prediction for next week: someone eats breakfast, and we are teased with something ominous without a clue what it is.

SE: Sounds reasonable, as long as Mike says "scumbag" again. I'm hoping Ron Swanson makes a guest appearance in the background with a plate full of bacon. He probably wouldn't draw his age with it, but I wouldn't put it past him to make pornographic images with bacon somehow. This episode definitely didn't toy with its food. It got right to it. Mike is on board, and Walt is back to destroying everything in his path. I am anxious to see where they start cooking again and if Walt changes his formula.

CS: Duke Silver would never reveal his age.

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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