Monday, September 30, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Four "All In"

This week we find Nucky striking deals, Kessler cutting loose, and seemingly everyone making moves.

Old Man Duggan: I don't know about you, but it really felt to me that there was a sense of foreboding hanging over this whole episode. The first 40 minutes or so felt relatively light, but there was no goddamn way Winter & Co. was going to let that make its way to the end of the episode. Where to begin?

Wordy Ginters: Definitely not with that sad excuse of limp day old daisies Van Alden Mueller pawned off on Capone's "bloater" convalescing in the hospital. Never deal from the back end of your inventory with business partners.

OMD: Thematically, this episode seemed to be all about transitions. Nucky trying to extract himself from Atlantic City with the Tampa Gambit. Nelson-George Van Alden-Mueller semi-unwillingly switching from Camp O'Banion to Camp Capone. N-G VA-M completing the transition to full-fledged (though still gun-shy) thug. Eddie Kessler leaving the tasks of the chauffeur and personal valet behind. Meyer Lansky passing Arnold Rothstein by, at least in Nucky's esteem. Dunn Purnsley doing dirty work for Dr. Valentin Narcisse, not Chalky. It seems like all the pieces on the chess board weren't just moving, but half were switching colors.

WG: Not only switching colors, but characters trying on new roles. Eddie obviously too green for the valet-to-bag-man promotion and a soft touch to boot (I do hope we get some side stories involving his sons and the Nazi party before Hoover scissors him to confession). Dr. Narcisse playing Shari Lewis to Purnsley's Lambchop. I liked the Jedi mind trick that resulted in Purnsley carpeting the stairs with that pimp. Narcisse proceeded to sample the goods, right? Although the episode was a little heavy on the predictable side, I'm digging the sinister vibe that Narcisse has going. Shades of De Niro in Angel Heart.

OMD: I really loved the way the Nucky/Rothstein/Lansky plot line played out tonight. Rothstein--who had up to this point almost always seemed cold and composed showed weakness, at his precious poker table no less--gets an offer that at first he is hesitant to accept. He wants to test Nucky's mettle on the felt--believing that he can't truly know a man without having sat across the table from him--but actually exposes his own weakness, removing himself from Nucky's consideration and getting his ass handed to him while he was at it. "Everything you want from me tonight is on the table." Indeed. Meyer Lansky, the same man who lived to be 80 years old and never served time despite being neck-deep in organized crime for the better part of 60 years, sees his opportunity while watching his mentor lose his cool and snags what had been Rothstein's deal.

WG: Always good to see a character throw a new wrinkle. Rothstein on tilt. I thought he looked more pale than usual. I hope this doesn't mean less A.R. going forward, but I would imagine it does. Were they playing Texas Hold 'em? I know Tim Van Patten didn't direct the episode, but perhaps it was a nod to nephew Vincent Van Patten, aka, the Vin Scully of the World Poker Tour. I could have used a little more tension in that poker table showdown. Initially, since A.R. has generally showed impeccable instincts and discretion, I thought for sure he was baiting Nucky for a big score. Then, I thought maybe it was a backhanded way to get Nucky the $500K buy in for the Tampa project. In the end, he's the sad-sack gambling addict, chasing the thrill of the play because the money doesn't inflame his loins.

OMD: Nelson, Nelson, George, what are they going to do with you? O'Banion clearly doesn't value Van Alden-Mueller and is somehow more unstable than Al Capone. How he ends up choosing between these two guys is beyond me. Perhaps more importantly, though, did he miss out on the lapskaus? I hope Sigrid saved him some. As for Michael Shannon himself, the discomfort he is able to show is really quite astounding. I really don't know that there is an actor I am more captivated by than Shannon.

WG: His face is the perfect canvas for multiple shades of despair. I think he does heartburn best. His mild discomfort is strong. I completely agree. Shannon is a compelling SOB on the screen. "I do have a sense of humor". That line is a bitch to pull off unless you are a stud like Shannon. I regret that I haven't seen much of his movie work, something I'll be correcting. His bug-eyed homicidal Jesus/justice freak schtick was a major part of what pulled me into to Boardwalk Empire back in Season One. It's been interesting to watch him drift from a man with a fucking capital "P" purpose to being cast in the breeze, buffeted back and forth between selling clothes irons, a flower delivery guy, and reluctant muscle for O'Banion and Capone.

OMD: Is it just me, or did Jerry Flentje's neighbor in 1C (actress Maggie Fine) have a Maura Tierney thing going for her? I'd take a bite out of her apple. Will they at least come back and leave a note?

WG: I think that sadistic fuck Capone gets harder at defenestrating slow paying customers than womanizing. And what is with all the Capone brothers? Of course, all of my Capone knowledge came from The Untouchables, and what I took from that movie is that Kevin Costner is a dick. How about brother Herc Capone in a bad toupee? Apparently, Herc is the one with the social skills. I did get a kick out of Al's orgasmic coke-fueled machine gun murder. Serious joie de vivre. Eat that Wyatt Earp.

OMD: While I'm on the look-alike tangent, Clayton (Willie's roommate, actor Owen Campbell) has to be related to Vincent Kartheiser, right?

WG: Jesus. Nice call. Clayton's has the potential to be as snakey as Pete Campbell.

OMD: So Willie sure slipped Hank a killer cocktail, huh? He shat himself something fierce, a la George Brett. Of course, then he puked his guts out, more literally than those words are muttered. Willie, what is Old Man Conwell going to think?

WG: I typically try not to get too fucking bent with predicting things or letting implausible plot twists gnaw at me. Maybe it was because of the ricin schtick from Breaking Bad, but you knew Willie was going to fuck up the recipe when he went Drugstore Cowboy in the badly-lit chemistry lab. I think the ramifications of dealing with a dead rich boy is going to set up some interesting action, and soon.

OMD: Well, Dunn certainly took it to that "duppy" on the stoop, didn't he? I thought it was interesting that Narcisse saw that form of vampirism as potentially harmful to the "Libyan" race as it ultimately turned out to be, or at least as it would have appeared from his point-of-view. It'll be interesting to see how this Narcisse incursion into Chalky White's turf plays out, especially in regards to Dunn.

WG: Purnsley is most likely fucked. It's pretty apparent that Narcisse holds Dunn in even less regard than the duppy. Although he'll get some good mileage out of Purnsley before he disposes of him. Did you pick up on the Marcus Garvey reference? Another cool historical angle that makes Boardwalk Empire so damn good. I don't know as much about Garvey as I should, but damn, there used to be some radical mofo's running around back in the 20's Between Garvey, Gene Debs, Bob La Follette, and straight up crooks like Harding, these guys make the political movers and shakers to today look like milquetoast.

OMD: Totally missed the Marcus Garvey reference, though, like you, I don't know enough about him in the first place. The instant Eddie took a drink with Bottles, you knew it was as good as over for him. If there's one thing characters in this show can't have, it's a good time. The instant someone smiles, you know they're fucked. Maybe Eddie doesn't fall completely, but he's definitely up Shit Creek now. For a while, I was worried that the gun up his sleeve was going to discharge, but that was mostly because I'd forgotten about the Bureau's strategy meeting until I saw Agent Knox in the train station. Eddie, you dear, dear bastard, I hope you make it out of this.

WG: He's got a chance if he sobers up. His loyalty may trump his inexperience, and prevent him from saying something stupid. But obviously Hoover isn't fucking around, and Knox has already demonstrated he's crazy. Eddie may get torn apart like a soft Bavarian pretzel.

OMD: Thoughts?

WG: Whither Margaret?

OMD: Apparently she went the way of the Nets and the upper middle class in Manhattan: Brooklyn. I'll be damned if we've seen her, though.

Breaking Down: Breaking Bad Season Five, Episode Sixteen: "Felina"

Stan Earnest: Golf clap.

Craig Scholes: I have mixed feelings on it.  I don't know what I was expecting, but I didn't love it.  I liked it; I’m not disappointed.  But I don't think it’s the best finale ever.

SE: So tell me what finale was better?

CS: Friday Night Lights.

SE: I take it Landry lives in that one? I should say kills.

CS: Yeah, but that’s not what made it great.

SE: Here is what made this great: Walt wins, and Jesse wins. Everybody wins.

CS: Walt didn't win.

SE: Walt was going to die anyhow. This way he saves Jesse and finds a way to get money to his family.

CS: I think it was a Plan B. It wasn't how he wanted to go out; it’s just the compromise he settled for.

SE: I'm pissed that Jesse doesn't have a barrel of cashola in the back of that El Camino.

CS: I hope Jesse goes "home.”

SE: Home is where the Hartwell is.

CS: I loved the fantasy of him woodworking.

SE: Ways it could have been better: 1. Bill Burr. 2. Walt crushes some blue with the butt of the M60 and snorts it pre-battle. 3. Walt actually fires the weapon. 4. Jesse leaves with money.

CS: I absolutely loved the erector set assassin kit. Lego Mindstorm will be releasing their version next fall.
Meth Damon's reconstruction of the train robbery

SE: I honestly don't see a better ending to this thing, other than the fact that Jesse could have had Andrea waiting for him.

I just realized that "Baby Blue" is in reference to the meth, first Tommy James and the Shondells and now Badfinger? How many songs about blue meth are there?

CS: Well since blue meth isn't really a thing outside of the Breaking Bad world, probably zero.

SE: If ricin really takes four days to kill, then Lydia still has time to do some damage to Walt's family right?

CS: I thought it was two days.

SE: All I know is that they had to pay Laura Fraser a Walt barrel to remove her makeup. Was that Charlize Theron from Monster?

CS: I didn't think she looked that bad. I think it was part of the character because she was so concerned with how she was perceived, and at that point she was as vulnerable as she could ever be.

SE: And watch out Dwight Schrute, the Walt barrel is giving the Schrute buck a literal run for its money.

CS: I thought it would have been hilarious if Skyler just kept blowing smoke in Walt’s face telling him to die.

SE: I was hoping Beneke would be there chilling on the sofa watching Friends.

CS: I really don't get your obsession with Beneke.

SE: He should be dead for messing around with Heisenberg's woman. But hey, another quaalude and she'll love me in the morning.

CS: I would have liked to have seen a scene where Walt is at a stop light in the Volvo and Beneke shoots by blowing into a tube to make his wheelchair cross the street.

SE: Fantastic. Damn you Gilligan, not all loose ends were tied up! I wanted to see Huell all bugged out eating a rack of ribs in Robert Forster's dungeon.

CS: I hope Bill Burr becomes a sketchy henchman for Robert Forster now.

SE: Tell me it wasn't genius to bring Badger and Skinny Pete back into action. Walt probably found them at Jesse's place still ripping on Chekhov's bongs.

CS: I think we have an opportunity for another spinoff: the Badger and Skinny Pete assassin service.

SE: Walt's plan with Gretchen and Elliot was superb. I couldn't help but to be full-on rooting for Walt at that point. All those riches can't make up for missing out on that big ass Walt cock. Take that Gretchen! Of course, she has had Elliot's ears to hang on to during cunnilingus over the years.

CS: Boy was I wrong about them getting ricin'd. Walt's pride really was his undoing.

SE: I called the Marty Robbins shit though. I put the over/under on days in a row I listen to ole Marty at 7 and I'm taking the over.

CS: If you put those odds for me and set them at half a day. Take the under.

SE: I feel like my dad and I put together the soundtrack for Breaking Bad. For every random new track, there was a splash of white-old-man-grew-up-in-the-70s twinge thrown in, fucking Boz Scaggs.

CS: But on the other hand they had that amazing song by Jose Gonzalez in the teaser for the last episode. And that Lydia ringtone was fucking creepy.

SE: Even if you just take these last eight episodes as the final season, I don't see any other final season that was better. Breaking Bad started as my own special show during Seasons One and Two, and then morphed into the best television show ever. This would be like if I was a fan of the Cleveland Browns since the 1950s and they suddenly won like ten Super Bowls in a row. Thank you Breaking Bad. It was a wild ride.

CS: Overdramatic much?

SE: But maybe I just feel this way because the most recent last season I remember is Dexter, the most blasphemous final season of a show ever. That shit made the Sopranos ending look like the final ten minutes of The Godfather: Part II.

CS: I'll get around to watching the last season of Dexter, but I’m not looking forward to it.

SE: When it comes to Breaking Bad, I just associate with a man eviscerated by his surroundings while trying to play fair.

CS: Play fair?  How did Walt ever play fair?

SE: Exactly, once he stopped playing fair a whole new world opened up for him. That fantasy world he was so good at.

CS: “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it.”

SE: That's what I tell my wife when I play fantasy football. Very similar worlds.

CS: That's basically my excuse for procrastinating.

SE: You mean procrasturbating?

CS: I never put that off.

SE: Can we get a show about how to pull off Breaking Bad stunts hosted by Richard Dean Anderson? Maybe this is how I'll describe Breaking Bad to folks that haven't seen it: It's like MacGyver meets Scarface meets Everybody Loves Raymond.

CS: Everybody Loves Raymond?

SE: Everybody Loves Walter Hartwell White. Yeah, in the small segments of that show I've seen his wife is always busting his balls.

CS: I've never really seen it, so I'll take your word.

SE: You called it last week with Walt not being adept enough to fire the M60, so it stays true to the show’s nature that Walt would blind the Nazi's with science.

CS: I do like him putting the last bullet in Uncle Jack’s dome. So do you have any last gushings about how your life won't be the same without this show anymore?

SE: Well, I could really use the ten hours a week I have been dedicating to the Bald Move podcasts and Sepinwall columns.

CS: Now what?  Do we start writing about Zero Dark Detroit, or Low Winter Scrotum, whatever the fuck that fucking show is called.

SE: Every week the same three-word column: "This show sucks." And then we just start talking about how much we miss Breaking Bad.

CS: I'd just have to assume it still sucks, because no way I actually watch any more of it.

SE: Walter could still become a zombie that runs into post-apocalyptic Jesse. The new Walking Dead season looks like it needs a new direction.

CS: I think I’m done with that show.  I hate basically every character on that show.

SE: Yeah, that show needs a Tuco. That reign of Cadillac trunk fire reminded me of a Fourth of July when one of my narcissistic buddies unwound like 1,000 packs of Black Cats into a bucket and then smoked around them, and they all went up in a two-minute hellfire blaze.

CS: I think it would have been awesome if Walt let off the trigger before he ran out of ammo to trick someone into standing up, and then finished them off with the last few rounds.

SE: Then we wouldn't have the audience gifted Todd's murder by Jesse. That thing was wrapped with more ribbons than a Christmas Day Lexus.

CS: We still could have had that, Landry ain't bright. Are we not gonna talk about Flynn wearing Timberlands with Zubaz?

SE: Nah, let's just end on that image of Walt watching him enter that apartment and close the door behind him. That is where most lackluster shows would end it.

CS: What would have been the "Scooby-Doo" ending for Breaking Bad?

SE: I was just wondering what the Stephen-King ending would be. The Scooby-Doo ending would have Mike coming back to kick out the crutches underneath Flynn, proving him to be the real mastermind as he tries to run away.

CS: Flynn rips off his mask and turns out to be Tuco the whole time and has been maintaining an abandoned amusement park. The Stephen-King ending would have been aliens.

SE: An alien army of 1,000 Marie's on the crystal blue.

So even though guns were not ablaze for the full hour and a half, we still love this episode right? I mean, nothing touches "Ozymandias," but this was a nice solid home run while "Ozymandias" was the grand salami.

CS: Like I said, I liked the episode, didn't love it.  It was a really good last season, but not the best last episode for me.  I have no complaints with it.  I think Gilligan did the show right.

SE: You’re goddamn right.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tube Steak: Broadchurch Series One

Wednesday night saw BBC America's turn at airing the much-heralded Broadchurch--a show that is as much a small town drama as it is a murder mystery--come to an end. For those who did not watch or don't even know what Broadchurch is because it's on BBC America, its initial run was fucking spectacular.

Written almost entirely by creator Chris Chibnall--the only other writer with an "Written by" credit was Louise Fox, who co-wrote the sixth installment--Broadchurch is expertly plotted out, magnificently shot, and superbly acted. Chibnall, who has worked on Doctor Who, Torchwood, Law & Order: UK, and Life on Mars, crafted a tightly-woven whodunit set against the backdrop of the titular small seaside community on the south coast of England. Centered around the murder of an eleven-year-old boy, Danny Latimer, the murder shakes the quiet town to its core, as Broadchurch had been untouched by violent crime up to then. What unfurls as the Latimer family tries to come to grips with the murder that has befallen them, as the police try sift through the details to find the killer, as the town begins to turn on itself, is a fantastically compelling eight episodes of television.

The acting, particularly the two detectives on the case, played by Olivia Colman and former Doctor Who David Tennant, and Danny's parents, Jodie Whittaker and Andrew Buchan, is top-notch. As Danny's murder starts to tear at the fabric of their marriage, Whittaker and Buchan shine. They imbue their characters with such an innate humanity that putting yourself in their shoes is effortless. As DS Ellie Miller (Colman) and DI Alec Hardy get deeper and deeper into the case, the initial conflict between the two resulting from their starkly different points-of-view begins to dissipate as his distinctly more pessimistic and world-weary philosophy begins to inevitably permeate her viewpoint, not by his influence but by the toxic nature of the crime that they are investigating. To delve too much deeper into the superb acting would be to give away far too much, but as anyone who has seen the series can attest, they all have their moments to shine, and shine they do.

And with seasons British television directors James Strong (Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Hustle) and Euros Lyn (Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Upstairs Downstairs) as the steadying hand at the helm of each episode, the episodes are filmed in such a way as to bring you into the headspace of these characters and into the world of Broadchurch. The camera direction deftly conforms to the larger psychological undertones of the scene, with no shot standing out more magnificently than the fateful scene where the murderer is finally revealed. Chibnall and Company clearly had a very specific story they were going to tell, and the machine had to click on all cylinders for it to all come together.

Holy shit, did they ever succeed.

Broadchurch can currently be streamed legally, but for pay--$2.99 per episode in HD ($1.99 for standard definition), $22.72 for the season ($15.12 SD)--here. It's also on YouTube for $1.99 per episode, but it appears as though there is not an HD viewing option. As it was broadcast in the UK by ITV and not the BBC, I have no idea if and when it will be available for purchase or streaming by subscription service in the US.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Three "Acres of Diamonds"

In this week's installment, Nucky heads to Florida, Harrow's chickens come home to roost, and Narcisse makes a new friend.

Wordy Ginters: Boardwalk Empire travels well. Some of the most memorable episodes have taken place away from Atlantic City. Stellar forays to New York, Ireland, and Chicago come to mind. Nucky’s shenanigans down in Tampa were no different. The opening scene, with Nucky alone, isolated, and adrift, looking out the middle window of his hotel room to the ocean, had to be influenced by art. Piss Christ?

Old Man Duggan: Either Piss Christ or they're having fun with John Donne's "No Man Is An Island." If Nucky is able to succeed at anything in Tampa, I hope it is in getting them to build a baseball stadium downtown. I'm sure it's just me, but I imagine every Floridian to be exactly like the drunk passed out at Sally's when Nucky goes back in the second time around.

WG: Tampa. Money, cunny, sunny. Director Allen Coulter was working the hot and steamy Tennessee Williams vibe hard this episode. The unofficial Tampa city slogan summed up the sleazy hick backwoods milieu nicely. Too bad August Tucker ended the episode with a machete quite literally in his coconut. He would have been a fun goon to loathe. With his swatting and spitting and fuck all. My favorite detail may have been Nucky’s disdain for the frou-frou drink.

OMD: Yes, August "Don't Call Me 'Gus'" Tucker could have joined Mickey Doyle amongst the ranks of irksome tools in middle management. But for the blade swung half-way through his gourd, of course. Coulter must have spent the months leading up to this episode watching A Streetcar Named Desire on a loop. I guess it makes sense as Tampa is essentially New Orleans without the history, culture, character, and taste. After all, you've got to gussy shit up for Boardwalk. As for Nucky's disdain towards namby-pamby cocktails, it'd be hard to argue with him. Just pour the goddamn whiskey in a tumbler, barkeep, and don't pussyfoot about.

WG: I’d pay big bucks to enroll in the Narcisse lectures: “No man who continues to add to the material intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward.” I’m not so sure I’d be welcomed into the Universal Negro Improvement Association. I don’t know which power move I appreciated more: director Allen Coulter silhouetting Rothstein next to the U.S. flag in his meeting with Narcisse, or Narcisse not so discreetly wiping his hand after shaking hands with Rothstein at the culmination of that meeting? Beautiful. Dude is apparently unflappable. I’m guessing some white devil will get his goat at some point. Maybe.

OMD: I'm sure you'd learn a lot from Dr. Valentin Narcisse. The hand-wipe was great. I quite literally laughed aloud when Narcisse hit the cushion upon which he say while telling Rothstein, "Nonetheless, you succeeded despite yourself," after Rothstein apologizes for having possibly offended him. By the way, amongst Narcisse's students: Leander Sydnor (actor Corey Parker Robinson) from The Wire.

WG: How does the little sermon by Narcisse square with the Tea Party bullshit coming out of the record player at the lecture hall in Temple? “I sympathize with the poor, but let us remember, there is not a poor person in America, in these United States, who was not made poor by his own shortcomings.” Based on Narcisse’s plan to sling heroin to “inferiors,” I’d say the philosophy behind both sentiments is pretty similar. For what it’s worth, Paul Whiteman was the Vanilla Ice of his day, and that coed who gave young Eli Jr a hard-on in the library does look a lot like Colleen Moore. The older you get, the more remarkable you find it that you could have ever been embarrassed by getting a hard-on.

OMD: That sermon playing on the Victrola was from Russell Conwell, the founder of Temple University. It was an excerpt from his motivational speech "Acres of Diamonds," which he was said to have delivered more than 5,000 times between 1890 and his death in 1925. He also used the proceeds from his speech to found Temple. The tenets of the Conwell speech, especially the underlying self-satisfied superiority and the disdain for those who haven't succeeded, definitely seem to worm their way through not only Narcisse's philosophy but also in Nucky's dealings in Florida and the Temple indoctrination seminars.

Now while Eli's progeny may be into Colleen Moore's doppelganger, I do feel obligated to note that Paul Whiteman is the spitting fucking image of Roy from Wings.

WG: Your Strangers on a Train theory is pretty damn solid.

OMD: I'm just glad Carl Billings didn't get the better of Harrow.

WG: Loved the scene with Harrow in the barn. Takes off his mask to bask in the light. Birds sweetly chirping. Assumed it was a precursor for some kind of renewal or change of fate. I didn’t think he’d barely escape getting shot. Too bad he buried that sweet little hand gun in that dolls grave. Sis to the rescue. Those Harrows, think they’re the only people on earth.

OMD: Given Emmy's handiwork with the shotgun, I think it's safe to say that being a member of the Harrow clan means that you sprang forth from the womb with a piece in hand and the know-how required to take care of yourself. I'm really glad Carl's brains were sprayed across the side of the barn. What. A. Dick.

WG: Is Daughter Maitland literally Narcisse’s daughter? Speaking of unflappable, I never thought I’d see Chalky looking completely gobsmacked, but he was damn near drooling over Maitland. Poor bastard doesn’t have a prayer does he? Narcisse is working him every which way. Chalky: “White people seem to like her.” Narcisse: “Yes, that would be very important (pregnant fucking pause) to you.”

OMD: Initially, I thought that "Daughter" was her stage name but a cursory stroll around the interwebs indicates that she is, indeed, the daughter of Valentin Narcisse, making his referring to her as Daughter Maitland just another interesting wrinkle in his character. It would seem that she'll lead to his potential undoing, per her father's request. One wonders if the pregnancy of that pause actually got Daughter Maitland pregnant. Is Chalky fucked before he even got to make fuck?

WG: Back in Tampa, I was shocked to hear Nucky quote former University of Nebraska football coach Bill Callahan, by using the terms “two-bit fucking hillbilly” and “world’s tallest midget”. Callahan levied these very same descriptors at Oklahomans back in the day. I miss Bill more and more each game. Please take this opportunity to spin a tale about another Bill Callahan, I’m still trying to figure out why Bo Pelini, the August Tucker of the Big 10, still has a job.

OMD: While the awesome Bill Callahan was on the front of the boat tonight on the Dream River Showboat album release party, a bandmate or two were blocking my co-worker, the captain's view. My co-worker poked his head out and said, "It's not a big deal right now because there's no one out there [on the lake in the path of the boat], but could you guys tell me if I'm about to hit somebody? I don't want to kill anybody. [pregnant pause] Again." The Bill Callahan set tonight was fantastic [and was the reason this is getting posted a couple hours later than usual.

WG: Run, Ron Livingston! Run!

OMD: No shit.

WG: Great scene with Nucky and Patricia Arquette in the bar discussing whether or not the wealthy know where to shop, when plenty isn’t enough, and how one defines being alive. That scene encapsulates the ennui draped all over the first few episodes of this season, and sets the table for the wise guys from up the coast to come down and roll the local rubes in Florida. The only thing missing was Arquette and Nucky carving up a cake shaped like Florida. Jesus, the episode ends with a moth circling a flame (light bulb). Nucky can’t help himself.

OMD: I have to say I like the headspace Nucky is living in to open this season a whole helluva lot more than where he was to open last season. I like Nucky a lot more when he's getting down to business. He's definitely not happy, and he sees what his thirst for power has cost him, but it's time to shit or get off the pot, and he knows it. It sure looks like he's going to shit.

[taken by Logan Fry on the cruise earlier this evening]

Breaking Down: Breaking Bad Season Five, Episode Fifteen: "Granite State"

"Granite State" brings us Walt's transformation from Mr. Chips into Mr. Lambert, hiding out in the backwoods of New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Jesse merrily cooks away for the Uncles of Anarchy, while they torture the ABQ with their boyish charm. A steady diet of Ensure and scotch whiskey lead Walt on his path to a healthy recovery from cancer.

The look of disgust after realizing Huell lifted the M60
Craig Scholes: Hank would still be alive, if only Marie continued to wear purple.

Shane England: Can I just adopt Robert Forster as my uncle?

CS: I know I've seen him in many, many things, but none of them are coming to mind.

SE: Jackie Brown most recently sticks in my head, but every cop show ever before that.

CS: I don't watch a lot of cop shows.

SE: My lord, you could derail a fucking 20,000-ton coal train.


SE: IMDB to the rescue!

This episode is going to be hard to do our thing on, but I will add this: The other day, I decided to enjoy the nice weather and just stand outside my car for a few moments. Looking up at a streetlight amidst a sunny day, I realized that I’m going to miss Breaking Bad. Even if one doesn’t like the concept of the show, the cinematography has to be appreciated. I just feel that it made me look at the world in a different way, that any object could take on a life of its own. I was standing next to a busy traffic way with a lush forest of shimmering trees just beyond the city life--just another random location--but I felt like it could be a location where The Disappearerer could pick me up. I'm guessing you probably had to be there in my body to get the feeling, but I just want to be thankful for a show in which there was extra thought and added meaning applied to the inanimate objects that surround our lives. Other shows just haphazardly film what they can in a mad dash to produce the 23-episode season in two weeks.

CS: Now you're just making shit up.

SE: I will say I was rocking out the Eureka podcast the other day, and I think you hit on something interesting. Shows stagnate when the protagonist isn't in harms way. That is why Dexter has gotten dry. We know were it is going; we know he won't get caught. This is why Boardwalk Empire started kicking ass when Nucky had his ass against the wall.

CS: I feel like I need to make a dick joke.

SE: I could keep waxing it on the poetic side, but yeah we need a dick joke. My dick is so big, its nickname is Heisenberg.

CS: That joke is as pathetic as the TV reception in Mr. Lambert's cabin.

SE: I loved that Walt and Saul were in white shirts like they were already in prison.
My dick is so strong, it snorts ricin to get high.

CS: I think we now know who the ricin is for.

SE: It would be so petty of him to black out his ex-partners at Gray Matter.

CS: Which is exactly what he is going to do. If there is any one distinctive trait of Walt, it is pettiness.

SE: Such a big matter has been made of Lydia's stevia addiction that I hope it's for her. Mr. White in the cafe with the ricin-laced stevia.

CS: I guess it’s possible, as she is the one who is advocating for the offing of Skyler.

SE: I loved how on the preview for Talking Bad they offered, "Tonight we discuss if Walt will take Saul's advice." When has Walt ever taken advice? Tonight on Talking Bad: "Does the pope shit in the woods?"

CS: Saul should have just karate chopped Walt in the throat when he started to go Heisenberg in the vacuum dungeon.

SE: I have always been rooting for that evil bastard Walter White. Do you think this episode turns more folks to his side for the epic gun battle?

CS: I don't see there being a gun battle. I think Walt is going to use the machine gun as intimidation. No way he goes down in a blaze of glory.

SE: I don’t think Walt is much for Bon Jovi anyhow, but it's perfect that Jesse is in a real dungeon because he is out of harm’s way until all the Nazis are gone. Then we get the final showdown.

CS: If Walt dies, Flynn is the one who kills him.

SE: Is there anybody that has flipped quicker than Flynn against his father?

CS: I don't know, and I don't fucking care. I wish Flynn would have died in the first 5 minutes of that show.  I hate that character so much.

SE: I don't quite understand that, but when do we get the Todd/Flynn spinoff? I want to see those two in business together.

CS: The character of Flynn is just stupid.  He didn't inherit even the tiniest bit of his father’s intelligence. He flies off the handle. He bitches and whines. I get that he is a teenager, but I also hate teenagers.

SE: Let's keep this hate going, so Jesse is tortured further by his lady friend being offed. I think they did that more as a safety measure than to show Jesse.

CS: Safety from what?  She didn't know anything.

SE: They didn't know that though. The only reason Skyler is alive is because Todd respects Walt.

CS: Exactly, they didn't kill Skyler because he respects Walt. They killed what’s-her-face because they don't give a fuck about Jesse.

SE: The Uncles of Anarchy are really sweet on women. The best torture for them would be to lock them up and have Skyler and Marie take turns dominating them.

CS: I think Landry is going to get spurned by Lady Banjo Eyes, and he kills her.

SE: Whoa, good call. I like that.

CS: Walt was going to turn himself in, he saw the interview, and now he's going back. He's going back to kill the Gray Matter folks, or he is going to frame them.

SE: So you are joining the crazy-talk-Breaking-Bad-theory bunch? That gun machine gun is going to get used like a mother fucker. The Nazis are getting mowed down. And then there will be the epic Jesse/Walt showdown.

CS: No, I clearly said the machine gun is going to be a power play.  Has Walt even shot a gun?

SE: Quit trolling. He blew the shit out of those super lab goons. Craig, Craig, Craig, Chekhov’s gun always gets used by The Vince Gilligan.

CS: What does Star Trek have to do with Gilligan’s Island?

SE: So what do you think Walt did in that cabin for months on end? He probably beat Huell's record for hiding out by 3,000 fold.

CS: I don’t know, but I would have gone insane.  Also giving yourself chemo is pretty fucking hardcore.

Also fun fact: New Hampshire is the Payphone Capital of the World.

SE: What a fantastic line by Robert Forster when Chemo Sah-be asked him to give the money to his family: "If I said 'yes,' would you believe me?"
From Walt's cabin library

CS: What was the end game with his $11 million in cabin cash?

SE: I think that was the whole point, that Walt had no end game. I was really wanting a clip of newspaper of Jessie's girl getting offed with Walter wondering what that was about.

CS: Going back to Jesse, it's amazing that handcuff lock technologies have NEVER advanced.  I mean really, what kind of jank-ass system can be picked with a shitty paper clip.

Shout-out to Steven Colbert's Americone Dream ice cream though.

SE: And you're telling me that he twists that paper clip back to normal after he is done and clips it back up? No way.

CS: That was just a montage.

SE: I wanted a montage of the newspaper clippings Walt had up on his wall.

CS: Breaking Bad has really had some nice montages over the course of the series. 

My brother once told me that he kept a handcuff key behind his belt in the back belt loop at all times, so when he had his hands handcuffed behind his back the key would be right there and he could get away. He also told me it came in handy more times than I could even imagine. My brother also told me he couldn't watch Breaking Bad because it hits too close to home.

SE: Which means he associates too closely with Badger.

CS: Yeah, he had many Badgers and Skinny Petes in his crew before he was exiled from this time zone.

SE: So let's take some odds to end this: Skyler dies (5/1), Walt lives (2/1), Todd kills Lydia (10/1), Jesse kills Walt (2/1), Brock becomes a meth dealer in the Saul spinoff (12/1), and how about this one: Walt wins (10/1).

CS: Marie goes back to wearing purple (1/2), Flynn does something stupid (off), Ghost of Hank comes back for a weird Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore moment in Ghost with his minerals (25/1), Skyler switches to non-filters (5/1).

SE: Well, we can guarantee the last episode will be non-filtered.

CS: I have no idea how they are going to wrap this up in about 60 minutes of television.

SE: Better than if Chemo Sah-be would have just died in his cabin eating canned green beans.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wordy Old Men on Boardwalk Empire: Season Four, Episode Two "Resignation"

This week, chickens come home to roost at The Onyx Club, Nucky prepares to become a Rays fan, Eddie Kessler steps up to the plate, and we find out that Nucky has two new potential threats.

Old Man Duggan: Well, the handful of things that were left unclear last week were made a little more clear this week. While I liked last week's episode well enough, it did seem like something was missing. With the stage having been set, Howard Korder and Dennis Lehane got to play around in this rich world this week. Now last week we didn't quite get around to talking about this last week, but Lehane has been brought on as a Consulting Producer [for those who may not know this, Consulting Producers typically have a little more input than a regular [writer-]Producer does, but obviously doesn't have the authority that the Executive Producers and showrunner would have] this year, which for me is a big deal. Given the subject matter and setting in his last book, Live By Night, and where Nucky is heading, I'm goddamn giddy. Even if the rumored Lehane/Pelecanos series gets picked up by HBO, this could be a great season. Pelecanos has also been brought on this season, but just as a writer.

Wordy Ginters: Stellar writing stable. I believe Pelecanos worked on both The Wire and Treme, Regardless, as a crime fiction fan, I share your giddiness. Lehane is a contemporary giant of the genre. This is where HBO has the edge on other TV serial dramas. Top shelf on everything from the writing to the cinematography to the acting.

OMD: Yes, Pelecanos was a scribe on The Wire and Treme. I do wonder if he was a bigger name if he, too, would be a Consulting Producer.

Onto this week's business: This week's big winner was Eddie. "Mr. Thompson is part of everything. He is in the sky and sea. He's in the dreams of children at night. He is all that there is. Forever." The look of revelation on Nucky's face when he delivers that screed is fucking priceless. I loved him coming to Nucky imploring that he entrust him with more responsibility. Respect. Seriously, this was a great episode for Anthony Laciura to work his chops a bit.

WG: I thought Eddie was riffing on Maggie Gyllenhaal from Secretary in that first scene. Poaching the eggs a little too long. Spilling the coffee. Dissing Nucky’s delicate undergarments. The petulance indicated he wanted something, but I didn’t know exactly what. It will be fun to see him establish a beachhead in Florida. Eddie blotting the coffee stain reminded me of the “stain blotting” from my favorite video by The Oh Sees, “Lupine Dominus.”

OMD: I guess we know what Harrow was up to. Gun for hire in a Strangers on a Train scenario. How long until an old man hazards death crawling underneath an out-of-control carousel?

WG:  Sooner that we think. A dog-eared copy of The Chessmen from Mars playing the role of lighter.

OMD: And while we're on the subject of Harrow, my money is on him not being done killing quite yet, seeing as though Carl Billings's old partner ended up with his brains dripping down the walls of his office. What sort of shit was this guy into? Gun underneath his jacket. Gun in the desk. Multiple men wanting to make sure you're taking a dirt nap. I can't help but wonder where this is taking Harrow's story. Seeing as though his business was in Milwaukee, I'm guessing he has to turn people into sausage. Sidenote: I'll be damned if the husband and father of two daughters dead in his office the second time around didn't look like he had to have been Jim Beaver's brother.

Ellsworth's kin are in Milwaukee?
WG: Brother of Ellsworth. I was getting a John Malkovich vibe. I read a pre-season interview with Terence Winter, and he specifically mentioned that Harrow’s early episode activities were intentionally vague. I want to know why sis walks with a limp, and what happened to her beloved Gerald. Could they be more stoic? No. None more stoic. Does Harrow’s obvious affection for Sampson lend weight to the great scene from Season Two episode “Gimcrack and Bunkum,” when Harrow was basically saved from suicide by a Sampson look alike mutt who stole his face plate? Let me answer that for you: Hell yes.

OMD: Good catch on the call-back.

I liked how they played with Agent Knox's angles this episode. Given his willingness to see Agent Sawicki offed and his lack of concern afterwards, I doubt we've seen the last reveal as to what Knox is actually up to. Regardless, enter J. Edgar into the mix. I'm going to be a bit upset if we don't see him in a dress by season's end. Unfortunately, however this plays out, it seems that we might end up seeing Eli in the clink when next season opens in 1925. Are we to believe that Gaston Means doesn't actually know what Knox is up to, or is he playing a different angle?

WG: Means is fantastic. Who knows how that crooked puppeteer will queer things? As long as he gives play-by-play in that syrupy everywhere-but-nowhere Janus-faced dialect, I’m on board. I also look forward to seeing J. Edgar and Knox hoofing it to some Gershwin. Knox is an interesting character. I’m a sucker for the faux-rube put on. Reminds me of Lou Ford from The Killer Inside Me.

OMD: Silent Cal shit-canned Daugherty. An Amherst classmate of Coolidge's Harlan F. Stone is his replacement, and as Treasury Agent Elliot found out in a closed-door meeting, now there's a Bureau of Investigation. Stone takes a seat on the Supreme Court in 1925, so I guess we'll see if he pops up.

WG: Has to be a challenge for Winter to deal with source material ripped from the history books. He hews closer to the spirit of things more than details. I’m not a huge historical fiction fan, but when you dig into legendary gangsters like Capone, the Prohibition Era, and figures like Rothstein and J. Edgar Hoover, I’m on board.

OMD: Dr. Valentin Narcisse. This wacky Trinidadian seems interesting. Libyans. Nordic tribe. Perhaps purity obsessed. I, for one, am very glad that Alma Pastor was taken care of. What an unconvincing tale of fictitious rape. Nucky was not buying it for a second. Narcisse apparently wasn't either, although I guess it wouldn't have mattered if he did or didn't. I suppose it was best that she was left where she was, if for no other reason than for Nucky and Chalky to know that episode was behind him. I'm sure Bader is none too pleased.

WG: Dr. Valentin Narcisse is straight out of a Tea Party fever dream. You can imagine him surrounding voting precincts in the suburbs with militant-looking jazz musicians and tap dancers. Isn’t he played by the same dude who set up Bill Murray’s logistics in Broken Flowers? As soon as they dumped Alma, he dropped a sweet Ethiopian Afro-Beat jazz mix-tape into the stereo for the ride back to NYC. I like him because he plays against stereotypes a little bit. The Capone family comes off a little too Mario Brothers for my liking. O’Banion has a facet or two. Early results indicate Narcisse lacks the unpredictably predictable volcano rage of past heels like my man Gyp, but in some indistinct way, he comes off far more powerful and creepy.

OMD: Jeffrey Wright was, in fact, Winston in Broken Flowers. On assumes that Jarmusch was unable to get Ernie Hudson to reprise the role.

Between Narcisse, Knox, and to presumably a lesser degree Hoover, this season should have some interesting forces pushing against Nucky. I wish I didn't have to wait a week to see what happens.

WG: I also bait with waited breath.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Breaking Down: Breaking Bad Season Five, Episode Fourteen "Ozymandias"

In this episode, Hank takes a trip to Belize with his partner Gomez leading people to believe he had a secret gay relationship, Walt and his family take to the road to start a traveling family band, and Todd and Jesse open a 50's-themed diner together.

Craig Scholes: Alright sirs (and the female version of sirs), Stan has decided to have fun this weekend, and it has compromised our Breaking Bad format a tad.  So Yours Truly will be helming this word salad of a breakdown. I feel bad for anyone who actually reads this.

Stan Earnest: Just letting you know I'll be watching this naked. Flashback!

CS: MOAR TIGHTY WALTER WHITES! Well that flashback seemed relatively pointless.

SE: Unless Holly bites the dust.

Knocking as we speak.
CS: Holly is the one who knocks.

SE: Literally. Knock knock knocking on labia's door.


SE: This is just fucking madness.

CS: First, the Uncles of Anarchy come to Walt's rescue; then they go against his wishes; and finally they take his money.

SE: I love that Hank told him how stupid he is.

CS: I'm speechless. HOLY SHIT! HO. LEE. SHIT!

SE: Shouldn't our column just be like random sentences of nonsensical thought after that?

[OMD: As the one doing the final editing on this, no.]

CS: That was insane.

[OMD: One assumes that they're talking about Hank getting offed, but as you'll see this is much more of a live-blogging (without actually live-blogging) than a typical Breaking Down entry. Your guess, dear reader, is as good as mine.]

SE: The way he told Jesse about Jane was chillingly believable to the point where Jesse knows it is unequivocally true.  Did you know it takes them like a month to "break" one episode? Piece it together where it makes sense.

CS: Don't care. I can't wait to see how Walt lies about what happened. Jesus, Marie likes to stick her nose intp shit.

SE: Is Jesse Pinkman the most tortured soul in the history of everything?

CS: I can't think of a character who has been put through more hell.

SE: No wonder they have been setting Todd up as a sadistic fuck

CS: That photo of the only two people Jesse cares about is just cruel.

SE: I feel like I need to bathe myself in holy water.

CS: The write-up of this is gonna be all over the place and incoherent.

[OMD: Yes, yes it is.]

SE: It's on you, bro. Just kind of joke around about what happened, and make fun of the fact that no coherency can be made of the episode. So Todd stopped them from killing Jesse not at all to find out what he knows. The diabolical bastard.

Crucifictorious rides again 
CS: Landry don't give a fuck. I hate Flynn so much.

[OMD: But I do. I love Landry so much. The empire is yours, you magnificent bastard. Run with it. The world is your goddamn oyster.]

SE: How much money did you think AMC had to pay to use shit about a thousand times?

CS: You can say "bullshit," you can say "holy shit," but you can't say "don't step in that pile of shit." The only thing that would have made the dueling White scene any better is if after Walt's hand got sliced he recoiled and sprayed blood all over Holly's face.

SE: Tonight on Breaking Bad: The Earth splits in two.

CS: Well my Walter White fakes his own death theory got blown to shit, and that explains why they had the naming Holly flashback.

SE: The machine gun is clearly to gun down Flynn for ratting him out.

CS: God I hope so. Text I just got from a buddy: "Babies would just cramp my style in Belize."

SE: It's so awesomely batshit crazy for Walt to take the baby, and that truck hauls ass. What a fantastic buy.

CS: With the classic street drag rims too! Whelp, the producers have guaranteed that no one will be rooting for Walt. He's crossed the point of no return.

SE: No way. I'm rooting for Walt, lock, stock and smoking barrel. I hope he flattens the ABQ.

CS: Walt hauling that barrel around everywhere is kinda hilarious.

SE: That was the most intense episode of television ever.

CS: That was the fastest hour ever.

SE: It's amazing that Breaking Bad still finds the quirkiness.

CS: I guarantee we get at least one more Tighty Walter Whities scene.

SE: So the hour delay on the Seahawks/49ers game was so the crowd could watch Breaking Bad right?

CS: Sounds about right.

SE: What in the hell do you think Walt meant by "I still have things to do?"

CS: He's gonna get back his fucking paper!

SE: My guess is that Walt doesn't know Jesse is there when he blows away the Nazis, and the end is the epic showdown between Walt and Jesse.

CS: Jesse kills Walt, no way Walt walks away now.

SE: Walt kills Jesse.

CS: Skyler kills Walt.

SE: That would be my ideal scenario. Walt survives. That episode might be the best episode of anything ever. Who's the ricin for?

CS: Himself.

SE: Why would he ever take the ricin himself?

CS: So he doesn't have to be tortured.

SE: A gunshot to the head does the same thing. Walt would never spend energy to do something that could be done simpler. In your scenario you would be saying he blows the shit out of the Nazis. Then takes the ricin and divulges his entire story to the DEA or someone?

CS: I haven't got that far with my theory, but the snubnose gets taken from him. So anything else you wanna add before I try and edit this monstrosity?

SE: This could have totally ended up being an extra season long where Walt rises to kingpin of New Jersey somehow then comes back.

CS: Walt selling meth to guidos on the Jersey shore has tremendous potential.

SE: The craziest thing Walt did all episode was think that he could take his family on the road and that they wouldn't be caught.

CS: That would have been an entertaining traveling family band. Besides Flynn would have just fucked it all up.

SE: Kind of hard to hide Crippy McCrippenstein and baby Holly. I wonder if Skyler took her running technique from watching Shelly Duvall run from jack in the shining.

CS: Easily could have gotten a "Heeeeeeeere's Walter" as Heisenberg axes his way through a door.

SE: Skyler was also swinging that knife like Shelly Duvall was swinging that bat in the shining.

CS: I got nothing to add, who are we gonna wrap this up?

SE: With you saying "It's the Shinning"

CS: Jesus, this is gonna be my Vietnam.

SE: By the way, it's so much fun derailing this thing when you know you don't have to fix it, and I think of it as more of a Jesse chained to a meth lab scenario. Remember, the pain fades but the glory remains.

[OMD: Well that makes one of us.]

CS: I really feel like Im not doing this episode its justice, but editing a podcast while watching, and us really butchering talking about this episode.

SE: One last thing. I believe Walt might have been overly dramatic to keep Skyler from getting implicated knowing the police were listening.

CS: See, I was preoccupied a bit. I didn't even see Sting or Stuart Copeland in that scene.

[OMD: And once again I have to mention that this episode was directed by none other than Rian Johnson. Sure, it took until after the second commercial break to get to the credits, but Rian Johnson did direct. One has to wonder if he was responsible for the Walt rolling the barrel of money through the desert, which sure seemed like an homage to the opening of The Big Lebowski. Guys, guys, guys...]

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