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Category Archives: TV/Movies

Breaking Bad Delivers All Kinds of Great Bad in Season Three

“I accept that I’m the bad guy.” Jesse Pinkman declares in the 3rd Season of Breaking Bad.  There are a lot of bad guys to compete with in Breaking Bad – and as viewers we know Jesse can never approach their malevolence, dangerousness or calculation.

Which brings me to, perhaps, one of the greatest bad guys ever created for television – Gustavo Fring (brilliantly played by Giancarlo Esposito). I have just finished watching Season Three and in what is a remarkably gripping drama, Gustavo Fring has me more riveted than any other character.

One of the overarching themes of Breaking Bad is how decisions bring unforeseen consequences – consequences that seemingly multiply faster than credit card debt and consequences that become increasingly deadly, damaging and dangerous.  Season Three picks up on this theme without missing a beat and accelerates it.

In Season One Walt and Jesse bumble their way into unforeseen consequences.  In Season Two Walt’s desire to play with fire (and more rookie mistakes) crescendos into planes literally crashing above his house.  In Season Three Walt’s “No Mas” decision in the first episode is almost immediately overturned and the rest of the season his “Mas” decision leaves a corrupt and destructive path.

Many other fans of the show do not agree with my assessment of Walt.  I believe him to be a sociopathic narcissist – a bitter man who has failed because, in his mind, he is so brilliant and superior.  Finally in meth manufacturing, he can embrace science and profit from it as he so staunchly believes he deserves.

One of the great scenes of Season Three is Walt meeting with Gustavo Fring.  Fring offers him $3 million for 3 months of production.  Walt blathers away about how he has reached a crossroads.  Fring sits silently letting him go on.  Preternaturally cool.  I was reminded of how in negotiation training you’re taught that silence is power.  And as you see more and more of Fring’s character, you see him wield silence as expertly as the Salamanca cousins wield an axe.  Walt, completely deluding himself into thinking his is speaking to an equal, flatters Fring by telling him “I find you extraordinarily professional.”  Fring silently observes with the certainty of a spider watching a fly flapping itself captive in the web.

One of the things I love about Breaking Bad is the depth of the characters and how the show reveals them in a variety of ways.  Early in Season Three we know that Fring is a major drug lord and that he has a front with the Pollos Hermanos.  But soon we see, visually, Fring’s extensive enterprise.  He controls the entire supply chain (as soon he will do with the blue meth):  the restaurants, an enormous chicken farm, trucks for distribution, and an industrial laundry complex for uniform cleaning.  The perfect set up to hide a state of the art meth lab – akin to a Bond villain’s subterranean lair.  Finally, the type of digs Walt deserves!

But it continues to get worse for all of those in Walt’s world, seemingly the very people he wants to protect.

I thought Season Two was as perfect a season of TV drama as I’ve ever viewed.  But Season Three surpasses it.  It is taught, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

Please share your comments on Breaking Bad – I would love to hear your take.

 

Well, he was wearing socks

One of my favorite scenes from The Sopranos is Christopher’s intervention. The instances that each character brings up tells us as much about the characters as Christopher’s behavior. Adriana, one of the most sympathetic characters in the series, hates that his drug use is impacting their intimacy, and oh, that issue about killing the dog.Continue Reading

Breaking Bad – Car Washes and Plane Crashes

If you’ve not seen Breaking Bad Season 2 – please postpone reading this.  There are spoilers and you really do owe it to yourself to experience the show with the full element of surprise. OK Breaking Bad fans, I’ve completed Season 2 and there is one thing that is really bugging me about Walter’s journeyContinue Reading

Pop Quiz – Season One The Wire

I am having a horrendous case of writer’s block today, so to both amuse myself and get the creative juices following, I have put together this quiz for dorks like me who love The Wire.  I’ll reveal the answers next week.     Prez cracks the code on the pagers After being denied entry toContinue Reading

The Wire “I Had Such F*ng Hopes for Us”

McNulty, rogue, serial womanizer, loose cannon, alcoholic, deadbeat dad, utters these words to none other than Russell “Stringer” Bell in Season 3. McNulty is not a very good person to have in your life.  He’s “good po-lice” but not very likeable if you look through the eyes of the other characters.  Think about it.  YouContinue Reading

Mailbox Miscellany #3 – Thank you (I think) for Writing

Most of my readers prefer to eschew the comments section for email.  I know I can’t change you, hence Mailbox Miscellany. Dawn – If you were stuck in a blizzard and every other electronic device in your house didn’t work but your TV and DVD player did – what would you watch?  Sincerely, IE First,Continue Reading

The Town and The American – Review

If given a choice between a Ben Affleck movie and a George Clooney movie, without knowing another single thing about the movie, I’d always pick the Clooney movie.  And most of the time, I’d be right.  Not this time.  The American was awful.  Ploddingly slow, I stuck with it because I kept thinking there wouldContinue Reading

In for a penny, in for a pound: Breaking Bad Season 1

Walter White is a high school chemistry teacher with a pregnant wife, a special-needs teenage son with cerebral palsy, mounting credit card debt, and he’s taken a part time job at a car wash to try to hold the family finances together when he finds out he has inoperable lung cancer. Then he takes theContinue Reading

The Junk Drawer 20 – The 6 Most Fascinating Men on TV

First, let me acknowledge the fatuous title.  But I felt it was time for a little fun and a little audience participation – and nothing gets my blog visitors as passionate as a popular culture post.  Particularly a post that my readers feel has some real, glaring omissions.  So let’s go. In the category ofContinue Reading

Superstars and Brilliant Performances

I clicked on a link to Rolling Stone that Christine Kless had posted on Facebook and took a look at a slide show of still photos featuring the cast of Mad Men including this quote “If Rob Lowe had been cast in the part, it would have been different,” says Jon Hamm, on the setContinue Reading