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My third rewatch

I recently started my third rewatch of BB on DVD, having found two BB virgin friends to watch it with me…We get together every Sunday evening for dinner and 3 or 4 episodes, and are well into the second season, having just watched “Better Call Saul.” As we go, I’m slightly revising my “scripts” of and comments on each episode, and have completed that to the end of Season 2. At the same time, I’m listening to Aron and Jim’s BaldMove rewatch (podcast), and enjoying their commentary.

I was inspired to do the rewatch by how much one of the friends and I enjoyed watching the first season of “True Detective” together. I couldn’t watch that show, which veered into the horror genre, without company, but couldn’t resist buying it on DVD as a staunch fan of both Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. I asked her what else I might have that she’d like to watch, and we settled on BB.

Spoiler alert on this paragraph…I’m enjoying the rewatch, but not as much as the first two times, now that I know the ending, which, as readers of this blog know, I found somewhat disappointing in its tendency to glorify Walt (or at least not make him pay for his crimes with more than a death that was coming anyway) and its not letting us see Jesse get away with any more than his life.

When we get to the last 8 episodes — assuming we do — it’ll be my second time to watch them. We’ll have to see if my friends can take the progressive darkening of the show, as well as the sheer amount of time required to watch it.

It’s interesting that we watched “Better Call Saul” last night, considering that it was the debut evening of the new Vince Gilligan Series of that name, starring Bob Odenkirk. I haven’t watched the first episode yet — I’m waiting till tomorrow when I can watch both introductory episodes (the second one airs tonight) on Amazon. I’ll let you know…The New York Times reviewer loved it.

 

Walter White: one of the last of the “patriarchs”?

If it sounds interesting to you, check out the first real post on my “Read the Writing on the Wall” blog at http://www.writingonthewalldotme,wordpress.com. In it I take you through an article on “The Death of Adulthood” — if it ever existed — in American culture, and the presumed death of patriarchy, with W.W. as an example, alongside Tony Soprano and Don Draper. I conclude with some thoughts on what real adulthood might entail…

 

My other two blogs

Hey, Breaking Baddicts —

Just wanted to make sure you knew about my other two blogs: I post political, spiritual, and political/spiritual stuff at http://www.wegotthenumbers.org, my “main” site, and just added a third site, http://www.writingonthewalldotme.wordpress.com, which will be cultural: about movies, TV shows, and current literature that I think has a bearing on our current predicament/challenge as a species — whether we want to survive as part of the fairly democratic, egalitarian community of Planet Earth, or destroy most of our home, our fellow species, and our own kind by continuing with “business as usual.” The other part of our challenge as a species is whether we can learn to get along peacefully with each other, sharing earth’s resources with each other and the rest of nature. Both parts pretty much go together, I think.

Obviously, there’ll be some cross-posting between this blog and the new one, at least for a while…

 

Filling the hole left by BB’s ending

How have you been filling the hole left by BB’s ending? I’ve followed Bryan Cranston’s efforts in a Broadway show about LBJ and watched some of Aaron Paul’s recent film work, but I needed a new series to watch. “Orange Is the New Black” was my first try, and I’m a continuing fan, but it’s only a few drops in the bucket. A better filler (25%) is “Orphan Black,” a Canadian sci-fi series starring Tatiana Maslany as each of a series of clones created for some nefarious purpose without their knowledge. It’s gotten some awards, but nowhere near as many as it deserves — not one Emmy nomination this year, for example. You can watch it on Amazon — the first season’s free for Amazon Prime members. The third season is being filmed now, and will be available next spring. While waiting for that, I tried all of the “Orphan Black” podcasts I could find on iTunes, but didn’t like any of them.

That was probably because I’ve been spoiled by my two favorite “Breaking Bad” podcasts: the Breaking Good podcast and the TVCritic.org’s BB cast. Then I discovered that the Breaking Good cast, available on iTunes and at Baldmove.com is doing a rewatch, starting with season one. They also have a Baldmove TV podcast that’s interesting — I’m really a fan of these two guys! Robin Pearson of the TVCritic.org has, sadly, given up his TV podcasts in favor of The History of Byzantium, for which he apparently gets more financial support. I’m a former history major and current and always history buff, and I love hearing Robin’s gentle Brit delivery, but it doesn’t help with the BB hole.

I guess (sigh) nothing will. I’ve started watching “True Detective” now that it’s come out on DVD, and it seems well done (I love Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson). But I’m stalling, having watched the first two episodes. I guess I’m having a hard time committing to yet another gritty, violent series just for the writing, acting, and production values, as I did with “The Wire” and “Breaking Bad.” Maybe it’s because there doesn’t seem to be any comic relief. And no interesting women, just women as victims. Unrelenting grimness. I’m also getting hints that MM’s character might have committed the murders, which would be horrifying. I’ll probably look ahead to see what happens before I continue watching. (I like to be prepared more than I hate spoilers, and sometimes a heads up allows me to get more out of my initial watch.)

I’d love to hear what other BB fans have been watching…

I’d also like to start a new blog for BB fans now watching “Orphan Black.” Or find an existing one.

 

 

 

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An open letter to Vince Gilligan

Here’s a letter I’m physically sending to Vince Gilligan. Since he won’t see it in a timely manner in that form (if he ever does), I’m posting it online as well, in hopes someone will bring it to his attention:

Dear Vince,

I’m writing, as a devoted fan of “Breaking Bad,” to suggest that you consider writing a sequel. Having listened to many podcasts and read many blogs on the show, I know a lot of us were/are as interested in the stories of Jesse and Skyler as we were in Walt’s, and we’d like to know what happens to them after Walt’s death. Jesse’s story was especially compelling for many of us, and we’re speculating madly on what he’s doing after escaping the Nazis’ (and Walt’s) clutches. Are the Lambert sisters going to be able to reconcile? Surely, Skyler will break out of her shabby, nervous, cigarette-smoking shell. Will Flynn accept the money from Gretchen and Elliott, and, if so, how will he use it?

I guess what I’m saying is: you gave Walt as happy an ending as he could have – happier than he deserved, considering how much destruction his pursuit of “feeling alive” caused: the deaths of innocents and semi-innocents (Tómas, Drew Sharpe, and Andrea; Combo, Jane, and Mike), and the suffering and scarring of Kaylee Ehrmentraut, Brock, Jesse, and the White and Schrader families. Continuing the stories of the surviving “secondary” characters wouldn’t be as dark and violent as “Breaking Bad,” and probably wouldn’t take as long to tell, but they deserve “happy” endings too. Not to mention further development of their characters – Jesse, especially, went through a lot in these two years, but, except for his rising to the challenges of cooking meth in Mexico and ensuring that Gus and Mike got home in one piece, you haven’t shown him developing a lot of strength and maturity. It might even be interesting to see Badger and Skinny Pete again, remaining essentially themselves, but growing up a bit. All three of these guys could take on some adult responsibility – maybe (especially Jesse) helping to parent Brock, if his family would allow it. Jesse could also meet Flynn and have some contact with Skyler and Marie. I’d love to see him playing with Holly.

Doing this would allow us to see Jesse’s (and Flynn’s) values, not Walt’s, triumph in the end. Of course, you’d have to use the same actors. (P.S. I can usually tell the difference between fiction and reality, but these characters have taken on a life of their own.)

 

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A better ending?

I just posted the following on Nick CR’s excellent BB blog, Tucker’s Hole (tuckershole.wordpress.com):

Vince Gilligan, a cool guy from what I can tell, and indisputably a great writer, did what he set out to do: tell the story of Walter White going from Mr. Chips to Scarface. Ending “Felina” with the “Special Love” song and Walt dying with a smile on his face was perfectly in tone with the arc of the series as a whole, and — along with Jesse getting away and Flynn probably going to get $10 million soon — gave us as happy an ending as possible. If you think about it outside the context of the show, however, it’s a bit ridiculous — and very sad — that Walt loved the blue meth and his ability to make it more than anything else in life. Especially since so many people died and suffered for that self-involved, egoistic love.

I can think of a much better ending. When Gilligan and company saw what good actors Dean Norris and — especially — Aaron Paul were, they expanded the characters of Hank and Jesse. I think they should have gone even further in this direction, especially in Jesse’s case, in the last season. I would have liked very much to have seen Jesse take the maturity and agency he was developing under Gus and Mike’s tutelage and apply it to his relationship with Walt and meth-making. We could have seen him decide to work with Hank rather than come to it accidentally in the midst of an unreasoning, drug-assisted tantrum. It would have been interesting to have seen the two of them develop a relationship and come to respect each other.

I would have had Hank die much as he did, and then Jesse carry on alone as the “good guy,” perhaps still being being taken prisoner by the Nazis, but not having to be rescued by Walt — maybe even taking Walt — as well as the Nazis — down in the end. Todd, Lydia, and the Nazis were pretty boring villains to go on so long, so another possibility would have been for Jesse to have escaped from the desert shootout and then gone to the DEA.

As you can probably tell, I cared much more about Jesse than I did about Walt, who I saw as pitifully limited, essentially cowardly, and not deserving to tie up all his loose ends and die a good death. Aaron Paul has said he thinks Jesse may have deserved everything that happened to him, but I disagree. He’s young and redeemable and could have had a good life with Brock and Andrea, leaving at least one happy young family at the end. That’s all Jesse truly wanted — connection and family, and I wanted to see him get it, not through luck, but through his own efforts. I thought Andrea’s death was completely gratuitous, Jesse’s suffering excessive, and his lack of character development disappointing.

I still voted that I was satisfied with the ending, because it was good in its way, but I think a better ending was possible.

 

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The finale

Oh. My. God. Isn’t Vince Gilligan a genius? In “Felina,” the final episode of “Breaking Bad,” he managed to tie up all the important loose ends and make as much of the bad stuff of preceding episodes right. Heisenberg, the bad fairy, came back to town and, as a chastened Walt, waved his magic wand, breaking good in the end.

Walt’s being able to possibly get his money to his family by scaring those smug yuppie Schwartzes with Skinny Pete and Badger holding laser pointers in the dark was priceless. But, for me, the best was seeing Jesse come to life, kill Todd (callback to Walt’s killing of Krazy 8, but with joy), and be given a choice of how to deal with Walt. Do the opposite of what he says he wants and make a mad dash for freedom!! Scars notwithstanding, Jesse can now become the man he was meant to be — engage in woodworking instead of meth-making art, and maybe help care for Brock.

Was it a bit unrealistic that Walt could steal a car and go back to the cabin to get the rest of his money right under the noses of the New Hampshire police, then drive all the way to New Mexico and tick off all the items on his to-do list in 24 hours? Sure. But who cares?

I rooted like hell for the good-fairy Walt, and cried happy tears when he died among his beloved tools, having admitted and righted many wrongs. Much better than being locked up or dying of cancer. I thought the “Special Love” song playing at the end was for Jesse until I read or heard somewhere that “baby blue” is actually supposed to be the blue meth. I don’t care — it’ll always be Jesse for me. Walt did care about him and for his family to the best of his ability.

I was also glad to see some reconnection between Skyler and Marie. We may not always be able to do it, or do it right, but love really does make the world go ’round.

 

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