Thursday, October 03, 2013

Breaking Bad: The End, bitch!

 Maggie Cats confession: I have never seen Breaking Bad. 


But luckily, we have some guest posters willing to write about the recent finale. Enjoy!

The scene: Two friends, Kate and Caroline, are discussing the end of Breaking Bad very loudly in public and hoping there’s nobody sitting nearby who gives a crap about spoilers, although we are going to limit them here in case the readership hasn’t caught up with their DVR recordings yet. Kate was an English major and is therefore an overanalyzer of everything, even if it’s not on a page. Carol was a film major and therefore has reasons for her overanalysis of everything, or at least everything on a screen.  This is what happens when they try to talk about something specific, such as the final episode of Breaking Bad.  (Spoiler alert: It’s not really about the final episode of Breaking Bad. It’s about two women completely decompressing over the course of an hour or so as they try to figure out how this show has affected them and what it all means.)

Kate: We had a little party on Sunday night where we watched the finale together with our significant others, drinking wine and eating Latin American chicken – two nods to Gus, I guess? – and we really felt like everything we wanted to happen happened, whether we had predicted it was going to happen or not. All four of us.

Carol: We were like “finally,” especially when he admitted to his family that he did it for himself, and you could see in [Skyler’s] face a sense of relief. He admits a lot of things to Skyler, like that whole “I am the one who knocks” speech is to her. Walt is interesting because he’s one of the first characters where he’s turned into a bad guy, but he still feels guilt. I rewatched The Fly episode last night…

K: I’m close to there in my rewatch…

C: it’s just [Walt and Jesse], and the interplay between them, and what’s so compelling about Breaking Bad in general is first off their chemistry and their relationship. It’s like magnets, bitch! They’re attracted to each other but also repelled by each other at the same time. That’s what’s so compelling about their relationship specifically, and why so many people think it’s really a love story between them. What other relationship in the whole plotline has been so… what’s the word… strong?

K: Fulfilling! But yeah, it’s like I found myself wondering in that scene from Season 3 where Hank has followed Jesse to the RV in the junkyard and [Jesse and Walt] are both stuck in there together.  I found myself wondering, hmm, if I were Walt, wouldn’t I just come out of the RV and be like “this is my gay lover Jesse, my former student”? And make that be the big lie that I’ve been hiding? Since Skyler suspected he was having an affair anyway…

C: That would have been AMAZING. Yet at the same time more believable than the meth thing. It would have been one of the most hilarious lies he had ever told.

K: Let me just state for the record that we’re sitting here in a Korean bakery sharing bingsoo and our thoughts on Breaking Bad, because this is what we do. This is what everyone does. I wonder how many other people in this place right now are talking about Breaking Bad. Maybe not as many as might have been talking about it last night, since it’s now two days later, but still. Or maybe nobody.

C: It’s like when we were at Los – I wanted to say Los Pollos Hermanos – when we were at Pollo Campero [picking up the chicken for Sunday night], I don’t think anybody else in there was getting chicken for watching Breaking Bad. We were the only people in there who didn’t speak Spanish.

Like Los Pollos Hermanos. Except with only one brother, and instead of a person, he’s an actual chicken.

K: Well they’re apparently doing a Spanish-language version later. I don’t think they’re ever going to do a Korean version though.

C: I’d totally watch the Spanish version with subtitles.

K: I’d watch it without subtitles even though I don’t speak Spanish. I remember all the Spanish language scenes during the show, where I prided myself on understanding at least 20% of what was said.

C: Speaking of, remember those guys who played the music [in Mexico]? They were on Conan too the other night? I wonder how Vince Gilligan found those dudes, considering they were 800 miles away writing the thing, in a nondescript office building in Burbank – what would the equivalent be here? Bethesda?

K: Like the Dulles Corridor!

C: Yeah, like some office park in Chantilly.

K: I think even if this doesn’t end up being about the finale, this article is still going to be good.

C: Yeah. We’ve done enough research about the show that we could write a novelette. Like I’ve been doing so much reading for the past year or so about what it all means, about what possibly could happen in the finale.

Did you see Stephen Colbert last night?

K: No…

C: Vince Gilligan was on and they did a skit at the end where Vince Gilligan was chained in the basement writing more episodes, while Stephen Colbert was barking at him, “Write me more episodes! What happens to Badger? What happens to Skinny Pete? [POTENTIAL SPOILER] Junior has all this money now, what happens to him?”

K: I am super glad, and I know you are too, that they brought Badger and Skinny Pete into the last episode.

C: Like not only did they bring them back, but they brought them back in the most interesting way. [My fiancé] Matt was convinced that Walt actually did pay them $200,000 to [do what they did, even though it doesn’t seem like it was an action worth $200,000… spoiler averted!].

K: Oh yeah, definitely. I was convinced for a while that Walt was actually going to off them at some point because they have known he was Heisenberg since Season 2. It’s not like they’re the most organized and trustworthy people in the whole show… if they started to suspect that anything had happened to Jesse, they totally could have ratted Walt out.

C: Speaking of Jesse, are you going to talk about how he looks like Ryan Gosling in The Notebook by the end?

K: OH MY GOD YES. He actually is Ryan Gosling in The Notebook. First of all, he’s lost the woman he loves, or in this case like everyone he’s ever loved, and shit just keeps happening to him, and people think he’s low class or whatever. And he’s even a WOODWORKER. Or at least in his mind he is.

Like Ryan Gosling in The Notebook, only with a gun. So like Ryan Gosling in Drive, really.

K: Anyway, let’s talk about the fact that you’ve been watching for a while, whereas I only started watching earlier this year. I don’t even remember when we started watching.

C: Actually we started watching around the same time I think. I binge-watched all of the seasons probably within like a month or two.

K: I thought it was only within like a month or two for us too. We are so engrossed that we can’t even remember when we started watching. Let’s talk about binge-watching…

C: I feel like there’s a lot more that you can take in when you’re watching [the episodes] side by side. You don’t get as engrossed when you’re not watching that way, it’s like watching a movie and then stopping it. A show like this in particular probably has more of an emotional impact on you when you watch many episodes close together. Watching an entire season, for instance, in a weekend, which I did – I don’t think of it as a waste of time.

K: My mom came over the other weekend to watch our dog when Jesse [Burgman, not Pinkman, Kate’s husband] and I were both out engaging in another favorite binge activity – drinking – uh, yeah, and before she came over she said, “I’ve never seen Breaking Bad, but I watched this 14-minute YouTube video that recapped what’s happened in Breaking Bad so far. Would it be possible for me to start at Season 1, Episode 1 while I’m at your house?” And I was SO PROUD. I wrote instructions for how to use Netflix streaming and everything, and she got all the way to Season 2 Episode 7 IN ONE NIGHT. She probably slept through some of it because I tried to talk to her about Hector Salamanca ringing his bell and she seemed confused, but anyway…I think when you find yourself empathizing with the characters, you want to be around them all the time. It’s like an obsessive relationship. Or an addiction. Oh god, it’s like meth addiction. The whole show is a metaphor for meth addiction. They kept making the show better and better and more pure! 

C: I just feel like this show was so, you know when the perfect confluence of things come together? Like writers, actors, a story, a good cinematographer, all those things come together in such a way – it’s almost like by chance, it wasn’t like “oh, let’s get the best of the best” – most of the actors in this show weren’t very well known, except for Bob Odenkirk who Bryan Cranston probably knew – they’re all character actors. I watched [Aaron Paul’s] audition tape; you could tell that he kind of maybe brought something to that character that they didn’t think of or anticipate.

K: Like being a wigger?

C: Like being a guy who you could sympathize with, because he’s really lovable even while he’s doing stupid shit. [pauses, then does an impression] “Ay, Mr. White!”

K: Who is that, is that The Fonz? I love that you make him talk like The Fonz!

C: “Yo, what is that, a cow house over there?”

K: [impersonating Walt, hissing] “It’s called a barn, Jesse!”

C: Yeah, Walt really does talk to him like he’s a stupid child.

An early photo of Jesse and Todd.

K: How much of the writing was pre-planned? It seems like with different writers they were doing something fresh every time.

C: I think a lot of it was pre-planned, like they had to coordinate between eight writers. What about that one woman [from the cast and crew interviews on Talking Bad after the finale] who talked about it being her first job ever? And now she has this on her resume? And the fact that [Vince Gilligan] gave someone the opportunity to do that, like he didn’t go for these veteran writers, but he gave inexperienced writers the opportunity. Oh, by the way you have to watch The Nerdist bowling tournament with Breaking Bad. It’s Chris Hardwick and all The Nerdist people playing against Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, RJ Mitte, and Betsy Brandt. She’s so funny. It’s like you never think that she could be so funny. 

K: Yeah, I think people would be well served to see Betsy Brandt being funny, just to see a little versatility…

C: Oh, because she’s so unlovable? I just realized that all the women on the show are so unlovable. Like they’re painted as nags or Debbie Downers. Betsy Brandt was really annoying when she was like “You have to tell them, you have to tell the DEA.” Like none of them are chill. Not even Jane. She was pretty crazy and got Jesse hooked on heroin.

K: Yeah, I mean, so that’s a problem that I’ve seen a lot of people pointing out recently. Maybe there’s something in the water in Albuquerque that elevates women’s hormone levels. And [the writing of the women on this show] was like an environmental statement against that, to give the issue more publicity. Don’t quote me on that but if it actually turns out to be true, you heard it here [MTV News theme] FIRST.

C: I told Matt that we should honeymoon in Albuquerque and go on the Breaking Bad tour and he was like “noooo.” But you know what we could do instead though? We could go to Albuquerque and stay at that crazy hotel that what’s her face –

K: Wendy –
C: That Wendy was at, and go see all the sights. Go visit Walt’s house.

K: I don’t know that I would stay at that hotel. I’d stay at the hotel they stayed at when the carpet [at Casa del White] was soaked with gasoline.

C: I’m sure that it’s fairly affordable to stay at a hotel in Albuquerque.

K: Maybe not anymore!

C: Apparently they sell out the Breaking Bad tour every year. There’s like a tour company that does it.

K: I’ve always said I wanted to do that on my own, like go to San Francisco and do the So I Married an Axe Murderer tour, self-guided, or Seattle and do a self-guided Singles tour. Great, now everybody knows how old I am.

C: But it’s so disappointing, like when you walk by and it’s not anything. It’s not impressive. It would probably be the same with the Breaking Bad tour.
K: But Albuquerque’s all full of majestic mountains and shit.

C: You have to drive out of the city a ways for that, I think.

K: You could drive out to To’hajilee and start digging, I guess. Like that Japanese lady who spoke no English who saved up her money to travel to North Dakota and try to find the buried money from Fargo. And then she died.

C: No way. At least she died doing what she loved though!

K: Like Walt! Haha. Wait, that’s a spoiler, kind of. Everybody knew that would happen, though.

C: I love how Walt shot Uncle Jack in the face before Jack could even tell him where the rest of the money was. Just like how I loved how Jesse killed Meth Damon.

[Todd] had no morality, he had no moral compass. He killed people and didn’t feel bad about it at all. Like when he killed that little boy…

K: I really liked what Chris Hardwick said on the only other episode of Talking Bad that we watched, where he refers to Todd as “Murder Spock.” He uses logic to explain all the murders he does and that’s it. He doesn’t think about why it’s wrong.

C: Why does he even like Lydia?

K: Because she’s cold?

C: She’s so cold, she seems like so… I don’t know, like uncomfortable all the time about everything that she does, and she’s always wearing the most inappropriate shoes all the time and it pisses me off so much! When she goes to the desert down into some bunker, she’s wearing like Louboutins! Are you an idiot? Why would you wear Louboutins in the sand? She’s either an idiot or she’s really obsessed with wearing heels. Maybe she has a physical deformity and that’s all she can wear.

K: Ooh, maybe she’s a dominatrix and Todd really wants to be controlled, like he really wants to please her so maybe it’s like he wants it to be a “Mistress Lydia” situation – like when he’s trying to compliment her blouse and she just talks down to him, and I think he likes that even more than if she didn’t.

C: Why is that?

K: It’s like the traditional dom/sub relationship.

C: I don’t really understand the dom/sub relationship.

K: Me neither. I used to think I was submissive but then I realized I was just lazy.

C: You should put that in there.
[unrelated conversation about babies, consensus that Holly is boring, dogs are a lot more likable than babies…]

K: I wish the Whites had a dog. What kind of dog would they have? I think they would have a big dog.

C: [showing me a picture of her friend’s sister’s baby] Doesn’t it look like a sumo wrestler?

K: Speaking of sumo wrestlers, what do we think happens to Huell? Is he really still waiting in that house?

C: I think he’s probably figured out by now that he’s not really in danger.

K: How many bullets would it take to kill Huell anyway? Probably a lot.

So overall we are both very satisfied with the last episode, the tying up of all the loose ends, and the series itself as a whole. Is there anything that you would have liked to see happen differently? I feel weird asking this question because I don’t write TV shows so I don’t presume to know how it’s best done. What about all the film references and stuff that he put in there, the Godfather and Scarface stuff? Was that too much?

C: That stuff was all obvious if you’ve seen the movies, I think. It’s just a reference. Like “Felina,” the finale episode title. Felina is a reference to one of those old country songs, “El Paso” by Marty Robbins, which is the tape that’s in the car that he steals in New Hampshire – it’s a song that’s a story. Matt and I listened to it last night, the whole thing. It talks about how [the singer] fell in love with this girl named Felina, and he got run out of town after these guys captured her, and he shot one of the captors, and then the guys kept her captive and lured him back to town, and he knew he was going to die but he came back to town anyway. The song itself was a metaphor for the episode.

K: I think that’s the only thing that either of us has really said that’s about the finale so far.
[unrelated conversation about family stuff and movies, finally turning to The 40-Year-Old Virgin]

C: I really like Catherine Keener.

K: What kind of role could she have had on Breaking Bad?

C: Any role, really. She would have been the only likable woman, because she can still do things that are perceived as “bitchy” and still be likable. That or Parker Posey. It’s the equivalent of Jesse being stupid and doing bad things and still being lovable. We all love our stupid significant other husband/boyfriends, even when they do stupid things.

K: I’m putting that in here and I’d just like to note that it’s less than two weeks away from your wedding. Anything you need to tell us now, before you forever hold your peace?

C: But that’s the thing. If your boyfriend or fiancé or whatever pisses you off or does something stupid and you still want to marry him, you know you’re in love with him and should be with him.

K: So it’s just like Jesse Pinkman. We all want to be married to Jesse Pinkman.
Let’s go out on a positive note, since it’s clear that everybody loves Jesse. What’s your favorite Jesse Pinkman “bitch” moment? Mine is in that Season 3 episode again, where they’re inside the RV and Walt is telling him what to say to Hank, who’s trying to break in, and Jesse is repeating back exactly what Walt whispers to him: “This is a private domicile and I will not be harassed!” and then he waits about three seconds and adds his own editorial “…bitch!” to the end of it.

C: It’s from The Fly episode when he’s scrubbing down all the equipment and he’s like “Why don’t we have our own professional cleaning people? They have enough money to get us cleaning people.” And then he’s sitting there and he’s like “Gatorade me, bitch!”

The end, bitch!

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