Goodbye, Walter White

Walter White

Sunday night, we bid farewell to Walter White, a beloved husband, father, brother-in-law, teacher, mentor, defamed drug lord, and archetype-shattering anti-hero. Over the course of the show’s five seasons, we have seen one man’s descent into the tantalizing void of greed, leaving no victims unscathed. In the Season Three finale, we see the magnitude of Walt’s decisions, as two commercial airlines crash over his home because Jane’s father, an air traffic controller, couldn’t focus on his job after learning of his daughter’s overdose – something Walt witnessed and could have stopped.

While some are sad to see the drug lord’s story laid to rest, others are happy that the show ended on top, snagging the Best Drama Emmy last week. Some notable shows that audiences agree ran their course far before their finales are Lost, Heroes, Dexter, and, currently, Mad Men.

Fans were also pleasantly surprised at the amount of loose ends Executive Producer Vince Gilligan was able to tie up in the final two episodes, especially the well-deserved bow-out for the druggie fan favorites Badger and Skinny Pete.

Breaking Bad played with our emotions during the hour-long finale, replaying clips from Season One as Walt’s conscious becomes flooded with guilt. For once in his life, Walt confesses to Skyler that everything he did was for him – not the family. “I liked it,” he manages to say. “I was good at it.” If that doesn’t scream character arc, then maybe his selflessness in the show’s final moments will make you change your mind. I’ll leave you there without spoiling too much of the tale.

As for the legacy of Breaking Bad? It will become a textbook example in all categories – writing, directing, cinematography, and, of course, acting. Without Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, and the rest of the amazing cast, the show wouldn’t be the success it is. They made the strange place of Albuquerque, New Mexico feel like home. They made us apart of the White family. Heck, they made cooking meth into an art, let alone feasible by your favorite chemistry teacher and his dead-beat student.

So here’s to you, the great Heisenberg. And to many A-1 Days to come.

BREAKING BAD Returns with “Bloody Money”

Breaking-Bad-season-5-poster

After months of anxious anticipation, Breaking Bad is back – with quite the vengeance. The episode, entitled “Bloody Money,” marks the beginning of the end for the second half of the fifth and final season of the AMC drama.

We start out with a glimpse into Walt’s future, where he breaks into his own abandoned and dilapidated house (which is still in better condition than Don Draper’s childhood whorehouse). The now full-haired Walt, who we saw in an earlier episode leaving a diner with his New Hampshire licensed car, marches straight to his trusty electrical outlet to retrieve the still-unused capsule of ricin. As he leaves the house, his neighbor stares in a trembling trance and drops her groceries as Walt mutters, “Hello, Carol.”

Flash back to Hank on the toilet in modern times. Like the emotionally unstable Hank we have come to know and kind of love, he becomes very disoriented (and the lack of camera focus doesn’t let you forget how distraught he is about discovering Walt’s dirty little secret). He stashes Walt’s copy of Leaves of Grass, with Gale’s note printed inside, in his bag and bolts with his wife. After a relatively unnecessary car crash and a classic Marie freak out, Hank is out on leave from work…again.

Soon, we come to learn that Skyler and Walt’s carwash has become a financial success – just not successful enough to launder the thousands of dollars from Walt’s meth days. Lydia, the international meth transporter extraordinaire, pays the carwash a visit and offers Walt an opportunity to come back for a big money deal. But Skyler goes into full maternal mode and tells her off like only a mother could.

Over at the Pinkman residence, Jesse and his trusty pals Skinny Pete and Badger, the latter goes on a mindless, drugged-up rant about Star Trek. I wonder who had more fun: the writers writing the scene or Matt Jones performing it?

Again, Jesse is feeling conflicted about all the money he has accumulated, so he goes to Saul to sort out his “debts,” but Walt thinks that leaving large sums of money to Mike’s granddaughter and the missing boy’s parents will only stir more police investigation. So Jesse, in a scene where Aaron Paul was clearly determined to win another Emmy, throws wads of the “bloody money” out of his car in the slums of Albuquerque.

In a chemo-induced vomiting fit, Walt discovers that his bathroom copy of Leaves of Grass is missing, which leads him to find Hank’s GPS tracker under the frame of his car. In the episode’s climax (a moment we have been waiting months for), Walt confronts Hank and they brawl. Hank comes out on top physically, but Walt pulls the “I’m dying” card and assures his brother-in-law that he will never see the inside of a jail cell.

One thing I didn’t like about the episode’s ending was the writers’ feeble attempt to make yet another badass Walter White quote: “Tread lightly.” We’ve already heard the man utter the words, “Say my name,” “I’m in the empire business,” and, “I am the one who knocks,” so I just feel like, “Tread lightly,” pushes the envelope a little bit.

All in all, I was happy with the return of Breaking Bad. Nothing crazy happened – everything went according to prediction. But what will happen in the future timeline and how will the two timelines converge? Let’s just hope Marie doesn’t have any more shoplifting urges and the show can go out with a bang.