Monday, August 26, 2013

Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 11, “Confessions”

Finally! Finally, Jesse the ticking time-bomb has been activated. It would not have been very satisfying for Jesse to have gone away quietly into the (Alaskan) night, never having learned what Walt did to Brock and/or Jane. Ever since we discovered Walt poisoned Brock (or ever since Walt let Jane die), Jesse’s discovery of Walt’s depravity has been like a shoe waiting to drop. While Jesse might be disillusioned with Walt, sick to death of Walt’s attempts to manipulate him, and strongly suspect that Walt killed Mike, Jesse still has not yet had a good enough excuse to turn on Walt, and certainly not a good enough reason to betray him to Hank, whom Jesse still loathes (Jesse has not, evidently, forgotten about the beating Hank gave him).

Monday, August 19, 2013

Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 10, “Buried”

Something this show excels at is creating dynamic, psychologically rich situations – the goals, intentions, beliefs, and emotions of each of the characters in many situations are strong and clear, which creates a lot of rich opportunities for us to infer what’s going on in the heads of the characters on an almost beat by beat basis (especially when the acting is this good). This is the case not only for one or two principle characters, but for most of the main characters on this show. For example, after Walt leaves Hank’s garage (amusingly shot like a western standoff, complete with twitching trigger fingers, but ending with the closing of a door rather than the drawing of a gun), they both immediately call Skyler, who is the linchpin in both men’s plans. For Hank, she’s a potential witness to Walt’s crimes, one who can provide crucial evidence. For Walt, she’s his confidant, money launderer, and a potential security risk. He needs to warn her that Hank knows he's Heisenberg, that she should not divulge anything to him, and that they will need to move their money. The great thing is that none of this information needs to be told to us explicitly – when Walt can’t get Skyler on the phone, and when he spots Hank in his rearview mirror, also talking on the phone, the two lock eyes, and we can infer it all.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 9, “Blood Money”

Breaking Bad show runner Vince Gilligan is smiling upon me, as he has granted the wish I made in my write-up of the half-season finale last year: I wanted to be able to see Hank’s extended reaction to his discovery of the book of Walt Whitman poetry upon leaving the bathroom. And indeed, this last half-season (almost) begins with that exact scene. Hank lumbers out of the bathroom, book of poetry in hand, his face a mix of shock and disbelief. He quickly makes up an excuse to get him and Marie out of the White household, and on the drive home, the shock and disbelief in his face becomes a mixture of disgust, humiliation, fear, and rage. It’s a nicely played scene by Dean Norris, who did great work throughout what ended up being a good Hank episode in general.