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‎"[T]he only real way to do it is to tell an honest human story, but to do it in a way that people feel like they haven’t seen before."
July 25, 2012 8:39 PM   Subscribe

A fascinating interview with Vince Gilligan, showrunner of Breaking Bad. The questions are as excellent as the answers.
This points to that quality of improvisation with the work you’re doing. In a traditional crime show, like “CSI,” if it were a big band, it’s a big band working off charts. The arrangements are very tightly controlled. And what I sense with “Breaking Bad” is a sense of, I don’t know, “John Coltrane on acid.” You have this sense of improvisation where you go with things you know, where you tell the story the length it needs to be told. You’re inspired collectively by a moment and you decide to go deeper into that moment. You’re in essence leading a parallel life with your characters and letting those characters take you where they want to go — not necessarily where the dictates of commercial convention say they have to go.
Meanwhile, Alan Sepinwall asks actors Bryan Cranston (2) and Aaron Paul about some of their most iconic moments on the show.

Other highlights:
It finally dawned on me that TV is about stasis, and it is about life, whereas our lives are about change. We get older with every passing moment. We change in our lives, we change our hairstyles. We change our outlooks on life, our political views sometimes. TV by design has to have a certain amount of stasis to it, because the goal in television is to have a TV show that lasts for many decades. But it’s hard to have characters on your TV show change when you are trying to provide a safe haven for the viewers, a familiar place for the viewers to come back to week in and week out. And, to that end, when you have a cop show, and a cop shoots a perp, that rule of stasis, that self-imposed stricture of stasis, dictates that a particular act of violence doesn’t resonate too strongly with the character, certainly within the body of the episode. The cop sits around with his boss, after the shooting, and the boss says, “You did what you had to do.” We’ve all seen that scene. But the next episode, it’s like it never happened.
and:
I hope I get through my whole life and am able to honestly say this: “I have never Googled myself. And I’ve never Googled ‘Breaking Bad.’” I don’t do it, not because I’m not interested, but because the opposite is true. I am desperately interested, but I know that I will disappear down some rabbit hole if I were to do that. And so while we have this amazing opportunity to listen in to these Twitter feeds and get this instant reaction, it would become a very dangerous sort of an echo chamber.
and:
Kubrick’s one of my all-time favorites. The other great quote, that I use all the time from him, was somebody asked him, “What about the space station, and using the Blue Danube throughout that sequence? Just genius! Why did you do it that way?” And Kubrick thought about it, and said, “Showmanship.” It was my favorite answer of all time.
posted by Rory Marinich (100 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

 
Before anyone asks: A showrunner is an actual thing that exists.

On to your previously scheduled meth opera.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:56 PM on July 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yikes, that site. Here's the print version of the first link. *It will try to auto-print.
posted by hypersloth at 9:06 PM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


(also, good stuff, thanks for the post)
posted by hypersloth at 9:22 PM on July 25, 2012


More goodness from Gilligan and Cranston and Paul (occasionally) can be found weekly in the Breaking Bad podcast. This week's episode is notable for Jonathan Banks (Mike) and the show's director discussing the ins and outs of Hungry, Hungry Hippos.
posted by wensink at 9:36 PM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


You know it wasn't until this week's episode that I realized what a deeply stupid game Hungry Hungry Hippos is.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:46 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Breaking Bad Wiki covers lots of ground
posted by growabrain at 9:50 PM on July 25, 2012


...BITCH!
posted by growabrain at 9:50 PM on July 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


@shakespeherian This GIF is for you.
posted by wensink at 9:58 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mike was smart to double-hand those hippos before his granddaughter could catch up. A ruthless move, but that's why he's the best.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:00 PM on July 25, 2012 [16 favorites]


The more I think about it the more that single scene of a Hungry Hungry Hippos game is a metaphor for the whole series.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:08 PM on July 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


How. No I disagree that it is. I challenge you to provide proof, preferably with as many words and as much beanplating as possible.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:13 PM on July 25, 2012


You will be paid in Franch.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:14 PM on July 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


So we saw the moment that turned Gus from criminal guy trying to make a buck to cold as ice killer guy but WTF happened to Walt? The dude scares me and he is only a character on the TV. I keep thinking he is staring into my soul and is 10 seconds away from poisoning me in my sleep.

Also, anyone remember a movie where they tossed a commercial VHS take erasing magnet through a jewlery store window to get it into an evidence lockup?
posted by Ad hominem at 10:23 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a game for all the marbles.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:29 PM on July 25, 2012


Mike pretends to play by a particular ethic (one hippo for him, two for the kid) but when it comes down to it he has no interest in ethics.

Also marbles are a metaphor for getting your head smashed by an ATM, obv.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:32 PM on July 25, 2012


Mike doesn't believe in half measures people, two hippos.
posted by iamabot at 10:35 PM on July 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Another article I thought was interesting: Walter White, Abuser.
one of the great tragedies of the show is its illustration of how the claws Walt’s sunk into Jesse’s brain exert a more powerful pull than Mike and Gus’s treatment of Jesse as someone with potential. Walt has groomed Jesse to respond to his own guilt and shame more strongly than to straightforward affirmation, perverted his job as a teacher so they only thing Jesse is supposed to learn is Walt’s authority.

“You are trouble. I’m sorry the kid here doesn’t see it, but I sure as hell do,” Mike tells Walt at one point. James Poniewozik asked today in Time what a fitting outcome for Walt would be at the end of Breaking Bad, whether death might be an escape compared to the torture of shame and exposure. But I wonder if focusing on retribution for Walt might distract us from a more powerful and important outcome: freedom and wholeness for his victims.
And somebody on Reddit responds:
whoa, i'm seeing stronger parallels with hector salamanca now. walter is using family as an excuse for everything, simultaneously ruining his own family. hector nearly drowned and permanently traumatized one of his nephews, then told them "familia es todo". so the cousins and their undying loyalty were kind of a foreshadowing of what could happen to jesse.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:37 PM on July 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


I remember a Fresh Air interview with Vince where he said that the story arcs for the first two seasons had been written in advance, but that was really hard so they decided to just wing it for season three. It's still an enjoyable show, but I think it suffered a bit for that.
posted by gngstrMNKY at 10:38 PM on July 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the most satisfying ending I've come up with is all of Walt's family dead and he's left alive, still trying to maintain his empire, on the run from the authorities and thinking he's still in control, knowing full well exactly what he's responsible for and completely incapable of altering his course of action.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:41 PM on July 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


gngstrMNKY, I've had the exact opposite reaction, as have my local friends. When getting people into the show, we've told them that season three marks the beginning of REAL Breaking Bad, and the first two seasons are essentially formal exercises by comparison. Useful exercises, but... exercises. The interviewer's description of Breaking Bad as John Coltrane on acid I thought was really apt.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:46 PM on July 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like this Q&A session with Cranston where he jokes about killing duck-sized horses.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:56 PM on July 25, 2012


Nerdist Writers Panel: Vince Gilligan
posted by Artw at 11:11 PM on July 25, 2012


And what I sense with “Breaking Bad” is a sense of, I don’t know, “John Coltrane on acid.”

Mr. Bad, I've known John Coltrane on acid. You're no John Coltrane on acid.
posted by philip-random at 11:36 PM on July 25, 2012


the story arcs for the first two seasons had been written in advance, but that was really hard so they decided to just wing it for season three.

I don't think that's true. IIRC, they had planned for Tuco to be the main villain of the first two seasons, but because of the writer's strike they were forced to end the first season midway through. The actor who plays Tuco got a job elsewhere, so they had to write him out and start making things up on the fly. Also, in this article, they talk about how they didn't have the slightest idea how the bear got in the pool at the beginning of season 2. They've been winging it all along.

To be honest, this interview has made me think less of Vince Gilligan as a writer. Breaking Bad has nearly the acting and almost certainly the best cinematography I've seen on a TV show, and the writing of Walt's character is excellent. But so much of the rest of the writing holds it back. The finale of season 2 was cartoonish nonsense, and this interview made it plain that they were forced into doing it through lack of foresight and a desire to be surprising. ("What you’re working toward is the least guessable reason for there to be a teddy bear in a pool." --- ugh.) It's annoying: half the time the show feels amazing, but half the time it feels like it is closer to an episode of a middling network show like Lost or 24 than an episode of a great show like The Sopranos.
posted by painquale at 11:58 PM on July 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


I 'm going to go ahead and ask it:

what the HELL is Walt planning on doing with that machine gun? My girlfriend and I have been spitting out guesses for the last week and a half, but I suspect that we haven't come close to hitting the mark.

The break between episodes eight and nine is going to be goddamn excruciating.
posted by item at 12:16 AM on July 26, 2012


He's going to go shoot real bears, just outside this big community pool called The Pacific. Bet you never guessed.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:22 AM on July 26, 2012


Also, anyone remember a movie where they tossed a commercial VHS take erasing magnet through a jewlery store window to get it into an evidence lockup?

IIRC it was 'The Big Easy' with Dennis Quaid.
posted by biffa at 1:38 AM on July 26, 2012


What's a showrunner?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:42 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's a showrunner?

Really?
posted by Mojojojo at 2:36 AM on July 26, 2012


Also, anyone remember a movie where they tossed a commercial VHS take erasing magnet through a jewlery store window to get it into an evidence lockup?

Ad Hominem I completely remember this, and am reminded of it every time I see a gag about erasing hard drives with magnets.

I want to say it was a police academy movie of all things (that's probably wrong, but I'm pretty sure its an 80s comedy), but some basic web searching doesn't give me any answers.
posted by lkc at 2:37 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


IIRC it was 'The Big Easy' with Dennis Quaid. -- biffa

(should have previewed. Now I know why I haven't ever watched that movie again)
posted by lkc at 2:39 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, in this article, they talk about how they didn't have the slightest idea how the bear got in the pool at the beginning of season 2. They've been winging it all along.

Agatha Christie started every novel with no idea who the murderer was.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:12 AM on July 26, 2012


Breaking Bad is not John Coltrane on acid.

This is John Coltrane on acid.

[CAUTION: may result in improperly low estimation of John Coltrane]
posted by Egg Shen at 5:38 AM on July 26, 2012


what the HELL is Walt planning on doing with that machine gun?

"A Brief History of Chekhov's Gun in Breaking Bad"
posted by Egg Shen at 5:46 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is a classic theme in literature and philosophy, the evil of which all men are capable and how we can choose to deny or allow that evil to flow through us. In TV at least, Breaking Bad explores this theme as well as any show I can remember. Upon becoming alive as he termed it, his release from fear, which came about upon his diagnosis, Walter had a choice. He could use this new found freedom to release his past angers and focus on living life and loving his family, but instead he chose to not release but to unleash his anger on the world around him ultimately destroying himself and everything he once loved. Powerful, if somewhat painful to watch at times. Despite that pain the series can be pretty addicting. Anyway, I am with shakespeherian on a fitting ending. Death would be too kind for Walter.
posted by caddis at 5:55 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I heard this interview with Vince Gilligan on Studio 360 last weekend. Good stuff.
posted by caddis at 6:06 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's the lead time for writers on an episode for Breaking Bad? Is there a norm for network television series? For some reason I imagined that they'd have the whole season written and filmed before airing it.
posted by onwords at 6:47 AM on July 26, 2012


Re Hungry Hippos... never really noticed product placement in BB before but this season it's really standing out for me (like Denny's in the first ep) ... so much so I've started to wonder if there are meta reasons for it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:38 AM on July 26, 2012


That may not be promotional consideration. I'm not 100% sure Denny's would sign onto a campaign promoting itself as the ideal place to purchase a machine gun out of the trunk of a car.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:50 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dodge gave them that car that Walt blew up last year as part of product placement.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:51 AM on July 26, 2012


But that's because awesome.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:54 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


And, I trust VG and co to do those placements with some finesse. He's stated that even with the popularity of the show there still are tight budget constraints.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:58 AM on July 26, 2012


On the insider podcast for episode 1, vince says it wasn't a product placement for Denny's. They just like it. And he got a really good Moons Over My Hammy.
posted by NotPayingAttention at 8:11 AM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


why were Mike's two hippos both yellow, maaaaan. WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?
posted by stifford at 8:15 AM on July 26, 2012


Same reason that the toilet paper in the washroom at Madrigal was red!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:20 AM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, in this article, they talk about how they didn't have the slightest idea how the bear got in the pool at the beginning of season 2. They've been winging it all along.

This interview says otherwise.
posted by peep at 8:53 AM on July 26, 2012


Heck, the interview in the OP says otherwise: "[W]e did not commit to that idea until we had a good reason for it to be in the pool."
posted by hilker at 9:17 AM on July 26, 2012


I don't see why it's a bad thing that they sometimes don't always have a plan. Well, they have a general plan but try to avoid painting themselves into corners and try to give the story as much fresh air as it needs. It's just fiction, after all. It doesn't have to be some sort of complete idea from its inception.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:21 AM on July 26, 2012


By the way, if you want to hear the real John Coltrane on acid, here it is.
posted by jonp72 at 9:21 AM on July 26, 2012


Mike pretends to play by a particular ethic (one hippo for him, two for the kid) but when it comes down to it he has no interest in ethics.

Nooooo

He plaintively asks Wee Ehrmantraut why she gets to have two hippos, then evens the odds himself after a few seconds of playing by her unfair rules.

Mike is motivated by a sense of fairness and sympathy more than anything else, and when he feels he's in a position that he's been placed into unfairly, he evens the odds (see, for example, his assassination of the assassin). But this desire for fairness extends to other people, as well; against his better judgement, he comes up with a reason to allow his Madrigal contact to live, apparently just because she panicked in a sufficiently pitiable way.

BUT

I will argue that the Hungry Hungry Hippos game is still an excellent metaphor for the series because it's such a shit game with so few options for the individual. Each player, sitting across from each other, can't affect the actions of the others; all they can do is slam their heads forward and try to grab whatever boon happens to careen their way. They can't turn their heads, they can't stop anyone else, they can only snatch what they can as soon as a fleeting opportunity shoots toward them. The whole theme of the game is limited perspective and strategy leading to frozen blinkered desperation.
posted by Greg Nog at 10:06 AM on July 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, in this article, they talk about how they didn't have the slightest idea how the bear got in the pool at the beginning of season 2. They've been winging it all along.

Agatha Christie started every novel with no idea who the murderer was.


Not sure if serious. There was a Metafilter FPP recently which refuted that notion about Agatha Christie.

By the way, if you want to hear the real John Coltrane on acid, here it is yt .

This is your brain on drugs.
posted by fuse theorem at 10:51 AM on July 26, 2012


@fearfulsymmetry Mike settles into his Barcalounger to watch a little AMC with a bottle of beer and an Ensure chaser.
posted by wensink at 11:26 AM on July 26, 2012


Like I said earlier, I disagree with the notion that Gilligan's improvisational nature of writing is a detriment. I agree that the second season ending was the weakest of the three proper season endings we've seen, but it sounds like that was a result of OVERthinking — the writers searched for a logical yet unexpected conclusion to the bear imagery, and while their answer was unexpected, it was so detached from the reality of Walter White's life that it was weakened as a result. In allowing themselves the luxury of searching for a grand purpose, they created a number of non-great but necessary moments which led to the inevitable outcome.

Also, the direction for that ending was weirdly weak. You get a long time with Jane's dad, too much time, and then there's a tiny plane explosion, and then the stupid pov bear shot that falls from the sky. Imagine that episode re-done with scenes actually happening ON the plane, characters introduced, the viewer wondering who all these people are and why they matter, almost a LOST-style introduction of new half-realized characters, and it ends with a very visceral plane explosion and a bunch of people we feel like we know dying. Hell, you could foreshadow that all season, build and build and build, and suddenly Walt's allowing Jane to die and her father's grief takes on a very physical reality.

Season three was where Gilligan said, in another interview, that they decided they understood their characters well enough to just write conflict and watch their beautifully-realized people deal with it. Suddenly instead of a plot that goes along rails to obvious destinations, you have chaos and uncertainty (the sudden death of the Cousins and Gus's box cutter moment), where the outcome feels simultaneously accidental and inevitable. Any moments could have led to Walt's corruption, yet precious few might have led him away. His choices guide his own transformation.

I think season four was the best season of television I've ever seen, beating even The Wire in some major ways. Season five is wonderful so far too, because at the end of each episode I find myself completely unsure as to what'll happen next. Each development is a surprise, and each one promises to lead me places I didn't even imagine before the moment it happened. This last episode had several sequences that were just incredible, and each grew from circumstances which had been developed just several minutes prior.

Maybe the archetypal story is somewhat classic, but the specific moments vary wildly, and the writing staff is genius at making the old traditions seem fresh. I don't think there's an inevitable ending being planned, even by the writers, and I don't even like guessing. It's rare that an outcome in a drama feels truly unknown, and I want to bask in the mystery of this astonishing thing. After this interview Gilligan might become one of my favorite writers ever, and the fact that he can be so smart yet friendly and forthcoming inspires the heck out of me.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:29 PM on July 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


what the HELL is Walt planning on doing with that machine gun?

Well, acording to the conversation he had with the waitress, he's 30 hours away from New Hampshire, which could place that Denny's in the Midwest somewhere, but the guy who sells him the machine gun makes him promise it won't cross the border, so I'm betting he's somewhere pretty far south.

He's near Mexico, and he needs a lot of firepower. I could make a few educated guesses but so could you.

And, as I've said in every Breaking Bad thread so far and will continue to say until I am proven right:

Hank. Fucking. Knows.
posted by chaff at 3:45 PM on July 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


That look that Hank gave his commanding officer during the scene where they discussed Fring being under their nose the whole time was kind of telling, if that's the case.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:48 PM on July 26, 2012


I'm pretty sure that the Denny's he's in is the same one he and Jesse went to after Gus had his fun with the box cutter, so he's in Albuquerque. I guess the question is if he actually came all the way back from New Hampshire or if that's some kind of a deception as part of an assumed identity or something.

As for the machine gun, if you go by my and shakespeherian's preferred vague outcome for the series, he's probably going to use the gun as part of some revenge plan against whoever murdered his family. Also if that really comes to pass I'm going to say the baby ends up with Hank and Marie. But I guess I'm hoping the outcome is surprising and I didn't manage to guess it with my one vague idea about a satisfying conclusion.
posted by palidor at 3:55 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, as much as I'd like some kind of really dark conclusion to the story, once they commit to it I don't think it'll be possible for the show to do any of its [already really black] comedy, and that'll make me kind of sad.

Yes I'm apparently a horrible person who would be more saddened by the lack of comedy subsequent to Walt's innocent family getting murdered than the act of the innocent family being murdered itself.
posted by palidor at 4:03 PM on July 26, 2012


I'm wondering if there's some kind of pool somewhere, for which characters survive the whole series. I say Jesse, Walt Jr, Marie, maybe the baby, and Saul. Although I wouldn't be surprised if the baby doesn't make it either. But if that happens, probably everybody dies. Except maybe Saul.
posted by hap_hazard at 4:11 PM on July 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The guy who sells him the machine gun is the same guy who sold him the .38 snubnose (or whatever it was) in season 4, so he's got to be somewhere not too far from ABQ.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:17 PM on July 26, 2012


[Mike] comes up with a reason to allow his Madrigal contact to live, apparently just because she panicked in a sufficiently pitiable way. has access to the methylene which will allow him to feed Walt to the DEA.
Mike knows it's either him or Walt.

I'm starting to be worried that season 5 will become purely about the destination and not the journey.
posted by fullerine at 6:49 PM on July 26, 2012


My money's on Marie being killed off in order to up the tension for the inevitable Walt-Hank showdown. Most likely by Walt himself
posted by slapshot57 at 8:02 PM on July 26, 2012


Saul will live. For sure.
posted by saul wright at 8:42 PM on July 26, 2012


My money's on Marie being killed off...

They've played with that already with the prank call to Hank at the scrapyard, and anyway Hank's been beat down more than enough. From here on it's got to be about Walt losing everything; my money's on Skylar, likely by way of ricin cigarette. Hank gets to redeem himself by saving and adopting Walt Jr & the baby.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 9:16 PM on July 26, 2012


Hank. Fucking. Knows.

Huh. I haven't really watched the episodes while considering that interpretation. Is it at all consistent with what we see onscreeen? What about scenes of Hank deliberating in private or whatever? I have a hard time seeing it work. Or did you mean that he knows in an unconscious, back of the mind sort of way?

Saul will live. For sure.

Saul scared of Walt's threats in the first episode of the season is one of my new favorite scenes.

Heck, the interview in the OP says otherwise: "[W]e did not commit to that idea until we had a good reason for it to be in the pool."

It's a little hard to tell exactly what they had planned out from the beginning. They did at least plan to have an airplane explode. (Hence the "737 Down Over ABQ" message.) I think that is what they mean by their "good reason." But I read this interview as admitting that they didn't have as much of an idea about why it exploded; they just needed Walt to somehow be responsible. And the solution they arrived at --- making Q really depressed --- was about as shoddy as they come. I dunno, I could be wrong about how much they had planned out; it's not very clear. But it would help explain why the resolution of the bear in the pool had almost nothing to do with Walt and the drug trade. Chekov's gun had to go off, so they just fired it straight up into the air.
posted by painquale at 11:19 PM on July 26, 2012


/scales mojojojo, tosses in seasoned flour, fries in butter, squeezes lemon
posted by obiwanwasabi at 2:24 AM on July 27, 2012


Hank totally knows. He just doesn't know that yet. And it's his not wanting to that keeps him from it.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:36 AM on July 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


Between the chickens and the hippos there's some serious foreshadowing about Mike. Not sure what it means yet, but almost certainly nothing good.
posted by speicus at 10:30 AM on July 27, 2012


Huh. I haven't really watched the episodes while considering that interpretation. Is it at all consistent with what we see onscreeen?

Honestly I think the writers' room is playing it both ways right now, they probably haven't decided and are leaving it open, but in my mind Hank has almost certainly known since at least the time he talked to Walt about Gale's journal. He knows his family is in danger, he suspects one or more of his police superiors is in on it, so he's searching for that smoking gun that will allow him to put Walt away without triggering a total bloodbath, but stuff just keeps happening. Hank is a very sly and observant cop with a lot to lose ... either that or he's a total doofus but I'm betting on the former.
posted by chaff at 10:52 AM on July 27, 2012


I'm not sure I can really imagine Hank having Walt drive him around looking for Fring's superlab if he knew Walt was in on it.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:57 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hank is a very sly and observant cop with a lot to lose ... either that or he's a total doofus but I'm betting on the former.

For me one of the recurring themes of BB is "people are smarter than they appear". Hank's a boor but a good agent. Saul's a jackass but a good lawyer. Jesse's a lot sharper than your average punk. Skylar's a ruthless negotiator.

Maybe Hank suspects but is choosing not to believe it yet.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:26 AM on July 27, 2012


Yeah, if Hank does suspect it he's trying to keep Walter safe while using him to get to the real movers. Perhaps the dynamic will play out that Hank has to make a choice as Walter himself becomes a kingpin with his new business arrangement.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:28 AM on July 27, 2012


Yes, the Denny's is the same one from earlier in the show. You can see the same gas station outside. He's in ABQ.

I'm rewatching the entire show from the pilot & making little notes about ALL THE THINGS HANK KNOWS even though he doesn't know, by episode. All the little puzzle pieces that I am dying for him to put together. (thinking of throwing it up on a tumblr or something?)

Hank is now my favorite character. He was such a total douche at first and I hated him, but now I'm kind of in love. Smart is sexy.
posted by peep at 1:52 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I hope it turns out Hank's rock collection somehow led him to figure out what Walt's been up to. Because I love ridiculous payoffs
posted by palidor at 2:12 PM on July 27, 2012


They're minerals.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:36 PM on July 27, 2012 [18 favorites]


For me one of the recurring themes of BB is "people are smarter than they appear".

I think it's more like "characters are dumb or smart depending on whether it serves the story." Walt's character is extremely well-drawn, and so was Gus's, but nearly everyone else flip flops between being a bumbling boob and a savvy customer. Jesse in particular, but every supporting cast member has this problem. The lack of character consistency means I don't think we can predict much about whether Hank suspects Walt or whether he's a doofus in the dark. They'll make it up as they go along.
posted by painquale at 3:55 PM on July 27, 2012


That's totally what makes them like real people!
posted by iamkimiam at 4:06 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


there's no way Hank knows. For my money, like any good writing room the BB writing room is creating tension in multiple story lines - setting the stage for a number of different outcomes, ie walt vs hank, walt
vs jesse, walt vs skylar, etc. same thing happened with the sopranos, and in the end we all got played, but HARD, by that room. not complaining... my point is - we are deep in exposition land now. we're a long way from development, let alone resolution.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 4:35 PM on July 27, 2012


Oh, my.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:32 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anna Gunn was brilliant tonight. That scene of hers with Walt was chilling.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:28 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really loved the yellow wallpaper in the bedroom where Skyler was trying to confront Walt. (It's interesting that she didn't bring up what has to be in the back of both their minds, somewhere: Hank, the DEA agent. But perhaps she figures Walt would kill Hank to save himself.)
posted by jeather at 12:44 PM on August 6, 2012


Unless Hank figures it out first. /teamhank
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:53 AM on August 7, 2012


Oh, I don't mean to say I think Skyler will tell Hank before he figures it out -- though now that he is not directly on the case, maybe no one will be tenacious enough (and have enough private clues) to figure it out. Or maybe now that he is not on the case, the person who is won't say "It cannot be my nerdy brother-in-law". But Skyler has the nuclear option of telling Hank about Walt, and she knows it and Walt knows it, but she doesn't seem to be going there. In general I find Skyler an interesting character and I don't understand all the hatred towards her.

I'm still not excited by the vast international conspiracy aspect of this season.
posted by jeather at 5:57 AM on August 7, 2012


> I'm still not excited by the vast international conspiracy aspect of this season.

Yeah, that does have the makings of clusterfuck à la the final season of The Wire, but I'm willing to give them room.

Also, as someone commented on Reddit, it used to be that Walt would pretend to be Heisenberg but now it's Heisenberg pretending to be Walt.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:58 AM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I finally got around to watching Deadwood and just finished the second season. Boy am I feeling pretty bad for Anna Gunn these days!
posted by palidor at 5:13 PM on August 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


jeather: "In general I find Skyler an interesting character and I don't understand all the hatred towards her."

Skyler was functionally an antagonist until she found out about the meth, and her only tools of antagonism were nagging Walt and being upset. It's not a role that engenders a lot of sympathy for the character, but it has paid off in a big way after she got to show that she's actually a lot smarter about most of the operational stuff than Walt and slowly got to turn her conflicts with Walt into a series of increasingly desperate tragedies. She's gone from one of my least favorite characters to one of my most favorite, but I can see how some people might still be stuck thinking of her as the wife who kept preventing Walt from having a nice, happy little drug trade long after any of that was even remotely true.
posted by Copronymus at 12:01 AM on August 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that does have the makings of clusterfuck à la the final season of The Wire, but I'm willing to give them room.

Me too. Mostly it's just boring, so far, and not absurd. Really I don't know enough about the international drug trade to know if it makes sense that there is a huge corporation working with major drug traffickers.

Also, as someone commented on Reddit, it used to be that Walt would pretend to be Heisenberg but now it's Heisenberg pretending to be Walt.

That's a good point. Even when he was asking for his birthday cake, or his birthday bacon, he was not Walt. He hasn't wanted to be Walt for a while. Maybe he never really was Walt.

Skyler was functionally an antagonist until she found out about the meth, and her only tools of antagonism were nagging Walt and being upset.

She was an antagonist, but then our protagonist was at best an anti-hero. I grant in season 1 she wasn't particularly likeable, but it seems to have been part of the long game, and I can't understand how people still hate her. I'm not sure I'd want to be friends with her, but then who on that show would I want to be friends with? Maybe Saul's ex-secretary.
posted by jeather at 12:25 PM on August 9, 2012


Oh, man, shit was cray in "Dead Freight". As ludicrous as it all was, that was one of the more tense episodes I can recall. There were also some interesting sound treatments throughout, and it was very cinematic. It seems that Walt might have a new golden boy.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:21 AM on August 13, 2012


I'm reserving judgment on this season till it's done, because tonally it's the most over-the-place season since two, but I kind of like that it's going back to the crazy genre diversity that it once had, and that it lost throughout the Cousins/Gus years. On the one hand, the consistent goodness is what made seasons 3 and 4 the best seasons of the show, but on the other, it's pretty great that it can shift gears and become a Western heist film but still leave room for character growth and abrupt twists. It's like the dramatic equivalent of Community.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:56 AM on August 13, 2012


That was a great, tense episode. I had forgotten about little boy on the motorbike entirely.

And though I don't want to suggest that a dead child matters only inasmuch as it will affect Walt, Jesse and Mike -- well, a kid saying he saw some people in the desert isn't going to set off alarms, a dead or missing child will.
posted by jeather at 5:38 PM on August 13, 2012


It seems that Walt might have a new golden boy.

I hadn't thought about it, but you're right: they might be setting up lumpen Matt Damon to be a Jesse competitor.
posted by painquale at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2012


I see it more as setting up a schism between pairings: Mike and Todd as hardened criminals versus Walt and Jesse as puffer fish.

If anything, it maybe makes Mike wonder whether Jesse's worth his effort. Particularly if the emotional fallout from the shooting drives Jesse back into sad junkie mode.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:29 PM on August 15, 2012


In one of the teaser promos for the next episode, Mike declares that he's "out", so I think that we'll see Todd stepping into some kind of muscle/distribution role.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:31 PM on August 15, 2012


Macmeth: Emily Nussbaum discusses morality and Breaking Bad in "The New Yorker." [Warning - massive spoilers, don't bother unless you are totally up to date on the series or don't care if the latest plot twists are revealed to you.]
posted by caddis at 12:54 PM on August 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mike's out
posted by palidor at 2:51 PM on August 20, 2012


Most awkward moment of the season?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:54 PM on August 20, 2012


Most awkward moment of the season?

Sip
posted by palidor at 2:56 PM on August 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Heh. That episode abounded in uncomfortable moments. Funny that Walt seemed most in control when there was a gun to his head.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:58 PM on August 20, 2012


Interesting that Walt finally gave up on looking for an excuse to keep cooking -- he always had something he claimed to be the reason, but this time he had nothing, because his reasons were always excuses. The real reason Walt continued to make meth is because he wanted to, and it's pretty hard to argue otherwise.

I was watching the show and we saw Mike lock up just one of Walt's wrists, and my mother said that she would have done both wrists, because this isn't going to go well, and I agreed, except maybe I would have done the ankles too, and really Mike gets what he deserves for leaving Walt almost free.
posted by jeather at 7:14 AM on August 21, 2012


Walt's speech about his past with Grey Matter was very revelatory.

It's hard for me to understand how he ended up a high school chem teacher. Surely, as the brilliant co-founder of a company worth billions, he could have worked elsewhere?
posted by painquale at 8:16 AM on August 21, 2012


I recall some flashback scenes with Walt and a Skyler pregnant with Jr buying their house. He was working for something connected with Los Alamos, I think, and was only seeing that house as a temporary thing. So, there's time between high school teacher and entrepreneur.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:59 AM on August 21, 2012


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