Anna Gunn

Breaking Bad Finale

The fifth season of Breaking Bad was all about anti-climax. That sounds bad, since we tend to think of climaxes as the best part of, ahem, several different things, and whatever comes after as an inevitable letdown. But after Season Four — wherein Walt engineered Gus Fring’s demise — the series lost its epic ambitions. Again, that’s not a bad thing. The fifth season demonstrated the impossibility of Walt’s transition back to civilian life. Once he’d gotten blood on his hands, he couldn’t wash it off. The question of how to live with stubbornly dirty hands drove this last season. It was an anti-climax that showed how difficult, complicated, and satisfying anti-climaxes can be. (This season’s climax, of course, was “Ozymandias.”) “Felina,” written and directed by Vince Gilligan, was the anticlimactic finale to an anticlimactic final season. It was also an extremely fitting one for the series. It showed Walter White, who made a (rather infamous) name for himself by producing the Southwest’s best crank and outsmarted his many, many enemies through his extreme methodicalness, closing up all the loose ends in his life. “Felina” was about Walter settling accounts: with Skyler, his children, Hank and Marie (in a way), Elliot and Gretchen, the Nazis, and, of course, Jesse. The machine gun he had in his trunk added just enough ambiguous tension throughout the episode to keep it from being a straightforward “Walter White visits his past” storyline. It also allowed to Gilligan showcase the chief strengths of the episode: its micro-detail-oriented plotting (the ricin!), its stomach-churning suspense (Walter framed like […]

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Breaking Bad Ozymandias

“Ozymandias” has got to be some kind of epic meta-dare. Vince Gilligan evokes Percy Shelly’s famous poem, in which the titular “king of kings” commands future generations, “Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!” In Shelly’s telling, though, Ozymandias was an accomplished fool. By his haughty, fearsome decree, “Nothing beside remains. Round the decay/Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare/The lone and level sands stretch far away.” In creating and crafting such an astounding episode of television (not to mention series), though, Gilligan has thrown down the gauntlet to TV critics, historians, audiences, and his peers: Breaking Bad is TV’s version of the Sistine Chapel. “Ozymandias” will likely be the scene in which God reaches out to Adam. Forget this at your own peril.   (Between “Ozymandias” and Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass,” Gilligan sure is rewarding all his viewers with English degrees.)

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Breaking Bad Confessions

For most of “Confessions,” Walt is the eye of Hurricane Heisenberg. While everyone else around him reels and whirls and wobbles, Walt observes quietly and manipulates gently. He plots while others plotz. Now a master of concealment and Plan Bs — so close to finally becoming Gus Fring – he dons his best father-knows-best voice and cardigan to reassure Junior, threaten Hank, and pacify Jesse. At least temporarily. Only Junior is clueless enough to still fall for Walt’s act, now almost campy in its wholesomeness. After Walt serenely suggests to his teenaged son that he’s on death’s door again, he and Skyler meet with Hank and Marie to instruct the in-laws that they’re not to use his children as pawns — a demand he makes while using his son as emotional ammunition: “This investigation, Hank. Do you realize what this will do to him?” When Hank challenges him to “step up, be a man, and admit what you’ve done,” Walt placidly responds, “There’s nothing to confess” before handing him his “confession” tape.

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Aural Fixation - Large

The following post contains spoilers. If you are not caught up on the current episode of Breaking Bad, proceed with caution. This current season of Breaking Bad has successfully hit the accelerator as we get closer and closer to the end of the series. The shocking end of former kingpin Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) has only made way for a new one – our increasingly sinister anti-hero, Walter White (Bryan Cranston.) The formerly meek and mild chemistry teacher may now view himself as an untouchable, successful drug lord, but those around him are suffering the consequences – whether they realize it or not. Since the beginning, Breaking Bad has gotten its distinct and inventive sound from composer Dave Porter. I spoke with Porter before the premiere of Season 5 and his teases of what was to come (both musically and episodically) have proven to be as true as those flash forward glimpses director Vince Gilligan and co. are so foud of giving us.

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*The following contains Breaking Bad spoilers in general and a major spoiler for the season four finale in particular. The Breaking Bad bandwagon is one that I avoided  getting on for a long time. After watching seasons one through three in a summer marathon, I found a lot to enjoy in the show, but there certainly wasn’t any drinking of the Kool-Aid being done. And while there still isn’t, I’ll be damned if the ending of season four didn’t at least tempt me to take a sip or two. This season started off rather lackluster compared to the high of the previous season. Sure, Gus slitting Victor’s throat and the cartel shoot-out were among some of the greatest moments of the show’s history, but they were scattered in a field with the likes of Hank’s self-loathing and distractingly annoying advertisements for Denny’s. But the final two episodes of this season made up for the majority of all that lackluster crap. What made the Breaking Bad season four finale special is that the immediate storyline involved is played out over two episodes instead of one. “End Times” is mostly set up for what we saw in “Face Off,” and that’s why “Face Off” is so fucking good. Imagine if the spinning gun scene in “End Times” had instead aired in the same episode as the final shot of the season. It wouldn’t have worked, simply because the final shot was one what required a moment of processing by the audience. Had everything been in […]

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The evolution of Walter White is, without a doubt, one of the most engaging character arcs ever to grace the small screen. Once the unassuming school teacher turned meth dealer, very few characters transform that heavily. Per usual on Breaking Bad, that transformation has been done with patience and care. Walter White is a character that has garnered many fans over the years, and star Bryan Cranston is on that fan list as well. The Emmy-winning actor was kind enough to make time for a phone interview, and early on in our chat, Cranston’s passion and love for the character was clear. And for good reason. Walter White travels to new and interesting places that most actors never get the chance to explore. Thankfully, we’ll be going along with Cranston on White’s journey for another 16 episodes. Cranston and I started off discussing the collaborative process on the well-deserved critical darling, Drive, then soon moved on to discussing how Walter has changed over the course of the show, and if there’s any chance of hope for our favorite meth maker.

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