Subject: Opportunity knocks only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.
Seriously, though: The following post for Breaking Bad contains a discussion that happened - in its entirety - after the finale. Don't come whining to me if you read something you didn't want to see.
On Sep 30, 2013, at 01:46 PM, "Jennifer Clapp" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
WARNING: This is a really disjointed email and I apologize. It's pieced together from things I've had in my back pocket "all season" (PS I watched this as pretty much one season over a one and a half month span of time, if that long) and from last night. I've just typed things as I've gone along today and...well...I hope it makes a little bit of sense. Also, I apologize for not knowing how to make images smaller. Technology. [You can't see but I just rolled my eyes but I heard that the ::action:: thing is over now so...I don't know how to make that happen.]
First, introductions! Molly is a friend here in Nashville. I can’t remember how I met her, but it was probably through other friends at a party or something. She’s a regular. And @mollsabeth on Twitter. Landry might not remember this, but I met him a bazillion (ten) years ago at a Step Sing thing when he was there to see his sister, Amy Harlan. Amy and I were roommates at the time. I re-met Landry as an adult last year at the ACL Festival. He’s a Whovian, and also @landryharlan on Twitter. While I’ve never met Megan, she seems super cool and is a Birminghamian who seems to know all the Birminghamians I know, including Erin Moon. She’s a Whovian (PEER PRESSURE MOLLY AND HALEY). She’s @megebeam on Twitter. I can tell we would be friends in real life. I met Haley through Student Life around 10 years ago, she was on the same team as Erin and I. We were also roommates when we first moved to Nashville; she’s a regular, too. She’s @haleybragg on Twitter.
Now, a snapshot of my new home screen:
Y’all. Y’ALL. Last night’s episode. As Landry and Molly are aware because of my incessant texting, it took me an hour to get through the first 37 minutes. I kept having to get up and walk around to throw off the anxiety. I don’t know what possessed me to watch this episode by myself. Here’s a rundown of a couple of things specific to last night’s episode:
- I honestly thought the body count would be higher, and in a more graphically violent way. I mean, it basically boils down to a room full of neo-Nazis and a ridiculously timid woman who I never liked anyway. Am I forgetting anyone?
- Jesse Pinkman. Whew. Literal dodging of bullets and all that. One of my favorite tweets (you can tell it’s my favorite because yellow star green arrow) from right before the show last night:
- Did any of us believe that Badger and Skinny Pete would make it through the series? I’d mentally allowed Badger to die multiple times and have always been shocked when he popped back up. Last night was no exception, and was a nice little nod to the fans, I think. (TOTAL Rosencrantz and Guildenstern moment, too, right? In a Stoppard way, not a Shakespeare way, per se. In either case, they did rat out Jesse. Just unknowingly.)
- Better Call Saul – If this is really happening, do you think they’ll focus on the cases that led him up TO the point where he’s introduced in the show, or follow his life AFTER the show? I’d rather the see AFTER, but I bet it’s the before.
- That shot in the kitchen with Schuyler and Walt. Gorgeous.
- Jesse killing Landry, er, Todd, with the chain mirroring Walt’s killing Crazy 8 with the bike lock. SO GOOD. I’m inferring that this is Jesse’s final kill, because that would be a full circle kind of thing. Good for him. Live your dream! Build your wooden chests!
- I missed Mike. Vivo la Mike!
Now for all of the other things:
I’ve always thought that this show was about fathers and sons* – literal and figurative (so that would be more mentor/protégé, I guess). Last week, when Hank was killed (or was that two weeks ago? Everything was a week ago for me.) I was so angry that the show was taking the easy way out with his exit and if there’d been more episodes left, I would’ve stopped watching. The dynamic between Hank and Walt was one of the most compelling, and Hank’s death provided an easier path (in my opinion) to the end. I’m still not convinced I was wrong, but I’m glad I didn’t drop the show. There was more “family” drama to come…
Walt always symbolized a man’s struggle for respect and the desire to fill the stereotypical male role of provider and protector, father and husband. When he made that call to Schuyler (I know, I know. Haley has pointed out to me multiple times that IMDB has “Skyler,” but IMDB is wrong. [Bitch.**]) to exonerate her from all suspicion, the words that he used are EXACTLY how I’d have summed up his character’s feelings. Which, because Vince Gilligan is awesome, is certainly the point. That he started cooking to get the money to support his family beyond the cancer – sure, I believe that. That he continued because it provided a world in which he could be the “man” he wanted to be without throwing the family dynamic he already had…that’s more like it.
Walter White had a wife and two children that he desperately loved, and that loved him. Schuyler was constantly second-guessing him and over-riding him and, even though Walt, Jr. seemed to prefer his dad to his mom there for most of the show (referring to his mom as a bitch, the serious kind, a few times, which is a whole other thing about perceptions of power in men and women), he still seemed to know that to get permission, he had to go to mom. Heisenberg, on the other hand, had relationships that he could control from the start. Jesse was his son who idolized him – didn’t believe he was the weaker party in any situation – and because of that, Walter (not Heisenberg) loved Jesse. I believe that Walt and Heisenberg melded once Gus was killed mainly because there wasn’t any other person in a position of power over Walt at that moment (Hank’s injury took him down the mental totem pole) – his two lives were finally paralleling one another. When I think about it, this should’ve been foreshadowing that the neo-Nazis were never going to win. Once Walt had that power, he wasn’t going to let it go.
Some other things I noticed re: masculinity in Breaking Bad:
- Hank is pretty much TPM (the perfect man – confident and successful in every situation) until he’s injured, leaving him in a literally weaker position. Up until his injury, if I remember correctly, he’d been a pretty static character, temperament-wise. Marie seems to display the same “emasculating” (I use quotes here because I’m a female and have no idea if a man would see this as emasculating) behavior as Schuyler, but Hank’s confidence keeps on keepin’ on. No breaks from the norm. Once he’s in this weaker physical position, though, depression and anger are recurring traits. I write this to say I think Vince Gilligan may have some issues.
- One of my favorite scenes is where Gus is going to visit Hector Salamanca and he changes from his Los Pollos Hermanos uniform (standard issue, logo patch on the breast) into a suit and tie. There’s the air of power that he wants to exert in front of Salamanca, but also a latent feeling of his need for approval. Don Eladio killed his friend (and, I think, lover), so that would never have been a mentor/protégé relationship for him, but with Salamanca there seems to be a relationship of respect and recognition of power (even if that power is already gone).
- The Cousins. Is that messed up or what? Incredible characters, though. RIVETING. Without them, I wouldn’t care as much about Salamanca.
- Todd. Todd…Todd…Todd. A tragic tale. 100 points to Slytherin for nurture over nature.
- Lydia. CURVEBALL! Lydia is the counter to all of these situations, right? She is the weak female, trying so hard to be in charge of the situation. Ricin aside, would her rise have been like Walter White’s? Would trying to be female in stereotypically male situations have been an interesting storyline? (Beyond Breaking Bad?) YES. Did I still hate her? Yes. Here’s why: I feel like we got our nice bow on Madrigal with the CEO’s suicide. Much like knowing about Gus’s past, we didn’t need to dive into that to feel closure. Unlike Gray Matter, which was introduced in season one, Lydia seemed oddly timed. Also, in keeping with the fathers and sons traditions, I think we could’ve gotten the exact came performance and arc from Todd if we’d looked more at his relationship with Uncle Jack than Lydia. To me, if neo-Nazis have access to a compound with a lab and underground bunkers, it’s not a leap to believe they have access to a warehouse of chemicals. Just sayin’.
I loved this show. I’m so glad I gave it a second chance and watched it. But, in the wise words of @mollsabeth:
Y’all’s turn! All the thoughts. I want to hear all the thoughts!
*I have a whole thing about Walter White and Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons (Walt = Arkady and Heisenberg = Bas…Bas…ilov? Baswhatever), by the way, but I won’t get into it here.
**That’s a Pinkman “Bitch” and not calling anyone a bitch. Just so we’re clear.
On Sep 30, 2013, at 05:27 PM, Molly Gentry <email@example.com> wrote:
WOW. you did have a lot of thoughts on this. I had several as well, and even more now that I've listened to a couple of podcasts about the finale.
First, I love that tweet about the prayer circle for Jesse. I've been saying for weeks "If anything happens to Jesse, I'll lose it!" But he's fine, and by "fine" I mean alive. Mentally he's not fine at all. He can't be. I also love how people have gathered around Jesse and have been rooting for him. I marathoned the series as well (not as quickly as you, Jen, but I wasn't with it since day one), but it's hard not to hear things about a series as popular as Breaking Bad and I feel like there's never been such a huge love for Jesse as there has been in this final season. Maybe I'm wrong?
Better Call Saul
is going to be a prequel. Yuck. I'm not a huge Saul fan to begin with so it's going to be hard for me to want to watch this series, but I'll give it a shot. it could be interesting. I find Saul fine in small doses for comic relief, but that's about it. I'm interested to see how an entire series is formed around him. And I've heard AMC has already ordered the entire first season; not just the first few episodes like usual. They have a lot of faith in this one.
The scene with Walt and SKYlar :) was great. But I liked the one with Gretchen and what's-his-name even better. So tense. And those lasers! so creepy, so great.
Speaking of lasers, I was so glad to see Badger and Skinny Pete. They needed a proper send-off, no matter how small. And they got a ton of cash! I'd point a laser at someone for a huge bundle of money, too. No shame. Times are tough.
If Jesse Plemmons isn't recognized with at least an Emmy nomination next year, something is wrong with humanity. He's always been great as Todd, but the past couple of episodes for him were fantastic. Last week especially when he was breaking in to Skylar's house hovering over Holly then nonchalantly shooting Andrea in the back of the head, he was perfect and so so so creepy. And he nailed it.
Also, I've always thought he resembled Matt Damon, so to see this meme a couple weeks ago made me so happy.
Back to Jesse, I just listened to today's Hollywood Prospectus podcast and they brought up something I also had a small issue with and that was a lack of Walt/Jesse resolution. I'm not saying they needed to hug it out and be BFF after all of this. I know there's no going back, but tying up their relationship seemed kind of rushed to me. I know Jesse probably wanted nothing more than to get as far away from Walt and that place as he could, but the short conversation with Jesse pointing the gun at Walt wasn't quite enough for me. So much of the show WAS focused on them as a mentor/mentee relationship and I felt like there should have been just a few more lines spoken between the two of them.
Anyway, I know I have more opinions about it all but I'm still processing a lot of it. I'd like to give the finale another view in a couple of days. But overall, I thought it was so great.
On Sep 30, 2013, at 09:16 PM, Landry Harlan <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
"I did it for me."
This is all I've wanted for so long now. I had gotten so sick of Walt lying his way through all the horrible decisions he's made, and "It's for the FAMILY" was the worst one. That line was probably the most honest, human thing he has said the entire show. That scene was powerful, especially the shot where Walt appears from the pillar. *chills*
BB was very similar to Lost in the way I experienced it. It took me a few seasons in to start, but my fondest memories come from long nights and meals discussing theories and dissecting an episode the day after viewing it. What does the teddy bear mean? Who's the gun for? This is what made it unforgettable television, the fact that you could never guess what would happen next.
I've also read a lot about the episode, and I think a main point I agree with was that it was the most satisfying ending...for fans. Don't get me wrong, I loved it and was overjoyed when Jesse finally escaped, but I'm not sure it ended in the way that serviced the show best. It was if Walt wrote the finale in the way that he would want to go out, guns blazing and with some redemption in an honorable death. A lot of things played out just a little too perfectly in his favor. This is a huge problem I have in House of Cards as well. I guess I'm just on the side of wanting Walt punished more, hopefully I'm making sense.
TODD IS DEAD, I was cheering with my friends. That "gentlemen psychopath" was in for it.
The phone call with Lydia was so badass. "That's just the ricin." *drops mic*
Would Skylar or Walt Jr. really believe that a huge donation to the family, even if it's from Gretchen, had no involvement with Walt whatsoever? I would be suspicious.
"If you kill me you'll never know where the money...BOOM." BEST MOMENT EVER.
On Oct 01, 2013, at 06:40 AM, "Jennifer Clapp" <email@example.com> wrote:
GREAT STUFF HERE, FOLKS!
First, Jesse Plemons seriously has to get an Emmy nomination out of this. If not for Best Supporting in a Drama then at least Best Guest Star, right? If not, let's all band together, spray paint some stuff gold and mail it to him next September.
This morning, as I was trying so hard but failing to get to sleep, I came across a quote I'd stored on my computer. Presented without comment:
"It's all about accepting who you really are, and I accept who I am."
"And who are you?"
"I'm the bad guy."
Real talk from our friend Jesse Pinkman (conversation with Walt). I love this quote in relation to Walt's "I did it for me" speech.
Keep the thoughts coming...
On Oct 01, 2013, at 08:13 AM, Molly Gentry <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I agree. I was so glad to hear Walt NOT say that he was doing it for his family. Sure, that's how it all started, but he kept it going because he liked it and it made him feel good and powerful and in charge. I also agree that Walt should have been punished a little more and I kind of wanted to see the cancer kill him off rather than a gunshot wound.
Another thing about Jesse: I'm surprised I've never read any observations about his love for kids and the possibility that he's still very much a child himself. In the episode "Peekaboo" (one of my favorites) he finds the red-headed little boy living with his crackhead parents and takes him under his wing for as long as he can and even calls the police in hopes that they'll come find him and take care of him. And even with Brock, he becomes attached to and protective of him really quickly after meeting him. His child-like tendencies (for lack of a better term) are also why he was so quick to work with Walter because he was looking for a father-figure and when Walt didn't work out for him, he took up with Mike (and was SO devastated when he realized Walt had killed him). I haven't really fleshed out this thought, but it's something that I've always come back to. Does that make sense?
On Oct 01, 2013, at 08:28 AM, "Jennifer Clapp" <email@example.com> wrote:
Peekaboo is DEFINITELY one of my favorites. I think that's a really neat observation, and one I haven't really thought of. How would Jesse's protection of his little brother (who he takes the fall for the joint for) fit into this?
I think it's interesting that Jesse does seem to be spending the majority of the show's run looking for a father figure, even though his biological father is a pretty stand-up guy. His parents clearly stuck up for and supported him until they couldn't watch him destroy himself anymore, and until they thought his influence would be bad on his little brother (Hey look, irony!). As far as fathers on the show, his and Jane's seem to be pretty great. The father figures Jesse seeks most to please, however, are Walt and Mike. Murderers. Two people who draw lines in the sand and back them up with guns/violence (active), and not avoidance or words (passive).
On Oct 01, 2013, at 08:47 AM, Megan Beam <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
As if that blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the benign indifference of the world. Finding it so much like myself—so like a brother, really—I felt that I had been happy and that I was happy again. For everything to be consummated, for me to feel less alone, I had only to wish that there be a large crowd of spectators the day of my execution and that they greet me with howls of execration. - Camus, The Stranger.
This is going to be a lot...
So, okay. I'm a pretty intense TV watcher (as I am an intense-most-everything #problemsrelaxing). And at first, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to stomach this show, being as it was filling me so quickly and so deeply full of rage and humankind-wide frustration. [
Calm down, Megan. You don't know that the cashier at Chick Fil A has opened this chain to launder his drug money. Stop looking at him that way.
] But, I'd gotten caught up in the AMC train, desperately needing to know where these shows were coming from on their perspective of masculinity (or lack thereof in some cases). Sure, maybe I was over-thinking how much the executives have to do with the broad, overarching message of the network... but then that commercial. Did you guys see that? Don, Rick, That cop from Low Rising Sun (that I haven't watched yet but it's in the queue) and Walt. "Something more," they said at the end. And I thought HELLO. I'm not crazy.
But wait... more? Really? We won't get into Don Draper yet, because I'ma let them finish. Rick, my favorite control freak, well we could go all day there. But it's almost too easy.
Still. Walt? More? I blatantly reject this. Walt is so, so much less. And I couldn't get a few lines from The Stranger out of my head post-finale. Hence my starting quote up there... hope that's not too absurdist or existential for you this early in the morning... welcome to my world. Take it as you will.
Let's back up.
I started watching this show because a). I heard Vince Gilligan on one of the Nerdist Writers Panel podcasts that accompanied my long commute to work one morning. Truthfully, I wasn't really even paying attention to most of what he said because I didn't know the show. But when they asked him about "likeable characters" I remember him saying specifically that the character he liked the least on the show was Walter White. I thought, What? Isn't that the main guy? Isn't that your great "anti-anti-hero" or something? Aren't I supposed to be rooting for Walter White?
Why would you write a story about a guy you don't even want to root for? And how in the blue blazes of hell did you manage to pull it off for this long?
b). Knox told me to.
Thus, the binge began. I needed to know.
Fast forward -- Sunday night my roommate and I [because why would I put myself thru watching this alone, lookin' at you Jen] decided to go back and watch the pilot right before the finale. [I'm not gonna act like I didn't check Twitter to make sure Jesse was still alive before I started the finale. Because I did. And I will not be sorry for it.] I couldn't get around it. Walt was always Heisenberg. And I don't think anyone would really argue against that -- what, with the spirit of "circumstances reveal who you are" and other such nonsense. True nonsense, but so much more true than I think we, as a society, are willing to bet on. And frankly, as I was binging this show and talking with friends and coworkers (mostly male) who were watching, they couldn't stop rooting for Walt. "He's doing what he has to do to provide for his family," they would say against my unapologetic loathing. "I find myself saying I would do the same thing in his situation," they said again. Am I the only one encountering these people?
Or am I the only one who thinks they're out of their minds?
From the start, Walter White wanted to be in charge of his own death. We watch him from dawn to dusk in that pilot moping around his life as though he doesn't have anything to his name [Naming, btw, is one of my favorite things to discuss IN THE WORLD, so, hit me up when that's a thing]. Staring at the ground, feeling sorry for himself, looking longingly at that award thing he got from Gretchen and Elliot's company way back in the day, making ends meet in the car wash and being mocked by a student. Sure, about the only thing we see him excited about -- or hell, about the only time we ever really get to see him at all -- is in that famous chemistry room scene where he talks about transformation in front of the open flame. He's articulate and excited and right there at the front of his eyes. And he gets his blank stares. You know, I get it, Walt. I feel it for you right there. You have this mind, and you have this passion that is so rare in your world. And you're surrounded by people you couldn't help -- even in your most gracious state -- to see as small and ordinary. But you -- you're anything but ordinary, right?
Because you never really looked around. You never really saw anyone but you. That includes your wife and your son. You were so bent inward that you were a hopeless cause from the start, refusing to believe that anyone else [even the people you made an attempt to love] were really , deep down, as valuable as you.
Then it happens. He's dying. Finally, someone stacks the straw atop that camel's back and says, Oh, did you think you were in control of anything in your life? False. You don't even get to decide how to die.
And there you have it.
Once upon a time, a man named Walter White set out to build the machine that would kill him [and everything he ever was or could be, all the way down to his bones]. Along the way, he collected various villains to outdo -- he gathered up power and greed and numbness. He lined up enemies [because how would he make friends when no one on earth is as valuable as he is?] and brought out his shiny new machine. Hypnotized them each carefully with all that he was able to do and be in the world. Told them he was going to kill them all with it. And they said, please sir, may I have some... more? In the end, Walter White thought this would make him the man he always knew he could be. Or wanted to be. Or should be... who's making these rules again?
Hands down, the best part of the night was Jesse making Walt admit to wanting to die, and telling him to do it himself. My roommate and I both threw our hands in the air and yelled at Jesse to get the hell out of there now. Finally, FINALLY, make the decision and leave Walter White in your LITERAL DUST. Like a BOSS. I might be in the minority, but it was all I could've asked for between Walt and Jesse. Applause to Vince all around for this moment.
Did you guys watch Dexter? Cause as I was reading Landry's [hey, Landry, nice to meet you] response of wanting Walt to be punished more, I felt exactly the same way about the way Dexter ended just the week before. Of course, the last season of that show was rubbish entirely. Another essay for another day. Still, I find myself torn in similar ways. I only had a few moments of actual empathy for Walt; one of them was when they shot Hank. But there's such great tension there. He wants Jesse dead, which is just gut-wrenching. But he doesn't want Hank dead. What world is it that you'd prefer to live in, Walt? Who are you and what the hell do you really even want?
I still don't even think I know.
And I don't think he would ever, EVER have been able to answer that question.
And there you go, Vince. There's the point. No long term plan for the kind of man Walter White ever wanted to be. No narrative for his own life. Nothing he was willing to commit to that was bigger than himself. Because he didn't really think, deep down, that anything was more than him...
I have a lot of questions for Vince. Like, how much of yourself were you showing us here? How much of your father or your friends? How much of your view of humanity is laid bare here? I have my guesses... and for the most part, from what could be a totally different world, I don't disagree.
And how do you see this, in a perfect, intelligent, articulate world, impacting humanity? Was this a snapshot of our depravity? It was a hell of a snapshot, I'll say that much. Not comfortable for any one of us to come face to face with our own Heisenbergs. And the conversations ALONE have told me so much about what lies deep down in the heart of people I know... not necessarily in the sense that I'm judging them (though, let's be real, I judge people based on what they think of LOST, I'm naturally going to judge them a little on this basis, too). I think I'm really just seeing them. In a different shade of light. Or dark. If that makes any sense. Stop talking, Megan. This is long enough.
I'll be honest here with one more thing, Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium is one of my all time favorite movies. Nope, I'm not kidding. Yes, I do watch it more than once. And maybe my favorite moment in the movie is when Dustin Hoffman looks at Natalie Portman -- who struggles the entire 2 hours with what she knows is her potential and thinking she's never really going to live up to herself -- and he says to her, "Your life is an occasion. Rise to it."
And, exactly, Walt. So, your life doesn't look or feel like an occasion to you. Get a therapist. Don't sacrifice your integrity (whatever may have really existed there) and the integrity of your family at the altar of "my life is hard." Live together, die alone.
Once upon a time, a man named Walter White set out to build a machine that would kill him more than cancer. And he did. The end.
Whew. Sorry for the word vomit. Hope it makes a little sense. Thanks for inviting me to the cool kids party. =)
On Oct 01, 2013, at 08:16 PM, Haley Bragg <email@example.com> wrote:
It's a major regret in my life that I didn't send this before Megan could send hers. So, if you haven't read hers yet, READ THIS FIRST. I beg, I plead with you. Reading my email after taking in her work of art will be like drinking a Diet Coke after sipping a really fine wine. (That's probably the first of many bad analogies for 2 reasons. 1. I'd totes prefer the DC over the wine and 2. I have no clue what makes wine good or bad. But you get the gist?)
What I aim to do is just talk about my favorite moments in the finale and then kind of respond to things that have already been said or questioned. Here goes:
1. When Walt left his watch at the pay phone.
2. The Gretchen/Elliot scene. I can't get over how in control Walt was in that scene vs. the frantic mess he's been all season long. That, plus the contrast of their lifestyle and home against everything that has come before in this series was so surprising that it felt like a different show for those 5-7 minutes."Cheer up, beautiful people. This is where you get to make it right."
3. Marie's phone call and Skyler's (GUYS, GET THIS RIGHT FOR ONCE) indifference/comatose/zombie-like state to her, PLUS Walt is in the kitchen. I mean, she is a shell of a human being. And then when the camera turned and you see Walt standing there (I convinced myself that I knew he was standing there all along, but who am I kidding?) and you immediately think, "Okay, that's why she's acting that way." But I don't think it was. I really think that's pretty much how she's been living her life since Walt left.
4. Lydia and the Stuvia. You just knew when she first grabbed that packet, right?
5. Jesse and Walt. I'm with you, Megan. I loved their ending.
Landry, I agree with you in thinking that the finale seemed more like Walt's swan song than Breaking Bad's. It was like, "Money to Walt Jr. Check. Say goodbye to Skyler and Holly. Check. Kill Lydia. Check. Nazi slaughter. Check. Die. CHECK." Was it a masterpiece? Yes. Was it heartbreaking? Absolutely. But for a show that was so insistent on creating a super villain from scratch, I think he might have been let off the hook a little too easily in the end. (Megan, let's talk about Dexter because YES.)
Having said all of that, I still REALLY enjoyed the finale and overall, think it was pretty excellent.
On Oct 02, 2013, at 09:55 AM, "Jennifer Clapp" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I am LOVING our conversation - it makes up for all the episodes I watched alone at 2am on a Saturday morning and wasn't able to talk to anyone about. These initial posts are about to go on my site; however, I would really love to continue our insular conversation here. I've already told Haley that there is SO MUCH to stay about the story and I think we need to keep going in that direction, but then I do also want to look at the way the story was TOLD for a little bit at some point. I just think the art direction and themes were so strong. Buzzfeed did this yesterday-ish, and it reminded me a lot about the little things I wanted to talk to people about. I LOVE the "death of WW vs. death of Heisenberg" mirroring - mainly because that scene in the crawl space was CRAY, but also numbers 1 & 2. I feel like our group had a different take on #3 - not so much that Walt finally takes control of his death, but that he is ultimately too chicken to be in control of his death (the "easy way out" that's come up a few times).
Keep some of that stuff in mind, and start pulling from your mental notes, but let's keep on the story track for a while, too. Let's talk about Gretchen and Elliott. How did y'all feel about the entire Gray Matter situation from beginning to end?
On Wed, Oct 2, 2013 at 9:50 PM, Landry Harlan <email@example.com> wrote:
Wish I could meet/see you all in person, loving this!
Let's talk about the GENIUS of bringing Gray Matter back into the story, essentially taking it full circle. This was always one of the biggest mysteries on the show for me. What did they do to Walt that (I believe) created the Jekyll within him of Heisenberg? What was the depth of Walt's relationship with Gretchen? Is he just angry that she ended up with Elliot and not him? People keep talking about how that finale wrapped up everything perfectly, but these questions never got their proper due I think. It's definitely not like Lost where you wonder if the writers even know an answer, but it's a story I wish had a little more depth.
I think there is so much to be gleaned from Walt's biting "cheer up beautiful people". Do you think Elliot is an example of what Walt always wanted to achieve? Scientific fame, an attractive wife, respected and adored. Walt can't STAND him because he was supposed to BE him. Just more fuel for Heisenberg to feed off of.
On a separate note, if anyone wants to go ahead trash the pathetic last season of Dexter, I will enjoy it tremendously. Talk about a show LIMPING past the finish line. Such a fall from it's incredible 4th season. Thank God Walt wasn't forced to live 8 seasons long.
On Oct 03, 2013, at 09:57 AM, Megan Beam <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
I agree. I think not only the idea of bringing them back but down to the very last detail of HOW they were brought back was black magic. I loved it. It was awful and perfect.
I find myself torn between wanting to know more about the back story with the three of them (hello, ditch Saul and give us the Gray Matter prequel) and loving the opportunity to make it up myself.
I think Gretchen and Elliot may actually have been painfully ordinary people. Brilliant, sure. Kind, maybe. But I think giving them personally less depth in the story and yet constantly alluding to the fact that their "success" is part of what makes Walt feel so crowded by his own mediocrity is kind of the point. And I think Landry's right, they didn't really get what may've been due to them in regards to their impact on the whole reason Walt became Heisenberg at all. But I kind of like that they didn't get it. Because his final scene with them was so telling of the wrestling he did to get on top of them, if you will, that I didn't really need anything else. I feel like I watched my perspective of everything around Walt [like the details on these two and on Saul and the school, etc] start to narrow all the way down to just Walt and his periphery by the final season. I found myself wanting to wrestle my way to the outside of him and do the same thing to him that he did to Gretchen and Elliot. Damn to hell anything else. Tunnel vision: You're making me miserable. So, let me give you what you deserve.
I don't know if I'm willing to say Elliot was everything Walt wanted to be or thought he deserved to be. I just think Walt was so self absorbed that anything Elliot had turned out to be that wasn't alone and self-loathing would've initiated animosity. Color me biased, I just think Walt wanted another reason to be miserable. May as well hate that guy.
I would take a prequel on just Gretchen and Skyler, actually. Because I read this article by Anna Gunn on the attitude towards women in shows like this. Got me thinking on whether or not this show would even be as remotely successful if it was Skyler who'd started cooking meth... I think we can pretty well say no. And that frustrates me. Anyway. Not to get us off topic, I just thought if you guys hadn't read that you might be interested. And I'd love to know what y'all think about all that when/if we get there.
Separate email thread for Dexter? Cause I'm all over that. I think I just repeated "Nope" about 18 times after it ended. Still shaking my head. So mad.
On Oct 10, 2013, at 11:54 AM, "Jennifer Clapp" <email@example.com> wrote:
Sorry y'all. I wasn't as productive on vacation as I'd imagined myself to be.
Here's why I loved the reintroduction of Gretchen and Elliot, list style:
1. I kept imagining they would creep back in, Madrigal style, and be involved in the drugs somehow. I like that I was wrong, though. It gave me something to be curious about.
2. That opening scene in the house was flawless from beginning to end. It took me around half an hour to watch that 12 or so minute scene. SO INTENSE.
3. In the same way I'd like to see "future Saul" instead of "pre-BB Saul," I'd love to see at least 60 minutes devoted to the founding of Gray Matter. I completely agree with you, Megan. I'd love to see why Walt left. Was it an atmosphere that didn't allow for family devotion (at least in a time sense), or was there a rift between Walt and Elliott over Gretchen? That seemed like a possibility to me.
4. I am always pro-Charlie Rose. (Related: I wonder if everyone who's seen the Get Lucky video from Stephen Colbert should've predicted Rose's involvement in a Breaking Bad episode.)
I hate that I waited so long to respond, because my brain is already slowly edging out Breaking Bad in anticipation of filling it with American Horror Story. I AM about to listen to the Grantland Live after the finale, though, so I might bombard you with more thoughts later.
Also, YOU GUYS.
Happy Thursday everyone!