HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRYAN CRANSTON

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So today was (and is for a few more hours) none other than Mr. Bryan Cranston’s birthday.  By now you have figured out that we are pretty obsessed with Breaking Bad here at YBTV.  I (LJ) am beyond obsessed.  It is without a doubt my favorite TV of all time and what I believe to be the best TV show ever.  Yeah, that’s right, I said it.  Let’s not get into a debate about that though.  Instead, let’s celebrate this occasion by remembering just how awesome Mr. Cranston was on Breaking Bad as Mr. Walter White.  Here are some of our favorite Walter White moments:

7.  “This is my confession” (Season 5, episode 11 “Confessions”) – After a cheery dinner at a Mexican restaurant (that specializes in table-side guacamole), we get to see Walt’s “confession” video.  I, for one, was shocked by the video.  And, how dubious and well-thought out Walter’s actions were.  What I like most is we have Cranston playing Heinsberg who is actually doing his best to act like Walter White (was that meta enough for you).  Well played, Señor White.

6.  “Say my name” (Season 5, episode 7 “Say My Name”) – By this point in the show, there is no more Walter White.  There is only Heinsberg.  And, Heinsberg has a god-like complex and let’s be honest he is pretty much an a-hole.  Cranston plays Heinsberg beautifully in this scene and, in my opinion, makes the audience (and everyone in the scene) actually despise the man Walt has become.

5.  “I won” (Season 4, episode 13 “Face Off”) – I am not going to pretend that Gus’s face being blown off wasn’t the ultimate moment in this episode or one of the all time greatest moments in Breaking Bad history.  But, Walter’s chilling cellphone call to Skyler at the end is disturbing on so many levels.

4.  “Run” (Season 3, episode 12 “Half Measures”) – Remember when Walter White wasn’t all bad.  I would like to believe that Walt wasn’t always thinking about himself.  Even if these moments are few and far between.  When he saved Jesse in this episode, Mr. White won points with me.  I mean, come on, HE SAVED JESSE.

3.  “Where is the money?” (Season 4, episode 11 “Crawl Space:”) – I mean can anything really be said about this moment other than that Cranston is brilliant.  Gus is going to kill Walt and his family and when Walt goes looking for his “runaway” money, it’s gone.  The laughing is what I cannot get over.  Cranston’s ability to convey the desperateness and the irony of this scene with a hysterical laugh is on another level.

2.  “I  am the one who knocks” (Season 4, episode 6 “Cornered”) – Without a doubt, this was my favorite Walter White scene and my favorite Walter White line of all time.  Heck, the quote is on my cellphone case (yes, I am a dork).  In my mind, this is the beginning of Skyler truly realizing what her husband is capable of and what he is turning into.

1.  “My baby blue” (Season 5, episode 16 “Felina”) – Ok, so Cranston doesn’t utter a word in this last scene.  But his performance is epic.  The look in his eyes, the song playing in the background, his death.  THIS SCENE IS EVERYTHING.  EVERYTHING.

I can’t keep going.  There is too much gloriousness to properly convey in a blog.  I suggest you just watch all 5 seasons over again.  I know I have left many perfect Cranston moments out and we can argue forever about which scenes were the best, but one thing is for sure:  Bryan Cranston is phenomenal and we hope he enjoyed his birthday!  As Jesse would say:

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-LJ

PS.  Hope he didn’t forget his birthday bacon.

BETTER CALL SAUL UPDATE: MIKE!!!!!

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In case you missed it yesterday (which hopefully if you are as obsessed with Breaking Bad as we are, you didn’t), Jonathan Banks (aka Mike Ehrmantraut) has joined the cast of Better Call Saul, the Breaking Bad prequel.  Banks will appear as a series regular.  In Breaking Bad, Mike, a former police officer, worked as the Head of Corporate Security at Los Pollos Hermanos and as an enforcer for Gus Fring’s meth operation.  He later became involved with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman’s meth business.  In one of the greatest tragedies on the show, Walt shot Mike in the Season 5A finale.

There has of course been speculation about which other Breaking Bad characters may appear on Better Call Saul, but nothing has been released yet.

We are very, very happy to have Mike back on TV.

*Story broken by Deadline.  http://www.deadline.com/2014/01/jonathan-banks-better-call-saul-casting-mike-ehrmantraut/

-CJ & LJ

RIP BREAKING BAD: LJ’S 2013 TV FAVORITES

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CJ has been bugging me to do my own “best of” television list for 2013.  I had been resisting in order to stop inundating y’all with list after list.  But, since CJ has clearly gotten his list so incorrectly organized, I feel that it is my duty to comment.  This isn’t an attempt to tell you what the best shows of 2013 were (although arguably all of these should be included on this list); this is simply my favorite shows of 2013.

*Side Note – While CJ and I do watch a lot of the same TV shows, he undoubtedly watches more.  So, for instance, Luther or Justified aren’t on my list because I simply don’t watch them.  At the bottom I will include a list of shows I considered, but ultimately did not include.

11.  House of Cards (Netflix) – Ok, so this started out as a top 10 list.  But, at the end of the day, I could only get down to my favorite 11 shows.  Sue me.  House of Cards was my first experience at alternative-TV shows (i.e., ones not found on the networks, cable, or HBO, etc.) and it did not disappoint.  I am generally not a huge Kevin Spacey fan, but he was incredible as the power-hungry, crafty, and often times, super creepy Congressman.  The supporting cast was also exceptional, especially Corey Stoll as Russo (and who doesn’t love Kata Mara).  This show was entertaining, suspenseful and simply well-written.  I cannot wait until February 14, 2014 for season 2.

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10.  The Americans (FX) – Keri Russell as a spy.  I really shouldn’t have to say more.  You have Cold War spy tactics intermixed with family and personal drama.  It’s a great recipe for a show.  Keri Russell is as awesome as she ever has been, as are her castmates (Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich, Annet Mahendru, etc.), and as much as I hate to say it, she makes me want to support the Russians.

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9.  Rectify (Sundance) – I like prison.  I know what you are thinking, and yes it sounds weird.  But, here is what I mean, I like almost everything that has to do with prison or prisoners, whether it is a book, a movie, or a TV show.  What do I like more than prison? (well a lot of things, but what I mean is…)  Stories about someone that may be wrongly accused of a crime.  And, that is what you have here with Rectify.  You have a story of a man, Daniel, who has been on death row for 19 years when some DNA evidence allows him to be released.  The first season of Rectify showed us what it is like for Daniel to try and reintegrate into a “normal” life as well as how his release from prison is affecting his family, his friends, and everyone in the small town of Georgia.  On top of all that, we get some clues as to who actually committed the murder/rape of the girl, which sent Daniel to prison in the first place (heck, it might even have been him).

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8.  Broadchurch (BBC America) – Not a show about prison, but a show about the murder of a young boy in a small town in Britain and the following investigation that ensues.  The show doesn’t entirely focus on the investigation of Danny’s murder, but also shows the impact that such an event can have on a family, on friends, and on the community as a whole.  I can honestly say that I had no clue who the killer was until the very end–that is how well written the show was.  Apparently there is going to be an American version of this show, but I still believe that the original is a must-see.

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7.  Arrow (CW) – You assumed this would be on my list, didn’t you?  Last winter/spring we got season 1 of Arrow and this fall we have been watching the first half of season 2.  This show is only getting better and better.  Oliver’s crime fighting escapades aren’t what keep me loving this show though.  In between those adventures, the viewer is given glimpses into Oliver’s past on the island, which is what really intrigues me.  Seriously, I have to know what happened there!  Additionally, you can’t help but realize that Oliver’s compadres both on the island and in present day Starling City add depth to this superhero show.

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6.  Veep (HBO) – 2013 was apparently the year of the drama (at least for me), but Veep stood out as the best comedy (I don’t count Orange as the New Black as a comedy) and one of the best shows of the year.  The cast and the story I felt got stronger in season 2 of Veep and I could seriously watch the Veep crew berate Jonah all day.

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5.  Masters of Sex (Showtime) – Masters of Sex was without argument the best new show of the fall and was definitely a saving grace on Sunday nights (after suffering through Homeland).  Lizzie Caplan is captivating, plain and simple.  But, what is also captivating, is the complicated relationships that develop between the characters as the season progresses.  Virginia and Bill are the two main characters, and obviously their relationship takes center stage, but Masters of Sex has proved that it is also capable of showing the struggles and relationships of the supporting characters with just as much depth and intricacy.

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4.  Shameless (Showtime) – Shameless starts each January and is such a perfect way to start of each new year.  Unfortunately though, since it is so early in the year, I feel like it gets overlooked so much of the time.  I am here to tell you that Shameless is one of the best and most underrated shows on TV currently.  Emmy Rossum is simply amazing as Fiona, a girl who is willing to do whatever it takes to provide for and care for her brothers and sister (since their dead-beat-dad is clearly incapable and one of the worst human beings to walk the Earth).  This show is funny, it’s dramatic, and features a fair amount of nudity.  What’s not to love?

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3.  Game of Thrones (HBO) – Big changes happened in season 3 of GoT.  Most obvious is, of course, the massacre of the Stark family.  And, while the Red Wedding was certainly the highlight of the season in a light of people’s minds, I was most happy that season 3 saw a lot more of Dany kicking-ass and pretty much being the coolest chick ever.  I haven’t read the books so I have no clue what is going to happen next, but I hope that season 4 is just as epic.

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2.  Orange is the New Black (Netflix) – As good as I thought House of Cards was, Orange is the New Black turned out to be even better.  Yes, it focused predominately on the life of Piper, but we also got a look at many of her prison roommates as well.  We saw flashbacks to these women’s prior lives, which gave insight into how all these women ended up being locked up.  And, we got to watch everyone trying to do their best and cope with their life in prison.  It will be interesting to see what happens in season 2 since Piper’s girlfriend won’t be appearing in many episodes and also since Piper probably killed someone at the end of season 1.

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1.  Breaking Bad (AMC) – Now, I know you saw this coming.  But, let’s be real, was there anything as good as the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad on TV this year?  No, there wasn’t.  Period.

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Other shows that could have been considered – Top of the Lake, The Walking Dead, Family Tree, Mad Men, Scandal, The Returned (only 2 episodes in), Bob’s Burgers, Raising Hope, Parks and Rec, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Ground Floor, New Girl, The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife, The Blacklist, Girls, Nashville, The Carrie Diaries, Downton Abbey, Rookie Blue, The Fosters. (I, of course, left off shows that I watch that could never be considered for such a list…like X Factor).

-LJ

BREAKING BAD FINALE: IT’S NOT A FANTASY PEOPLE!

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Well, it has been a total of three days since my last Breaking Bad post.  And, it appears that neither I, nor the rest of the internet, is taking a break from commenting on the finale of Breaking Bad.  What appears to have developed in the past few days (in addition to the hilarious gifs) is a theory that the end of Breaking Bad was merely a Walter White fantasy.  (See http://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/was-the-breaking-bad-finale-all-just-a-fantasy-in-walter-whi discussing this theory that has largely been attributed to Norm MacDonald or simply google “Breaking Bad fantasy”).  Proponents of this theory argue that Walter White died in the frozen car in New Hampshire; thus, everything from that point on was a fantasy of how Walt would have wanted the end of his life to go.  For some inexplicable reason, this theory infuriates me.  I think, in particular, what makes me so mad is that if this theory is true, then Jesse did not get saved and is still slaving away in his own personal hell to make meth for the Nazis.  And that simply is not okay with me.  So, with that, I would like to make a few points regarding why the ending of Breaking Bad actually happened (at least in the world of TV):

1.  Look at the Jesse storyline – The first time we see Jesse in the finale, he is daydreaming about making a wooden box.  This scene is a callback to the Season 3 episode titled “Kafkaesque,” where Jesse tells his rehab group about how he spent an entire semester trying to craft the best wooden box that he possibly could have.  It was a time when Jesse was at his best.  Notably though, Walt was not at the rehab group meeting, so why would Walt have a fantasy that included a callback to a moment in Jesse’s life that Jesse holds dear and that Walt doesn’t know about!  That just doesn’t make sense.

2.  Another point regarding Jesse – At the time Walt gets in the car in New Hampshire, Walt either (1) thinks Jesse is dead, (2) hates Jesse because he blames him for Hank’s death, or (3) both.  The last time Walt saw Jesse he instructed the Nazis to kill him and single-handedly blew Jesse’s world to pieces with his confession about Jane.  So, why in heaven’s sake, would Walt include in a fantasy a portion where he saves Jesse’s life.  Walt doesn’t even believe that Jesse is alive.

*Side point – Also, how would Walt be capable of knowing how Jesse was being chained with a “leash” as Jesse was being forced to cook meth?  Walt’s fantasy magically guessed the exact predicament of Jesse’s forced slave labor.  I don’t think so.

3.  Walt always has crazy plans – People seem to be hinging their fantasy theory partly on the fact that Walt’s machine gun scheme was too unreal and executed too perfectly.  But, let’s be honest people, this isn’t the first crazy scheme that has worked out in Walt’s favor.  Throughout the series we have seen Walt explode Tuco’s clubhouse, poison Brock with Lily of the Valley, execute a heist of a train, and blow-up Gus with a wheelchair bomb.  Walt’s plans have never been entirely grounded in reality.  And, all of these plans have ended up working out in Walt’s favor.  The machine gun scheme is simply another one of these crazy situations that worked out in Walt’s favor.

*Also, it’s not like Walt came out of the machine gun plan unscathed.  He got shot and died!  In other words, his plan wasn’t perfectly executed like some nay-sayers believe.

4.  Why would Walt’s family not get back together – Ok, so if Walt is fantasizing about what he would have done, wouldn’t he have at least had some resolution with Junior.  I am not saying that Walt would have been so delusional as to imagine his entire family would live happily ever after.  But, let’s look at this.  He got closure with Skyler.  He was able to say goodbye to Holly.  And, you expect me to believe in this dying man’s “fantasy” that he simply stares longingly at his son knowing that his son may forever hate him.  I don’t buy that.

5.  Who cares that we don’t see Walt put the ricin in the Stevia – There seems to be some disbelief that Walt could have gotten the ricin in the Stevia packet for Lydia to subsequently use.  But, Breaking Bad is not a show that explains every little detail of Walt’s plans of action.  Did we see how Walt poisoned Brock…no.  Did we see how Walt created the bomb for Hector’s wheelchair…no.  Walt does things off camera and sometimes these are amazing things.  Why would you assume that anything would be different in the finale?

6.  Let’s look at what Vince Gilligan has said – First, Gilligan has explained why the keys appear:  “Well the whole point of the teaser for us in the writer’s room was, ‘What is he doing, is he praying?  Who’s he praying to?  It is god?  Is it the devil?  Who would a guy like Walter White pray to?  And lo and behold, his prayers are answered, and the key is kind of magically waiting for him atop the visor.”  [From the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast].

Second, Gilligan has repeatedly stated that his intention with the ending was for it to be unambiguous.  As Gilligan explained on Talking Bad this week:  “We went through a lot of false starts and endings that went nowhere, but we knew we needed to dot all the Is and cross all the Ts … In some cases unanswered questions are good, but in this case, in a finite and close-ended show, we needed resolution.  The Sopranos ending I thought was great, I thought it was perfect for that show.  This story was finite all along.  It’s a story that starts at A and ends at Z.  It’s a very closed-ended thing.”

This is same sentiment is repeated over and over by Gilligan.  For instance as Gilligan explained in his interview with EW:  “We didn’t feel an absolute need for Walt to expire at the end of the show. Our gut told us it was right. As the writers and I worked through all these different possibilities, it felt right, but I don’t think it was a necessity for us. There was a version we kicked around where Walt is the only one who survives, and he’s standing among the wreckage and his whole family is destroyed. That would be a very powerful ending but very much a kick-in-the-teeth kind of ending for the viewers. We talked about a version where Jesse kills Walt. We talked about a version where Walt more or less gets away with it. There’s no right or wrong way to do this job — it’s just a matter of: You get as many smart people around you as possible in the writers room, and I was very lucky to have that. And when our gut told us we had it, we wrote it, and I guess our gut told us that it would feel satisfying for Walt to at least begin to make amends for his life and for all the sadness and misery wrought upon his family and his friends. Walt is never going to redeem himself. He’s just too far down the road to damnation. But at least he takes a few steps along that path. And I think more importantly for him than that is the fact that he accomplishes what he set out to accomplish way back in the first episode: He leaves his family just a ton of money.  Of course, Walt for years now has been looking through the wrong end of the telescope. … For years now, he thought if he makes his family financially sound — that’s really all he has to do as a man, as a provider, and as a father. They’re going to walk away with just shy of 10 million in cash, because of Walt’s machinations with Gretchen (Jessica Hecht) and Elliott (Adam Godley). But on the other hand, the family emotionally is scarred forever. So it’s a real mixed message at the end. Walt has failed on so many levels, but he has managed to do the one thing he set out to do, which is a victory. He has managed to make his family financially sound in his absence, and that was really the only thing he set out to do in that first episode. So, mission accomplished.”

Finally, I will leave you with this.  If you have ever listened to Vince Gilligan talk about Breaking Bad, you would know in your heart that he has the upmost respect for his fans.  If the end was intended to be a fantasy, the man would have told us that.  And, yet he has not.  The end.

-LJ

BREAKING BAD 516: FELINA

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Who would have thought laser pointers would be so intimidating??

Ok folks.  Well this was it.  The episode that we had all been waiting for.  Some of us for months, some of us for years.  As much as it pains me to say, this Sunday brought an end to my one true television love:  Breaking Bad.  Personally, I was pleased with the ending and couldn’t have imagined it any other way.  For the last time, let’s get to talking:

1.  Thank God for resolution – As a general matter, I hate really open-ended conclusions.  It drives me nuts.  I like things wrapped up in a nice, neat bow.  While I haven’t yet watched the Sopranos (I know, shame), I imagine that the fade to black will annoy the heck out of me. So with that being said, I sincerely appreciated Breaking Bad taking the time tie-up the loose ends.  Walt and Skyler get closure; Marie and Skyler at least appear to have some sort of relationship; Lydia and the team of Nazis die a death they deserve; Walt is able to “give” his money to family afterall, and Jesse gets rescued.  Now it appears that some viewers thought the ending was too “neat,” and to that I would offer this counter-point.  Breaking Bad was a finite story; it was story about the transformation of Walter White.  That is the story that Vince Gilligan had been telling and that story must have a definite conclusion.  I would also say that not everything got wrapped up in a nice, little bow and it’s not like it was a happy ending.  Yes, the bad guys died, but the people who remained alive will have to deal with the ramifications of Walter White’s actions for the rest of their lives.  No one is riding off into the sunset on the back of a magical unicorn.  Who knows if Marie will ever recover from the death of Hank?  Who knows if Walt Jr. will ever be able to overcome his hatred for his father (remember, as far as Junior is concerned, he will always believe that Walt killed Hank…that will not be an easy thing to get past)?  Yes, Jesse is “free,” but will he ever be free from the demons of his past or will he forever be haunted by the number of people who died simply because they crossed his path?  While I think that Breaking Bad did an excellent job at ending Walt’s story, I think there are enough unanswered questions to weigh against the argument that it was too neatly wrapped up.

*I have also heard the argument that it was too easy for Walt to execute his plan in the end.  Walt has time and time again shown himself to be clumsy and reckless.  Most often his plans even when executed properly have unintended consequences.  In this final episode, however, Walt’s plans seem to masterfully workout.  In response I would like to point out that in coming back to Albuquerque, Walt did not intend to encounter Jesse.  And, when he discovered that Jesse was still alive, he first intended to kill Jesse along with the Nazis.  Instead, however, Walt found a beaten and battered up Jesse and this forced Walt to change his plans within a matter of seconds.  Walt saving Jesse was not part of Walt’s plan (at least I don’t believe it was).  It was another unintended consequence that Walt has so often created in the past five seasons.  This time it just happened to be an unintended consequence that the audience was happy about.

2.  Blue meth is Walt’s baby – I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Walt stroking baby Holly’s head as she slept and Walt stroking the equipment in the meth lab in his final moments.  What became clear in those final moments of Walt’s life was his absolute  love for his meth empire he created.  Blue meth was Walt’s baby, just as much, if even not more so than his own children.  And, while Walt’s confession to Skyler (i.e., that he entered into the meth business for himself and the meaning it gave to his life) highlighted the blue meth’s importance, I think Walt’s final moments in the meth lab really demonstrated the fondness and affection Walt felt for the product he created.

3.  Blood, Meth, and Tears – “Felina” was the title of Breaking Bad’s final episode.  There has been much talk about what the title stands for.  It may just be an anagram of the word finale or it may be a reference to Marty Robbin’s song “El Paso” that plays on Walt’s drive from New Hampshire (the song features a Mexican girl named Felina), but I do especially like that fact that it could be a compilation of the chemical symbols for iron, lithium, and sodium (Fe + Li + Na), the main components of blood, meth, and tears.

4.  Artificial sugars can kill – Do you think the sale of Stevia went up or down today based on its prominent role in Lydia’s death?  I am really just hoping I can convince CJ to dress up as Stevia this Halloween so that I can dress up as Lydia. Seriously though, thank goodness Lydia is dead.  Wasn’t she just the worst?  I think I hated her worse than Todd.  At least Todd had some boyish charm, even if he was a psychopath.  Lydia though was simply an uptight woman with no soul, who didn’t care who died as long as it wasn’t her.  I think the stress of knowing she was going to die from the ricin may have ended up killing her before the ricin actually did, but good riddance lady.

5.  Those were some impressive laser pointers – I will admit that I did not see the scene with the Schwartzes going the way that it did.  Not even by a long-shot.  I was fairly certain at the end of last week’s episode that either Elliot or Gretchen (or both) were going to die, so I was shocked with the way that scene turned out.  For me, I also thought that the lead up to Walt’s actual confrontation with the Schwartzes was the best part of the night.  His methodical closing of the doors to the compound, his surprise in finding the front door open, the humorous way he simply looked at their photographs while waiting to be discovered, was pure awesomeness.  And, aside from Todd’s Lydia ringtone, the funniest part of the night.

*I also was very happy to see Skinny Pete and Badger one more time.

6.  Seriously, who called the cops? – This is my one issue with last night’s episode.  Who called the cops at the end?  I was under the impression that the Nazi compound was out in the middle of nowhere.  None of the Nazis called the cops they were dead.  Jesse didn’t have a cellphone on him.  So, what?  Some neighbor nearby called it in?  This seems strange to me.

7.  Yeah bitch! – Going into this last episode I repeatedly said that all I wanted was for Jesse to live.  And he did.  Thank goodness.  The final moments of Jesse speeding off and the pure joy and excitement in his face is enough for me to believe that he is going to be okay.  Finally, Jesse is free.  Free from the Nazis and free from Mr. White.  He can go where he wants and do what he wants.  I just hope he finds a good therapist and is able to reclaim his life.  Aaron Paul will be the single thing that I will miss most about Breaking Bad.  I don’t know how I will ever look forward to a Sunday without him.

8.  Too much redemption for Mr. White? – Not in my eyes.  I have always been looking for redeeming qualities in Walter White though.  Some sort of glimmer of hope that he wasn’t completely lost to the dark side.  Therefore, I was pleased with the fact that Walt wanted to and was able to make some amens before ultimately leaving this earth.  He was able to give Skyler some closure by admitting that he did all of this for himself and not for his family as he has always claimed; he gave up where Hank and Gomez were buried (and hopefully in finding Hank’s body and being able to do a proper funeral, Marie will also get some closure); and ultimately he saved Jesse.  I think it is too simplistic for Walt to have become completely evil; people are more complicated than that.  Walt hit his rock bottom during the phone call with Junior last week and so I don’t think it is implausible for Walt to at least try take some measures to fix what he spent the last two years breaking.

Ok guys, I could go on forever, but I won’t put you through that.  I doubt we will never speak of Breaking Bad again on this blog, but this is it for me for now.  Sundays will never ever be the same.  We will miss you Breaking Bad.

-LJ

YBTV’s Top 10 Episodes of Breaking Bad: Part 2

As I mentioned in the post yesterday, with the upcoming series finale of Breaking Bad, we here at YBTV thought it might be a good time to take a look back at the journey of Breaking Bad. To do so, we are counting down the top 10 episodes of Breaking Bad, at least according to this bloggers humble opinion.

We discussed episodes 10-6 yesterday, so let’s get into the top 5, starting with:

5. Episode 505 — “Dead Freight”

Sifting through the brilliance of Breaking Bad, attempting to come up with a top 10 has been a real challenge for me. But a top 5? Come on! Breaking Bad has always had a western style to it, but this episode went full on John Ford. It’s a Breaking Bad train robbery episode. How awesome is that? It’s also a very important episode in setting the story in motion of the final 11 episodes. The death of Drew Sharp is the straw that broke the camel’s back for Jesse. This is also where we get our first glimpse into the true evil of Todd, which has come into play so much in the final 8.

4. Episode 310 — “Fly”

The first episode of Breaking Bad directed by Rian Johnson, a personal favorite, is one of the series finest. This is made even more impressive by the fact that the episode is a true bottle episode. It’s just Walt and Jesse, and they remain in the super lab the entire episode. This episode is this high on this list for a couple reasons. The first is the technical marvel of the episode. It’s one of the most beautiful and impressive episodes, due largely to the keen eye of Mr. Johnson. But it also deserves this lofty position because of the character arc of Walt in the episode. We’ve all wondered how and when Jesse would find out about Walt’s involvement with Jane’s death (which we now have answered of course), and we saw it almost happen here. What was truly amazing about that though, was that Walt did not almost tell Jesse out of anger or spite or vengence (the way he actually told him), but this was at a time when Walt still had some humanity to him, and he almost told Jesse out of pure guilt. An amazing episode, and not the last time you will see Rian Johnson come up on this countdown.

3. Episode 411 — “Crawl Space”

This show gave us many excellent “freak outs” from many amazing actors, most notably Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn, but this episode contains the best Bryan Cranston “freak out” moment. After the events of Salud, Walt knows that his time could be running out as he realizes he’s not good enough to beat Gus, and it also appears that Hank is not too far from tracking down the real identity of Heisenberg. So what is Walt to do? Make his family disappear…Only, he can’t. Skyler gave all their money to Ted. Cue amazing manical laugh.

2. Episode 507 — “Say My Name”

Maybe you expected me to embed to a video of the scene in the desert with Decland that is the name sake of this episode. But no. That’s not what makes this episode perfect, and gut-wrenching. Mike Ehrmantraut is without a doubt my favorite character of the many amazing characters this show has given us. Mike’s death is one of the most difficult I faced, and it was so beautifully played by Jonathan Banks. It’s such a great, and important, episode, that I felt it necessary to embed two videos from it.

1. Episode 514 — “Ozymandias”

And now we reach the top spot. There is only one episode that could take this spot, and it happened just two weeks ago. Ozymandias, again, directed by Rian Johnson, is not only the best episode of Breaking Bad, but is arguably one of the greatest episodes of dramatic television in the history of the medium. Techincally, it’s simply perfect. Emotionally, it will rip your heart out. Breaking Bad has often been a show where you had to remind yourself to breathe while watching, but never like this. It’s an episode so great, that even Vince Gilligan has publicly said many times that it is simply the greatest episode of his series. And he couldn’t be more right.

So kids, there you have it. YBTV’s Top 10 Episodes of Breaking Bad. I’m sure some of you are asking where your favorite episodes are, and I assure you, they were considered. This list was so difficult to make, and it kills me some of the episodes I had to leave off. Here are a few that just barely missed the cut:

  • Episode 406 — “Cornered” — “I am the one who knocks”
  • Episode 506 — “Buy Out” — “I’m in the empire business”
  • Episode 508 — “Gliding Over All” — Hank figures out Walt is Heisenberg
  • Episode 401 — “Box Cutter” — Gus kills Victor
  • Episode 408 — “Hermanos” — Flashback to Gus first meeting Don Eladio

–CJ

YBTV’s Top 10 episodes of Breaking Bad: Part 1

As we count down to the last episode of Breaking Bad, I thought it would be an appropriate time to take a quick look back at where we’ve come from. To do so, today, I will start a look back at my 10 favorite episodes of this amazing run of TV. This is not necessarily the 10 “best” episodes of Breaking Bad, even in my opinion. Instead, it is simply my 10 favorite episodes. I guess I should also mention that this list is the list of CJ, not LJ. But I like to think she is smart enough to agree with me on such important issues. In Part 1, I’ll discuss episodes 10-6, and in Part 2, we will look at my top 5.

On to the list, starting with 10:

10. Episode 303 — “I.F.T.”

I don’t think you could do this list without having this episode on it. It has a couple of my favorite Breaking Bad moments with Skyler saying those 3 little words to Walt, and the infamous pizza toss (which Bryan Cranston dominated in one, single take). This episode also shows the first attempt of Skyler to get rid of Walt, calling the police on him, to no avail. Plus, Gus showing his muscle with the cartel, which is looking for Walt’s blood after the death of Tuco.

9. Episode 313 — “Full Measure”

I often talk about the Harry Potter books and movies as if they were 2 separate parts. There are the first three and a half books, which are whimsical and fun and about these kids learning about magic and the power of friendship. Then, there are the second three and a half books, after Voldemort has come back, and everything changes. Full Measure, for me, is where everything changes for Breaking Bad (one could argue it happens in the previous episode, Half Mesasures, as well). Once Jesse pulls that trigger and shoots Gale, nothing will ever be the same.

8. Episode 206 — “Peekaboo”

The importance of this episode on the series overall can not be over stated. This is the episode where one of Walt’s first lies starts to unravel. It is in this episode that Gretchen learns (from a phone call with Skyler) that Walt has been claiming Gretchen and Elliot have been paying his medical bills related to his cancer. But more importantly, this is where we first see the emergence of a theme that would pop up time and time again as the show progressed, Jesse’s love of children. He does everything he can to protect the child of the meth heads, and we see how much he loves Brock and how the death of Drew Sharp hurt him.

7. Episode 307 — “One Minute”

Breaking Bad had done plenty of great episodes in the first two and a half seasons, but I would argue that this is the first real Breaking Bad masterpiece. Written by Thomas Schnauz and directed by Michelle MacLaren, this episode is one of the most tense and beautiful of the entire series. We get our first great Jesse Pinkman speech when he goes off on Walt from his hospital bed, and we get the amazing shoot out in the parking lot between Hank and The Cousins. On man…That phone call. Damn.

6. Episode 410 — “Salud”

Gus finally gets his revenge on Don Eladio for the death of his best friend (lover?) we see in the flashback in episode 408. Seeing the cold, calculating way in which Gus and Mike kill every member of Don Eladio’s crew shows us that Gus Fring is always in control, and we start to wonder if Walt will ever be able to better him. Another amazing episode directed by Michelle MacLaren, this is the episode that sets the events of the final 3 episodes of season 4 into motion (more on that later).

Well, there is Part 1 of my Top 10 of Breaking Bad. Come back later this afternoon or tomorrow for Part 2, where we count down the Top 5.

-CJ