‘Breaking Bad’: “Felina” And How It All Stacks Up

Breaking Bad Banner

Breaking Bad has been all the rage, the past weeks, months and past couple years, and rightfully so. It finished up its fine run this evening and quite literally everyone in my Internet and IRL circle is tweeting, talking, blogging or writing about it, so time for me to throw my hat into the ring.

I got into the show right in time to see the season 3 finale on TV. My interest had always been piqued as it was a pretty unique set-up that seemed ripe for a good show, chemistry teacher turned meth cooker, and I was (and still am) the biggest fan of its AMC counter-part Mad Men, so I binged-watched and found myself at the season finale.   Now I really like Breaking Bad, but I’ve never loved it. In fact, I wasn’t a fan at all really though seasons 1 and 2, and it wasn’t until the conclusion of season 3 that I really started to like the show. Season 3 was the first real inkling to me that things weren’t just ratcheting up tension wise for the season, but that these ramifications would be felt going forward, with no one likely to forget these past mistakes. Actually, I take that back, I did love season 4, it’s by far my favourite of the seasons and such an awesome thrill ride and flawless back six or so episodes that is some of the most entertaining and fun television I’ve ever seen. I think that’s what it boils down to for me, Breaking Bad is a well-acted and plotted action movie (or series) with plenty of twists and turns and big bads and quotable lines, it’s just a ton of fun to be along for the ride. Yes, technically it does all this to a grade-A level, the writing is fantastic and so is the action, but boiled down to its parts, it’s a grand action/adventure story that happens to suck everybody in with it’s formula.

I enjoyed “Felina” as a ending chapter for the show, but I did have my own restraints with how certain things were left and how we came to them. For the sake of keeping this concise, I’ll focus solely on the lacking, because if you want some rah-rah Breaking Bad coverage, I’ll point you to a thousand different other places on the web. What Breaking Bad normally runs on, tensions, twists, turns and the unknown was largely avoided, where Walt’s game plan and the end were spelled out quite clearly. It’s known early on the battery powered 360 degree machine gun Walt is building, when he drives his car in the compound you know what’s going to happen, when he does his own park job you know what’s going to happen, when he grabs his keys you know what’s going to happen. Everything we know, it’s just a matter of letting it play out in front of us.

Honestly, I didn’t think things would get wrapped up so cleanly. I’m largely fine with the idea that Walt dies in a state of peace, but it does feel largely detached, this episode as well, from what the past two seasons have been driving towards, especially within Walt’s motives and his frame of mind. He’s alienated still largely from his family, but he dies knowing Walt Jr. is living healthy with money surely on its way, he’s on better terms with Skylar after their conversation, with her feeling some elements of remorse, whether she fully extends it or not, and Holly will be given a good life being raised by her mother, even if she’s ever absent of the good and bad memories of her father. Jesse gets to have his revenge on his captures, a last show of a semblance of mutual respect between him and Walt on some level, it still remains no matter what, then he’s driving off into the distance, trading the blue for greener pastures.

In the face of dealing with how he would end things compared to controversial finales from The Sopranos and Lost, Vince Gilligan stated he was a fan of closure, not leaving large questions or threads dangling and not living the state of a character in limbo. And, hey, I guess he wasn’t lying. I like both sides of the coin, wrapping everything up in a nice package or leaving things dangling as debatable mystery and talking point until the end of time, as long as they’re done faithfully to the material that came before it. I praise Vince Gilligan for giving us our answers, largely the ones we expected, or at least hoped, with Jesse becoming free and Walt paying for his crimes by the ultimate law, death, but even still regains redemptive qualities for how he went out, on his own terms. The finale to me felt like it was from a different show, or at least a different version of the show that we hadn’t been watching. It was tight, clean to the point, when largely the show in the past’s been loose, gritty and willing to string you along in places. Of course, this is the finale, so by nature they have to do some wrapping up, but you don’t ditch the girl who brought you to the dance in the first place even when the night is ending. I liked the finale for what it was, but I just wished I could’ve liked it more for what Breaking Bad was.

A quick little thing that I didn’t really wanna bring up, since it doesn’t really fit anywhere, but I feel so compelled to, that I just had to. Regardless, whether I loved or hated the finale or the show (I liked it! I really did! Even if it barely comes across), it’s insane to me scrolling through Twitter how many people from different walks of life, from sports, entertainment, politics, fathers, sons, daughters, mothers, cousins, barn animals, that weird kid in your class, that guy who for some reason always talks to you at work, are so quick and rash that not only was that the greatest ending of all time, but that Breaking Bad is the greatest show of all time. Now, I’m not going to get into a greatest show of all time debate right now, although I’d love to, but passing judgment this soon is aways comical, even if we have the full story already. Now, I’m not gonna say that things like The Sopranos, The Wire, The Shield and Mad Men (barring an insanely bad final season) are better than Breaking Bad, okay, I will, but I’ll let you have this night. Speaking to my larger point in my second paragraph, almost everybody, from all walks of life, or ranging demographics, or sex groups or whatever is so willing and easily able to call it the best show of all time. It’s because the show is so much more accessible and easy to palate than a “Sopranos” or The Wire or Mad Men, shows that lesser people, and many Breaking Bad fans, not all, would classify as “boring,” “slow,” or hard to get into. They don’t always crash along like Breaking Bad, or as exciting on the surface level, so they’re automatically not as good to the casual layabout because they’re harder to get into and you have to pay attention more.

That’s why Breaking Bad is so akin to an action movie or series, it’s broad enough that largely everyone can enjoy some facet of it, there’s twists and turns to keep you coming back, cliff hangers and cool memes to make out of it for the kids. It’s so much easier to get into, where while it’s an often really good show, it’s gloss tricks people into thinking how great it was and is. I’m really curious to see truly how much of a pedestal, if at all, history will let Breaking Bad share with already defined hallmarks of television of this ilk in The Sopranos and The Wire. Breaking Bad has and always will be the little brother to these shows, occasionally grabbing a sneak-attack win over its cunning older sibling, but largely remains in the shadows. Who knows, maybe future people who type on a keyboard and think about these things really will hold it in that regard, maybe, I’m a hater, or maybe we just all have to stop taking these things too seriously, enjoy all the great television we have, and succumb to its number one goal, to be entertained.

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65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Wrap-Up

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Welp, the Emmys were something that happened last night, and oh, boy, were they terrible. I’m talking like worst I’ve ever seen. Bit after bit fell dead, and even while NPH was his usual charming, affable self, he didn’t do much to elevate the dead material. I usually quite enjoy the opening video or whatever excuse they use to plod out a bunch of celebs and lampoon the hit shows, but that was not to be seen. Instead, we watch NPH binge-watch a bunch of TV, and then the ghosts of Emmy hosting past came out, with Conan O’Brien literally looking like a ghost. We got some NPH dancing finally late, but then they gave over way too much time to the choreography category to give them a bit. Which is fine, I guess, but in the grand scheme of things it echoed a larger problem with the show in time management and allocation of things that ran too long, and stuff that could’ve been easily cut. I thought it was an alright idea to single out some of the bigger deaths of the year and have a close friend talk about them, but then some seemed so disconnected from the show and following a weird ‘60s theme that nobody was aware they were doing. A tribute to the 1960s by Carrie Underwood? Alright. Elton John singing one of his own songs (I think) as a tribute to Liberace, just because his bio-pic was nominated? Alright. There was just some weird, weird decisions that never worked individually or even in any sort of whole. Hey, now, on to the actual awards…

Man, what the hell happened here? There were surprises galore, and people I had written of to having no chance of winning, were walking out of the building with a new trophy. I’m terrible at predicting the Emmys, but even this year was an extra special disaster zone for me. Merritt Wever won, which was like whoa, I love her and all, she’s so, so great, but I never thought anybody would win something for last season of Nurse Jackie. Tony Hale and JLD won for Veep, which is awesome because that show is great, but I didn’t think JLD would actually win her fourth and Tony Hale like whoa. Jim Parsons won and well, yeah, even that wasn’t gonna change this year. Jeff Daniels now has a Emmy for best lead actor in a drama and hahaha, but what exactly is happening here? Now, Daniels is alright in The Newsroom, he’s good for what it is, but doesn’t hold a candle to the mainstays of Cranston, Lewis, Hamm and even Spacey. This pretty much assures that Jon Hamm will be the Steve Carell of the best actor drama category, never winning the awards for something he deserved so many times over. Bobby Cannavale now has an Emmy as well, and I did quite enjoy him on “Boardwalk,” but didn’t think he’d actually win. A well-deserved and yet again surprising win. Anna Gunn won, which I happily called, and now all the top three leads have at least one Emmy, with a fantastic chance to win another one next year. Claire Danes won, and water is also wet. Modern Family of course wasn’t going to get shut out all the way, Steve Levitan sauntered up the stage to deliver his annual acceptance speech for best comedy, and yeah. Best drama, running high off it being the most buzzworthy show now, Breaking Bad took home the title, and I of course thought there was a good chance, but thought a House Of Cards, Mad Men, or even the shaky season of Homeland would still beat it out. It’s going to be very hard to beat Breaking Bad next year, in basically all the dramatic categories, but there’s still a year left, let’s see what shakes out and hopefully we’re left with a better overall show next year. I can dream.

65th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Predictions

NPH 2013 Emmys

Alright, so the Emmys are tonight, and I’ve been pretty sparse on this here blog, which I’m trying to change, so let’s predict some Emmy winners! I’ll pick two, the one who I THINK is going to win, and the one who DESERVES to win.

Also, I should say that I’m uniformly pretty terrible at predicting awards show winners, and this year is especially tricky where I could see things going either way and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least with whoever wins. This is also a clever little fallback disclaimer that I can rely on when come Sunday night all my picks are wrong. Let’s do this.

Outstanding Drama Series:

This is a prime example where I could see it going multiple ways and not being surprised. Mad Men was a king crusher until Homeland came along and won last year. Mad Men’s as good as its ever been and I wouldn’t be surprised if it won. Homeland won last year for a terrific season of TV, but season 2 was pretty lackluster in spots and a definite step down, but, hey, sometimes the academy is dumb and just votes on name. Breaking Bad is what everybody’s obsessing over now, its never won one of these, but its got that acting category on lock. It’s good as well, and deserving, so, maybe. The new kid on the block, House Of Cards was pretty much tailored to win Emmys, and it’s alright, but not deserving, but again, it’s the type of show that the academy LOVES. Game Of Thrones was good too, but still a little too out of the Emmy wheelhouse to actually win. So, yeah, I’m gonna say House Of Cards wins, while I personally would give it to Mad Men to win. It could go so many ways, though.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series:

I’ll come right out and say that Kevin Spacey wins this, and I feel semi-pretty good in that. He’s got the name recognition, everybody loves him and he was pretty good. Most deserving? I’d say Damian Lewis, a lot was demanded out of him in season 2 of Homeland and how he was able to flip the script and shift into different modes and sides of Brody was some awe-inspiring work.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Drama Series:

Claire Danes deserves it and wins it on Sunday. No real competition here, she was fantastic yet again. Robin Wright was good, if never given much to do, and I guess Elisabeth Moss is the next threat, but, nah, Danes got this thing. If I had my way though, Connie Britton would win, because I love her more than most of my family members, and she’s awesome and everything positive should go her way. Connie 4 lyfe.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama Series:

I think Peter Dinklage wins this thing again, but Mandy Patinkin is the most deserving. Dinklage is great, and although not as good in this last season of GoT, I still think he gets it again. Patinkin is arguably the best part of Homeland and he’s just fantastic. Plus, that fedora and beard. The man knows old man chic.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Drama Series:

I’m going to say Anna Gunn wins this, but I’m not really that confident in it. Nobody else really jumps out at me, even while I enjoy every single nominees work on their show. I don’t even know who’s most deserving, so, hey, Emmys, just make it a six-way tie. Emmys for everybody.

Outstanding Comedy Series:

We all know Louie should and deserves to win this thang, but that just ain’t gonna happen, because we live in a cruel and unjust world. So, say hello to The Big Bang Theory or Modern Family winning. Modern Family is not a good show, but it was slightly better this year. I’ve stopped watching The Big Bang Theory for awhile now, but people tell me it’s on kind of an uptick and doing good things, so it wins tomorrow. You guys can all wear your totally awesome BAZINGA! shirts in celebration. You know you want to.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series:

Do you think Alec Baldwin is gonna win this thing for the 395th time? I don’t know, but I think there’s something in his contract that even now with 30 Rock off the air, he’ll continue to be nominated into eternity, a forever reminding cloud that makes you question your life just so, because what kind of world would it be if Alec Baldwin had to cease being nominated in this category. What kind of world I ask of you. Anyways, Jim Parsons wins, but Louis C.K. is most deserving.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series:

Strong candidates abound and I love them all, except one. I’ll let you figure out which one that is. JLD ain’t gonna win this again, though I love her so. I don’t think they give it to Tina Fey even though it’s her swan song. No on Dunham and Falco. So, Amy Poehler wins and Laura Dern is so, so deserving of it. Writing this just reminded that Enlightened is gone, and I’m so sad now, guyz. You should watch it if you haven’t, it’s such a beautifully poignant, sad, funny and uplifting show. Please, someone give Mike White another show.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series:

Ty Burell wins this, and yeah, I think he deserves it. I absolutely loved Burell in the first seaon of MF, but just got tired of his schtick. I’ve come around, it is what it is, I love Ty Burell, he’s funny, so give him the Emmy.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series:

Sadly, I think Sofia Vergara wins this. I can’t stand her because the show only derives two outlets of comedy from her, her nationality, and how hot she is (I’d argue against her perceived attractiveness, but, hey, that’s just me a sane straight male). Jane Krakowski deserves this to the world’s end, because she’s been my favourite thing about 30 Rock since it began. She is so great, I can’t even function how good she was on that show and never gets any recognition for it. Krakowski 4 lyfe.

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie:

I’ve only seen a couple of these, but knowing things I’d say Behind The Candelabra wins and deserves it.

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie:

Emmys just can’t wait to give Michael Douglas an Emmy. Wins and deserves.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie:

Again, the Emmys love their old, distinguished and creditable thespians (am I using that word right?). Jessica Lange wins, and deserves because the only other one in the category I’ve seen was Laura Linney in The Big C, and no, just no.

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or Movie:

I’m gonna say the American Horror Story love doesn’t leave Lange, so Scott Bakula continues the “Candelabra” love. I don’t know, maybe the Emmys might really love Zachary Quinto. Who knows.

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or Movie:

Man, I have no clue. I think Political Animals was bad, I don’t know, I didn’t watch it. So, lets say Ellen Burstyn wins because she’s an OG and just great and kinda looks like all of our grandmothers. Sarah Paulson was cool and had commitment for days in AHS, so maybe she pulls the rug out.

Outstanding Variety Series:

The Daily Show, are you even kidding with other nominees? It’s the don mega of variety series. Which is, like, the most broad category ever.

Outstanding Reality – Competition Program:

Where’s Big Brother? Hahaha, I’m a jokester, but seriously I don’t watch any of this. The Amazing Race had the crown for awhile, until Top Chef screwed it up a few years back. I don’t really care, but we’ll say Phil Keoghan and company retain the award. I haven’t watched it since, like, Reichen and Chip just totally Jordan/Pippen’ed the entire show.

Let’s keep going, because why not, I have nothing better to do on a Saturday night

Outstanding Directing For A Drama Series:

You’ve gotta be dreaming if you think David Fincher doesn’t win this. An A-list director directs one of the most anticipated and Emmy bait shows of the past year? Get outta here. I think my girl Michelle MacLaren deserves this, though.

Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series:

“New Year’s Eve” is such a beautiful piece of television that C.K.’s gotta win. I’d like to think that the academy has started to turn even more towards C.K. after last year, and less towards the perennials of Modern Family and Glee and such. They probably haven’t, but I’m gonna stick with C.K. winning.

Outstanding Directing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special:

Steven Soderbergh is the boss and he wins this. Hahaha, you actually thought dude was retiring to paint?

Outstanding Directing For A Variety Series:

Man, I don’t know. None of these have real unique directing styles except for Portlandia. Maybe, it wins because of this. But, lets just give it to The Daily Show because they haven’t won enough. I don’t know.

Outstanding Writing For A Drama Series:

I was going to say that one of those Breaking Bad episodes was gonna win, but I completely forgot about “Q&A,” because I’m an idiot, with it being a jaw agape hour of television written by the late and forever great Henry Bromell. He’s gotta win.

Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series:

Louie, Louie, Louieeeee. And Pamela Adlon. They’ve got this in the bag, with a decidedly weird and inventive episode.

Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie, Or A Dramatic Special:

Behind The Candelabra, please come and accept another award.

Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series:

The Daily Show, please come and accept another award.

Outstanding Choreography:

What? You think we’re not gonna talk about choreography? Of course we are. Some would argue that it is the most important category, and I cast myself as chief among them. Some would also say that I always forget how many goddamn Emmys categories there are, and I’m just reading these off the Wikipedia page. That could also be true. Good thing I also always forget that the Creative Arts Emmys are a thing, as well. Anyways, my girl cousins like that So You Think You Can Dance show, so one of its four nominees wins. Let’s say the “Sonya Tayeh” one wins, sounds like a cool enough name.

So, I hope this was all informative. No real need to watch the Emmys now I guess, sorry for the spoilers, but whatever, watch Breaking Bad instead or the sure to be cracking Dexter series finale. All the props to you if you read this far, but I think my own eyes glossed over this thing about halfway through. Happy Emmys watching, I’m gonna go watch some hockey.