Breaking Bad II - Always say "thank you" to Walt. - Page 39 - U2 Feedback

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Old 09-17-2013, 01:16 PM   #571
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I'm not sure I fully understand what exactly it is that those pining for the earlier seasons want. I mean, they were great - I think the whole series has been great - but scenes like Walt using a bike lock to strangle someone and the emotional pain he's in during and afterward, or when he blows up that building Tuco was in and he walks away, gets in his car, and is obviously scared shitless, depict a normal person who is just starting to get his feet wet in criminal behavior and is understandably scared/shaken/disgusted about it.

At this late stage in the game, he's no longer supposed to be that guy, he's supposed to be without fear concerning his criminal acts now, and indeed, his falling for Jesse's threat to burn his money was the first time in a while where he actually appeared genuinely fearful of something(and then of course after Hank is killed and the events that followed). I feel like, to want scenes like the ones from the earlier seasons is to not want Walt to have become a monster at all, but that is the premise of the series.

And as for Walt always coming out on top - the conflicts he comes out on top on are often the kind of conflicts where the alternative is dying. If Walt dies, the show is over, so...what exactly do you want, if you're not happy with Walt always coming out on top?
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:18 PM   #572
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I watched House Of Cards last season but won't be continuing after the shark jump of the conclusion.
 
You mean when was offered, and then accepted, the VP slot? If so, I wouldn't call that a shark jump, I'd call that when Frank had been working toward all season. The whole point of all his machinations was to move up politically.
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:27 PM   #573
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And every new chick Don hooks up with is more faceless and uninteresting than the last.
I couldn't agree more with this. I was just bored of his affair this past season. I find it really frustrating that Weiner and co. refuse to allow this character to grow. I mean, he does grow, every now and then, a little, but I feel like even then it's a one-step-forward, two-steps-backward kind of thing. Like with Faye, she was obviously a more appropriate partner for Don than most of the other women he's been with, and he confided things to her(i.e. Dick Whitman, etc), but as soon as that started becoming serious, and perhaps requiring too much growth, he had to ditch her to marry Megan, who from the outset everyone watching knew he'd grow bored with, and lo and behold, he has.

Maybe growth isn't the actual point. Maybe it's just supposed to be a painting - here's what a nihilist in the 60s who has no self-worth looks like - and that's it. I don't know. I've just wanted to see a lot more growth in Don for the last two seasons now.

Don't get me wrong, it's still arguably the best show on television - though I do prefer BB at the moment - I'm just pointing out what I perceive to be its biggest flaw.

Also, other than character growth, I'd like to see Don and Joan together. That scene with them in the bar the season before the last one was amazing.
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:41 PM   #574
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Deadwood (ditto) and one day, The Sopranos.
Just finished the Sopranos last week, glad I finally turned my attention to it.

As for Deadwood, FFS, get on it already.
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:45 PM   #575
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Who cares?

If the trade-off is being a better writer, which Weiner most certainly is, then whatever.

It should also be noted that Weiner writes a considerably larger amount of his show's material.
They're two different shows with showrunners with two different skillsets.

You seem annoyed by people loving Breaking Bad.
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Old 09-17-2013, 01:58 PM   #576
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I'm not sure I fully understand what exactly it is that those pining for the earlier seasons want. I mean, they were great - I think the whole series has been great - but scenes like Walt using a bike lock to strangle someone and the emotional pain he's in during and afterward, or when he blows up that building Tuco was in and he walks away, gets in his car, and is obviously scared shitless, depict a normal person who is just starting to get his feet wet in criminal behavior and is understandably scared/shaken/disgusted about it.

At this late stage in the game, he's no longer supposed to be that guy, he's supposed to be without fear concerning his criminal acts now, and indeed, his falling for Jesse's threat to burn his money was the first time in a while where he actually appeared genuinely fearful of something(and then of course after Hank is killed and the events that followed). I feel like, to want scenes like the ones from the earlier seasons is to not want Walt to have become a monster at all, but that is the premise of the series.

And as for Walt always coming out on top - the conflicts he comes out on top on are often the kind of conflicts where the alternative is dying. If Walt dies, the show is over, so...what exactly do you want, if you're not happy with Walt always coming out on top?
This is a bit unfair. Just because some of us prefer the writing of the first couple seasons doesn't mean we want the plot to become redundant. We just might not like some of the creative decisions/directions.

The show has improved in some ways, and not in others. Or improved and then de-evolved again (e.g. Jesse). And that inconsistency is what's frustrating.

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You mean when was offered, and then accepted, the VP slot? If so, I wouldn't call that a shark jump, I'd call that when Frank had been working toward all season. The whole point of all his machinations was to move up politically.
No, I'm referring to Frank
 
actually killing someone by his own hand.


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I couldn't agree more with this. I was just bored of his affair this past season. I find it really frustrating that Weiner and co. refuse to allow this character to grow. I mean, he does grow, every now and then, a little, but I feel like even then it's a one-step-forward, two-steps-backward kind of thing. Like with Faye, she was obviously a more appropriate partner for Don than most of the other women he's been with, and he confided things to her(i.e. Dick Whitman, etc), but as soon as that started becoming serious, and perhaps requiring too much growth, he had to ditch her to marry Megan, who from the outset everyone watching knew he'd grow bored with, and lo and behold, he has.

You're way off here. He didn't drop Faye like he did the others. Sally was being very difficult at the Sterling Cooler offices and Faye basically froze up, apparently unable to deal with a child. Megan, by contrast, came to the rescue. They made it clear from Don's reaction that this made a big impression w/r/t both women.

A big part of why Don went for Megan was because of her attitude toward Sally and Bobby and how she was able to tend to their needs. Taking her to Disneyland was a test and you could see in that episode how he studied her and approved.

Obviously it was a hasty decision to propose, and Don wound up being unfaithful to her too, but to imply that it was the same old, same old isnt being fair to Weiner and to the complexity of the character. Even last year's experience with Sylvia was different, from the odd S&M games to her dissection of his existential crisis to his face, to Don's machinations in "Favors" to the shocking discovery by Sally--his first time getting caught.
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Old 09-17-2013, 02:26 PM   #577
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This is a bit unfair. Just because some of us prefer the writing of the first couple seasons doesn't mean we want the plot to become redundant. We just might not like some of the creative decisions/directions.

The show has improved in some ways, and not in others. Or improved and then de-evolved again (e.g. Jesse). And that inconsistency is what's frustrating.
I'm not saying anyone wants the plot to be redundant, I'm just saying I don't fully get what you think should have happened in lieu of what has happened.

As for Jesse, I'm not sure how he's devolved. He's still my favorite character.

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No, I'm referring to Frank
 
actually killing someone by his own hand.
Oh, ok. Yeah, I can see how that could damage the believability factor and diminish the interest in the show, but I don't really mind it. I'll still be watching. Maybe it's not supposed to be 100% realistic.

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You're way off here. He didn't drop Faye like he did the others. Sally was being very difficult at the Sterling Cooler offices and Faye basically froze up, apparently unable to deal with a child. Megan, by contrast, came to the rescue. They made it clear from Don's reaction that this made a big impression w/r/t both women.

A big part of why Don went for Megan was because of her attitude toward Sally and Bobby and how she was able to tend to their needs. Taking her to Disneyland was a test and you could see in that episode how he studied her and approved.

Obviously it was a hasty decision to propose, and Don wound up being unfaithful to her too, but to imply that it was the same old, same old isnt being fair to Weiner and to the complexity of the character. Even last year's experience with Sylvia was different, from the odd S&M games to her dissection of his existential crisis to his face, to Don's machinations in "Favors" to the shocking discovery by Sally--his first time getting caught.
Ok, admittedly I had forgotten about Faye's reaction to the kids, and you're right, that was Don's reasoning, that Megan was better with the kids. But even if all that is true, I still feel like it shows a lack of growth on Don's part, because you don't marry someone just because they're good with your kids, not if they're not a good match for you. It was kind of like a shortcut to having a new family. Almost like a band-aid to cover up the fact that he's a lousy father a lot of the time and a pathological womanizer, not to mention an alcoholic.

When does he commit himself to a real relationship that actually satisfies him emotionally and intellectually so he doesn't feel the need/desire to continually go to bed with every other woman he meets? When does he commit himself to actually getting to know his kids and being a good father to them? Hopefully taking Sally(I forget, were the other kids there?) to his childhood house was the start of that.

I don't know, I guess I'm just pining for Don to take leaps as a person that I'm not sure he's going to take by the time the last season is finished.
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Old 09-17-2013, 03:20 PM   #578
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I couldn't agree more with this. I was just bored of his affair this past season. I find it really frustrating that Weiner and co. refuse to allow this character to grow. I mean, he does grow, every now and then, a little, but I feel like even then it's a one-step-forward, two-steps-backward kind of thing. Like with Faye, she was obviously a more appropriate partner for Don than most of the other women he's been with, and he confided things to her(i.e. Dick Whitman, etc), but as soon as that started becoming serious, and perhaps requiring too much growth, he had to ditch her to marry Megan, who from the outset everyone watching knew he'd grow bored with, and lo and behold, he has.

Maybe growth isn't the actual point. Maybe it's just supposed to be a painting - here's what a nihilist in the 60s who has no self-worth looks like - and that's it. I don't know. I've just wanted to see a lot more growth in Don for the last two seasons now.

Don't get me wrong, it's still arguably the best show on television - though I do prefer BB at the moment - I'm just pointing out what I perceive to be its biggest flaw.

Also, other than character growth, I'd like to see Don and Joan together. That scene with them in the bar the season before the last one was amazing.
Like I said, I have no idea where BB could have gone other than where it did--obviously a lot of the people Walt kills are killed because if he didnt take them out, they were going to kill him, and early on he established he wasnt going to be content with being small-time, so tangling with the cartels was only inevitable. it was just that once it went, there I lost interest.
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:24 PM   #579
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Yeah, I think it's far from perfect. "BB never misses" just sounds ridiculous to me. Not to beat a dead horse, but the secondary characters (meaning everyone but Walt) could have used some better writing, especially in the first few seasons. The point was made by someone else on another forum that shows with larger ensembles like The Sopranos and The Wire managed to flesh out their people a lot better.

I consider myself a big fan of Breaking Bad. And while I admire the visual approach, I don't think the writing comes anywhere near that level, and that's why it fails to resonate with me beyond simple entertainment.
I think I agree with all of this. Specifically the absurd idea that it "never misses" (all TV shows miss) and I too consider myself a big fan of BB. Probably my favorite show of the last several years. But yeah, it's just entertainment, I don't see any 'high art' here outside of the visuals, but if consumed through that filter, it's absolutely enjoyable and certainly great. I just don't feel the need to rake the writing over the coals. Although I could, at least in some aspects - particularly character building.

I just think it's a speculative fiction show. LMP described it nicely a few pages back. Sci-fi gangster something something. Which is why so many nerds love it. Although I'd guess many of the people that love BB (including probably many posting in this very thread) would consider themselves 'above' that kind of genre. No. Clearly, they're not.

I also recoil from some of the praise this show receives particularly for its twists and turns and basic storytelling. This stuff has been done before, just in genres that you aren't paying attention to. That doesn't make BB any less of a show, it's just not that novel and not worth of *some* of the praise.

All that said, I haven't looked this forward to the conclusion of a series in at least three years. But it's not like I'm some bigtime TV watcher. It takes a LOT to get me to invest in a series. I quit watching BB after that fucking asinine airplane incident. But thankfully, I got hooked back in again.
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Old 09-17-2013, 04:40 PM   #580
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when i say "never misses," what i mean is that the execution of the various elements of the show are never done wrong, it never feels off, it never feels false. i'm much more bothered by Peggy bayonetting her Meathead boyfriend so that she's forced to be alone again because she's a successful woman than i am by WW "confessing" to Jesse over the phone.

in BB -- as opposed to MM, and as opposed to The Sopranos -- i never see the seams. i'm likely referring more to the actual production design, shot selection, and editing more so than aspirations to high art. i don't think BB does that, whereas MM is very clear that they are after "art." BB isn't as lofty, but it achieves its goals more often than MM does, even if MM aims higher, at least in the upper-middlebrow sense. that's what i mean by "never misses."

however, it's mistaken to think that BB is devoid of commentary. "a man provides," Gus once said, and that's as close to a summation of the essential crisis the show is concerned with, the impossibility of the average man to do precisely that in 21st century America. it's also about the collapsing middle class, white male anxiety, masculinity in crisis, the war on drugs, Mexico, immigration, the fear of death, the fear of irrelevance. to me, that's much more galvanizing than a trip through the single most exhaustively chronicled decade of the 20th century.

all that said, it feels uncomfortable comparing two of my all-time favorite shows -- it is possible to like them both, and not have to denigrate one for the sake of the other. if i had to take only one show with me on a desert island, i don't think i could choose.
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Old 09-17-2013, 06:00 PM   #581
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Then again, Breaking Bad is the more popular show of the two which merits some consideration in this argument.
then Walking Dead is the most brilliant of all.
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Old 09-17-2013, 06:08 PM   #582
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when i say "never misses," what i mean is that the execution of the various elements of the show are never done wrong, it never feels off, it never feels false..
Absolutely. I don't have a problem with people not zealously worshiping at the altar of Breaking Bad, but I cringe when someone dismisses it as "just a really entertaining show". Breaking Bad is not just high art; it is art of the highest order.

As others have touched upon, the way Breaking Bad deals with the malaise of the bleak middle-class, and how that sets off the disintegration of a regular family is immensely commendable. The realism of this shows lies in how it has constructed its characters, and how it deals with the psychology of a good man breaking bad. And when you've separated the wheat from the chaff, that's what this show is essentially about. Not the drugs, not the cool science stuff, not the magnets or exploding faces; but a middle class horror story. The writers haven't caricatured Walt. You can still see the humanity in him. None of the (primary) characters in Breaking Bad are caricatures. Their actions don't seem contrived. One of my favorite shows was The West Wing, but Sorkin's characters are almost always farcically noble. And his self-congratulatory, auto-fellatio mode of writing is often cringe-worthy to be honest. But I enjoyed that show more because of its style. I love Breaking Bad because of its substance. In fact, I've never been much of a fan of spaghetti westerns or crime dramas. I love this show despite its style.
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Old 09-17-2013, 06:20 PM   #583
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when i say "never misses," what i mean is that the execution of the various elements of the show are never done wrong, it never feels off, it never feels false. i'm much more bothered by Peggy bayonetting her Meathead boyfriend so that she's forced to be alone again because she's a successful woman than i am by WW "confessing" to Jesse over the phone.

in BB -- as opposed to MM, and as opposed to The Sopranos -- i never see the seams. i'm likely referring more to the actual production design, shot selection, and editing more so than aspirations to high art. i don't think BB does that, whereas MM is very clear that they are after "art." BB isn't as lofty, but it achieves its goals more often than MM does, even if MM aims higher, at least in the upper-middlebrow sense. that's what i mean by "never misses."

however, it's mistaken to think that BB is devoid of commentary. "a man provides," Gus once said, and that's as close to a summation of the essential crisis the show is concerned with, the impossibility of the average man to do precisely that in 21st century America. it's also about the collapsing middle class, white male anxiety, masculinity in crisis, the war on drugs, Mexico, immigration, the fear of death, the fear of irrelevance. to me, that's much more galvanizing than a trip through the single most exhaustively chronicled decade of the 20th century.

all that said, it feels uncomfortable comparing two of my all-time favorite shows -- it is possible to like them both, and not have to denigrate one for the sake of the other. if i had to take only one show with me on a desert island, i don't think i could choose.
Andy Greenwald, in a piece that was likely already linked to in this thread by NSW or someone, called Breaking Bad "a period piece set in the present," which sort of goes hand in hand with your summation of the themes it tackles.

And I totally get what you mean about the seams. It's those times where it's clear that the show is trying to hard or is laying it on too thick. And I understand what Laz says when he talks of Mad Men being better written, but at the same time I think he's underselling how well written Breaking Bad is.

Plus I don't think anything on Breaking Bad has ever made me cringe like Don having to button an episode in the most recent season by going, "This place turns into a real whorehouse sometimes!" Good Lord.
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:04 PM   #584
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then Walking Dead is the most brilliant of all.
Popular in the sense that it's in the Guinness Book of World Records for most highly-rated series critically in its run in addition to audience numbers. Mad Men has more Emmy wins for Best Drama. I bring these up as the only semi-quantifiable ways of comparison beyond stating taste, preference, or opening paragraphs to college theses.
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:05 PM   #585
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me cringe like Don having to button an episode in the most recent season by going, "This place turns into a real whorehouse sometimes!" Good Lord.

That whole episode had a competely different tone than usual for MM, and that line was clearly tongue-in-cheek. You don't think Weiner realized how on-the-nose that was?
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