Category Archives: Bob Odenkirk

Movie Review: Nebraska

Image via Buzzsugar

Watching a director who has always directed their own writing suddenly bring somebody else’s vision to life is always interesting. “Nebraska” marks the first occasion that Oscar winning writer Alexander Payne has directed a screenplay written by somebody else. Maybe the fact that it takes place in his beloved home state helped out a bit.

“Nebraska” marks Payne’s first foray back into his home territory since 2002′s “About Schmidt.” However, it takes some time to get there. “Nebraska,” like “Fargo” and “Chinatown” before it, are about more than the setting that their titles suggest. “Nebraska begins in Billings, Montana, the current home of the Grant family. Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is the patriarch of the family, whether he is aware of it or not. Woody is a sad man living a sad life. He walks with a slouch and acts like he never wasted any potential because he never had much to begin with.

Yet, Woody finally has some big ambitions. While he won’t trust the postal service to mail out a letter for him, he trusts an ad from a magazine claiming that he won a million dollars. The catch is that he can only claim that money if he goes to Lincoln, Nebraska. Woody, an alcoholic who is too mild-mannered to speak too much and too nice to burden other people, tries to make the trek on his own two feet. The mission is crazy, but his son David (Will Forte) decides to drive his father to claim his “prize.” David knows there is little hope, but he wants that sweet father-son bonding time. Mainly though, he doesn’t want his life to become as stagnant as his father’s, which tends to happen when you’re selling electronic equipment in Montana.

Stagnant is probably the best word to describe what the film portrays. “Nebraska” inhabits a Middle America in which the people grow older, yet their beliefs never change. The world immediately surrounding them remains about the same in order to accommodate their consistent attitudes.

“Nebraska” is shot in black and white, which is funny because it also looks like a painting by Grant Wood or Edward Hopper. There is something very melancholy about the grey sky in Big Sky Country or the endless hay bales that line the highways that cut through Nebraska, yet there is also something defining and quite beautiful about it. I can’t quite pinpoint what it is, but it feels like a piece of Americana that we all need to get back in touch with.

“Nebraska” is a story that would not be as effective if it were told in any other time or in any other place. Alexander Payne and writer Bob Nelson are to Nebraska what Springsteen is to New Jersey: a sharp voice on the problems of their land. They have earned the right to say these things because they also get what makes the people tick. I could have mistaken half of these people for actual residents of Hawthorne, Nebraska, where the most important scenes of the film take place. Based on the lack of IMDB credits for many of the actors, it is possible that most of them were plucked from obscurity to play themselves.

Payne has always had a knack for getting the best performances out of his actors. Whoever he casts manages to live up to his bleakly funny vision of the world. In his first dramatic leading role, Forte manages to tailor his comedic chops splendidly for a much more serious performance. In everything from “Saturday Night Live” to “MacGruber,” Forte always underplayed and was so funny because he could deliver hilarious lines while playing it completely straight. In “Nebraska,” he manages to lead the way as a dramatic straight man, acting like he has it all together even when he actually doesn’t.

Main characters aren’t usually supposed to be this quiet, but Bruce Dern (father of national treasure Laura Dern) gives a show-stealing performance. He is funny and a little sad all at once and does so by using so few words. When he does speak, it often comes off as beautifully poetic revelations from a simple man (when visiting his now empty childhood home: “I’d get whipped if I came in here…guess I can’t get whipped anymore”). Dern plays Woody as an old man who is grizzled and bitter yet he has gone through so much that it just doesn’t bother him anymore. He is less oblivious than he is in a child-like state of ignorance. Expect a well-deserved Oscar nomination for Dern this year.

I wouldn’t be able to finish this review properly without mentioning June Squibb. As Kate Grant, Woody’s loud and pushy wife, she at first comes off as downright despicable. Then, with a little more time to talk, she suddenly becomes the hero of the story, and then Woody and Kate’s marriage makes a lot more sense. Also, the scene where she visits a cemetery is one of the funniest scenes in any movie that came out this year.

Overall, “Nebraska” is a road trip movie and a story of finding second chances in times when redemption seems impossible. It’s the holidays now. You will be spending a lot of time with your family. “Nebraska” is a reminder that “family” and “dysfunctional” naturally go hand-in-hand. Just as David is like Woody without even trying to be, family makes us who we are, sometimes in the strangest ways possible.

The MPAA Fails Again: “Nebraska” is rated R, solely for use of language. While the sex talks gets a little explicit once or twice, its more funny than sacrilegious. Come on, your grandparents have probably said worse things than June Squibb ever says here.

Another Note: Stacy Keach gets punched in the face a lot (also see: “American History X,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”).

My Most Anticipated Releases of November 2013


Alexander Payne has been on a hot streak basically since the beginning of his career. After “Sideways” and “The Descendants,” “Nebraska” brings the director back to his home city of Omaha for what seems like his turn even further into dramatic territory. Plus, Will Forte has a shot to show his dramatic chops (I know that they are there) and generally awesome person Bob Odenkirk gets a big role [Note: Saul Goodman was supposedly relocated to Omaha at the end of “Breaking Bad.” Hmmm…]. For great, little character-driven stories and perfect dark humor, Alexander Payne never disappoints.

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

I have yet to read any of the novels in the “Hunger Games” series, but I was a big fan of the first movie, which was a thoroughly entertaining dystopian blockbuster. Since I have no background knowledge of the story, I am excited to see where “Catching Fire” brings the story next. Also, this will likely only increase my love for Jennifer Lawrence. Let’s just hope that the baboons that I saw in one of the commercials are less ridiculous than the giant mutated dogs from the first installment.


Ever since the moment I heard that Spike Lee was directing a remake of “Oldboy,” I had no clue what to make of it. Why mess with Korean perfection? Could anybody ever recreate the pure shock of the octopus or hammer scenes? Still, I can’t help but be more curious than angry about this remake. It has a stellar cast (Josh Brolin, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson), and its easy to forget that outside of his often annoying media presence, Spike Lee is an incredibly talented director. Let’s just hope this is more “Inside Man” than “Miracle at St. Anna.”

No Country For Oldboy: Josh Brolin, who looks like he’s auditioning to play Bruce Wayne stuck in the pit in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Analog This: Breaking Bad- Granite State of Mind

Let’s play a game: “Mad Men” or “Breaking Bad”?

This is a recap of episode 15 of season 5 of “Breaking Bad.” The episode is “Granite State.”

The more Walter White loses, the easier it is to see what is really underneath all of that rage and greed. Without his money, family, or meth empire, Walt is a lot of anger, and a lot of misguided pride. As per usual, Walt’s emotions are ruining his life.

“Granite State” is the first episode of this season to receive such a mixed reaction. But come on people, everyone should have been prepared for something nowhere near as good as “Ozymandias.” Even Vince Gilligan thinks that last week’s episode was the best one they ever did. “Granite State” is not the best episode of “Breaking Bad.” It has some odd pacing problems, and it definitely isn’t the one of a kind, gut-wrenching experience I’ve come to expect based on the past few episodes of “Breaking Bad.” This may have been a bridge episode, but it was a very important one. 

Continued After the Jump

“Granite State” is basically like the whole section of “Skyfall” where Bond goes to hang out with Albert Finney and those awesome black labs at his old home before Silva and his gang show up. The best part about a slower “Breaking Bad” this week was some much needed time to breath and reflect. Well, mostly. 

Tonight, Mr. Vacuum Man is finally revealed. He is played by Robert Forster, who you might know from “Jackie Brown” and “The Descendants.” It is an unexpected yet perfect casting choice. It turns out that Saul is also getting a new identity, leaving a huge gap in the Albuquerque market for lawyers with catchy commercials. The process for getting a new identity basically looked like getting a fake I.D., or at least the way “Freaks and Geeks” portrayed getting a fake I.D. Anyway, Saul got assigned to Nebraska. I’m going to try and assume that this isn’t subliminal advertising for Alexander Payne’s “Nebraska,” which Bob Odenkirk stars in later this year. 

While trying to avoid real prison, Walt finds himself in a prison cell under the vacuum store. Walt and Saul are forced to bunk together. This rooming assignment is temporary, and unfortunately not the setup for “Better Call Saul.” While Saul is ready to start his new life, Walt can’t stop looking back at his broken old one. Walt’s motivations are mixed, and I still feel like there’s something more he isn’t telling us. He wants revenge for Hank’s death, but he also wants to steal back all of the money he earned. Sadly, rescuing Jesse is not on his radar. Saul refuses to help and tells Walt that “it’s over.” Walt responds “it’s not over.” He tries his best to be intimidating, but he can barely finish a sentence between his cancer riddled coughs. There was a scene similar to this one in season three in which Walt was much more frightening. No matter how hard Walt tries, returning to that pure Heisenberg state will be tough.

Still, Walt tried his hardest. While isolated in his tiny, frozen, New Hampshire home, Walt brings out the old black Heisenberg hat. It’s treated like a villain putting on his disguise before terrorizing the city, but Walt is delusional enough to believe that he’s a hero putting on his mask. I’m honestly kind of surprised that this great moment wasn’t followed by Walt looking in a mirror and asking if anyone was talking to him. It’d make sense, as Walt can’t go too far, so he’s bound to go a little crazy from cabin fever. All he’s really got right now is a fireplace and a month’s worth of the Albuquerque newspaper. The only thing keeping him going is the thought of one day returning to his family. 

The New Hampshire scenes mainly serve to show just how far downhill Walt’s life has gone. Even with all of the evil, I am still convinced that Walt wants nothing but to be loved. Because he’s scared off or killed everyone who once loved him, he now has to resort to paying people $10,000 to hang out with him for just one hour. Even his wedding ring doesn’t want to stay put on his finger. But Walt, never able to let go of his past, ties it around his neck. Just like Frodo Baggins, Walt has a quest he is about to embark on. 

Back down in New Mexico, things were looking even darker. Without Walt around, Skyler was in danger with the law. The White house has become something of a local tourist attraction, so the bank took over the house and fenced it off (so bankers are the real villains here?). But of everyone, poor Jesse’s life is the worst. In some surprising craftiness, Jesse broke out of his handcuffs and nearly broke free in a doomed escape attempt. As Jesse can cook the purest meth since Heisenberg was in town, the Nazis couldn’t kill him for this. Instead, they decide to psychologically torture him, which leads to one of the most horrifying moments in the show’s history: Todd shoots Andrea right in front of Jesse. 

The one thing Walt and Jesse now have in common is that they’ve both lost everybody that they love. “Breaking Bad” didn’t necessarily need this scene. I was already convinced that Todd and family were psychos. But this will clearly lead to something important in the finale, as every little occurrence in the “Breaking Bad” universe always has a consequence.  


I was most thrilled to see that this was a very important Todd episode, and one that really let Jesse Plemons chew the scenery. Todd is so desensitized towards violence that when he shoots Andrea right in the head, he tells her right before hand that it is “nothing personal.” When he watches Jesse describe his murder of the boy on the motorcycle in Jesse’s confession video, Todd smiles ever so slightly. Todd takes pride in his murders the way that Walt took so much pride in his meth. What makes Todd so scary is that he never shows any semblance of human emotion (except maybe for condescending empathy when giving Jesse ice cream). When he put on a nice shirt and pants and went to a coffee shop, he looked like he’d never really been around non-Nazi people before. To me, Todd is more like an alien who just landed on Earth and is trying to blend in by being non-distinct. 

Up in New Hampshire, Walt, as usual decided not to listen to somebody who was trying to help him. He leaves his Thoreau like cottage for the local bar. It’s a dark, sad empty bar. It’s like the bar in Nepal where Marion spends her time before Indiana comes back into her life in “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” or the bar where Ron Burgundy hangs out before the news team reassembles in “Anchorman.” Basically, it’s like any movie/TV bar where the main character waits for their imminent call to action. 

Yet, Walt doesn’t wait, because he literally makes the call. Walt’s phone call to Junior would have been more heartbreaking if Walt didn’t deserve that verbal beating from his son. A lot of darker dramas on television seem to have issues with their younger characters. Usually, they get reduced to one line or action that becomes a running joke. On “Homeland,” Chris Brody was all about his love of shiny things, and on “Breaking Bad,” all Walt Junior got was breakfast. But luckily the writers finally decided to elevate his character this season and RJ Mitte has really stepped up to the task. Luckily, the kid is smart enough to understand that getting $100,000 in the mail from a wanted man is probably a bad idea.

Todd Lydia meme Breaking Bad 5x15 Granite State
Coming Soon: Facing Backwards, a new romantic comedy!

With no motivation left, Walt turns himself into Albuquerque DEA and has himself a drink. That’s when he sees that Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz, our old friends from Gray Matter, on TV. The two of them are clearly on a PR campaign to distance themselves from Heisenberg, whose relationship with the company is making a dent in their stock values. This provides an enjoyable moment for Walt, until they basically discredit Walt from any of his contributions to their company. They basically had no choice to, but this moment burst Walt’s pride. Walt has no money, none of his empire, and now he can’t even say that he helped to start Gray Matter.

Walt’s history with Gray Matter is secretly one of the things that led to the creation of Heisenberg. The fact that his former friends basically stole all of his ideas and then cheated him out of the company is what led to his inner insecurity that made him want to build an empire. While Walt says that everything he did was for his family, he is in it just as much for his own ego. It seems like Walt wants to go back to Albuquerque and bring Gretchen and Elliot down along with the neo-Nazis, as a way to exorcise all of his demons. However, even Walt isn’t stupid enough to know that it is partly his fault that he missed out on the Gray Matter fortune. If Walt wants to spend the finale getting rid of all of his past mistakes, then the last one he might have to get rid of is himself.

Looking at “Granite State” by itself, I wish that this episode had come earlier this season. Peter Gould, who wrote and directed this episode, approached it as if he wanted to slow down a bit. However, there is only one episode left after this, so he had to keep the momentum going. Even the extended running time didn’t feel like quite enough. It would have been great if Gilligan and the crew had squeezed out a few more episodes of Walt living as a solitary mountain man. Maybe the series finale will provide us with some flashbacks. 

The series finale. Just one episode away. Now that’s weird to say.

Other “Breaking” Points

  • As Todd relives the memory of the freight train, the sound of a train can be heard behind him.
  • More wind sounds. This time in New Hampshire.
  • The scene in which Skyler hears all of the sounds and voices in her head is yet another brilliant bit of sound editing. Or mixing. I still don’t really know the difference. And I’m studying stuff like this in college.
  • There is a lot of heavy use of the color gray in this episode. The cloudy sky. The vacuum store. I should’ve known that this would have led the way to Gray Matter. 
  • Another technical/geeky note: the bar was so beautifully lit. I keep looking up images of it.
  • Saul’s luggage is blue. Maybe, like Lydia, he’s buying into the whole blue brand.
  • Saul’s afraid that he’s going to end up operating a Cinnabon in Omaha. Now that would be a great front for illegal activities. 
  • Seriously, check out Robert Forster’s Oscar nominated performance in “Jackie Brown.” If you do, you’ll also have the pleasure of watching Quentin Tarantino’s most underrated film. Also, Michael Bowen (a.k.a. Uncle Jack) is in it.
  • It’s funny how Walt has a knack for hanging out with criminals who are so professional and careful about not getting caught (Gus, Saul, Mike, Lydia) yet he never seems to learn anything from them. Todd might be the only other person who is as reckless as Walt is. Todd shoots Andrea right on her front porch. It’s like him and Walt both want to get caught, so they can take credit for their lifes’ works. 
  • Last week, Holly got kidnapped by her own father. This week, a gang of Nazis broke into her room. She’s going to need some serious therapy.
  • Vacuum man gives Walt a tour of his new house. He points out the stove and fire place. “Plus, you can cook on it,” he says. Probably not the kind of stuff Walt wishes he could be cooking, though.
  • Comic relief: Vacuum man isn’t much of a film buff. His DVD collection only includes two copies of “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.” 
  • When someone receives chemotherapy, isn’t their hair supposed to fall out?
  • Flynn did a good job pulling off the Marty McFly look.
  • Before Walt tries to get his money back, I hope he watches this scene from “Fargo.” Unfortunately, “Breaking Bad” no longer has its “good guy” authority figure (Hank) around.
  • I almost forgot about Marie. She barely had any screen time and because of that, her story seemed kind of out of place. I’m assuming that it’ll pay off next week.
  • As I’ve said too many times before, “Breaking Bad” is about consequences. Well, it’s also about characters who think they can cheat the consequences of their actions. Lydia is always turning away from the evil in front of her, so as to act like she’s not a part of it even when she’s pulling all the strings. Lydia, I underestimated you. 
  • On that note, Walt also does something very similar. He lies not just to others, but also to himself. Here, he convinces himself that he lost all of the money he earned. In reality, he gave it all away to try to save someone that he couldn’t save. Now, by trying to get it back, he thinks he can undo the consequences of his mistake. 
Walter White Heisenberg hat gif Breaking Bad 515 Granite State Heisenberg Mode: ENGAGE! Imgur

Analog This: Breaking Bad- Dumb & Dumber

This is a recap of episode 13 of season 5 of “Breaking Bad.” The episode is “To’hajiilee.”

Walt has spent the past five years (real time, not “Breaking Bad” time) outsmarting everyone he knows. It turns out though that Walt’s ego, the same thing that’s always helped him get out of trouble, could also cloud his judgement. Finally, the joke’s on him. 

Only on “Breaking Bad” could a cathartic moment suddenly be turned into one of fear and pain. When Walt finally got handcuffed, it felt like a moment that was long time coming, which is probably why this episode alluded to the pilot so much. Of course all the hurt happens under the direction of Michelle MacLaren, who’s directed some of the show’s most twisted episodes. And hopefully once “Breaking Bad” ends, she’ll become a fine movie director, hopefully funded by Megan Ellison

I don’t know if Walt has gotten dumber, or if we the audience have gotten to know him so well that we can officially figure out his every move. Or, as Bryan Cranston said on last night’s episode of “Talking Bad,” Walt has gotten less scientific and more emotional. Yet, Walt still doesn’t understand how those emotions work. Sometimes, he doesn’t know when to use these emotions to call off a hit. 

Speaking of emotions and lack thereof: Todd. Todd is secretly the most evil bastard on the show, and even he doesn’t know it. He is what somebody smarter than myself would call a sociopath. But maybe he can experience love, as it looks like the man who once chased after Tyra in the “Friday Night Lights” universe wants some of that sweet blue jacket action from Lydia. I don’t think he’s going to get it though, even if they can improve the meth formula. Todd and his gang claimed to have “burned” the batch thus not giving it its distinct blue tint. Apparently, the people who buy up the product abroad find this to be a big selling point, like a marketing tool. Its funny because in the real world outside of “Breaking Bad,” blue meth has become an important marketing tool for the show. People go out and buy bags and bags of “blue meth candy” that probably tastes awful.

But back to the episode. Lydia still annoys me more than any other character on the show who has ever annoyed me, but I feel like we are going to see something come out of her completely unexpected during the last few episodes. Perhaps she’ll have to put out a hit on Todd and his neo-Nazi family and she’ll do the dirty work herself. She seems like somebody who’d be careful, methodical, and remorseless at a job like this. So, maybe she and Todd would make a good couple.

The episode brings us to Todd and his camp leading up to the moment from last week when Walt called Todd about a little job he had, which was a nice little wrap around. Then it was back to the dream team of Jesse, Hank, and Gomie. Gomie might be by-the-book, but he takes his work seriously and isn’t afraid to show when he’s pissed. I’m pretty sure I heard him call Jesse “Timmy Dipshit” for his move at the end of the last episode. This was a slower episode than usual, but by the end, it all made sense that were watching Jesse pull off a long con. Finally, Jesse was the one pulling the strings.

Jesse suggested that they needed hard evidence to bring Walt down, and the only evidence of Walt’s crimes are the barrels buried in the desert. Jesse and Hank were all about the fake pictures tonight. First, they used a fake brain to get Huell to admit where the money was. By the way, Huell made the saddest face after Hank and Gomie left him and told him not to leave his house. I’m surprised there was no scene in the closing credits with Huell still sitting on the couch, waiting for somebody to let him go. Man, maybe he should have just gone to Mexico with Kuby.

Walt, meanwhile, takes the easiest possible way out by looking for someone to take Jesse out. In the scene in which Todd’s uncle asks Walt for information on Jesse, Walt doesn’t even seem to know anymore why he wants Jesse dead, just that he needs him dead. This is reminiscent of Walt’s current state: there’s no passion left in his work, just a need to tie up loose ends. However, there is a chance for that passion to come back, as Walt was offered a new cook job by the neo-Nazi gang. Walt means it when he says he is out of the business for good. On the other hand, I’m sure Walt wouldn’t mind being crowned the meth king once again. 

How though, did Walter fall for Jesse’s trick barrel photo? Nobody else knew of the location of Walt’s money. I also would disparage Walt for not thinking about the fact that his call is possibly being recorded, but he had no idea Jesse was working with Hank. Walt thinks Jesse is a lot of things, but he never thought he could be a rat. That’s probably why he shouts out nearly every person he has murdered over the phone, letting Jesse know that most of the bad things he did were to protect them both. In that moment, I sincerely thought Walt was also going to blurt out “also, I killed Jane.” That’s a confession still waiting to happen.

There are many “Breaking Bad” episodes that manage to move slowly, but completely redeem themselves within 10 minutes. That’s what this week’s episode was, as “To’hajiilee” brought us back to the very first episode. Walt got arrested in the place his crimes began, a full circle. The episode really picks up when Walt hides behind a rock as he waits for Hank, Jesse, and Gomie to pass. The most perfectly framed shot in the episode, and perhaps one of the best in all of “Breaking Bad,” is that closeup of Walt’s face as Jesse’s voice echoes in the background. That voice doesn’t just pain Walt in real life, it is deep in his subconscious, and the pain it causes him is so apparent.

Still, Walt tries to argue that everything he is doing is for his family. At this point, it’s no longer justification and more like deflection from blame. You can’t lock me up, because I have a family to take care of! You can’t take the millions of blood dollars I made, because it’s for my family! This makes me think of my source of all wisdom, “Kill Bill”: “just because I have no wish to murder you in front of your daughter doesn’t mean that parading her around in front of me will inspire sympathy.” Mr. White, we love Walt Jr. and Holly but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see you pay for your crimes. 

But Walter gives up, and in doing so, he calls off the hit on Jesse. His last fighting words before being taken away are “coward.” Something that got to me in this scene was seeing how cocky Hank was as he taunted a defeated Walt who sat handcuffed in the back of the car. Like I said last week, Hank might be the good guy of “Breaking Bad,” but he is not necessarily a good guy. He’s got an ego to fulfill, and definitely some thoughts of revenge as well. Hank pays the price for this when Todd and his uncle show up with a whole gang to foil the arrest. This scene has been controversial. Why do they show up anyway? Every time there’s a little victory on the show, Vince Gilligan loves to yell “surprise!” and screw up our good time. 

“To’hajiilee” concludes with a hell of a cliffhanger. It leaves in mid-action. Somebody is probably going to die now, but it leaves us with no indication as to who. Or maybe the more tragic part about is that we know Walt will definitely survive, thanks to those flash forwards. Once again, I see a connection to “No Country for Old Men”: Walter White is Anton Chigurh. Like Chigurh, he is a grim reaper figure who manages to walk out of every horrific incident he gets into unscathed. He will then be forced to walk the Earth, as a reminder that evil will always exist in the world. I’m getting dark here, but my point is that only fate (cancer) can kill Mr. White at this point.

Other “Breaking” Points

  • Like Jesse before him, Todd refers to Walt as “Mr. White.” It is fascinating that even after his teaching career ends, Walter continues to be a mentor/teacher figure for so many younger men. I guess once the teacher leaves school, he’ll find another place to teach. Walt is like a Pai Mei (sorry for another “Kill Bill” reference) for aspiring meth cooks.
  • I found the scene where Todd and his buddies pretended that they saw blue in the meth to be pretty hilarious. I got a “who’s on first, who’s on second” vibe from it. 
  • Maybe I am going too meta here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the debate about colors from the beginning is a bit of winking joke at viewers who obsessively analyze the way that the show uses colors for theme. 
  • This episode consisted of a lot of people pretending that they didn’t know who Saul was.
  • Most joyful moment in this very dark episode: Junior is genuinely starstruck by Saul Goodman. The face he makes is absolutely priceless. 
  • Continued presence of the haunting sound of the wind.
  • While taking notes, I subconsciously kept calling Todd “Landry.” My apologies to Jesse Plemons.
  • Brock asks for string cheese AND yogurt squeezers in his lunch? Respect. Although if I suddenly got poisoned one day, I would probably only eat food that was sealed shut in little packets for the rest of my life. 
  • The way that Hank says “I got him” to Marie reminded me of when Walt called Skyler to tell her “I won” at the end of season four. 
  • I love the way Saul bosses around the guy cleaning his car. The way he tells the guy to “get in there real deep” just made me think of “Dodgeball.”
  • Also, I like how Saul refers to Walt as an “occupational hazard.”
  • In New Mexico, cops clearly don’t care if you go through red lights. 
  • I didn’t exactly catch what Todd’s ringtone was, but it was definitely hilarious. “Breaking Bad” loves funny phones and ringtones. 
  • I’m happy that the scenes for next week didn’t actually show any scenes from next week. I still have no idea who is getting out of that shootout alive. 
  • My friend Jeff Wucher made a prediction that the neo-Nazis will kidnap Jesse. Walt will then come back later to rescue him, which explains the shotgun during the flash forwards. At this point, I have no idea what is going to happen. But this is the most interesting prediction I’ve heard so far.
  • The next episode is called “Ozymandias.” “Ozymandias” is also the name of a poem written by Percy Shelley. Well, time to do some research!
Until next week everyone, Keep Calm and Tread Lightly. 

Analog This: Breaking Bad Recap- Belize Navidad

This is a recap of episode 9 of season 5 of “Breaking Bad.” The episode is “Buried.”

Well, there was no way to top last week’s episode.

Last week, the cat leaped out of the freaking bag, tore up the entire place, and pooped outside the litter box after Walt warned Hank to “tread lightly.” This week’s episode was also tense, but in a much quieter way. It was a linking and in-between episode, a nice valley between last week’s eventful episode and what is sure to be another great one next week. 

“Buried” begins with a very sad Jesse Pinkman, having thrown all of his money on stranger’s front lawns like some rich paperboy, as he lies on one of those tilting and spinning things on a playground. At this point, he seems less sad then flat out dead inside. The overhead shot of Jesse spinning away is something to marvel at. It’s a great reminder that “Breaking Bad” is the most cinematic show on all of television.

The episode then picks up right where we left off last week: a stunned Walt stands outside of Hank’s garage. Hank, without saying a word, once again closes the garage door. Walt is more panicked and vulnerable than ever. His suspicions further when Skyler won’t pick up her phone and in the distance, Hank makes a call of his own. It’s enough to make Walt drive over to Saul’s, because calling him clearly isn’t an option anymore, as phone taps are a dangerous thing for a wanted man.

Shortly after, Hank meets Skyler in a diner where ever-so-sweet Hank offers his condolences and does everything he can to help Skyler. However, ever-so-blissfully-ignorant Hank doesn’t know the extent of Skyler’s involvement in Walt’s empire. The ever so-confident Walt and Skyler that emerged in the past seasons are starting to crumble, and their desperation is just starting to look like the scene in “Goodfellas” where Henry realizes that Karen flushed all of his coke down the toilet: they are helpless in a frightening, clueless way. 

This was a particularly long scene for a TV show, and one that proves that “Breaking Bad” never adheres to an episode-by-episode structure. Anna Gunn also has a strong chance to show off her dramatic chops in a scene where she must act like she’s a victim even though deep down she knows that she’s screwed. 

“Buried” also had some fine acting from Betsy Brandt, who rarely gets a moment in the sun as Marie. Her only major plot line on the show, in which she moonlit as a shoplifter, was one of the show’s few weak moments. This week, she was finally let in on the big secret by Hank. Hank probably shouldn’t have told. However, Hank’s confession led to the moment in which Marie slapped Skyler across the face. The moment felt weirdly cathartic, as if it were actually the result of five seasons worth of buildup. Marie’s true anger didn’t come from the fact that Skyler knew about Heisenberg, but that she’s been aware since long before the twins attempted to murder Hank. So that’s when the tearful Marie let her hand do the talking. And while many of you might find Marie annoying, she definitely isn’t wrong. 

As all of Skyler’s secrets came out, Walt started hiding all of his. Saul gave him some very Saul Goodman advice (dismantle your phone) and then some (more on that in a bit). Then came the welcome return of Saul’s goons (including Bill Burr, who’s currently one of the funniest standup comedians in America), who entered the episode by using Walt’s giant piles of accumulated money as a bed.

Walt then took the money out to the middle of the desert and buried it in barrels, a great opportunity to stick the camera inside some barrels as well. Maybe it was my sister and I who are the only ones on the planet to think that the digging scene felt a little like “Encino Man,” but you judge for yourself:

Foolproof argument right here.

Walt returns home that night a defeated and exhausted man. As he prepares to step in the shower, he strips down to nothing but his underwear, those same tighty-whiteys he last ran around in during the pilot episode. This Walter White is very similar to that Walter White: equally as pathetic, yet less innocent. However, Walter White from season one said “screw it” because he knew he was going to die. Walter White from season five gives up because he’s done everything he’s needed to and he knows he’s going to die.

It was in this brief scene that Walt and Skyler shared together that I realized how much power Skyler holds over Walt, and I’m not sure if she is aware of that. She tucks Walt in, who looks a little like a grown child at that moment, and stands over him as the puppet master. She pulls the strings. She’s the one who can choose to say one word to Hank and bring the Heisenberg legacy down. Yet, Walt still has this bit of leverage over Skyler: family. Walt asks Skyler to give away every cent of his money to his children and his children’s children if he is to die. “You keep the money,” he tells her. He wants to make sure that everything he did actually has a purpose.
Now, that’s already a lot for an hour long TV show. But that’s not all. Lydia is still here apparently, because the writers still haven’t found a way to write her off the show. But she’s here and she’s mad that her new cooks can’t live up to the Heisenberg standards. Well, she’s not mad, her Czech employer is mad, because she has no feelings or personality of her own. That also might be why she doesn’t bat an eye when the new cooks are brutally murdered, though she refuses to look. This brings Todd back onto the show. Jesse Plemons’ innocent look and kind accent do such a great job at hiding the fact that Todd is a psychopath. 
The catchphrase that didn’t quite take off.
Back at Casa de Schrader, Hank must decide what he is going to do with the Heisenberg file. Marie encourages him to just turn him in already to save his own skin. Marie is a good woman who always looks after her husband. Yet, Hank presents a fine rebuttal: the moment he turns Walt in is the moment that his career in the DEA ends. It’s hard to work for the DEA when you’re brother is a dangerous meth cooker, I guess.
Regardless, Hank returns to work the next day to a surprise visitor. Jesse has been brought in for questioning after his money-throwing spree. He’s giving the officers nothing, so Hank figures that if he goes in the interrogation room, Jesse might finally open his mouth. So, Hank proceeds, and the episode ends in a bit of an abrupt cliffhanger which doesn’t provide a lot but promises much for next week. This is a different Jesse than the one that Hank punched in the face. I have a feeling that Hank will eventually get to him in an incredibly well written scene, and then Jesse will provide Hank’s missing link to Heisenberg. 
Other “Breaking” Points
  • If Dean Norris doesn’t win an Emmy when this season is qualified for awards next year, I will be very angry, and write some blog posts about how angry I am.
  • This was a great night for comic relief. Gomez is back! And I was happy to learn this week that Steven Michael Quezada is actually a local Albuquerque comedian/talk show host. Glad to see Vince Gilligan goes local in his casting.
  • There was a haunting presence of the sound of the wind in this episode. Maybe it was to add a western feel to it, but whenever they use it, it sends chills down my spine. It reminds me of when Gus told Walt that “I will kill your infant daughter.”
  • Speaking of which, I love the way this show pays attention to sound as much as color. Also pay attention to the buzzing when Walt goes out to the desert.
  • Yes, Marie’s entire outfit is purple. But here’s a nice little easter egg: so is her teapot. 
  • Another great little detail: bullets falling through the roof of the underground meth lab. 
  • Walt is Daniel Plainview from “There Will Be Blood.” That’s just a little thought I’m still working out and thinking through. 
  • Skyler tells Walt that she “can’t remember the last time she was happy.” Walt might have left enough money behind for his children, but he can never be the great family man that he thinks he is.
  • Speaking of families, it is interesting to see Walt and Hank’s differing views on family. Last week, Hank, the show’s supposed hero, says “screw family” when it comes to bringing Walt down. Meanwhile, this week Saul proposed that Walt take Hank “on a trip to Belize” like he did with Mike. Walt refuses, saying that Hank is family. There is still one, little shred of humanity left in Walter White.
  • Where has Walt Jr. been? I’m guessing that he’s stuck in line waiting for a Grand Slam at Denny’s.
  • One last thing. This guy’s mustache:
“And what, pray tell, is the five-point-palm-exploding-heart technique?”
Thanks everyone for reading. I’ll be back again next week. And the next week. And many weeks over. I hope to hear some of your thoughts in the comments.

Movie Review: The Spectacular Now

Finally, here’s a teen drama that has so many things that I never thought I was looking for in a teen drama, mainly because I never thought I was looking for a teen drama. First of all, it’s not on CW or ABC Family. “The Spectacular Now” is not about petty problems but, well, the big things we face right now. Also, there’s no vampires.

“The Spectacular Now” is based on a novel, as opposed to director James Ponsoldt’s childhood. However, the one thing that the film actually has in common with his life is that it takes place in Athens, Georgia where he grew up. There is a strong sense of familiarity with the whole thing, as if he is reminiscing on all the spots he once called home.

The teenage anti-hero of “The Spectacular Now” is Sutter, played Miles Teller, who sounds an awful lot like Jonah Hill and acts an awful lot like he doesn’t give a crap. Unlike most high school stories, the protagonist isn’t awkward. Despite all the cracks in his life, Sutter is frighteningly self-confident for somebody his age. He’s just come out of a pretty bad breakup with a girl (Brie Larson) who seemed like his soulmate. Now, he’s writing an angry college essay with her as the subject. “500 Days of Summer” says something about turning your former loves into literature, but it’s probably a bad idea to put them into a common app.

Sutter has this vision of living completely in a delusional happy moment. He drinks as much as he can as a way to keep reality at bay. His mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh) works nearly all the time. Meanwhile, his father (Kyle Chandler, completely shattering the Coach Taylor illusion) is completely absent from his life, so he collects a series of father figures such as his boss Dan (Bob Odenkirk), who’s the definition of Southern Hospitality.

His delusional life view is compromised when he meets Aimee (Shailene Woodley) one drunken night. Well, he doesn’t really meet her. He ends up passed out on her front lawn and being the good girl that she is, she gives him a hand. The two begin to rub off on one another (personality wise, you sicko) and eventually fall in love. But given the fact that Sutter is kind of a jerk, he’s not quite sure if he wants to call it love.

“The Spectacular Now” is a lot about breaking stereotypes, which is why everything about this story feels so real. Just like Sutter, Aimee is also not like the kind of teen you’d find in this movie. Her broken backstory is put front and center, yet because her spirits are always so high, she never enters Manic Pixie Dream Girl territory. While she does have a love of comic books that she shares, the real thing that Sutter and Aimee bond over is there families. The way these two people bond and fall in love so sincerely made me think a lot of “Harold and Maude,” except, you know, they’re both the same age.

Speaking of that perennial 70s comedy, “The Spectacular Now” feels like it could have come right out of that era. James Ponsoldt is a wonderful director because he tends to let the film speak for itself. The camera usually sits still, and if it isn’t sitting still, then it’s slowly zooming in. One great moment comes and Sutter and Aimee stand by a window overlooking the football field. This conversation feels so important because we get to hear all of it without a single cutaway. Here, we see how little Sutter knows about what he will do with his own future.

“The Spectacular Now” is the kind of warm, character driven story only expected to be seen on TV nowadays. People like James Ponsoldt and co-writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (“500 Days of Summer”) give me faith in the continued strength of the self-contained story. It even ends at just right the moment. We, as the viewers have guided the characters to where they’re meant to be. And it was a pleasure to bring them there.