Monthly Archives: September 2013

Analog This: Breaking Bad- Goodbye, Mr. Blue

This is a recap of episode 16 of season 5 of “Breaking Bad.” The episode is “Felina.” IT’S THE FINALE. 


Well, well, well then. That’s all I can think of saying at first. There’s a lot to say. 

First of all, this definitely isn’t the ending you expected. Nearly every prediction made by the Internet was wrong, proving that Reddit can’t write a TV show. Or at least not one as good as this. 

Continued After the Jump

“Breaking Bad” was a show that constantly built up upon itself and changed. The final episodes of “Breaking Bad” did not resemble anything seen in season one. However, the series finale, entitled “Felina,” combined the best of the early years of “Breaking Bad” with the best of the later years. 

Right after the main title credits had rolled, Walt had already gone from New Hampshire to New Mexico. It was wise not to show his whole trip, as that could have been an entire season of a completely different show. This current Walt is hard to define. All I know is that he definitely stole Lindsay Weir’s jacket. Anyway, this was the end of silent rage Walt from “Granite State” and the return of the man who takes action. 

Much of this episode was about emotional catharsis. The tense yet surprisingly funny showdown between Walt, Gretchen and Elliot was the light patch this show needed after weeks of tragedy. Elliot and Gretchen’s house is a paradise for people with too much money to spend. At first, they’re too distracted with their gadgets and small talk to realize that Walt has broken into their house and is standing just a few feet away from them. Perhaps this is the “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” Mexican standoff that was alluded to weeks ago. However, this showdown ends in a much less violent fashion. Walt gives them a sizable chunk of his fortune, and asks them to give it to Flynn once he turns 18. Gretchen and Elliot, who seem so shocked to be alive the entire time, accept Walt’s money. Last week, it seemed like Walt was returning to kill them for shaming him on Charlie Rose. But this week saw the return of a more level headed Walt. Instead, Walt got his revenge through fake snipers. Badger and Skinny Pete, the show’s best dynamic duo since season one, also showed the show’s overall view on humanity: you can make a person drop their moral code in an instant as long as you offer them enough money. Goodbye, you goofy Greek Chorus.

While “Breaking Bad” usually saves its flashbacks and flash forwards for beginnings and endings of episodes, “Felina” decided to plop a few right in the middle. One showed Jesse woodworking. The good thing about this week’s marathon on AMC was that it reminded me about Jesse’s past woodworking love. Then cut back to the present day, where prisoner Jesse looks like a mix between Jean Valjean and Viggo Mortensen in “The Road.” Following that, another flashback shows the fateful day that Hank asked Walt to come along with him to bust a meth lab. If only Walt had just said no to Hank. Throughout its five seasons, “Breaking Bad” liked to show that most of the bad things that happened to its characters were partly their own faults. Even a good guy like Hank wasn’t safe. No one was safe in this universe, any bullet could ricochet at any moment.  

The most exciting part of this finale is that it brought back genius Walt, who has been missing for a long time. At first, I thought Walt was still being an idiot. After all, Walt left his car in a Denny’s parking lot, went back to his own house, and then talked to his neighbor. But once he went to see Skyler, I realized that he was in the midst of a planned death wish. Skyler, shrouded in cigarette smoke, gives Walt five minutes to explain himself. After Walt gives her the coordinates for his buried money and bodies, Skyler expects to hear more lies about how this was all for his family. Instead, he finally admits that everything he did was “all for me.”  

“I’m surprised by this,” said no one.

Walt is good at a lot of things, but one of them is not being honest (and ironically, he also eventually became a pretty bad liar). It must have taken a lot for him to finally admit that the man who protects his family is driven by a lot more than love. When I heard that this show was “Mr. Chips becomes Scarface,” I assumed that meant that the main character would go out in a drug-riddled, ego-driven blaze of anti-glory. Instead, he tried to seek redemption in death, he died with his arms spread out because he wanted to die sacrificing himself for those he loved. He really wanted to convince himself of that. Maybe he could have done this if he hadn’t been so obsessed with building an empire.   

The saddest part about this episode was the moment that Walt watched Flynn return home from a distance. He could never talk to his own son again. And with that, he was off to seek revenge on the neo-Nazis. He went in with the cover of a new business deal that they weren’t buying into. While he never said this out loud, I believe Walt also wanted Jesse dead for making meth without him. However, once he saw what Jesse looked like, he realized that Jesse was a prisoner rather than a competitor. In that moment, Walt took pity on Jesse and perhaps saw a man that he knew so well, a man that he took under and raised like a son. Walt saved Jesse’s life, as he pulled the trigger on his brilliantly created trunk-gun device that brought down the entire gang. 

This scene was Jesse’s moment, and even Walt knew it. As Walt put a bullet in Uncle Jack’s head, Jesse brought down Todd in the most violent way imaginable. Once that happened, all I could feel was an immediate sigh of relief. “Breaking Bad” was always great at planting seeds, and the show was building up to that final showdown since Todd shot Drew Sharpe off of his motorcycle. 

It would have felt wrong if “Breaking Bad” concluded without a true showdown between Walt and Jesse. What was amazing about it was that they used so few words. Neither said anything about Brock or Jane. Instead, Walt hands Jesse a gun and asks Jesse to shoot him. Jesse notices that Walt has already been shot, but the real reason he lets Walt go is that he admits that he wants to die. Jesse got the same emotional catharsis out of that as the audience did from watching the neo-Nazis get mowed down. Another good name for this episode would have been “Confessions,” a title already taken by another episode this season. 

Walt and Jesse have fought on several occasions throughout the show’s run. Yet, they have always had a strong father-son relationship that perhaps neither of them could achieve with any of their real family members. I couldn’t tell if Jesse truly cared for Mr. White anymore. However, it was clear that Walt cared for Jesse. Like all of his other family members, Walt provided for Jesse even when it was a risk for him to do so. With Hank gone, Jesse is the closest thing to a hero left in this gritty world. He’s the only one who gets to leave the compound alive. With tears of joy in his eyes, he takes a car and drives right into “Need for Speed.” I don’t know if he’ll get to live the rest of his life and never get caught for his crimes. If he does, I have a feeling he’ll rescue Brock and then get a job that involves taking care of kids. He’s great at that.

After Jesse departs, Walt is left to hobble to his death. He is kept alive for a lot longer than he probably should have been for this thing called dramatic effect. The show’s final moments bring him back into a meth lab as Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” illuminates the scene. Walter White is now completely alone. His family and friends have either died or abandoned him. All he has left is his one friend, his baby, his true love: those little blue crystals. Call it an unhappy ending, but Walt got to die doing what he loved: cooking meth and tying up loose ends through murder. Some might interpret this as a hero’s death, but just remember all of the circumstances that led to this exact moment. Walt probably didn’t want to die, but he knew that he had to. He probably thought that a man who caused the death of his brother-in-law didn’t deserve to be alive. Plus, if he died in the lab, he gets to take credit for all of the meth Jesse cooked. Therefore, Jesse doesn’t get in trouble, and the Heisenberg legacy lives on. 

The ending of “Felina,” like that of such remarkable episodes before it like “Face Off,” was better than just about any movie. It was satisfying and answered a lot of questions while not struggling too hard to put a bow on every little thing. Here is a show that let its characters die memorably, but not necessarily with class or dignity. There were many faces to “Breaking Bad.” First, it was a dark comedy. Then, it was a tragedy. Then, it was a tale of karmic justice being served. 

Tonight, I was reminded why “Breaking Bad” ever began anyway. Walter White, a dying man, started cooking meth to feel alive again. In the process, he caused the death of hundreds and then himself. It is fitting that Walt was brought down by his own gun. The only man who could ever kill Walter White is Walter White.

Other “Breaking” Points

  • Not that any of them are reading this, but thank you to every single person involved in “Breaking Bad” for bringing this show into my life. “Breaking Bad” has become so big that it’s not “cool” to call this one of the best shows ever anymore. But I’ll just say it anyway because everyone knows its true. 
  • As always ladies and gentlemen…the sound of the wind. 
  • There are way too many pay phones in “Breaking Bad” for comfort. 
  • Until tonight, I almost forgot about how brilliant this show’s song choices could be.
  • I still don’t know what to call this new Walt. Post-Heisenberg? Hipster Walt? Unabomber seems fitting. 
  • I almost completely forgot about Lydia! The realization of her imminent death provided another cathartic sigh. I thought the closeup shot of her drink was just Vince Gilligan’s way of messing with us. No visual trickery this time. And a major PR blow to the Stevia industry.
  • Lesson learned Lydia: never use artificial sweeteners. 
  • Whether he’s tormenting Lydia and Todd or Gretchen and Elliot, Walt has a way of acting so nonchalant just moments before he’s about to try and completely ruin someone’s life. I think its a way to give himself control of the situation by putting his enemies’ off with his casualness. Now that is the stuff of a criminal mastermind. 
  • Todd’s ringtone is the song “Lydia the Tattooed Lady.” Points to Todd for still being creepy even after death. Points deducted from me for life for not realizing until now that Groucho Marx sings that song.
  • “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” would have been another good song to end the series with.
  • Meanwhile, “Blue” by Eiffel 65 would have been the worst final song choice ever.
  • On “Talking Bad” (yes, I actually watch it), Vince Gilligan said that the ending was meant to be reminiscent of “The Searchers.” If you haven’t watched “The Searchers” yet, then you really should. 
  • Some unexpectedly great comic relief: Marie can’t tell the difference between Becky and Carol. Poor Carol!
  • Also, poor Huelle. 
  • Tonight’s funniest line: “Elliot, if you wanna go that way you’re gonna need a bigger knife.” 
  • Orchestral music strangely has the power to make things more intense. 
  • Did Walt really believe that it was all about him? Had he truly convinced himself? Or was he just playing Skyler once again in a really elaborate way? I vote that admitting his selfishness was his most selfless act in ages.
  • Jokes that “Breaking Bad” is a spinoff of “Friday Night Lights” > Jokes that “Breaking Bad” is a spinoff of “Malcolm in the Middle”
  • If you want some more insight into the decisions of Walt and Jesse tonight (and also throughout the whole season), watch “In Bruges” and pay close attention to Ralph Fiennes’ very strict code of life.
  • Uncle Jack just wants to die with a cigarette in his mouth.
  • Were Todd and Lydia on a date together? Was it business? Personal? Both? 
  • Walt was wearing the same green collared shirt that he also wore in the pilot.
  • This was most likely not deliberate, but that shot of Walt’s bloody hand slipping off the metal machine made me think of “King Kong” letting go and then tumbling down the Empire State Building. In both cases, the king falls and dies because they have no choice. 
  • The Stevia shot and the final shot resemble two very famous shots in “Taxi Driver.” I don’t know if it influenced “Felina” at all, but Walter White and Travis Bickle definitely have a lot in common. They’d definitely have a pretty interesting coffee date. 
I have had an amazing time watching these episodes and getting to write about them. I am sad that it all has to end now. Thank you so much to everyone who chose to read my recaps when there are so many others out there. Just because I never want to let this show go, I will be working on a full series recap soon. For now, onto the next show. 
“You know who else cut corners in life? Walter White. You know where he is now? DEAD.” 

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

Movie Review: Touchy Feely

If you were to watch “Touchy Feely” for any one reason, it should be for Josh Pais’ performance as Paul, a dentist who’s basically dead inside, or “wan,” as his sister Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) keeps describing him.

“Touchy Feely” is the latest film from Lynn Shelton, who is a secret weapon in the independent film world. Her loose and mainly unscripted films are refreshing in a world dominated by formula and safety. With “Touchy Feely,” Shelton feels like she is trying to move towards something more structured all while holding on to the characteristics that have defined her work as a filmmaker. Yet, there is a difficulty in balancing the two, and it is not achieved here.

This is not to say that there aren’t many strong parts to “Touchy Feely.” It’s premise is weird and original enough to make you want to watch it, and credit where credit is due for not ending the way you would expect it to end. Once again, Shelton focuses on a dysfunctional family that masks its dysfunction with awkward silences. Paul raises his daughter Jenny (Ellen Page) alone and gives her a job as his dental assistant, which clearly keeps her from achieving some of her actual dreams. There’s no indication of what happened to Paul’s wife, but he makes do with what he can contribute. Basically, what he can contribute is blank stares while Jenny makes him dinner.

Paul is in an inexplicable rut. When he goes to a new age therapist (a criminally underused Allison Janney) and is asked about his happy place, he says his back office, where he looks at x-rays in the dark. It’s perfectly telling of his character that the only way he can interact with people is when he’s nowhere near them. This is also why he hasn’t gotten a new patient in a long time, and he just doesn’t seem to care about lowering his patient demographic to below the age of 80.

Suddenly, Paul is ordained with a seemingly magic ability to heal the mouth pains of anyone he touches. This validation is enough to give Paul just the slightest of confidence boosts. Shelton never turns his ability into schlocky humor; the idea in itself is funny enough. At the same time that Paul finds new catharsis at his job, Abby finds troubles at her’s as she gains a sudden aversion to human skin. Neither Paul’s skill nor Abby’s conflict are explained, which makes the intrigue of “Touchy Feely” interesting enough. Some mysteries are more engaging when they’re left unexplained. Also, “Touchy Feely” is not trying to be a sci-fi allegory.

The one thing that “Touchy Feely” gets absolutely right is character consistency. As “Humpday” and “Your Sister’s Sister” showed, Lynn Shelton’s talent lies in putting a bunch of skilled actors in a room together and letting the camera run. Still, it’s odd how many endless debates there are here, yet still too much is left unspoken. It’s like this time she let the camera run, but with no end goal in mind.

The biggest problem the film faces is that it isn’t confrontational enough. For example, one emotional turning point is built up to using only images, not words. But because nothing is said, I got a sense that neither character knew why anyone was so upset. While less is usually more, too little is definitely not enough.

The most frustrating flaw in “Touchy Feely” is that the two main story lines basically never cross paths. Doesn’t it make sense that somebody with healing powers might at least try to help somebody going through an odd physical pain? Instead, Ron Livingston is used to try and remedy DeWitt’s story. I still cannot figure out why he was there at all, and why he wasn’t spending his screen time complaining about his boss. Because nothing feels connected, in the end it feels like nothing that was just witnessed matters at all.

The best thing I can say about “Touchy Feely” is that in the end, Lynn Shelton looks like a true cinematic director. Every shot has a purpose, and every shot is framed just right. She shows the sides of Seattle that are never seen; the Space Needle is just a speck in the background at one point. The film ends with a shot that’s warm, friendly, and perfectly framed. It’s great to see an indie movie that doesn’t resort to a cut to black. However, the final shot feels like it belongs in a different movie, one that is more complete and didn’t try and just skip around from plot point to plot point. “Touchy Feely” would have benefitted from bolder and clearer character choices. I think what I am really trying to say is that “Touchy Feely” needed more Allison Janney.

Breaking Bad: Analog This- The Wizard of Ozymandias

This is a recap of episode 14 of season 5 of “Breaking Bad.” The episode is “Ozymandias.”


That would have been an apt title for tonight’s episode. And just as poetic. It was one of the last things that Hank ever said (“My name is ASAC Schrader. And you can go fuck yourself.”) and also the one thing I couldn’t stop saying over and over again throughout “Ozymandias.” I think I needed this little mantra. It reminded me of how cathartic cursing can be.

I know that I am always talking about how amazing “Breaking Bad” is every week but I feel like up to this point, I was being a tad hyperbolic. “Ozymandias” may be the show’s finest hour. If it is not the absolute best, then it was the show’s most horrifying and emotionally devastating. Appropriately, many critics are already comparing this episode to a horror movie. This episode was a horror western directed by Rian Johnson, who’s proved himself to be excellent at mixing and matching genres through the likes of “Brick” and “Looper.”

“Ozymandias” begins with a flashback to season one. Remember that season, when Jesse was still calling everyone a bitch and Walt still couldn’t figure out how to lie properly to his wife? He couldn’t even figure out whether to say “a bug” or “a stick” up his butt as he formulated his excuse for being home late from his first cook. While Walt has changed a lot since season one, I noticed a few habits that he hasn’t quite been able to shake off. For one, he still always tries to act like things are going just fine even when they are going horribly, especially when it comes to his family. Whenever Walt is around his family, it’s as if he immediately starts to believe his own lies.

Hi, can I have an Emmy please?

This flashback was absolutely perfect here, as this little plot of land has proved to be one of the most important locations in the “Breaking Bad” mythology. It is also the most haunting location as well. It will forever be known as the land where Hank Schrader died. I knew this moment was coming, but I didn’t think it would be quite this tough to get through. In the moments before his death, Hank showed off the best of his personality. He wouldn’t even sacrifice his principles as he was offered a chance to live. Meanwhile, Walt literally tried to give up everything he had for a battle he couldn’t win. Even Hank knew that Todd’s uncle had his mind made up from the start. For once, Walt found himself in a situation that he couldn’t talk his way out of, just as Hank found himself in a shootout that he couldn’t shoot his way out of.

So, Hank gets shot, the gunfire echoes, and his body is buried. And the show just moves on from there. This might be a tragic moment, but “Breaking Bad” doesn’t have time to stand around and mourn. Get used to it. Nevertheless, I was a wreck. In just a few seconds, the show completely changed course once again.

Hank’s death hit Walt the hardest. H just lay in the dirt with his mouth agape like some character out of Pac-Man (I don’t know man, it just made sense to me). Then, just as it seems like this show couldn’t gut punch us any further, Jesse looked like he was the next chicken out to roost. Found hiding under Walt’s car, Jesse looks like a dog hiding away because he knows his death is near, to bring back the rabid dog metaphor. Jesse is spared by Todd, who believes that Jesse has information that they could use. And by “information they could use” he really means “the ability to cook meth.” Todd showed off many facets of his sociopathy tonight. First, he told Walt “sorry for your loss” regarding Hank, and then he tied Jesse to a rope and made him cook meth for him. As Todd, Jesse Plemons is one of the few actors who can play both a nice teenager and a murderous psychopath, sometimes separately, and sometimes at the exact same time.

“Ozymandias” might have secretly been the final episode of “Breaking Bad,” as so many loose ends were tied up tonight. It was revealed that Walt’s fortune amounts to $80 million, but he would only be getting $11 million of that. Then, just to spite Jesse, Walt told him that he watched Jane die and did nothing. The look on Aaron Paul’s face as Walt told him that was the definition of heartbreak.

Anyone looking for pants?

This was also the first time that Junior and Holly got involved in the family business. Skyler had no choice but to tell Junior the truth, as it was the only way to get Marie back on her side. Junior obviously doesn’t take to the news too kindly, but he oddly takes out more of his anger on his mother. Poor Skyler. But then again, she’s just as evil too. In maybe the most poetic thing that Junior has ever said, he points out to Skyler that by not doing anything, she is in effect as evil as Walt. That seems to be a big theme on this show, and it even goes back to the airplane and teddy bear of season two: by not stopping something from happening, you are eventually at fault for when it does happen. Basically, it is impossible to stop most things, and it is always your fault.

Poor Junior, he’s basically messed up for life now. The kid won’t even put on his seatbelt, he doesn’t even feel like he’s safe anyway. Then, the episode piles on another devastating and violent surprise as Junior and Skyler come back to find Walt still at the house. Skyler pulls a knife on him and ends up stabbing his hand, “Shining” style. The more Walt tries to protect his family, the more he harms them. “We’re a family,” Walt says, as his last shred of dignity fades away. I thought the Bluths were TV’s most dysfunctional family, but clearly this family could use a better publicist as well.

For the rest of the episode, Walt’s actions border on the surreal and bizarre. Any of them could be interpreted as either beneficial or harmful. In the third worst thing he’s done on the show, Walt kidnaps his own daughter. This seemed like the desperate act of an extremely sad man. Holly is the blank slate and therefore the only family member left that can’t hate him. That is, until she utters “mama” right in his face. Then she says it a few more times seemingly just to rub it in. Walt then talks to Skyler on the phone, who is on the other end as a bunch of cops stand behind her and wait to track Walt’s phone. Walt then confesses every crime to her, which would seem dumb if Walt wasn’t smart enough to know that there are cops on the other line. At first, his confessions seemed like pure ego. But then, it seemed like one last attempt to save Skyler, as he takes full responsibility for all of his actions. This was pretty fantastic to see; Walt isn’t someone who usually holds himself accountable for the crimes he’s committed. He even takes responsibility for Hank’s death here. Maybe he sees himself as responsible since he couldn’t stop the murder, or because it’s a way to keep the neo-Nazis from getting any more pissed off at Walt and his family.

So Walt goes and brings Holly to a nearby fire station, where he leaves a note on her which I couldn’t read, but hopefully listed her return address. Then Walt follows the advice of the song that plays earlier that episode: “I have no place to go…guess I’ll have to roam.” So a solemn Walt is picked up at the cemetery by the man who is also known for selling vacuums. Walt’s reflection in the side mirror disappears further and further away. The Walt we have known for so many years is now gone. So is Heisenberg. What we are about to get is some kind of post-Heisenberg who is fueled by revenge.

And so ends “Ozymandias,” an episode that felt like a collection of horror shorts which built upon one another. Rarely did I think television could be this stressful until I watched this episode, but Vince Gilligan has always demanded that the audience became a part of the characters’ world in order to feel the pain of it. There are only two episodes left of “Breaking Bad.” Had it ended tonight, I would have been both baffled and satisfied. I speak for a lot of people when I say that my best guesses for the end still tell me nothing.

Other “Breaking” Points

  • Yes, the title of the episode comes from a poem. Yes, it means something. Look it up.
  • Smartly, Rian Johnson (I’ll just say him because I’m not sure who’s responsible for credits. The editor?) decided not to put the credits over the scene of Hank’s death. Instead, the credits don’t come on until at least 25 minutes into the episode (including commercials). It’s a bold move that works out well. Like “The Departed,” whose credits didn’t start until at least 18 minutes in.
  • Rian Johnson also directed the season three episode “Fly.” That was the episode where I thought Walt was on the verge to telling Jesse the truth about Jane. I guess Johnson felt he had some unfinished business. 
  • There’s a great vertigo shot in this episode.
  • Some funny things about the early flashback: The knives are visible in front of Skyler; Skyler tells Walt to pick up a pizza which may or may not end up on the roof at some point. Dipping sticks, Skyler. 
  • Usually, Hank is as good at shooting his way out of a situation as Walt is at talking his way out of one. In the show’s opening minutes, both men failed at their apparent strengths.
  • RIP Hank. Seriously. It’s amazing to see how that character went from a side character who seemed like a dumb jock to one of the show’s smartest and most intelligent character. Keep brewin’ up there, Agent Schrader. 
  • Also, RIP Gomey. Your comic relief did not go in vain. 
  • Every time Walt is in a weak position, his glasses are always sitting lower on the bridge of his nose. 
  • Marie: “Oh you know…this and that.” Sounds like Betsy Brandt is auditioning for the new “Fargo”-based TV show.
  • Now that all of the Skyler hatred from the past few years has mostly gone away, I think it’s fair to say that Anna Gunn is amazing at what she does. 
  • While in the lab, Jesse’s face looked like Gus’ when he had half of his face blown off. 
  • The image of Walt lying on the ground also reminded me of an image from “Once Upon a Time in the West.” 
  • After tonight’s episode, I’m convinced that Todd eats people. Among other things.

Can’t We All Just Get Along: Texting in Theaters

Nobody knows how to act out emotions like a stock photo model.

Can’t We All Just Get Along is a new segment in which I take a hot button issue in the entertainment world and try my best to see both sides through, and then try even harder to pick a side. 

Let’s face it: the traditional film viewing experience is in trouble. Who wants to pay $15 to be quiet in a dark room with strangers for two plus hours when you could be sitting at home in your underwear sending SnapChats of Instagrams of your cats reenacting the opening of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”?

Ever since cell phones became readily available for the masses, it has been difficult to power them down. This has been an especially big problem for movie theaters, an environment that requires absolute silence (besides laughs or screams) and attention. Yet, people take no issue sending out that text or finishing that level of Candy Crush that just can’t wait. People have no problem turning off their phones on an airplane, but I guess the threat of crashing is scarier than the threat of not being able to hear what Brad Pitt just said.
It seems that this whole problem pops in and out of the news every few weeks, but this week there was an especially interesting development. At a screening at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this week, blogger Alex Billington called 911 on a man who was on his phone during a movie, because he was afraid that the man might be pirating the movie. However, no such pirating was happening, as the man was just sending a text message. Now, this story is a little extreme, and the idea of somebody making a citizens arrest in a movie theater is ripe for parody. Come on Alex, couldn’t you have just checked whether he was recording or not?

Yes, these actions were rash. But I’m happy to see that this is still an issue. People have varying opinions on this, but few things can be more distracting during a movie than a bright screen suddenly going off in your face. Even if it isn’t making any noise, the light itself is enough to immediately take you out of the world you’re trying to immerse yourself into. I like to turn off my phone once a movie starts. I’ll even turn it off before the trailers start because even the trailers can be fun to watch. Let me clarify: I do not think I am better than anyone else because I do this. I’ll admit that I will not hesitate to answer a text when watching a movie at home. Likewise, the people who text during movies probably aren’t trying to ruin your viewing experience. We’ve become so spoiled with technology that it’s easy to forget the beauty of the single screen experience.

It seems that no matter how many signs and warnings a theater puts up, it is impossible to enforce the “No Cell Phones” rule. Of the few live theater shows I’ve been to in the past few years on and off Broadway, I’ve never seen a single person turn on their phone during the performance. How often do you even hear about disturbances with phones in live theater? Maybe it’s because at live theater, the entertainment is actually in the flesh right in front of you. Meanwhile, none of the shiny faces on screen are present to judge you when you send a text message.* Ever since the advent of the Nickelodeons, movie theaters have always been an experience made for the largest possible audience. While movie tickets are not cheap today, they’re still much cheaper than a Broadway show. If you’re paying over $100 for a ticket, then why would you want to distract yourself from what you paid for?

Something that we all tend to forget is that keeping your phone on during a movie ruins the true purpose of going to see a movie in theaters: escapism. Every movie, even the most socially aware drama, is a form of escapism. Being at home can be a distraction. A theater should be the perfect setting, a portal, into the world that any given movie is trying to send you into. Once you’re distracted by the outside world, the purpose of being there in the first place completely disappears.

I believe that the way to stop this epidemic (I know, I know, there are real problems in the world) is to transform the movie theater experience. Tapping your neighbor on the shoulder doesn’t help much, and it creates another distraction entirely. Currently, the mainstream movie theater is something of a homogenized place. Growing up in the suburbs, I was used to movie theaters that resembled shopping malls rather than outlets for art and entertainment. These huge, plain places aim to please everyone and like most things that try to please everyone ultimately please nobody. In this regard, the film industry could learn something from TV, which is currently kicking film’s butt in terms of quality.

Nowadays, there seems to be both a TV show and a network for every niche. So, there should also be different types of movie theater experiences to match different people’s wants and desires. Some people have called for separate theaters that allows cell phones and laptops in, so people who want to multitask can bond in distraction. This kind of sounds like a way to turn a movie theater into a living room, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A texting-only theater will allow people who just want to watch the movie to then have their own place, so long as these rules could actually be enforced.

The theater experience should be even more unique and focused in than just this. Midnight screenings allow space for people to actively participate in movies they love. Places like the Alamo Drafthouse flourish because they focus so much on making the moviegoing experience more pleasant, from prohibiting talking and texting to providing beer and food. Everybody is so compartmentalized nowadays, why not allow places where people can enjoy a movie with strangers that want to be in the same compartment as them?

I don’t truly know what the right answer is here. Until my movie theater utopia comes about**, just turn off your phone. That’s all. You’ll be amazed by how good it feels to be in a different world uninterrupted for two hours, a world that doesn’t involve texts from your friend Chuck about the pre-game later tonight.

PS. Just a thought for people who complain about food prices at theaters: you don’t have to buy the food, no matter how tempting the popcorn smells. Do as I was taught to do as a young Jewish child: microwave popcorn before you go into the movie, and then hide the bag in your sister’s purse.

*Then again, this doesn’t stop people from taking out their phones at Comedy Clubs. #FreeMichaelRichards

**Also in this utopian society: dog waiters, ninja congressmen

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: Trapped, Trapped, Trapped in Orange is the New Black


Is TV as we know it dead?????!!!!! Is Netflix the only place we can get good shows now????!!!!!!

No. TV is alive and well and Netflix holds promise as a lead distributor for the future. But I’m not in the future predicting game; I’m in the “Orange is the New Black” fan club. We are few and we are annoying, but we know great television when we see it.

“Orange is the New Black” is based on the true story of Piper Kerman, a waspy shiksa* who ends up in prison for a crime she committed years earlier. The show takes a lot of liberties from there. It starts through the eyes of Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) and then expands far and wide, populating the prison with an array of colorful characters. These are the kind of characters who normally aren’t portrayed on television, and they’re often the kind of people you never meet when you’re a sheltered white boy from Connecticut. That’s what good stories are all about: expanding your world and introducing you to the kind of things that your own life might be too short-sighted to ever see.

While watching “Orange is the New Black,” I was reminded of an unlikely companion show: “Lost.” Like that sci-fi drama, “Orange” uses the medium to its fullest extent by leaving its setting through flashbacks. This allows the characters to be more than just their present selves; in prison, you’re not the same person you were on the outside world. In order to understand the new person, it is necessary to also see the old one. Also, if “Orange is the New Black” is “Lost,” does this mean they’re going to start having flash forwards later on? And does that mean Jason Biggs is the smoke monster?

But I digress. “Orange” is the second show created by Jenji Kohan, the first being “Weeds.” If the last few seasons of “Weeds” left a bad taste in your mouth, then consider “Orange” as Kohan’s way of pressing the reset button. This is a brand new world with an episode structure that literally allows endless possibilities.

“Orange is the New Black” is not just that female prison drama. This is a show about people who happen to be prisoners. Emphasis on the people part. That’s why it expands to the characters’ lives outside of prison, so there’s a taste of life outside the prison walls. “Orange” is as much about life in prison as it is about people trying to maintain normality in a very abnormal place.

I wish I did a run through of each episode individually, and tried to cover the little moments that can get lost during binge watching. That will be for another time. So for now, I will try and recap all the best little tidbits of this awesome first season:

The Theme Song: The big debate is whether Regina Spektor’s “You’ve Got Time” was fitting or annoying, or whether the show even needed opening credits at all. Most people were watching episodes in huge chunks so opening credits weren’t necessary. However, they just seem like a staple of television at this point, and they are always a good way to set the mood for the show, and maybe allow some time to recap to yourself what happened in the last episode, as we live in a world where “Previously On…” may be all but irrelevant.

Best Episode: I am tempted to say “Lesbian Request Denied” because of Sophia’s backstory (more on that to come) and the sheer weirdness that is Crazy Eyes. However, I am going to have to go with “The Chickening.” This episode showed the strength of the comedy side of this dramedy, as this episode involved a bunch of prisoners chasing after a mythical chicken they believe is full of drugs. But it also expands the history of the prison and made the relationships between certain prisoners even more complex (specifically that of mother and daughter pair Aleida and Daya Diaz). Then, it ends at a moment so surreal that it begs you to immediately watch the next episode, regardless of whether the chicken mystery will ever be solved.

Most Interesting Backstory: Sophia. It is so rare to see a transexual character on television (besides Mrs. Garrison on “South Park,” of course), so seeing one as a major player on “Orange is the New Black” was so refreshing. Sophia’s backstory explored the consequences of such a major decision in such a deep, funny, and sad way. I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. It was this episode that assured me that “Orange is the New Black” is not just some female prison drama.

Craziest Revelation: Pennsatucky became a Jesus freak after murdering a nurse in an abortion clinic and inadvertently becoming a martyr. However, this was not an act of fundamentalism but rather simple craziness. Maybe you should be less judgmental of Piper’s lack of faith, Miss Five Abortions.

Greatest Character Redemption: “Crazy Eyes” Suzanne. Suzanne scared me in the first few episodes as much as she scared poor Piper. Yet, a funny thing happened towards the end of the season: Suzanne got a chance to really talk. Turns out she may be disturbed but she’s also an incredibly kind person. I am excited to see more of her next season. She seems to have her crazy eyes more open to what’s really going on in the prison than most people there.

Greatest Backwards Character Redemption: Healy. Healy was my favorite character in the beginning. He seemed like an honest guy who wanted nothing more than to help Piper and collect Corgi bobble heads. But it turns out he’s kind of a jerk. And he’s really bad at his job. Then in the last episode, he walks away as Piper is close to death. In a show filled with some very dangerous prisoners, the guard is the villain.

Funniest Moment: The inmates bond while watching “Good Luck Chuck.” It’s actually a very sweet scene about escapism and the healing power of laughter, all while watching a Dane Cook movie. But hey, I guess that was the best that Litchfield prison could do. Also, if I were in prison, I would probably be okay with any comedy that I could get.

Funniest Jewish Moment: Oh man, is Jenji Kohan good at these. The tiny detail that Yoga Jones hung a dreidel up backwards is funny. Yet, I will have to go with episode one for this one: Larry’s mother taking up his phone time with Piper with a string of neverending questions was perfect.

Funniest Irony: John Bennett is a war veteran and seemingly the most genuine guard at Litchfield. However, his amputated leg came not from war, but rather from an infection from a hot tub in Orlando. Does anyone else find this funny? Or am I just a bad person?

Pornstache: I believe Mendez deserves his own category. No matter how creepy he got he was always such a joy to watch. The moment that got me is when he did inspection while humming “Pomp and Circumstance.” No matter how pervy he got, maybe I could always find sympathy because he really did care about his job. But mainly it’s because Pablo Schreiber is such a fantastic actor. He made Mendez so consistently creepy. Here’s hoping he lands an Emmy next year.

Corruption Off!: “Orange” also covers the lives of those who run the prison, each one of them a little more corrupt than the last. Strangely, authority often seems more like the bad guy than the prisoners themselves. I think nearly everyone working there would let someone die (which happened) if it was in their best interest. Except for Luscheck (Matt Peters). He just always looks like he just wants to go to sleep.

Weirdest Sex Act: Big Boo. That screwdriver. No further explanation necessary.

Best Character with no lines: Big Boo’s dog. Because of course.

Saddest Moment: Miss Claudette (Michelle Hurst) is denied parole and the chance to be reunited with her long lost love. Some bad behavior lands her in the SHU. As she’s escorted down she says “I don’t care anymore.” In a show that humanizes all of the prisoners and offers many deserved moments of redemption, this moment was unexpected and heartbreaking.

Saddest Trombone:  Joe Caputo (Nick Sandow), who mainly seemed liked a spineless bureaucrat who couldn’t get up without a stick in his butt, finally showed some humanity when he offered Susan Fischer (Lauren Lapkus) a bouquet of flowers. She followed the nice gesture by introducing Joe to her boyfriend. Just when it seemed like he had a victory. Womp womp.

“Kill Bill”-iest Moment: Piper beating the ever living crap out of Pennsatucky in the snow.

What I want to see next season: How Red landed in prison, how Daya landed in prison, Healy’s backstory, Yoga’s backstory (even though she already described it), where the hell that chicken is

And finally…the moment my childhood ended: Laura Prepon. Naked in a shower. Goodbye, Donna.

*I know this sounds offensive, but its just so fitting for this show. Also, that’s how Terry Gross described her on Fresh Air. Terry Gross knows all.

Top 5: Jack Nicholson Movies

Hold on, getting a poster of this in my room right now.
According to some recent reports, Jack Nicholson has retired from acting. Then, according to some other reports, Jack Nicholson hasn’t retired from acting. I’m not sure which is true, but I really want to write this article.
It has been nearly three years since Nicholson has been credited in a movie and it doesn’t look like has any projects planned for the future. And at the Oscars this year he seemed, well, old (apparently, his retirement is due to memory loss). I’d love some more Nicholson but if he decided to call it quits now, he’d be leaving behind an amazing legacy. Besides maybe Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Newman, few actors have had such consistent records. And most importantly, “The Bucket List” isn’t the last credit listed on his IMDB page.
So I don’t know if this is the end of his career or not but either way, it’s never a bad time to celebrate Jack Nicholson. Also, this is a really fun way to put off my homework. 
Read On After the Jump: (Movies are sorted in order of the year that they came out).

Easy Rider (1969)

Before “Easy Rider” roared into theaters and announced that the hippies had taken over Hollywood, Jack Nicholson was getting a lot of small parts in a lot of B-movies which I still want to watch. “Easy Rider” wasn’t supposed to be much, but it subdued all expectations, as did Nicholson as alcoholic lawyer George Hanson. As George, Nicholson embodies Southern Hospitality. While he always seems a little sketchy, he is also nice enough to get a drink with. Nicholson burst with spontaneous little movements, giving the sense that he has as little control over his performance as George has over his own actions. Nicholson turned a small role into an Oscar nominated performance. It was the first of many to come. 

Chinatown (1974)

Nicholson’s filmography reads like a list of some of my favorite movies of all time. Perhaps Nicholson’s performances were always so consistently outstanding during the 70s because he was given the best material that Hollywood had to offer. Yet, Nicholson made every character he played his own. As Jake Gittes, Nicholson churned out a snarky version of a film noir detective. While they would usually be a little more reserved and mysterious, Gittes was instead abrasive and sneaky in his snooping methods. “Chinatown” is one of the darkest movies ever made, yet not enough people seem to give Nicholson credit for being both the protagonist and the comic relief. You better believe that after watching “Chinatown,” you’ll know exactly how to “screw like a Chinaman.”  
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Speaking of making characters his own, Nicholson did the same but this time with a character that had already been invented in literature. Nicholson makes R.P. McMurphy the gold standard for all Hollywood anti-heroes. From the second he enters the institution, jumping around and kissing doctors, he immediately lights up the room. Sure, he’s a repeated offender, but he’s so relatable because he’s so honest and real and doesn’t let anyone get the best of him. He’s the kind of person everyone wishes they were confident enough to be. He even stood up to Nurse Ratched. Now that was one scary lady. 

The Shining (1980)

This most remarkable aspect of this horror classic is Stanley Kubrick’s direction. However, Nicholson’s performance is just as important, as it stays away from hamminess and instead he gives a frightening portrayal of one man’s descent into madness. Just like the entire movie, watching Nicholson is a slow build. It’s even more frightening because the motives are so hazy. Fun fact: the now legendary “Here’s Johnny!” line was improvised by Nicholson.

About Schmidt (2003)

This is one of Nicholson’s most un-Jack performances. Instead of just playing Jack Nicholson, he instead played Warren Schmidt, a schlubby Midwestern man who suddenly feels alone and useless after he retires from his job and loses his wife. It’s a quiet, understated performance that’s equal parts awkward, funny, and moving. It was another well deserved Oscar nomination for somebody who probably didn’t need another one, but deserved it anyway.
Guilty Pleasure: Anger Management (2003)- I’m sorry (but not really). This is the only time we’ll ever see Jack Nicholson sing “I Feel Pretty” on film. Don’t take this for granted, people!

Analog This: Breaking Bad- Every Dog Has His Day

This is a recap of episode 12 of season 5 of “Breaking Bad.” The episode is “Rabid Dog.”

Tonight’s “Breaking Bad” episode requires a little history lesson on the “Breaking Bad” universe. So for just a brief moment, let’s go back to season two. Remember that pink teddy bear that fell from an airplane that signified that Walt’s selfishness could lead to an airplane crash? Well once again, Walt can’t do anything without ruining the lives of others. In “Rabid Dog,” Walt showed that if he was going down, his whole family would be going with him. 

“Rabid Dog” is one of the more plot-driven episodes of “Breaking Bad.” It is also one of the quietest. Music and crazy dutch angles drive a majority of the action. Along with the creepy shadows, parts of this episode felt like scenes from “No Country for Old Men.” Episodes of TV are so short that sometimes its hard to have one quiet moment. “Breaking Bad” can make an entire episode chock full of them. 

Slowly, the false exterior that Walt tries to project on others is slowly crumbling. Even Junior starts to see through Walt’s lies. I also could see Walt’s lies much better this week. That’s not because we’ve all gotten to know Walt so well, it’s more because his lies are getting worse. Come on, faulty gas pump? If you could convince people that you didn’t murder someone, how come you couldn’t cover for some gasoline stains? Once Jesse called Walter out, the show itself (let’s pretend it’s a living, breathing thing) also became self-aware of Walt’s lies.

So, what does Walt do to keep his lies going? He gets the family a hotel room for the night. Junior, of course, is excited about this (Junior you’re great, but you’re also kind of the Chris Brody of this show). Though RJ Mitte did have one of his best episodes ever. Junior is one of the few people left who still thinks highly of Mr. White. Tonight, Junior acts like he knows something is up, but it is not the full truth that he will inevitably learn. In one of the most memorable moments of this episode, Walt sits in front of a pool (his thinking spot in several other episodes) contemplating, and Junior gives him a big hug. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that this monster still has to be a father. 

Junior isn’t the only one that Walt has to father. No matter what happens, Jesse will be another son to Walt, which is why Walt still seems to be looking out for his best interests. This is something that Hank decides to exploit. Tonight, “Breaking Bad” broke from its usual narrative format to go back in time to the moment right before Walt got into his house, when Jesse was about to burn it down. Turns out Hank decided to stop by and calm Jesse down. Hank offers Jesse revenge through the legal system. 

Hank and Jesse are a great little odd couple, given their history together, which could be described as awkward. I think I see a possible father-son bond between them, which began with that nice little moment when Hank buckled Jesse’s seatbelt for him. Hank is more of a caring man than Walt is at this point, yet Hank would also sacrifice Jesse’s life for his cause as well. Poor Jesse is always getting caught in the middle of everyone’s selfishness. If Jesse is a dog like everyone has been labeling him, he is just an innocent pooch that wants nothing more than someone to love him.

The face-off between Hank and Walt heated up once again. The two of them are exact opposites yet, they have a lot in common. Both of them would surely put somebody else’s life on the line to advance their goals. This is why I think that this could all possibly end in a stalemate. Hank knows every way to track down Walt, but Walt is always one step ahead, and he is relentless in getting exactly what he wants. 

There has been a lot of bloody episodes of “Breaking Bad.” Nobody died in this episode, but the scent of death was all around. Marie, in one of her most chilling scenes, tells her therapist that she’s been doing some research on different poisons. Imagine if she’s the one who eventually brings Heisenberg down. And of course, nearly everyone at one point in this episode suggested that Jesse needs to die. Even Skyler, who’s trying so hard to be the better person, thought it’d be for the better to bring down Pinkman. Saul compared Jesse to Old Yeller. Then by the end, Walter makes the phone call in which he says “Todd, I think I might have another job for your uncle.” Unfortunately, we all know exactly what that means.

Overall, this was a very different episode of “Breaking Bad.” Especially when Jesse wears a wire, it felt almost like an episode of “24.” Fortunately though, this didn’t turn out like an episode of “24,” as in the writers didn’t rely on some cheap plot shortcut, and nobody decided to shoot the person they needed for information because they were unstable (yes, this happened A LOT on “24″). “Breaking Bad” doesn’t roll like that.

Other “Breaking” Points

  • Walt refers to Badger as Beaver. In an episode of “Beavis and Butthead,” Beavis is referred to as Beaver. This is the second stupid connection I’ve made to a Mike Judge show in the past two episodes of “Breaking Bad.” Time for a fake theory in which Walter White moves to Texas and becomes Hank Hill in the finale.
  • Other things of Marie’s that are purple: Mug, curtains, blanket, chair, pillows, luggage
  • Could anyone figure out the song of Jesse’s ringtone? 
  • This was an especially serious episode. Even Gomey didn’t have many jokes to crack.
  • Walt can even make the line “sleep it off” sound condescending. 
  • “I never should have let my dojo membership run out.” Hope Saul gets his membership back if there’s a spinoff. 
  • Yes Walt, of course we remember when Jesse came over for dinner.
  • Funniest moment of the episode: Walt as Santa photo. 
  • Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the brilliant people that do sounds effects for this show.  
  • Also, this show really knows how to play with shadows
  • This is the first time that Jesse and Marie have ever been in a scene together. 
  • When Jesse is walking to meet Walt at the plaza, I got this feeling that we were seeing everything directly from Jesse’s point of view. It was as if we were experiencing the world from Jesse’s paranoid vision. Brilliant. 
  • Apparently, pay phones are still a thing in Albuquerque. 
  • No matter how bad he gets, Walt still has a thing for tighty whiteys. 
  • The scenes from next week could be changed with the scenes from next week at the end of every “Mad Men” episode and I would see no difference between them.
Until next week everyone, Keep Calm and Tread Lightly.