Farewell Heisenberg (Remote Control Freak)

We’re running out of time until the last 8 episodes of the best show on TV airs. It will conclude the story of Walter White and his evolution from devoted family man to maniacal drug kingpin, Heisenberg. If you haven’t seen this series, stop reading now. Order Netflix if you don’t have it, and pull up a comfy chair. iTunes has it on sale. If you have a local mom and pop video store in your neighborhood (yes, they still exist) check to see if they carry the seasons on DVD (mine does). Whatever it takes, watch it. You have eight Saturdays to catch up. That’s one season a weekend. Like you don’t already do that with your time. Shut up and do it. You want to. Trust me. August 11th the debut of the last half of the final season commences on AMC. Set your DVR’s boys and girls! I’ve had some debate with folks over the years as to whether Walter White is a good guy or a bad guy. Clearly he has done terrible, terrible things and I believe at first they were with only the best intentions. He started cooking Crystal Meth when he learned he had terminal cancer, to earn enough money to take care of his family after his death. And nearly everything he did after that point can be drawn back to this initial, good hearted intent. Nearly. Being involved in this kind of secret life will have to take its toll. Walter wanted to and tried to play it clean, to do fair business, but he quickly learned that wasn’t going to happen and had to play ball. For a long time he really suffered through the decisions he had to make on who to take out and needed to justify every step. But as his place in line neared further and further to the top and his product became more and more invaluable – the power got the better of him. [SPOILER ALERT] Some may point out that his first cross of the line took place when he killed Jesse’s girlfriend. He didn’t literally kill her, of course, he just let her die in front of him and did nothing to stop it. Some might argue that it was for Jesse’s own good, that Walter did this to save Jesse from the hole she was leading him back down. Others, that it was only because Walter still needed Jesse to produce the amount of cook required to make the money he still needed and she was in the way. Differing perspectives, but it was the first time Walter realized his own god-like control. I have to admit that I have always been a Walter White fan. I always give him the benefit of the doubt and it wasn’t until the first half of this season, that I realized that I might have been holding on to some semblance of the man Walter White used to be. I always loved that his heart led him to protect the people in his life, even if it was for their own good when they didn’t know it and hated him for it. And I always thought I knew that Jesse was one of those people – because I love Pinkman too. How could you not? He’s totally fucked up, but has a heart of stupid gold. But there came a point when Walter kind of turned on him and when we, as the audience realize this, that’s when it became real. There was no more Walter White, the man we’re watching now is really Heisenberg. That is what’s so fascinating to me about this show. It explores the evolution of a man from hero to villain. It gives us the insight into how a man so genuine and loving could become a feared, influential and terrifying man. To be able to watch him...

All Good Shows Must Come to An End. [On The Contrary] Oct05

All Good Shows Must Come to An End. [On The Contrary]

Breaking Bad is hands down the best show on television right now, and maybe the best ever. It certainly ranks up there. No show has been able to sustain such dramatic momentum and continuously improve from season to season quite so well, without devolving into a soap opera or throwing out random subplots. Most impressively, unlike the other shows considered the greats by elitist television viewers (a label that would have been an oxymoron 15 years ago)—shows like Mad Men, The Wire, The Sopranos, et al—Breaking Bad has done it with a very small cast of characters and essentially one story line. Yes, the show takes twists and turns, but the entire story of Walter White is about a high school chemistry teacher learning that he is dying of cancer and making the choice to cook crystal meth to earn money for his family. Everything else in the series follows this choice. Series creator Vince Gilligan has said he wants to turn Mr. Chips into Tony Montana. Structurally speaking, it’s really one big movie told over multiple seasons that will culminate in the ultimate fate of Mr. White. Oh what a ride it’s been so far. Each episode is about as visceral an experience as I’ve ever had in front of a television set—and I’m a sports fan. It’s the only show I’ve ever watched that actually provokes a vocal response from me other than laughter (although there’s plenty of that in the show’s underappreciated comedic side). I don’t think I’ve actually been moved to speak to a show like this before (unless you count hurling insults during my attempt to watch the show Glee, but that’s another column), alternating cheering, shouting warnings, and using a lot of profanity. In case you can’t tell,...