Breaking Bad 4.1 – “Well…? Get back to work!”

NOTE: Henceforth, you’ll be able to find the “Breaking Bad” blog over at the Bullz-Eye blog, or you can just visit Bullz-Eye’s “Breaking Bad” fan hub, where the latest entry can always be found.

Hey, everybody, Gale’s okay! Gee, I guess Jesse’s bullet missed him after all, so…

Oh. Never mind. It’s a flashback. But, hey, at least now we know how the superlab first came into being. And we also know the sad irony that Gale is directly responsible for Gus bringing Walt into the business in the first place. So obsessive was he with his concern about the quality of the meth he was making – more concerned, even, than Gus himself – that he simply couldn’t comprehend that Gus wouldn’t want to work with someone like that, even risking the possibility of talking himself out of a job by saying of Walt, “If he’s not (a professional), I don’t know what that makes me.”

Well, as it turns out, Gale, what is makes you is dead. But, then, I think we all pretty much knew that when Season 3 faded to black. Some of us just didn’t want to admit it.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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“Breaking Bad” resources

The best show on television returns tomorrow night at 10 PM on AMC. If you’re a fan of the show, enjoy the video above and all the links in this post as you get ready for the start of season 4. If you haven’t been watching, well you’re missing out. You can start watching tomorrow night, but you’re better of setting your DVR to record the first season, and getting your hands on the first three seasons.

The Breaking Bad Fan Hub on Bullz-Eye.com is a good place to start for fans of the show. The fan site is loaded with cast interviews, along with reviews of previous seasons and a link to the Breaking Bad Blog. Will Harris also posted a preview of Season 4.

Is “Breaking Bad” the best show ever on cable TV? Grantland’s Chuck Klosterman thinks so, arguing that it beats out other greats like “The Wire,” “The Sopranos” and “Mad Men.” It’s hard to argue with his top four, though his column gets a little too deep into criticspeak for my taste. I’ll probably stick with “The Wire” as the best show ever on cable, but “Breaking Bad” is catching up with each season.

Time calls it the best drama on television.

Breaking Bad is the kind of TV show that gets described as cinematic, and that’s true in the literal sense: it looks like a movie. The astonishing landscape of New Mexico gives the show a western-film starkness and scale. “When you’re here,” says cinematographer Michael Slovis, “you can’t help but be affected by the size of the sky.” The sets are painstakingly built, especially the superlab: a temple of gleaming metal tanks, painted infernal red, that production designer Mark Freeborn built with the aid of a Drug Enforcement Administration consultant. The lab, Cranston says, is a metaphor for Walt’s compartmentalized worldview: “It’s clean. It’s isolated. He doesn’t like being reminded that he’s part of a messy, bloody business.”

Last year in Time, James Poniewozik offered a nice recap of the last episode and the relationship between Walt and Jesse. Newsweek also gets in on the discussion with some great quotes from Bryan Cranston.

  

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“Breaking Bad” is back, baby!

It’s been a long, cold wait for Walter White to start making meth again…so long, in fact, that the actor who plays him – Bryan Cranston, of course – has missed the window of eligibility for this year’s Emmy Awards…but on Sunday night at 10 PM EST, “Breaking Bad” will finally return to AMC.

Season Four of the acclaimed series arrives just on the heels of the network having received countless complaints from irate viewers who felt cheated when “The Killing” didn’t resolve the mystery of who killed Rosie Larsen, but if you’re one of those folks, fear not: while the answer to the question “is Gale dead?” isn’t definitely answered at the precise instant the season premiere begins (although you would be forgiven for thinking that it has been), you’ll have clarification of Gale’s state of existence mere moments after the opening credits conclude.

Mind you, despite all of the discussion about whether or not Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) successfully shot and killed Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) at the end of Season Three, series creator Vince Gilligan has said outright that “it’s not actually meant to be ambiguous. It’s meant to be, ‘Oh my God, Jesse shot poor Gale.” Not that he couldn’t have changed his mind in the interim between seasons, of course, but given Gilligan’s steadfast vision for the series over the course of 33 episodes, there’s little reason to think that he has.

Okay, so everyone remembers that Gale probably got shot by Jesse, since that was the last moment of the Season Three finale, but do you remember where everyone else was at the end of the season? Let’s play a little bit of catch-up, just in case.

When we last left Walt, he (probably) was on the verge of being shot and killed by Mike (Jonathan Banks), as order by fried-chicken impresario / meth kingpin Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), but the stay of execution was temporarily rescinded upon the realization that Jesse might well be in the process of murdering the only other person capable of maintaining the manufacturing of the meth. (Did I ever mention how much I love alliteration?) Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui), another one of Gus’s main men, makes a mad dash toward Gale’s apartment, but as it stands right now, we don’t officially know whether or not he made it in time…except, y’know, we probably do know, which is to say that he almost certainly didn’t.

But I digress.

Elsewhere, Walt’s wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), now knows of her husband’s goings-on (even if she isn’t nearly as much in the know as she thinks she is) and is trying to incorporate her own business acumen into the operation. Utterly in the dark, however, is their teenage son, Walt, Jr. (R.J. Mitte), who spent much of Season Three trying to figure out just what the hell was up with his parents. And can you blame him? After all, he watched his mom kick his father out of the house, demand a divorce, and even call the cops in order to have him arrested, only to see her backpedal. You’d be confused, too.

You’ve also got Skyler’s sister, Marie (Betsy Brandt), whose DEA-agent husband, Hank (Dean Norris), was left a paraplegic after an attack by two very violent gentlemen on a quest to avenge their cousin. When last we saw Hank and Marie, she had just successfully managed to make his groundhog see its shadow…by which, of course, I mean that she gave him a hand job and made his penis stand at attention. Sure, it seems like an easy enough trick, but it was the first time he’d managed it since incurring his injuries, and the fact that Marie made it happen meant that he had to make good on his promise that he’d leave the hospital, head home, and begin further physical therapy. Once Hank’s back on his feet, it’s only a matter of time before he’s also back on the trail of the mysterious blue meth and the man responsible for manufacturing it.

Obviously, we know where Jesse was when we last left him, but prior to that, he’d had a hell of third season. He started off in rehab, and once he got out, he initially managed to stay clean while still continuing to make meth, but after spending a little too long lingering on his conviction that he had become “the bad guy,” he soon began to backslide. In addition to his chemical dependency, Jesse also had his fair share of emotional turmoil, dealing with the death of his girlfriend, Jane (Krysten Ritter) by seeking solace in Andrea, a girl from his drug counseling sessions, only to learn that her 11-year-old brother had been responsible for the murder of his friend and fellow dealer, Combo. Dude can’t catch a break.

The relationship between Walt and Jesse hit some serious highs and lows during the course of the third season, but by the end of the next-to-last episode, it became clear that the two of them have a bond which cannot be broken. What remains to be seen, however, is how Gus is going to handle their continued partnership, not simply because of his lack of respect for Jesse, but also because of the way Walt has transitioned from being a mere manufacturer into someone who clearly has an interest in working his way up the corporate ladder, as it were.

So that’s where we stand with “Breaking Bad” as we enter into the show’s fourth season. Tensions were sky high when we last left the series, and I can assure you that by the time the credits roll on the season premiere, you will feel the same way Giancarlo Esposito felt after he read the script for the episode: a little bit stunned and a little bit shaken.

True, that’s generally how most viewers feel at the end of every episode of “Breaking Bad,” but having already seen this one, I’m going to lay it on the line: the show delivers the “holy shit” moment to end all “holy shit” moments to date.

See you on Sunday, kids.

P.S. Don’t forget to visit Bullz-Eye’s “Breaking Bad” blog right after the season premiere to join in on the post-show discussion. Trust me, there’s definitely going to be a lot to talk about. In the meantime, be sure to head over to our “Breaking Bad” Fan Hub for all the interviews, reviews, and features about the show that you can stand.

  

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Bryan Cranston’s Back to “Breaking Bad” in Albuquerque

This morning, Bullz-Eye had a chance to chat with Bryan Cranston – oh, sorry, I think we’re now required to refer to him as three-time-Emmy-Award-winning Bryan Cranston – about his new Atom.com series, “The Handlers,” and rest assured you’ll learn all about it when the full interview turns up in the very near future. For the moment, however, we can’t resist shining the spotlight on our beloved “Breaking Bad,” which, as we learned in AMC’s panel during the winter TCA press tour, starts production on its fourth season on January 13.

Cranston, God bless him, opened our conversation by asking, “How are you? When are you coming back to the set?” (My answer: I’m ready when he is, since God knows I had a blast last time.) This is kind of a funny question for him to ask, though, given that he himself hasn’t even made it back to the set yet, having literally only arrived back in Albuquerque last night. Still, given that we talked to him at 6:30 AM PST, he’s clearly raring to go when the time comes.

That doesn’t mean, however, that he’s looking to get too far ahead of the game when it comes to finding out what’s next for Walter White.

“I’ve only read the first script so far,” said Cranston. “I have the second one ready to read. I like to keep it like that, where it doesn’t get too far ahead of me. Walt is on this journey, and I like the fact that he doesn’t know where he’s going, so why should Bryan know where it’s going? It doesn’t help me. In fact, if there’s any kind of subliminal preparation, then it could hurt the character. I want to keep it as fresh as possible for as long as possible, so that I feel that one-foot-in-front-of-the-other tension that Walt has.”

As a result, Cranston’s obviously not in much of a position to offer up hints of what we can expect from the season…not that anyone from this show has ever gone out of their way to provide spoilers.

“I can’t!” he apologized. “I don’t even know anything, except that the first episode picks up right where the last episode left off. The tension was wound pretty tight, so we just have to wind ourselves back up to that level, and away we go, spinning like a top!”

Having only just returned to Albuquerque, Cranston’s big post-interview plans were to get settled back into his townhouse and get himself unpacked, then head over to “Breaking Bad” HQ for a fitting and to pick up some paperwork.

But we know what you’re really wondering: has he shaved his head yet?

“No, actually, and here’s an exclusive for you,” said Cranston. “Steven Michael Quezada, who plays Gomez on ‘Breaking Bad,’ he’s a local guy, and he’s very popular here. He’s a stand-up comedian, and he has a variety show on The CW that airs in New Mexico once a week (‘The After, After Party with Steven Michael Quezada’). They tape on Tuesdays, so tomorrow night I’m going to be on his show, and I’m going to do a little stand-up, and then we’ll do an interview session. What the audience doesn’t know, though, is that when we’re talking, Steven’s going to say something to the effect of, ‘You know, you look so different in person than you do as Walter White the character.’ And then I’ll say something like, ‘Well, it takes a team of professionals and…well, let me show you!’ And then out comes my makeup artist, my wardrobe head, and hairdresser, and they start going to work on me. And I’ll just keep talking to Steven, taking off my clothes, putting on the wardrobe, the make-up goes on, the goatee goes on – I don’t have one right now – and then they’ll shave my head live on TV. And then I’ll put the glasses on, and it’s, like, ‘Voila!‘”

NICE.

Cranston’s hopeful that they can get a clip of this momentous event onto YouTube sooner than later. Let us all keep our fingers crossed…both for the clip, and that he makes good on his assurance that he’ll have me back on the “Breaking Bad” set in the near future. (In this case, a win for me is a win for you, too!)

  

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Bullz-Eye meets Bryan Cranston on the “Breaking Bad” set

When you’re an easily-amused TV critic, every day is filled with wonderful surprises which range from the arrival of an advance screener of an episode of one of your favorite shows to the opportunity to interview one of your favorite actors. Once in awhile, though, something arrives via E-mail which blows your mind completely…and, in this case, it was a personal letter from Bryan Cranston, who plays Walter White on AMC’s “Breaking Bad.”

Dig this: Mr. Cranston kindly invited me – and when I say “me,” I actually mean all of the members of the Television Critics Association – to visit the set of “Breaking Bad.” Obviously, it was an offer that I could not refuse, nor could Bullz-Eye’s editor-in-chief, Jamey Codding, who was far too big a fan of the show to allow me to go alone if he could possibly get away with attending as well.

I’ve offered up a summary of our quick trip to Albuqerque over at the Bullz-Eye blog, so be sure to head over to check it out…and, of course, be sure to tune into AMC on March 21st when “Breaking Bad” kicks off its 3rd season. And read our weekly blog after each episode. And, for that matter, keep your eyes open for our review of the Season 2 set when it hits DVD on March 16th. (Spoiler: it’s probably going to be a rave.)

Yeah, that’s right: we love “Breaking Bad.” You got a problem with that?

  

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