Sunday, September 2, 2012

Listing: How To Break Bad

It's Labor Day weekend, and nothing honors those laborers better than a day off, and relaxing while watching a show that has been riveting the people of our great land; Breaking Bad.  Over the last seven weeks, Breaking Bad fever has broken out all over the country.

While I'm not a wanted criminal for selling Meth under the name Walter White or creating "Yeah Bitch! Magnets!" t-shirts, my devotion is shown in little ways, and mostly by staying up way past my "bedtime" every Sunday night.

Getting sleep is nice, and working early is brutal, but every Monday morning as I tightly grip my coffee mug, and can't string two words together, all I can think is: it is totally worth it. There is no way I could wait and be driven mad all day wondering what happened to Walt, Jesse, Mike, and the rest of the gang.

Just like any full blown addiction, it didn't help that we all had to deal with the anticipation that has been building for over a year, since last summer's explosive (has that literal pun been overused yet when referencing that episode? I hope not.) Season Four finale. Once the latest season started in July, each and every second has left you wishing that Season Five wasn't the last.

Tonight, we have reached the half way point of the season. After this installment many more months of anticipation will be building until sometime in 2013 when the show will officially end in a way that is nearly impossible to predict.

The only way to cope with the months of separation anxiety will be by watching the show from the beginning, since I cranked through it extremely fast the first time, and by continuing to revisit Bryan Cranston's previous gig as Hal, the hilarious, rollerdancing, speed walking, neurotic dad on Malcom In The Middle. By the way, that show is pretty fantastic - how quickly we forget!

It's not over yet, so lets not get gloomy, and instead talk about the best of Season Five:

1) Jesse is making a lot of sense. 

No longer simply the Robin to Walt's Batman, Jesse was the Think Tank of Ideas this season. Walt is lost in his obsession trying to be a drug kingpin and Jesse just keeps bringing the rational thinking, when he used to be the one least likely to be dependable.

From Magnets to train robberies, Jesse stayed level headed and his brain seemed to be going a mile a minute coming up with solutions whenever the team got backed into a corner. Or was Walt just trying to build his confidence...

2) MacGyver Walt

Nobody locks Walter White to a radiator.

In many circumstances for some reason, characters on Breaking Bad tend to forget that Walt is a genius first, drug lord second, so always use real handcuffs and not those flimsy plastic zip ties. If you don't, Walt will obviously MacGyver the hell out of an escape plan and deliver one of my all time favorite moments in any TV show.

3) Lance Takes On Meth

Finding actors from Friday Night Lights pop up on, literally, every TV show has become a game of sorts, so finding Jesse Plemmons' name, aka Landry/Lance the front man of Crucifictorious, in the credits for Breaking Bad this season made my day.

At first simply a guy working for an extermination service, his character Todd was recruited to help out with the Meth Business - the rest is history.

Trying not to give anything away, but, as a friend reminded me recently, once a killer always a killer. Oh, Lance.

4) Mike Forever

Once the badass errand boy for Gus, this season Mike joined the bald tri-fecta as the boys try to break out on their own.

Taking out anyone in their way makes Mike terrifying and critical to any team he is part of, but it is his terrific deadpan delivery and loveable devotion to his granddaughter that has made him an essential character to this season.

5) Strangers on A Train Robbery

Episode Five of this season, Dead Freight, found the guys in their biggest pickle: they are out of methylamine (critical to the drug production) and with no way to obtain any more. The above four reasons for Season Five's greatness collide in this exciting episode, especially as Jesse comes up with his second brilliant plan of the season; robbing a train of course!

Once there was a discovery that a train would pass through the dessert filled with methlamine, there was no looking back, and the new team of four concoct their plan.

Over nearly twenty heart pounding minutes of the episode, in almost real time, the robbery occurs where every second ticks by, and we are never sure that this is a plan that will turn out to be successful.

Brilliant suspense for a show that keeps concocting stories that keep us all guessing, and one more reason why Breaking Bad continues to be making cable TV the king of storytelling and all around quality.

Tune in for the mid-season finale tonight at 10 PM on AMC. Not watching the show? Quick, head over to Netflix where every season is Instantly Streaming.

(Side Note From The Future: What! Season Five doesn't come back until Summer 2013! That's what I get for assuming 2013 means January. Let's all hold hands people.)

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