Other TV 13 - 19 June
Party Down - 208 - Joel Munt's Big Deal Party
Meh. Another episode, same sort of stuff. Lydia taking cocaine and going crazy and thinking she's seeing famous people everywhere was incredibly dumb. It bothers me when a show is filmed in this modern "real" style and then they use such an old fashioned awful sit com plot. If you are going to look "real" then make "real" jokes. If you are going to use old school humour then why not bring back punch lines and actually make me laugh?
Breaking Bad - 313 - Full Measure
Another strong effort from a very strong season. As I don't write full reviews of Breaking Bad I often go straight to the broad analysis rather than the small details. That's a shame of course as there are so many things to compliment like Mike's deadly hit man routine here.
But in general what makes Breaking Bad so good is that it doesn't behave like other TV shows. People die, people suffer, people's actions have consequences, lies are told and are seen through. In this final episode the show walks the fine line between reality and TV show cliché like never before.
The problem with all big bad guys is the question of why they don't just destroy our good guys at the first sign of trouble. It always undermines the bad guy and reminds you that you are watching a drama where your character is protected from the harsh bite of reality. So here Walt literally has a gun to his head and has to plot the coldest of cold blooded murders in order to save his own life.
I'm not sure the cold reality of that really had time to sink in. Walt has no justification left. Although killing Gale will save his life, Gale has done nothing wrong. He is making the judgement that he would rather be a murderer than die. His life is more valuable than Gale's. That makes Walt the bad guy because a hero doesn't sacrifice innocent life to save his own. Not that I thought nor does Walt think that he is a hero. But so far he has always been able to look at his enemy and tell himself "they are worse than I am."
Jesse's terrific acting managed to carry off that story to a real emotional high point. And to some extent this is Breaking Bad sticking to its formula of not being just another TV show. Walt and Jesse disobeyed their boss and so he orders them to be killed. Consequences.
BUT and this is the big but, the writers gave themselves some wiggle room. The Cartel are back trying to reclaim their territory from Gus. And we learn that Gus' overheads are so big that he can't afford to shut down production. Now both are perfectly acceptable additions to the story. Indeed the Cartel are part of the plot already so that was no surprise. But why would Gus Frings the King of caution take on the Cartel in the first place? And why would he allow his overheads to become so big that his operation depended on one cancer sufferer?
They are the kind of flawed decisions which make you think maybe Gus is just another TV bad guy and that Walt and Jesse will find a way to wriggle out of their predicament and survive. It will be interesting to see what happens to Saul as well. He betrayed a hit man to protect his clients and surely there should be repercussions for that.
Alan Sepinwall interviewed the show's producer Vince Gilligan http://www.hitfix.com/blogs/whats-alan-watching/posts/interview-breaking-bad-creator-vince-gilligan-post-mortems-season-three which makes for fascinating reading. Gilligan admits he doesn't have a plan nor did he plot out this season in detail. To some extent that makes his achievement more impressive and is a fascinating insight into the process of writing a TV show. On the other hand it makes me worried that the show will go the same way Dexter has gone and lean on a formula instead of going for the jugular. I also don't know that Breaking Bad should survive more than another season. Unless some very clever writing is done, Walt and Jesse should not be able to survive Gus' retribution. Unless of course the Cartel come and wipe him out. Now there's a thought. Then surely they would want to know who had been making all the blue meth.