Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Second Season of Breaking Bad: A Refresher

Cable shows have long periods of off air time and it’s difficult to jump back into the story. Enter The Refresher. So here is a run-through of the second season of Breaking Bad to keep you up to date and ready for the third season.

Tuco murders one of his men in front of Walt and Jesse. They fear he might kill them both so there are no witnesses. This looks to be the case when Hank [Hank is Walt’s brother-in-law and a DEA agent] informs Walt that Tuco’s man (the only other witness) is found dead and seemingly murdered by Tuco, who abducts them both soon after. Leaving off from the previous episode, Walt and Jesse are abducted by Tuco and taken to his father’s Theo, but escape death once Jesse shoots Tuco and DEA brother in law Hank shows up to finish him off in a shootout while Jesse and Walt watch unseen and escape. To explain away their absence and connection to Tuco, Walter is found naked in a grocery store pretending to be in a fugue state while Jesse pays a hooker to tell the DEA he was held up in a motel during the “Tuco debacle”.

Walt tries to reconnect with his family but his wife has grown suspicious that he is lying about having a secret second phone. Jesse, now without money, has no home, no friends willing to lend him money or let him crash with them, and no RV now that the impound demands payment. He steals the RV, drives it to Walt’s house to ask for money, they fight, and Walt gives him the money.

Jesse gets himself an apartment managed by a young woman who is into drawing, wearing black and named Jane and gathers his inept friends to form his group of drug dealers to take over for the now very dead Tuco and his place as the city’s main drug dealer. Everything goes well until a meth-head couple steals a stash from one the dealers Jesse has under his employ and Walt tells Jesse to “take care of them”. Meanwhile, Hank deals with his anxiety over the shootout with Tuco while keeping up his facade of awesomeness.

Gretchen meets with Skyler and finds that Walt has been saying that she has been paying for his medical care. Walt yells at her, but she still keeps his secret. Jesse goes to the thieving meth-heads, gun in hand to get his stolen stash back. He ends up taking care of their neglected kid while they try to open a stolen ATM machine. In the end, the girlfriend kills the boyfriend by crushing his head with the ATM machine and Jesse calls the cops and leaves with the kid on the front steps.

Walt and Jesse become the top drug dealers in town when Jesse gains a reputation after being rumoured to have crushed somebody’s head with an ATM machine. Hank doesn’t do well in his new position in El Paso fighting the drug cartel when his team blown up by a turtle/severed-head bomb.

One of Jesse’s underlings, Badger, is arrested for selling drugs, so Walt and Jesse hire a shady lawyer, Saul, to protect Badger, their interests, and ultimately keep Badger from naming them, or from revealing that the drug lord everyone knows as Heisenberg is really Walt.

After seeing an x-ray of his tumour that looks extremely bad, Walt decides he needs to cook enough meth to provide for his family before he dies and takes Jesse out to a desert in the middle of nowhere in their mobile-meth-mystery-machine for a four day meth cooking adventure. They make millions of dollars worth of meth and all goes well until they strand themselves in a dire situation after killing the RV battery and destroying their generator, and since Walt’s cover story was that he was visiting his mother, no one knows where they are. They survive by pulling a MacGyver to charge the battery, but when Walt returns to the doctor, he finds that he is in remission and going to survive.

Walter has a remission party with all his friends and family but is bitter about everything, and then goes crazy over house repair and scares some drug dealers. Jesse furthers his relationship with Jane.

Saul introduces Walt to a new buyer, the owner of a local fried chicken franchise. But he is reluctant to go into business with an addict like Jesse. Once Jesse’s friend is shot down by rival dealers, he copes by using some powerful drugs. Although he doesn’t want recovering addict Jane to join, she still does, but not before telling her all about his business and Walt. But when Walter is offered 1.2 million dollars for his entire drug supply, he has to go to the very sedated Jesse for the drug stash, missing his child’s birth in the process, yet ensuring her wellbeing.

Now that Walt has his money, he cannot spend it without raising suspicion, but Walt Jr. has created a website for donations to help Walt, which offers a perfect manner for him to launder money he has made through it. The problem is Jesse wants his cut but Walt won’t give it to him unless he goes to rehab. Meanwhile, Jane’s father finds out she’s using again. Jesse and Jane blackmail Walt into handing over Jesse’s cut, and even though he knows he’ll kill himself with it, he gives them the money. But he changes his mind and goes to Jesse’s place while he’s passed out from heroin along with Jane, and Walt watches as Jane chokes to death on her own vomit, which he allows to happen to save Jesse.

In the finale, Jesse awakes to find Jane dead, just as her father soon after. Jesse becomes self-destructive and hunkers down in a meth house, Walt finds him and talks him into going to rehab. Walt prepares for his surgery that will hopefully cure his cancer, but under the anaesthetic he reveals to Skyler that he did have a secret phone. Cut to months later, Walt is told that he is completely cured and able to take care of himself, which is good news to Skyler who decides to leave, now that he can take care of himself and knows of his deception. Jane’s father, who has become seriously aggrieved from his daughters passing, turns out to be a flight control operator. Grief stricken, he allows two planes to collide. The season ends with Walt watching as the debris from the planes crash all around him. Making it clear that in Walt’s quest to ensure his family’s financial security he has adversely affected the lives of so many people. Unintentional as it may have been, Walt contributed to the deaths of every person on those planes because of the choice he made not to save Jesse’s girlfriend while she was chocking on her own vomit and thereby distracting her father the flight control operator who guided two planes into one another. Good job Walt.

The First Season of Breaking Bad: A Refresher

The Emmy Award winning AMC drama is back with its third season. Undoubtedly, Breaking Bad is currently one of televisions greatest shows, but with such a short run with a second season only having a thirteen episode run (the first was even shorter), you may need a bit of a refresher before you start on the third. Be warned, this may not contain everything that happened in the first season of Breaking Bad but it does contain enough of the plot to ruin or *Spoil* it for anyone who has not seen it but wants to.

The plot of Breaking Bad surrounds a high school chemistry teacher dying from lung cancer who decides to break from society’s rules and begins make the best of his impending death by cooking crystal Meth with a failed student, Jesse. With a wife getting ready to have their second child and their son disabled with MS, Walt has many responsibilities and has so far in life been able to keep a mediocre level control. Upon learning of his cancer Walt ponders his options, not wanting to be a burden on his family he at first doesn’t tell them about his cancer in hopes that he will be able to take full advantage of the finite amount of time in which he can cook crystal meth and make enough money to take care of his family after he is gone. This twisted version of the American Dream, carving out his own path in the world gaining power and money, and prestige, Walt now in his mid 50’s, is able to do what most people really want… take the things that the law and social ritual deem wrong. What is the point of following the law of the land if you are only going to be living there for short amount of time and will never feel the repercussions of your actions? That’s the taste Breaking Bad leaves in your mouth a kind of misanthropic version of the American Dream, where the means to bring you to your goal are inconsequential since the consequences have no hold over you. Partnering up with Jesse allows Walt to acquire the connection to the subculture of his surrounding city, with his unmatched ability to cook crystal meth Walt’s product is soon sot after by anyone with a pipe and a taste for meth. The strange student teacher relationship that forms between the two is the driving force of the show it has allowed for some of the more exiting dialogue. Walt scolding Jesse for being the crack smoking whore banging screw-up, that he is, is almost always accompanied by a failure on Walt’s part to execute one of his well thought out yet poorly executed plans.

The path to actually making money through cooking Meth turns out to be full of unexpected speed bumps such as the loss of their cookery on wheels, Jesse’s RV. The repercussions of using chemical weapons on murderous drug dealers, its funny how a little bit of mustard gas can save the day but ruin your week. After a drug deal gone wrong Walt is forced to improvise and gases his would be killers with some homemade mustard gas. The only thing is, he didn’t kill all of the drug deals within that one yellowish plum of smoke; which eventually leads to an uncomfortable conversation between Jesse and Walt, where Walt simply tells Jesse to “take care of it.” This is not the best thing to put on an individual such as Jesse, who is unreliable at the best of times. In the end Walt has to man up and chokes the dealer with a bicycle lock. This takes Walter farther down the Rabbit Hole than he ever intended to go, but what’s done is done and if anything the killing of this low level drug dealer only served to solidify Walt’s resolve to finish what he started and what is needed to take care of his family.

After Jesse failed to go through with killing the gassed then captured drug dealer, Walt left him with the disposal of the body. Walt, ever the innovator decides to pull off the “in the movies” special, of dissolving the body in acid. But the instructions prove to be too difficult for the often high Jesse and instead of dissolving the body in a specific type of rubber container, Jesse just puts the body in his house’s tub adds acid then stirs. This proves to be an unfortunate choice for the young burnout, the acid eats away the body but the tub as well… then the floor… and eventually the ceiling beneath that. That is not the end of Jesse’s problems in the first season.

Throughout season one, the duo find themselves out of their league and barely scraping by. During this painful start the two go through the different ways one can make and distribute their product. The idea of smurfs is introduced to Walt as a means of procuring cold medicine the main ingredient when making street quality Meth. Smurfs are low level associates of Meth cookers who go around to different pharmacies and buy the maxim amount of cold medicine allowed per customer, which are usually 2-3 packs. This inefficient means of receiving one of the harder to come by chemicals needed to make Meth leads to Walt and Jesse’s great heist. This is where they break into a facility that stores a large quantity of the industrial grade version of the same chemical. Using some chemistry club knowhow Walt uses a high temperature burning substance to melt through the reinforced door of the facility. But that is where things start to break down, it turns out that, indeed this is a facility where the needed chemical is held, but it only comes in 20 gallon steel barrels. Too heavy to be moved without a dolly, the two decide to carry it out to the amusement of DEA agents who eventually see the surveillance video of the caper, adding “why didn’t they just roll it out, it’s a barrel!”

In order to distribute more Meth Jesse puts out his feelers in hopes of landing a big Meth dealer and winds up with Tuco. Tuco: the head of the Mexican cartel Meth ring for the city they are in; likes to snort Meth off of his novelty sized Bowie Knife and brutally beat up people. While trying to sell Meth to Tuco, Jesse gets beaten so badly that he actually ends up in the hospital. This sends Walt into protective Teacher/Father mode and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Walt had only started to feel the effects of chemotherapy that his family (his wife) insisted he receive after she realized that he had been hiding his illness from her and the rest of Walt’s closest people. With clumps of hair falling from Walt’s head and a looming encounter with Tuco in the near feature, Walt shaves what is left of his hair off and begins to strategize. Walt needs Tuco to distribute his Meth but he also needs him to not beat the crap out of him. So, knowing Tuco’s propensity to test the Meth he is purchasing by crushing it with the butt of his Crocodile Dundee replica knife, Walter whips up a batch of explosives crystals… that look just like Meth. On his own, Walter goes to meet with Tuco. All does not go as planed, but Walter does get to blow some shit up and earns the respect of Tuco in the process. With all of their base chemical ingredients in good standing and a wholesale buyer lined up, namely Tuco, Walt and Jesse begin to cook what eventually becomes known on the street as The Blue Bomb. And that is where season one ends, Walt and Jesse selling a large quantity of Meth to Tuco in a junkyard and watching him suddenly beat to death one of his men.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: Who Dies Next?

Not many shows have decided to kill off their main characters within the first season, at least in large amounts. Few have really taken the leap, but The Vampire Diaries really takes it to the next level by killing them off left, right, and centre, and with increasing frequency. It doesn’t look like they will be stopping anytime soon, so let’s make some predictions on who will be killed next.

It‘s a little bit of an exaggeration to say their killing off “main characters”. Damon, Stefan, and Elaina are never going to die, possibly not even the witch, but all of the other characters probably will end up in the dirt or mysteriously disappearing. This is not exaggerating. Every other character that’s been around since the first episode will most likely be dead at some point. You know this, by the way new characters keep being introduced to fill the gap of dead ones, but let’s stick to the near future deaths. So far, there is a pattern of killing family members: uncle Zack, the hot sister of the football quarterback, grandma witch. They seem to kill people who are played out in the story. That means anyone whose part in the overall story has come to a close is as good as dead. So my money is on the football jock Tyler Lockwood. He’s only shown up for a few minutes an episode lately and none of the main cast interact with him anymore. Plus, it seems like he might turn out to be a werewolf. That’s reason enough to kill him.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Just Going Through The Motions With 24

24 - Season Six
Does anyone feel as though this season of 24 is all about just going through the motions? You know Jack is taken into the fold at first after being on the outside only to go on a rouge killing spree while blasting America the Beautiful on his iPhone. This is the eighth season of 24 and all of its critics say the same thing about the show, it’s repetitive. The characters and places change but the rest stays the same. The only reason people keep coming back to 24 season after season has nothing to do with which terror organization is attacking the U.S.A. this season, it’s all about Jack. It used to be that people would tune in just to get their inner sadist its fix, there was nothing like watching a fictional terrorist getting his fingernails pulled out a few years after 9/11. That is until the Guantanamo scandal took the wind out of the whole its fun to torture terrorists mentality that seemed to be more than just expectable but justified.

24: Season SevenWhat is 24 to do without torturing terrorists as its mainstay? Kiefer Sutherland is the only reason 24 is still watchable, his ability to continually, pardon the phrase but to keep it real, is uncanny. For some reason watching Sutherland kill a bad guy with an axe or shimmy across a water pipe barefoot, he is entertaining. And as the actor ages, the legend of the character he has created grows. Jack Bauer has become as infamous as Chuck Norris without the kickboxing and laughable collection action movies. The character has Spawn phrases of referring to physical prowess just like Norris such as; ‘are you going to Jack Bauer that door’ or ‘I was about to Jack Bauer that guys ass’, to name a few.

24 - Season SixJack Bauer will remain an interesting character as long as Kiefer Sutherland can still pull off being an action star. And judging by all of the health issues he has been having of late, that might not be a very long time away. So, we should enjoy what Sutherland has left in the action tank, right? Well, this season of 24 might spell the end of its silver screen existence, with its boring side stories especially Katee Sackhoff’s. But that doesn’t mean this is it for the gruff speaking, terrorist torturing action hero. There is serious talk about a 24 movie that will take place in Europe staring Sutherland in all his glory. So, as this (probably) the final season of 24 peters to a close don’t be too upset because this is not the last act of Jack Bauer, its only the beginning.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Alpha and Sock Team Up For A Movie

A very special event has happened. Alan Tudyk (recently seen as Alpha in Dollhouse and famously of the Firefly series) and Tyler Labine (well loved for his character Sock from Reaper) have teamed up to star in the slasher-comedy Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. So far, this has only been at Sundance, but if it’s as good as it looks, it should be given a wide release in the near future. Even if it doesn’t, look for it on DVD because it’s going to be good. For fans familiar with the television exploits of these actors, this is fantastic news. The film features two hillbilly-esque buddies who are mistaken for killers on their backwoods vacation.

These two are much underappreciated actors who have mostly played bit parts and secondary roles in television series, with the exception of Tyler Labine who is now the lead in the new comedy series Sons of Tucson. These two seemed very unlikely to be movie leads, let alone paired together in one, but they did and it’s the pairing you could hope for. It is shocking when you see them together in the movie trailer, but they are the perfect choice for what seems like one of the best comedies of the year. It looks like a silly mix of Shaun of the Dead comedic horror but instead of Shaun and company running from Zombies you have a group of young people running from Alan Tudyk. If anyone is at all a fan of these two actors, this movie is one that has to be seen.