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“Breaking Bad” – The Devil and Old Yeller

Be warned: Spoilers for “Rabid Dog,” the most recent episode of “Breaking Bad,” await you after the jump.

“We’ve come this far. For us, what’s one more?”

Over the course of nearly 60 episodes, “Breaking Bad” has vividly peeled away any morality that clung to Walter White, displaying how he slowly revealed his true colors as the series progressed (the interpretation I prefer, and one that matches up with what the show’s creator has said). A less likely explanation might say that the show highlighted how the actions he undertook and the world he entered slowly chipped away at Walter White and left only Heisenberg standing. Still, as we have witnessed this decay, we have seen how Walt’s miasmatic persona has corrupted and corroded those around him. Continue reading

“Breaking Bad” – Confessions of a Megalomaniacal Mind

Be warned: Spoilers for “Confessions,” the most recent episode of “Breaking Bad,” await you after the jump. 

As “Breaking Bad” continues to hurtle toward the finish line, the show’s characters — one by one — continue to walk away from potential avenues out of this world. They have been offered escapes (not necessarily clean ones, but escapes nonetheless), ways to get away from the death, destruction and havoc that surrounds them, and they have chosen to stay where they are.
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The “SNL” Audition Process

Dave Itzkoff’s terrific oral history of “Saturday Night Live” auditions arrived this morning. I realize some people might look at it and say “Haven’t we had enough of this already?” — enough about the history of “Saturday Night Live,” or enough oral histories, or both — and I completely sympathize with that made-up mindset I just described. But this one is still really entertaining! Itzkoff spoke with 22 cast members (and Marc Maron, who didn’t make the cut) about their auditions, and while some of these stories (like Will Ferrell and the briefcase) are probably very familiar to those of us who are interested in this sort of thing, it’s still a very fun read.

Sebastian Junger’s Writing Advice

I try to edit my work in different states of mind. So I’ll go running on a really hot day and then read the 2,000 words I just wrote. Or if I’m upset, or really sleepy, or if I’m drunk, I’ll read this stuff. If you’re sleepy and you find yourself skipping over a paragraph because you’re bored by it and just want to get to the interesting part, it comes out. Those different states of mind are a really interesting filter.

Sebastian Junger’s article “The Storm” (which inspired his book “The Perfect Storm”) ran in Outside Magazine nearly two decades ago. In a delightful feature over at Nieman Storyboard, Junger went through the story answering Elon Green‘s questions about how it was written and reported. The entire thing is a great read, filled with wonderful and worthwhile advice from Junger.

(It’s part of an ongoing Nieman series called Annotation Tuesday, where other writers sit down and go through their stories discussing how they were written.)

This Is A Post About “Breaking Bad”

Look, you already know that “Breaking Bad” returns on Sunday night with the first of its final eight episodes. You also already know if you’re going to watch or not, and you know if you like the show, and if you’re the kind of person who gives such things thought, you know where you think the show ranks among the other great shows that have aired over the last decade and a half.

Me — and this is just me, obviously, and I’m just a guy standing in front of the Internet sharing his thoughts — I cannot wait. We cannot know its place among the greats until we see how the entire thing plays out, because clearly endings color the way people view certain shows, but right now I would say that “Breaking Bad” is the best non-“Parks and Recreation” show on television, and I would also say that it is the best drama since “The Sopranos.” So I am very excited! (Of course, it feels like the entire world is very excited, because seemingly every other tweet and Tumbl and blog post over the last week has been about “Breaking Bad,” though that “entire world” I spoke of is a rather small universe of people who tweet and Tumbl and blog, because the entire world is really watching “America’s Got Talent” or whatever.)

And if you are curious: I’ll have thoughts on Sunday night’s episode here, most likely publishing on Monday morning. (UPDATE: Here’s my review/recap.)

First trailer for “Gravity”

Here’s the first trailer for “Gravity,” the highly-anticipated Alfonso Cuaron movie about two astronauts (played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) trapped floating in space after their space station is damaged. It’s really just about two people isolated in the middle of nowhere and what happens, only the middle of nowhere is the unending abyss of space, which is a horrifying concept if you stop to think about it. The trailer masterfully sells that idea, while giving us just enough of the plot and the mood without telling us too much about how the story progresses.

Cuaron’s last movie, “Children of Men,” came out in 2006. It was very good, as Cuaron’s movies tend to be very good, and it featured several prolonged sequences without any cuts. These scenes are technical nightmares to stage and shoot but are phenomenal to watch, and Cuaron is reportedly planning on similar scenes for this film. I mention all this to say that it’s been far, far too long since a new Cuaron movie landed. “Gravity” arrives in October.


Clark Gregg will appear in the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” show

Joss Whedon is working on a “S.H.I.E.L.D.” TV series for Disney, which is wonderful news because Joss Whedon generally makes enjoyable television shows. (He’s not going to be running every aspect of the show, though, because he has that “Avengers” sequel to write and direct between now and May 2015.)

And now the first actor has been cast in the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” pilot: Clark Gregg, the actor who tied together the various “Avengers” prequels (“Iron Man,” “Iron Man 2,” “Thor” and “Captain America”). This has been very big news on the Internet, because (SPOILER ALERT, INSOMUCH AS YOU CAN SPOIL THE THIRD-BIGGEST MOVIE IN HISTORY) Clark Gregg’s character died in “The Avengers.”

Of course, people are running with the “Agent Coulson lives!” shtick online because we have no real idea how the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” show will sync up with the on-screen universe depicted in “The Avengers” and the other movies. (It will likely exist in the same universe without the same actual characters appearing much, if at all, based on what has been reported thus far.) Nobody is saying that Clark Gregg’s character will be resurrected for the TV show and that he will play the lead and that his character’s death never really happened or something. They are merely saying he will reprise his character.

There are a lot of ways this could happen! Clark Gregg could appear in a video recording his character made before dying. Clark Gregg could appear as Agent Coulson’s twin brother, Agent Gil Coulson. Clark Gregg could appear and matter-of-factly explain to the show’s actual leads that he’s an agent with S.H.I.E.L.D. and now he’s off to attend to the story happening in “Iron Man,” because maybe the show precedes the movie chronology or something. Nobody knows! But at least we know that Clark Gregg will appear in something, which is good, because Clark Gregg is a welcome presence in most things.

An Oral History of Breaking Up

There’s a very grim, but very interesting, story about marriage in the new Times magazine. Well, it’s actually about failed marriages more than anything else. Dana Adam Shapiro, who directed “Murderball,” has a new movie out called “Monogamy.” It stars Rashida Jones and is about an engaged couple and, you know, monogamous relationships. The movie stems from a project Shapiro embarked upon in 2008. He had been hearing about a lot of divorces, so he started interviewing people (friends, and eventually other folks, resulting in about 50 interviews) about it.

Seriously, the story won’t fill you with any optimism if you are feeling uncertain about ever meeting That Special Someone or something. But it’s really, really interesting. The excerpts of his interviews with the divorcees are brutal looks at the aftermath of a marriage, and it’s a pretty jarring look at how people view something so personal. You want to feel bad for these people, for these couples, even though each of the people quoted in the three published excerpts are candid about their errors and faults (albeit with some defensiveness).

If that sounds like something you want to read, here you go. If not, here’s a puppy confused by an ice cube!