Monday, August 26, 2013

What I Watch: Breaking Bad 5.11 - "Confessions"

After re-watching "Confessions" earlier this morning, I've decided to dispense with my typical preamble ramble and just devote this week's blog to purely recapping and impurely reacting.

Although such a blog could easily read like this: 

" shit...holy fuck -- wait, it's over already?"

That's alls I'm saying...

- Everyone's favorite sociopath without a code proves he doesn't have much discretion either. While hanging out by a diner just outside of New Mexico, Todd yaps about the "change in management" in a voicemail he leaves on Walt's phone (which I'm sure will please the ever-living fuck out of him). Then he spills the ricin beans about the great train robbery to his psycho uncle and his right hand Neo-Nazi.

- Of course, Todd (who looks like what might have happened if someone had tinkered with one of Matt Damon's chromosomes while he was in utero) chooses NOT to mention the small matter of his cold-blooded execution of a child.  Though I doubt that would knock the bloody boots off his Uncle Adolf.  Speaking of which, it's hard to ignore that dude's vibe whenever Todd speaks of the great and powerful Heisenberg.  A little reminiscent of how Walt would react to his son's adoration of Hank?  Hmm…

- We're on the other side of the door in that interrogation room. and Hank drops an A-Bomb on Jesse: he's on to Walt. That breaks Jesse out of his typical early season (or in this case, mid-season) funk, as he shoots Hank a look of raw contempt. Hank offers to make everything go away in exchange for Jesse flipping on Walt, but Pinkman's hate for Hank is bigger than his depression over the evil that men like Walt do, and he says:

"Why don't you try to beat it out of me? That's your thing, right?"

- After Hank tries to bond with Jesse about being charter members of the "I've Been Screwed By Walter White" club (Skyler would be that club's president, obviously), Saul shows up with his usual brand of humor and guile, not to mention a "complete lack of chill" over Hank's recent discovery. Although Jesse is his client, Saul is actually there on Walt's dime and under orders to bail Jesse out.

- Junior is heading over to Aunt Marie's to fix her computer, but after showing an utter lack of beautician skills when it comes to applying cover-up (which is funny, since all Walt does is "cover up" stuff), Walt stops his clueless son just before he toddles out the door. He tells Junior about the return of the big "C", and just as Walt undoubtedly expected, his son now doesn't want to spend one extra minute away from dear old once again dying Dad.

- Hank comes home to a glass of ever-so smooth Knob Creek and ever-so insistent Marie. One he's thankful for at the end of another lousy day, the other -- eh, not so much. 

_ Walt sits down to have a confession filmed by Skyler. Which takes us back to the very first episode of BREAKING BAD, only that time it was a "selfie".

- The Whites meet the Schraders at Garduno's, which looks like a mexican version of TGIF.  Gracias a Dios Es el Viernes? Walt and Skyler are there to talk about Walter Junior, whereas Hank was hoping for an admission of guilt. Because if you're gonna come clean, best to do it over a burrito.

- Marie wants Holly and Flynn to come live with them (hard not to notice that the Whites are calling their son Walter Junior and the Schraders only refer to him as Flynn). Walt points out how this investigation will devastate the kid, whereas that's not exactly at the top of Hank's list of concerns. 

- Marie believes the kids are in perpetual danger, even noting that Skyler herself sent them away.  But Skyler tries to shut her up (but this time, not by yelling "Shut up" a dozen times) by saying the danger has passed, and whatever they think Walt has done, all of it is IN the past. The already tense discussion escalates to the point of Walt asking: "What do I have to do to make you believe me?" 

- But Marie lands the killer punch of the conversation by countering with: "Why don't you just kill yourself, Walt?"  But that non-solution won't suffice for Hank, and at this point, he even threatens Skyler. At that point, Walt slides a disc over to Hank, and the Whites leave without ever sampling that table-side guacamole. 

- The disc isn't the latest Netflix rental; it's Walt's confession. But no one said anything about it being a TRUE confession. As an increasingly shocked and quietly seething Hank and Marie watch the tale Walt spins, one realizes that the lie of Hank being the actual person behind Heisenberg and the meth empire isn't simply plausible, it may even make more sense than the truth.  From the very first ride-along to the death of Gus Fring, Walt lays it all at Hank's feet.

- And though that "confession", another domino we'e been waiting to crash down on Hank tumbles over: some of that mad meth moolah paid for Hank's medical bills.  $177,000, to be exact. As Hank puts it, that's "the last nail in the coffin." He shouldn't be too worried, as the dead have been known to rise on AMC.

Still, one has to wonder about a confession that starts out with the old chestnut "If you're seeing this, I'm already dead." If Hank took his own advice and stepped up and admitted his own ignorance, but with that disc in's POSSIBLE he could get out from under this. But he's too busy reeling from the news about his medical bills being covered by dirty drug money to see the forest for the trees he used to tag.

- Saul and Jesse meet Walt in the desert. As Saul says, "It's always a desert." After Jesse gives Walt the 411 on Hank, Walt goes into surrogate father mode, being as empathetic as any 80's sitcom dad who was telling their son they need to get outta town under a false identity and start a new life. Tabula Rasa Time.

- However, Jesse's (finally) onto Walt. He knows Walt killed Mike, and he's also aware of how Walt is always working him -- manipulating him for his own needs. Jesse ends up sobbing in Walt's arms.  And thanks to the sly nature of this show and Walt's character, one can debate whether Walt's embrace was sincere or sinister.

- After wishing another car wash customer an A-1 Day, Walt finds Skyler's in one of her increasingly frequent troubled trances. Over the course of this show, who has more screen time with little to no dialogue, Anna Gunn or Aaron Paul? The way the scene is shot is also quite deliberate: Skyler's face is half lit, half dark. Meanwhile, the Monarch of Meth is completely in shadow.

Oh, since I called Walt the Monarch of Meth, I now claim the title of the Monarch of Meh

- Meanwhile, Hank's also "checked out", looking over the most mind-numbingly mundane pieces of paperwork conceivable. Gomez wants to know why his guys are trailing Jesse, but instead of "confessing" his actual reasons, Hank kills the surveillance.  Hank's boxed in, but as opposed to having an anxiety attack, he decides to step out of the office. Perhaps a barstool is in his immediate future?

- Jesse is moving forward with the "disappear and make a new life" plan, which requires Saul to make a call with the vacuum cleaner password. That's entirely appropriate, since Jesse's life really sucks right now. While Saul puts together a care package of cash, Jesse fires up a doobie, which freaks Saul out. Jesse can't be meeting Mister Punctual if he's high. Instead of handing Saul the pot baggie, Jesse pockets it. "Some people are immune to good advice."

- Saul gives Jesse that lovely and ever-so-manly Hello Kitty phone, and they discuss possible landing spots for Jesse's fresh start.  Saul suggests Florida, while Jesse's mindset is more about Alaska. But as Jesse squeeze past the mammoth Huell in the doorway, we see the big man lift the bag of dope out of Jesse's pocket.

- Jesse waits for his pickup to begin his lifelong Alaska dream vacation. It's hard not to notice that the architecture behind him resembles a graveyard of giant tombstones. But when he puts his hands in his pockets, he notices something is missing.  Jesse looks around to see if his doobie stash has fallen out, then starts patting himself down, in search of his errant weed. 

- He takes out his pack of cigarettes during his search, and when Jesse glances at his trusty cancer sticks, that's when he has an epiphany. When something truly horrible clicks inside his head:

- He knows that the pot was lifted from his pocket -- probably by Huell. Click.
- It dawns on him that the same thing may have happened months ago -- with his cigarettes. Click.
- Specifically, the temporarily missing ricin cigarette. Click. The truth has been unlocked.

- As the gravity of that realization hits Jesse like a Schrader left hook, a van pulls up, ready to whisk Jesse away to his new life. But as the music builds like an ominous ticking bomb, Jesse decides he has some unfinished business in Albuquerque after all.

- Jesse shows up at Saul's to give him the business. He cold-cocks the shyster, delivers two Joe Pesci kicks to the gut and punches him again. Saul scrambles for a gun in his desk, but Jesse gets it first. Weapon in hand, he spouts off about how they "took it right out of his pocket".  

- Saul thinks Jesse's talking about the pot, but he's not. He's talking about that ricin cigarette, A.K.A. the BREAKING BAD MacGuffin. Saul admits to taking it at Walt's urging, but he thought it was to help Jesse, to save Jesse.  He pleads that he never would have agreed to it if he had known the real plan. Jesse snatches Saul's car keys and bolts out of the office.

- Former bookkeeper Skyler's losing her basic math skills by giving people incorrect change. Outside, frantic Walt pulls up, but saunters in with as bad an impression of "cool and calm" as he's ever given. All that was missing was a "who, little ol' me" whistle, dum-de-dum-dum-dum. He tells Skyler that the Coke machine has been latching instead of catching. It was the scheme he was hatching, for the gun he'd be snatching...ANYWAYS, he opens up the soda machine and fishes out an ice-coated .38 with Skyler none the wiser.

- Jesse drives up to their casa, busts down the door and angrily splashes gasoline everywhere...

 CUT TO BLACK (again, the bastards)

Even with so much face time for Saul (though some of it was bloody face time), this wasn't one of the more laugh filled episodes.  Still, there were a few noteworthy chuckles...

- Love that Uncle Adolf is a fan of classic Burt Reynolds films from the 70's.  Archer would be proud.

- That poor schmuck of a waiter at Garduno's with the table side guacamole. 

- Saul lands a few good shots early on, especially comparing Hank to Rocky. Little did he know he'd end up being a punching bag later that day.

That's it for this week's episode. Until next time, be good, even if BREAKING BAD is better!

Monday, August 19, 2013

What I Watch: Breaking Bad 5.10 - "Buried"

A week has passed, but the final minutes of Blood Money are still seared into the retinas of my peepers.  I close my eyes, and phantoms dance in the black void -- apparitions of Walt winning his stare-down with Hank floating in the starless sky of my mind's eye.  

Tread lightly indeed. 

Whereas Blood Money sets up the buzz saw-like wheels in motion for the homestretch of BREAKING BAD, Buried deals with the first ripples of that episode's consequences. If last week was a showcase for Walt and especially Hank...tonight was all about the Lambert sisters they married.

Generally speaking, the second episode of any intensely serialized dramatic series tends to be "a breather". Think of Tabula Rasa, Adrift or The Glass Ballerina from LOST...or perhaps 46 Long and Do Not Resuscitate from THE SOPRANOS.  Doesn't mean the 2nd episode is typically a FAIL, as the point is sometimes to create that slow burn, to further set the stage for whatever mind-bending and heart racing sensory nirvana was blasted across the screen in the premiere episode.

I suspect some people who appeared to be less than enchanted with this episode simply don't get that. 

Maybe they're better off dealing with programs that operate on the USA Network level. Or maybe the latest CBS crime procedural...I understand the CSI and NCIS wells have been tapped dry, but perhaps those TWO BROKE GIRLS will start a new business wiping down corpse goo at crime scenes.

Maybe they couldn't accept that instead of another Heisenberg appearance, it was the Missus taking care of the family business this time around. 

Or maybe they're just idiots. More often than not, that tends to be the answer to many questions in life.

Now that I've irritated at least a third of my so-called readership (all three of you), let's move on to my...

- In the cold open, a dude who might've been Dale's stand-in on THE WALKING DEAD follows a bread crumb trail of money to find Jesse slowly spinning on a playground ride.

Yes, we are watching a literal downward spiral, a metaphoric circling of the drain. Sometimes BREAKING BAD is as subtle as a man's severed head mounted atop a crawling tortoise.

- Ricin-berg has another mini-stare down with Hank before trying to reach Skyler...but Hank's beaten him to the call. She meets Hank in a diner, and...

Okay, let me pause for just a moment and say Anna Gunn's face looks so much better this season. Maybe that plumped out puss was purely post-pregnancy poundage and not Botox after all, or maybe they've just been more careful with where they stick the needle.  But I'm glad to say her visage is no longer the minor distraction I felt it was during an otherwise pulse pounding fourth season. Let's get back to the re-crap, I mean recap...

- Hank tries to manipulate Skyler into spilling the beans (neither Ricin nor Green) about a certain son-of-a-bitch, but he's not in the same class of persuasive power.  

- He also once again doesn't know who he's dealing with, as you can't spell Skyler without the word SLY, and sly she is, calculating what Hank does and doesn't know, and finally causing one of her patented public spectacles to hightail it home.

- Saul has his hilarious lackeys Huell and Kuby pick up the money from the Armenian money train, I mean Walt's mountain of mad meth money (I resolved to say fuck it today and go nuts with the alliteration, and anyone who doesn't like it can go play a nice rousing game of Diarrhetic Human Millipede). Unfortunately, Walt never knew the locations of any of the secret desert hatches that Mike used for Fring months earlier -- so he has to dig one big bitch of a hole to bury several kettle drums crammed with cash.

- Hank sends in his purple posse (not a typo -- I said POSSE) to try to turn Skyler away from the dark side. In addition to what Hank has clearly told her, Marie pieces together so much more without Skyler even saying much of anything.  Then for the 2nd time in two weeks, a Schrader bitch-slaps a White.

- They then have a tug-of-war with Holly as the pink-clad prize.  Again, please note the baby is in pink (a la charred teddy bear). The two women hit about every visceral button imaginable, and Hank eventually forces Marie to relent. As they drive away, it's as if Marie wants Walt busted more than Hank...and she might not mind seeing her sister behind bars too.

- Walt spends All Day And All Of The Night burying the money. He memorizes the six coordinates to find the buried booty, and I'm happy to report that not one of those digits was a LOST Number. However, he then buys a lottery ticket with those six numbers, which of course did remind me of...sigh.

- He wearily strips down to his undies, but instead of responding to Skyler's insistent questions, Walt takes a face-plant on the bathroom floor due to exhaustion and weakness from the cancer treatments.

- Walt wakes up five hours later, and after admitting that he's the one who screwed up this time, he has one of his most sympathetic and true touching moments since the first season.  Sure, he's had brief flashes of nobility before, but they were still typically tied to his own sense of self-preservation. But by insisting that Skyler keep the money for the kids (otherwise what was the point), he may have actually attracted one or two of the more soft-hearted from the We (Claim to) Hate Heisenberg crowd.

- Speaking of haters -- in yet another middle finger to those who scowl at the sight or sound of Skyler (what did I say about alliteration), Skyler decides the "best move is to stay quiet".  

Shades of the "best course is to tread lightly".

- A blindfolded Lydia is taken to meet Declan in the middle of nowhere.  Really, like she'd be able to find her way back there if she COULD see?  Wearing heels that are as appropriate for the terrain as clown shoes, she checks out the underground lab. She's still upset about the crappy quality crystal Declan has been supplying to her, but Declan doesn't care, and he's unwilling to allow Todd to cook again. 

- Declan is summoned back to ground level, and several dozen gunshots later, we hear Todd beckoning for Lydia to come upstairs.  Lydia could NOW use that blindfold (or maybe her Jackie O sunglasses) to avoid viewing the bloodbath the Neo-Nazis have wrought, including one last bullet for Declan.

- As Marie watches, Hank sifts through the Heisenberg casework, searching for something that'll stick. What Saul said to Walt a few seasons ago is a neon sign in Hank's head: 

"Ten seconds after I tell them, my career is over.  I'm a civilian". 

- So he wants to be damn sure he has proof, not just suspicions.  Hank's goal is now to bring down his brother-in-law in his final act as ASAC for the DEA.

- However, Marie brings up something that had NOT occurred to Hank (or me): if someone else eventually catches Walt, and Hank has been "Lone Wolf McQuade" and kept silent all this time -- he's likely to be arrested as well.  Marie doesn't say it, but just think about his medical bills alone and who has been paying them. Ruh-roh.

- Hank comes to work looking like a Gloomy Gus (but with an intact face), canceling a meeting with the implication that he's gonna come clean with his suspicions about Walt to Gomez and their boss SAC Ramey. But when Gomez tells Hank about how Jesse Pinkman was busted with millions of dollars in a duffel bag, Hank's mea culpa is put on hold. 

- Hank later sees a silent and sullen Jesse being questioned by the same cops who thought they had Jesse Ricin-handed back in Season 4. He convinces them to let him have a few minutes with the "little shit stain" and...FADE TO BLACK.

And that's how you write a recap, bitches!

While Buried was hardly a banana-patch of gags, jokes and one-liners...there was still a few moments of amusement to be found amidst the growing desperation and despair...

The two henchmen taking a brief siesta on the the bed of money: 

Huell: "Mexico.  Alls I'm saying" 
Kuby: "The guy hit ten guys in jail in a two minute window.  Alls I'm saying."

Also, the look they exchange when Walt is sealing the drums of dough is a pretty solid acknowledgement that they pocketed a bundle or two themselves.

As always, any time spent with Saul Goodman is good for a laugh or three, but it's Walt who ends up delivering the funniest line of the scene. After Saul suggests that perhaps Walt deal with Hank as he did with Mike, a new catchphrase was born... 

"Jesus. Send him to Belize...I'll send YOU to Belize."

That's it for this week's episode.  Until next time, be good, even if BREAKING BAD is better!

Monday, August 12, 2013

What I Watch: Breaking Bad 5.9 - "Blood Money"

Entering into its homestretch of the final eight episodes, Breaking Bad has continued to be one of the only TV series not to hit any major speed bumps along the way. No "infamous worst episode", no fillers to stretch a plot line past its breaking point and no major illogical leaps that test the patience and faith of the viewing audience.  To be brutally blunt, you may get quite the few "What the FUCK?" moments, but you never get any that could be labeled "Fuck this shit."

Within the confines of the show, it's all about dealing with the consequences of the decisions we make, and not simply each person's own moral compass, but their very souls -- their humanity.

For the viewers, the return of Breaking Bad is all about expectations. Every fans of the series has their own unique viewpoint and their own rooting interests. You have groundswells of support for "Team Hank or Team Jesse, you have people grudgingly taking a shone to Skyler while others would gladly see her be dissolved in a barrel of acid...and you even have a few still holding out some hope of redemption for Walter White.

We take these sentiments, be they casual or hardcore -- and they form our perspective.  They feed our expectations. And as we have sat down for the past five runs of episodes (Seasons 2, 3, 4, "5-A" and now 5-B"), we do so not only with whatever Breaking Bad appropriate snack food and tasty beverage we've prepared, but with those expectations at the forefront of our minds.

Breaking Bad subverts those expectations.  It defies them, twists them, goes beyond fulfilling them as it instead surpasses them. Last night's episode was no exception to this rule; it was a Hulk-like thundering stomp to the earth, a giant flag planted in the TV landscape declaring that not only is Breaking Bad BACK, but..well, it's BADDER than ever.  As Run-DMC once rapped "Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good".

- We return to Walt's 52nd birthday. He's driving the car with the M60 machine gun in the trunk. We discover the White home has been long abandoned. The name "Heisenberg" has been spray painted across the living room wall. Walt's there to pick up the ricin he had hidden behind a bedroom outlet, but the reaction of his neighbor Carol also indicates that he's not just infamous to the general public, he's downright scary.

- Walt is acting like a changed man. He's wearing lighter colors like old Walt.  He's actually honest with Skyler when Lydia shows up complaining about the lack of purity in the meth since Walt handed over the reins to others: perhaps psycho Todd is the new cook? And also like old Walt, we discover his cancer has returned, which was just what Skyler was waiting for just months earlier.

- But what Walt doesn't know (yet) is that Hank is on to him. After taking what might be the longest crap in the history of humankind (I wonder if he "finished his business" after leafing through Leaves of Grass), Hank has an episode reminiscent of his elevator anxiety attacks from a few seasons back. He compares and contrasts the inscription in the book to Gale's lab notebook, and later starts digging through boxes of paperwork devoted to the Heisenberg case.

-Meanwhile, Jesse's fucked up. Seriously, is Jesse ever NOT fucked up at the beginning of a Breaking Bad season? In the beginning of S2 -- after escaping from Tuco, he essentially has everything taken away from him. He starts S3 still lost in grief over the death of Jane.  S4 begins with him reeling from blowing away Gale.  Actually, the 5-A premiere breaks this pattern, but Jesse's guilt-trip is back with a vengeance as we start 5-B. He wants to give away his five million dollars worth of blood money: half to the family of the boy Todd murdered and the other half to Mike's granddaughter. 

-Jesse asks Saul to handle these charitable donations, but Walt shows up at Jesse's door with the dough-filled duffel bags once more. It's fairly clear that Jesse believes Walt killed Mike. It's crystal clear that Walt's honesty with Skyler was an aberration after all, as he boldface lies to Jesse. There's a desperation to Walt's "need" for Jesse to believe him. Has it gotten to the point that Walt could view him less as a surrogate son (notice he calls him "son" a few times in the scene) and more as a potential liability?

- Following a round of retching, Walt discovers his hubris may have come back to bite him in the ass. His "signed" copy of Leaves of Grass is gone. He realizes that Hank may have deduced (mid-deuce) that Walt is in fact Heisenberg, and his fears are confirmed when he finds a GPS tracker on his car. 

-Walt goes to see Hank, and following some typically awkward small talk, Walt confronts him with the tracker. Hank shuts the garage door and goes totally Ehrmantraut on Walt...but Walt's taken his shares of punches before. In fact, life has recently delivered one to Walt's gut, as he reveals that his cancer has come back, to which Hank's response is "Good. Rot, you son of a bitch." 

- There's no sympathy left in Hank, as he now knows Walt's the one responsible for so much suffering. Which leaves Walt only one option, as we finally see him shift into Heisenberg mode when he says: 

"If you don't know who I am, then maybe your best course is to tread lightly."

And at 10:04PM EST last night, a million people yelled in unison "Oh SHIT!"

- Up until the final minutes, the best badass (as well as most amusing) moment was Skyler kicking Lydia's bony white ass out of the car wash. Even the haters had to love that.

- Badger and Skinny Pete discussing Star Trek (which is a call back to an earlier season when they discuss Star Wars) was as wondrously bizarre and beautiful as the New Mexico landscape. 

- Also, now a character on both MAD MEN and BREAKING BAD have discussed a script idea they have for the original Star Trek series. I'm now expecting Daryl on THE WALKING DEAD to be revealed as a closet Trekkie.

- Finally, any scene with Saul is good for a chuckle or two. How many people are now wondering about the origins of the Hello Kitty cell phone in his drawer?

That's it for this week's episode.  Until next time, be good, even if BREAKING BAD is better!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman Presents: "The Defense Never Rests - The Case for Walter White"

Ladies and gentlemen, after this I will be returning to my practice in (Saul rubs the back of his hand against his mouth, affectively rendering his voice unintelligible for a few seconds.)...but before I can do that, I will present my final case to you.

Today, I'm not here to pressure or persuade. I'm not here to cajole or convince. I'm simply here to talk. Talk about a man named Walt. A man that could be your father, your teacher, your husband, your brother-in-law...heck, he could even be you. So remember, when you're standing in judgment of this're also judging yourselves.

Now let's imagine you're him. Over a year ago, you're basically beige. You're little more than background noise that no one really notices. You're lint, you're schmutz, you're nothing. Your mornings are filled by teaching spoiled brats who don't want to learn, and then your afternoons and evenings are spent washing their cars as the little creeps snicker and stare. Maybe you had a chance for something bigger and better, but you let it slip away. Bloop. 

You come home to a wife who's got a bun in the oven, which is already a miracle since you can find more excitement and passion in a sack of flour than in your marriage. Your proudest accomplishment over the past twenty years has always been your son, but you can't help but cringe at the thought that maybe if your wife had smoked one less cigarette, then maybe he wouldn't have been born with cerebral palsy. Maybe you should have spoken up, but like so many other things, you let it go. Poof.

Your life isn't circling the drain just yet, but you're the brown-green mold clinging to the edge. You're that clump of hair that's always caught in that trap. Then the final bomb drops: you've got lung cancer. Poor schmuck, you never even smoked a day in your life. Pretty soon those hair clumps in the drain are gonna be yours, as you watch your own life slowly drip away. This time you had no choice in the matter, but it DIDN'T matter. No maybe about it, you're gonna die. Boom.

So what would you do? Wouldn't you do anything you could to insure the financial security of your loved ones?  Because that's what this man did.

If you had the brains and the ability to accomplish something no one else could, wouldn't you do it? Because that's what this man has done. 

And if you could reach that goal -- achieve those ends by using this expertise honed by years of training and study, you'd put that talent to use, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you rather solve your own problems, instead of hoping and waiting for someone else to bail you out? Because that's all this man ever wanted to do.

My client was confronted with his own mortality. How many here can say that? I'm lucky if I'm confronted with a meaningful bowel movement on a semi-daily basis. And mortality transforms morality - that's what that extra "T" is for. This nerd sitting before you turns out to be an old school geek as well. Like all those science-y types, he remembered his Star Trek. The needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many. 

So sure, the alleged manufacture and distribution of crystal meth may be harmful to hundreds or even thousands of people.  When I was younger, I always said "Say no to drugs, say yes to hugs", but most young people nowadays will drop to their knees faster than opening up their arms.

But doesn't everyone here, young and old alike, subscribe to the motto "family comes first"? Because that's what Walt did, and that's what he has always done: he puts his family first. The needs of those few...outweighed the rest of Albuquerque.

Did he lie? Of course he did. But those lies kept his family safe, and wasn't that the whole point? Besides, what was it that doctor on the TV used to say, you know, the guy who always lost the Emmy to that psycho drug dealer? "Everybody lies."  Heck, I've already probably lied a dozen times today, and I'm in a profession that's all about being honest. But if everybody lies, then to lie is to be human. You wouldn't want my client to lose his humanity, would you? Because what would be next? Murdering children?

(There's a KNOCKING SOUND, and Saul spins around to see Walt tapping on the table. He's glaring at Saul from over a pair of black shades and under the brim of his black porkpie hat. 

Saul quickly flips open the file and soon mumbles "Oh, fuck me."  He looks back at Walt, motioning with his finger towards his head. Sighing, Walt slowly removes the hat and sunglasses.)

Where was I? Right, exonerating my client. Flush the drug charges and forget the lies. Which leaves us with...yeah, is there anything else before we get to this? (He closes his eyes and ticks off fingers while mumbling "Meth, lies, manipulation, which is really just lying...yeah, only the big one left.")

Well, there's an elephant that's taken a king-sized dump in every corner of this room, so there's no sense in ignoring that stink any more. It says here my client is a murderer. In fact, the term is mass murderer. So never mind being a teacher, a father, a cancer survivor; now he's a serial killer. Really? I mean look at the guy...

(Saul turns to Walt, who once again is wearing the hat. Saul's eyes flash WIDE for a second, and Walt takes off the hat once more, resting it on the table.)

...not exactly Charles Manson here. He's more Al Bundy than Ted Bundy. But let's take a look at these so-called murders...

"Wayfarer Flight 515"...excuse me? Are we trying to pin the tragedy of 167 dead airline passengers on my client, when we know this was due to a grief stricken traffic controller?  And by the way, if you have suffered any physical, mental or emotional pain due to even the thought of that horrible day, then you Better Call Saul, because I will turn your sadness into sacks of cash!
"The traffic controller's grief was due to the loss of his daughter, one Jane Margolis." 

Oh I see what this is about. Excuse me, but my client is a teacher. He may even be a scientist. But he's not a doctor. Who can say with certainty that he could've saved this Jane person's life? Addicts die that way all the time. She was an artist, right? So were John Bonham and Jimi Hendrix, and they Upchucked & Choked too. Unless my client is responsible for every rock star death as well.

"Conspiracy to commit murder..." 

See all this? (He grabs a fistful of papers.) These are documents alleging my client ordered several hits on all of these men: this one alleges he collaborated on a bomb with one of the actual victims, and this one says he ordered his friend and partner to kill an innocent man.

To all this, I say bullshit. (Saul tosses them all into the air.) What, I can't say that here? My apologies to the court. It's poppycock. What, I can't say that either? Mother Fu...dger. Ahem. To that I say, poppy ca-ca. Show me a list of witnesses who can corroborate these stories?

Where are these supposed Neo-Nazis? Other than one security video of my client visiting Hector Salamanca, there's no evidence that ties my client to that bombing. And I don't believe Mister Pinkman has EVER been connected to the death of this chemist, much less has he ever stated he was so ordered by his former teacher Mister White.

As far as I can see, the only murders directly tied to my client -- are the deaths of drug dealers, thugs and REAL killers. Would you haul Dirty Harry into court for such a thing? No. Hell, you'd let Dexter Morgan off the hook too. Doesn't my client deserve the same level of fictional consideration? You're goddamned right he does.

Finally...we have the boy. A boy who's still alive. In fact, he's sitting outside with his mom right now. Great little guy. Now, there are some who have accused my client of attempted murder. That he poisoned this child in order to trick someone in assisting him in a conspiracy I've already proven to be more methane than meth.

But the boy didn't die. In fact, once the doctors were put on the trail of looking for any poison, they found the cause lickety-split, and the tyke was as right as rain on an April afternoon. Now, it seems to me that since my client was the first one to mention the possibility of poisoning, he's responsible for saving that boy's life, not trying to end it. Hardly the deeds of a stone cold murderer. Sounds more like the actions of a caring person, a father and a friend to me.

And at the end of the day, isn't that all Walter White has ever been and has ever wanted to be?

The defense rests.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman Presents: "The Defense Never Rests - The Case for Jesse Pinkman"

My name is Saul Goodman, and I'm here to talk about a kid named Jesse Pinkman. No, scratch that, I'm here to talk about a MAN named Jesse Pinkman. Because I've watched Mister Pinkman grow and mature over these many...months, to the point where I wouldn't just call him a client; I'd call him my favorite client.

(He winks at Jesse, who shakes his head in resigned embarrassment.  On the table, there are two files. One is a massive accordion file, bursting at the seams with paperwork. The other is a thin manila folder)

Now I could go through these trumped up charges from the DEA.  (He pats the giant file) I could pick at them like the scabbed over zits on a teenager's face, but why bother?  All that ever does is leave scars.  And look at that face; it's been battered and bruised more than a Japanese businessman's ass in a Louisiana whorehouse -- yet even with the horrors that have been visited upon it by both gangsters and federal agents alike, it's still a handsome face.  A sweet face.  And most importantly, an innocent face.

They say he's a drug dealer. They claim he's part of the biggest meth manufacturing and distributing operation in the Southwest. Well, I can say he's an extra-terrestrial and claim he was marooned here by his fellow aliens who one day will return for him. You can say or claim ANYTHING. But guess what? My client doesn't have fingers that light up like glow-sticks, and he's not sitting in a prison cell either. Because there's one thing the APD, DEA, FBI or even the ever-loving IRS don't have: one shred of evidence.

Just what is this case built upon? Hunches? Guesses? Instinct? These are the same geniuses who couldn't catch a whiff of meth behind all those buckets of chicken Gus Fring was serving up to them year after year. Why trust them now?  They've had a hard-on for my client for so long they haven't peed straight for a year, but being obsessed with someone doesn't make you right. It makes you nuts. 

I don't know about you, but I'm not one to accept the word of the certifiably insane. Because THAT would be JUST as crazy. So this case (Saul picks up the fat file and dumps it into a wastepaper basket) goes up in smoke. 

(He strikes a match from a "Better Call Saul" book and tosses it into the pail. The file ignites immediately, as though it had been previously doused in lighter fluid or some other flammable liquid for such a clearly pre-planned stunt)

Goodbye Fat Man, hello Little Boy. Now what do we have here? (Saul opens the manila folder, skimming over the pages inside) Wait a second, these aren't charges -- it's a list of condolences! Look at this -- lousy parents, fell in with a bad crowd...but always tried to do the right thing.  Looks out for the safety of children all the time, found his girlfriend dead in bed when he woke up, has gone through rehab, abused by the authorities...did somebody switch my arguments with the peoples' case?

(Saul turns to Jesse

Kid, the people love you. You're the polar opposite of the woman who was just sitting in that chair. To win this case, all we gotta do was sit here and smile. (whispers) Just don't mention anything about trying to deal drugs to people in recovery, because that plays way worse than killing a guy to save someone else's life. No "greater good" argument for that one.

My Dad used to say two things to me all the time. One was "Stop trying to dress like that guy on WKRP, you idiot." But the other thing he always said was, "Know when to shut up." 

Based on what I've seen here, no more needs to be said to defend my client, so I'm gonna heed those words of wisdom and shut up.

The defense rests.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Breaking Bad's Saul Goodman Presents: "The Defense Never Rests - The Case for Skyler White"

Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you today to speak on behalf of Skyler White. 

When I look at Miss White, all I see are two B's: Beauty and Brains. 

But some of you see a different pair of B's: Bossy Bitch. Others might pick up on a totally different duo of B's such as Ball-Buster or Busy-Body. 

But here's the thing: when most people on this planet think of B's, they conjure up images of honey, flowers and the sweet buzz of a summer morning. And that's what should be popping up in your mental projectors when you think about Skyler White. Like a feminine hygiene product ad. Nice to look at, a little icky when you give it some more thought, but it's something that's not only sometimes necessary, but makes everyone feel better too. Besides, don't we all have to deal with a douche or two in our lives?

Now what do we have here (opens file)...says that just over a year ago, she was an inattentive, disinterested...ooh, there's a word I can't say here. Who typed this up? 

Let me tell you something, you spin back the clock over a year ago, you'll see that Skyler White was simply trying to maintain her sanity.  She was a loving and caring mom, mired in an freeze-dried suburban snoozer of a marriage that would have sent lesser women into the clutches of the nearest available prescription fix. 

Wait, he's not in court today, is he? (looks around skittishly as Skyler shakes her head "no")  
Oh thank God. (straightens up and plows ahead)

Trust me, if you'd met her husband over a year ago, you would know EXACTLY what I mean.  That H in Walter H. White didn't stand for Hartwell, it stood for Ho-Hum. Cancer was the most exciting thing to happen to his life since the birth of their son. After spending so many years with a man who had a doctorate in dull, it's no wonder she's be more jacked about an eBay auction than jacking off Bill Nye the Science Guy.

(saunters back to table, take a peek at the file again)  Oh, I love this.  (gesticulates as he speaks)

First we have some grumble-bums wanting to toss my client in the river for NOT caring...then they want her burned at the stake for caring too much?  Yeah, that's right...because this woman didn't silently stand by her man, but wanted her man to live, she's been tarred and feathered as a...

(reads file again)

Really? That word again? (looks at Skyler and mutters) I'm sorry; my secretary clearly has a cicada up her caboose when it comes to you. (clears throat) IN ANY CASE, I don't see the issue here.  How could it be wrong to do or say anything to save the love of her life, the father of her children and the cause of many sleep-filled nights? Is caring now a crime? I say no. What else ya got?

(Skyler leans forward, whispering into Saul's ear)

Dead?  Fred?  The movie Drop Dead Fred?  What?  Oh...Ted. Yikes...(adjusts his tie)

Okay, so she stepped outside the marriage. So does every man who worked for that Sterling Cooper ad agency back in the 60's. So does every other cop in Los Angeles or mobster in New Jersey. What's the difference here? No, don't answer that, because I'm gonna tell you.  The difference is -- Skyler is a WOMAN. So if you're in favor of double standards and glass ceilings, then by all means paint the scarlet letters IFT on Miss White's face.

But put your brushes down for one minute and consider this: have a woman who finds out that her husband has been lying to her for months. Every day, every hour, lie after lie. And nothing she did could push this...this liar out the door. 

You see, Mister Pants on Fire had gone from a marshmallowy milquetoast to an immovable mountain. So this was my client's last play, her Hail Mary, and who doesn't love the most treasured play in all of football? It doesn't get more American than that, short of hotdogs on the fourth of July. So while you may see those blazing letters IFT -- all I see is USA. God bless America.

Are we done here?  There's more?  Let me see...

(mumbling to himself, only partially audible)

Accomplice...cover story...better launderer...(clears throat again)

It's my understanding that this is purely a court of public opinion, not a court of law.  Do we really need to dig through this checklist of criminal charges, knowing the precedent it will set for my last two clients? Really? (drums fingers on file for several seconds before a light goes off above his head)

Any of the alleged crimes Miss White may have committed, she did because she had no choice. She had less options than a menu in Kazakhstan. All she had was a need to protect the family she loved. Unlike some people, this was never a matter of pride or ego, it was solely about survival. So before you string her up, maybe loop that noose around your own pencil necks and think about what YOU would have done if you were in Miss White's (peeks under table) not-so dainty shoes.  

That closes the book on...what? One more? (sighs before taking one last look at the file, reading aloud) Her actions over the past several weeks and general deterioration of her relationship with her husband and family -- is this for real? (gives Skyler a sad look) Jesus, some people just don't like you. Maybe they're confusing you with some of those other AMC moms?  I dunno.

As for this last round of slanderous slurs, excuse me (air-quotes time) "charges" against my client, I ask the court to skip back a minute, scroll through those notes...there, see the part that begins with "Any of the alleged crimes"? Yeah, that works here too; it fits tighter than O.J.'s glove.

And that pretty much says it all. Like the kids say, haters gonna hate, and some will always see my client as the Laser Tag of people. Hopefully, there are more good folks like me who love a good game of running around in ridiculous outfits zapping each other.

The defense rests.