"The thing is, if you just do stuff, and nothing happens, what's it all mean?"

Monday, July 21, 2014

"Something to Do With Death" - Breaking Bad's Mortal Coil

"You don't understand, Jill. People like that have something inside... 
Something to do with death."
-Cheyenne, "Once Upon a Time in the West," 1968

"Shut the fuck up, and let me die in peace.
-Mike Ehrmantraut

"Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live."
-Norman Cousins

The post will (eventually) be a long one. It's about what death means within Breaking Bad (as the sub-title gets at, the shadow of Shakespeare's Tragedies will be constantly looming), and how that reflects the ultimate meaning of the lives we live ("the paths we take"), using the Spaghetti Westerns of Sergio Leone as a starting point; then inventorying every incident of death (and the related symbolism of various memento mori within the mise-en-scene and cinematography) throughout the series; while also tying in other television series to tie together the related ways they and BB portray the human condition of facing imminent demise. Some Freudian and Existentialist shit will show up, no doubt.

Nothing too intense. 

So yeah, a giant beast of potential incoherence it shall be!


-But here's the huge factor that separates the operatic visions of Leone and the universe of BB: there is almost never an even deul between death-locked opponents. The murders faciliated by Walt are detached. One of the most pivotal deaths in the entire run of the series occurs off-screen, and involves a sympathetic man pleading for his life. The only true Western show-downs are afforded to Hank, who is the most typical "hero" of show.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Production Cannot Stop - Better Call Saul

"Nothing stops this train...nothing."
-Walter White, 5x04, "Fifty-One"

Well, Better Call Saul, is on the horizon (scheduled 2015 release date), and the internet hyper machine is already churning out razzle-dazzle intrigue. Out of a purist sense of artistic holism, I am pretty ambivalent about a series that continues to thread more fabric out of the Breaking Bad universe, even if the show does take on a different tone and avoids any sort of revisionism or misplaced characterizations.

Even Gilligan, who co-wrote the pilot of the spin-off, has his doubts, saying, “If it’s After M*A*SH rather than Frasier, it won’t be for lack of hard work and wishful thinking and a lot of smart people doing their best, but you just don’t know until the world takes it...It may turn out that this was a mistake to do this.”

Though, a recent AV Club parody-piece got at something that actually jibes pretty well with the over-arching quasi-mystical bull-shitery that it splatter throughout this blog. I'm gonna just plop a big text block next, because, fuck it:
"Better Call Saul is set to debut the first of its two promised seasons next year, and we already know that it will feature appearances from Breaking Bad characters we thought we lost, before we learned that nothing stays dead anymore, ever since we moved all our TVs over this Indian burial ground. And according to a new interview with executive producer Peter Gould, those possibilities are endless, seeing as Better Call Saul exists outside of time, like all immortal beings. 
'One of the great things about having a timeline which is flexible is that perhaps some of it takes place before Breaking Bad, during Breaking Bad and after Breaking Bad,' Gould said of the show’s philosophy of eternalism, in which scenes will alternate back and forth over several decades, rather than just taking place in the 1980s as initially suspected. In Saul’s world, all of the events before, after, and even during Breaking Bad are happening simultaneously, all of their awful consequences looping endlessly across the infinite. And like God himself standing outside the block universe, this means no one is truly dead to Peter Gould—not even Walter White, who he believes will return in some capacity, simply because he wills it."
I tell you what I wish was a real thing; something that would be a worthy spin-off...HUELL'S RULES, BABY!

Further Readings (less rambly):
"It's time to begin overanalyzing the First Better Call Saul set photos," Sean O'Nell, The AV Club.