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Old 02-12-18, 06:54 PM   #71
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Re: Mr. Bill's Re-watch of Breaking Bad (First-Watchers Welcome)

I'll try to post my Season 1 finale review this evening if I have time.
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Old 02-13-18, 03:52 AM   #72
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Re: Mr. Bill's Re-watch of Breaking Bad (First-Watchers Welcome)

In the meantime, here are my notes on

Season 1, Episode 5, Grey Matter:

Jesse does have a solid background in sales, and is a self-starter. And hey, there's Badger! Dressed as a dollar bill, with wings. Nothing goes with wearing wings like getting high. It seems like Jesse is actually trying to go straight and be clean, but getting high with Badger, and having Badger ask about more crank... are the producers really getting behind the marijuana is the gateway drug concept? Like the overkill rejection didn't do the job on Jesse, it was that devil weed.

4:26: Skylar says, "We need this." Does Walt even have alarm bells for when she speaks? Sometimes it's almost like i could swear he hears her voice, but...

"Didn't get the beige memo" - I lol'd - again.

"Gretchen," Elliot calls out, "Look who's here!" Walt's facial expressions are so complicated yet understated and perfect; his body language and facial expressions conveying a million words' worth of emotion in that one second hug. Just amazing.

"Hard word and a lot of luck," Eliot proclaims to the crowd, without so much as a glance at Walt.

The interior of the room Walt enters is stunning, and the framed photos of Elliot say so much. I just love the prop work throughout this show.

A signed Stratocaster - signed by Clapton, but that's not even the kicker - "Sorry about the buckle rash" is the kicker. That means it's one Clapton used in live shows.

Nice touch having Walt's package of Yum Good Ramen opened next, and could Elliot have been a more patronizing dick? But hey, what do you give to the man who has everything? My doctor friend always recommended Penicillin.

Yet Walt and Elliot find a little time to chat and reminisce on a cozy couch all by themselves, with a good buzz going, and Elliot almost has Walt thinking they're friends again. Elliot even disingenuously agrees that he and Gretchen would just love to debase their top-1-percent-of-the-1-percenter-asses by seating them in Walt and Skylar's diminutive little hovel for dinner someday. The bullshit job offer almost had Walt going, thanks to the copious alcohol and Elliot's smooth-talking bullshit, but as he soon as Elliot mentions health insurance, Walt's radar goes ballistic. Where is that radar when Skylar speaks? He should've seen this coming from a mile away, while sober even.

"Kind of like a fig leaf." Interesting choice of malapropism, as a fig leaf is traditionally used to cover parts of human anatomy that might be considered unsightly by certain persons, while the proper simile for a peace offering would've been, "Like an olive branch."

It's interesting that Walt even goes to Elliot's B-Day Bonanza in the first place. As a husband myself, i know well that it's wise to pick one's battles, but doesn't it raise his suspicions that Sky wants to go?

Pécarte are havalinas, btw. I guess Badger wants to do a little hunting.

Badger almost snorts red phosphorus.

Hank's upset that Junior called him instead of Walt, but he's not upset that he was trying to buy beer. I guess because pot leads to meth.

I loved the scene with the truth coming out about Marie's meddling and Sky's questions about the pot.

25:45 Jesse has standards now, and they don't involve chili powder.

The talking pillow doesn't actually talk; it reads. (nod to Malice) It reads, "Find Joy in the Little Things."

Hank tries a poker metaphor that makes very little sense, then a baseball metaphor that makes absolutely no sense at all. I think i laughed so hard the first time i saw this that i cried a little. It still cracked me up this time.

Junior takes the pillow and has the message that matters: Walt, you're a selfish coward.

I love how when Marie gets the pillow and says something Skylar doesn't like, suddenly the pillow is valueless... until Walt snatches it up, and makes less sense than Hank. How he never had a choice about anything in his life. I can understand the "What good is it just to survive" but the reality is that statistics are just that, and Walt has a chance not just to survive to recover, and he pretends he's merely playing the odds, which is a sick twist on Hank's terrible poker metaphor. But the worst part of his speech is what he says is the worst part for him of fighting for life when he loses - that they'll all remember him sick and dying. I guess he'd rather they remember him embracing a death he had a chance to avoid, and almost certainly dying in misery and a pool of his own shit and blood anyway.

Books on Walt's nightstand: Healing Gourmet Eat to Fight Cancer; How Babies Talk; The Very Best Baby Name Book; While Waiting; Taking Care of Your Child A Parent's Guide to Medical Care.

40:40 - 41:15 I love this camera work, the use of light on Skylar and shadow on Walter.

I love how the dead sterile treatment routine is starkly contrasted by the minivan driving through the lush foliage, and how it represents Walt's decision to sell death to others to buy more life for himself.

Gretchen actually thinks Walt won't take Elliot's money because Walt is still jealous over Gretchen? She might not even be entirely wrong, but she's certainly not exclusively right, either. To me, that's not the point. The point is that she's got quite the opinion of herself. In Skylar, Walt has had twenty times the woman that Gretchen could ever be; just look at the books on Walt's nightstand, for Pete's sake.
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Old 02-13-18, 04:23 PM   #73
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Re: Mr. Bill's Re-watch of Breaking Bad (First-Watchers Welcome)

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Gretchen actually thinks Walt won't take Elliot's money because Walt is still jealous over Gretchen? She might not even be entirely wrong, but she's certainly not exclusively right, either. To me, that's not the point. The point is that she's got quite the opinion of herself. In Skylar, Walt has had twenty times the woman that Gretchen could ever be; just look at the books on Walt's nightstand, for Pete's sake.
Interesting. I don't remember if what happened between Walt and Gretchen is really explored, but I do remember one instance where

Spoiler: Spoiler Future episode
Gretchen catches Walt in the lie regarding Elliot's payment checks and Walt really overreacts, imo, and calls her several nasty names which leaves her shocked and in tears.


Whatever happened between them in the past there's a lot of anger and Walt can't let it go. I wish I knew the details of what happened and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for it.

eta:

It all comes down to decisions. If he accepted the situation between Gretchen and Elliot gracefully and stuck it out, didn't sell his share of the company, he would have become the people that he's now so jealous of. Do you think he left because of some other reason than just petty jealousy and rejection? I wish I knew more of what the Schwarz's did to him beyond that, if anything.
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Old 02-13-18, 11:17 PM   #74
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Re: Mr. Bill's Re-watch of Breaking Bad (First-Watchers Welcome)

Season 1 Finale, "A No-Rough-Stuff Type Deal"

Being an outlaw is a turn on for Walt and it happens in the most inopportune moment, in the middle of a school and parents meeting about the Chemistry lab theft. I don't know what the angle of the table was, but judging by the principal's expression, she may have seen what's going on and she also had to call Walt's name a couple of times to snap him out of it. After Walt reads the list of stolen items and the meeting concludes, Sky and Walt resume their session in the Aztec. After that session Sky asks, "Where did that come from? And why was it so damn good? -Because it was illegal," Walt replies.

I refer to this epsisode as "House Hunters Gone Wild". I adore the nice, upbeat realtor, who is probably just beginning the worst week of her career - trying to show Jesse's "house from hell". The first couple she shows the house to of course comments on the tub-sized hole in the hallway ceiling as their shoes squeak on the remaining goo on the floor. "What's this?", the client asks. The realtor says, "it's a bit of a fixer, but this house has great bones". lol. Yes indeed, what's left of them. Walt drops by to visit Jesse. I like how the realtor says "recreational vehicle" (house snob). I guess the bullet holes might have influenced her opinion, though.

Inside the RV, Jesse is suprised and then angry that Walt made the deal with Tuco, then Walt springs the two pounds he promised Tuco on Jesse. I guess Walt miscalulated for once in his life, there's not enough pseudo for two pounds. Jesse's "smurfs" can only get enough for half a pound at most.

We then cut to the doctor's visit to assess Walt's chemo treatment. I like how the doctor, who's also bald says "I see you committed to the hair loss.", (nice). Sky wants to explore Eastern holistic treatments and the doctor says it's fine as long as it doesn't interfere with the treatment. The assessment comes off as realistic and I'm sure it's based on actual doctor/patient interactions.

Now we come up to the Tuco meet up where Walt chose the meeting place, in the middle of a junkyard. Love Jesse's comment that the place is a non-criminal's idea of a meeting from seeing too many movies. Walt asks Jesse to enlighten him. Jesse mentions Taco Cabeza or the mall, where no one gets shot or beat to a pulp there. It's funny that Tuco asks the same, why aren't we at the mall? (I don't know know why I found that particularly funny.) Anyway, poor Jesse, he's obviously in distress over meeting Tuco again, the guy who beat him to a few inches of his life, particularly when they're obviously short of the 2 lbs that were promised. Tuco actual takes the short deal pretty well and they come up with an agreement plus interest. Then Walt ups the ante and tells Tuco 4 lbs to an astonished, shocked Jesse as currently they have less than a half pound. Tuco gets in Walt's face and responds, "Talk is talk, but owning me money, that's bad."

Back at Jesse's house he tells Walt that it will take 200 to 300 boxes of Sudafed that he can't get. Walt changes up the ingredients and sends Jesse on a shopping mission of things Jesse can't even pronounce.

Later we get to Sky's baby shower and Marie's gift is an incredibly expensive baby tiara. Walt goes out to share an illegal Cuban cigar with Hank and they discuss legality. Walt is looking for a modicum of sympathy from Hank. Then Hank says that just until recently Meth was legal, they sold it over the counters at drugstores. Thank god someone came to their senses on that one. No sympathy to be found there, obviously. Later that evening, Walt is checking out "Sweat Lodges" as a cover
for his Meth cooking for a few days. Sky says that she's going to return the tiara.

Back at Jesse's, Jesse was able to get all the ingredients except the key ingredient. It's under lock
and key in a warehouse and he has someone who will steal it for $10k. Walt notices an "Etch-a-Sketch" in the garage and has a better idea, they'll steal it themselves. (How the heck does Walt transition into a thief so quickly is beyond me, but it's part of the sort of slapstick nature of this episode). Walt tells an interesting bit of history about thermite and how it was used by a single commando to cut through and disable the German's Gustav Gun which weighed a thousand tons and impenetrable to bombs.

Skyler goes to return the Tiara and is detained by the jewelry store owner because the Tiara was stolen by Marie. Interesting that the owner says that the thief was a blonde woman matching Sky's description, but I think that was to corner her into admitting it. She feins labor pains and bad publicity and they let her go. She then tries to track down Marie.

Then we come to the big Methlymine caper, some pretty funny slapstick as Walt and Jesse traps the security guard in the port-o-potty. The thermite works perfectly and they steal a 50 gallon (or more) barrel of the product, struggling to carry it to the car.

The next scene is probably my favorite. While in the middle of a meth cook in Jesse's basement there happens to be an open house planned for upstairs. Jesse is too late to cancel, it's already happening. Some funny looks and nose wrinkling going on upstairs as the realtor is spraying air freshener around. She's obviously having a bad day. Walt opens the door to a little girl.. funny how Walt looks like a funny teddy bear with ears with the gas mask cocked back. Later some guy wants to check out the basement and Jesse verbally unloads on him and tells everyone to get out, the house is not for sale.

Skyler finally tracks down Marie and Marie is totally in denial and can't believe that Sky would return her gift. Of course this leads to a major rift between the sisters. Back at home she tells Walt about Marie and she also notices the smell from the cook. Walt says that it's the herbs from the Sweat Lodge. Good thing she's never smelled Meth cooking before. Still looking for justification for his cooking, he says that sometimes people do things for their families, referring to Marie and of course, no sympathy there as he tries to justify his own actions.

We're back at the junkyard where Walt delivers on his order, the deal is completed. One of Tuco's henchmen, No Doze, speaks out of turn, and Tuco savagely beats him into unconsciousness. He leaves saying he'll see them next week, leaving Walt and Jesse in shock..

I can imagine the frustration of the viewers watching this for the first time, it's pretty risky leaving everything hanging with no closure and not knowing if there will be a next season.

We go out with a most appropriate tune by Gnarls Barkley, "Who's Gonna Save My Soul".

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Old 02-14-18, 02:59 AM   #75
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Re: Mr. Bill's Re-watch of Breaking Bad (First-Watchers Welcome)

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Interesting. I don't remember if what happened between Walt and Gretchen is really explored, but I do remember one instance where

Spoiler: Spoiler Future episode
Gretchen catches Walt in the lie regarding Elliot's payment checks and Walt really overreacts, imo, and calls her several nasty names which leaves her shocked and in tears.


Whatever happened between them in the past there's a lot of anger and Walt can't let it go. I wish I knew the details of what happened and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for it.

eta:

It all comes down to decisions. If he accepted the situation between Gretchen and Elliot gracefully and stuck it out, didn't sell his share of the company, he would have become the people that he's now so jealous of. Do you think he left because of some other reason than just petty jealousy and rejection? I wish I knew more of what the Schwarz's did to him beyond that, if anything.
You have some great insights here. There's reasonably fair speculation too, and you don't try to present that part as being other than that which it is. Great post.

So please don't take anything in the rest of this post as any kind of rebuttal, because it's not. It's purely some thoughts i had while digesting your post that i'd like to share. They may bear on things in your post, but i'm not trying to rebut any of your points. Really i'm just adding this paragraph to avoid double-posting, which isn't something i'd normally bother with.

I remember how hard I rooted for Walter the first time i watched this series, and the second time too. And frankly i'm still pulling for that piece of humanity the third time through again. Yet, i feel like my eyes have really opened into how deep he goes, and i don't mean deep in a hipster sense of the word, but a more contemporary idiom would, i guess, be dark, but of course not in the sense of direct noir. I see him for what he really is, the fully realized Walter White that was thoroughly present from even the very first episode

It's thoroughly possible that Gretchen is blameless in any fair sense of the word.

I think i just changed my mind and will offer a rebuttal. Why the heck not? Why are we here if not to discuss?

Spoiler: massive series ending spoiler, i wouldn't put this, even in spoiler tags, in anything less than a re-watch thread. Do not read this unless you KNOW how the series ends
An argument could be made that Walter chose Gretchen and Elliot for the role they would serve because they were convenient and particularly vulnerable to what he wanted from them. The evidence that he uses people with that particular modus operandi of his forms a clear pattern.It would be a fine argument.

My argument is that he chose them because it was personal. I submit that the individuals he singles out for his most devilish punishments are always chosen for deeply personal reasons, Skylar most of all. Jesse's final torments work in so many ways, but his resolution is the realization of Walter's forgiveness.


None of which bears the slightest upon Gretchen's opinion of herself; unless it sorta does for master storytelling.
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Old 02-14-18, 05:04 AM   #76
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Re: Mr. Bill's Re-watch of Breaking Bad (First-Watchers Welcome)

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S1E5 Gray Matter

What a great name for a company, Gray Matter Technologies. I'm very surprised that name was available and not registered. What an ingenious way to come up with it by the writers. Elliot Schwartz (Schwarz in German means Black) and White together makes Gray. It's interesting how it becomes apparent that Walt perceives himself as a "White Knight", fighting against all the wrongs and injustices that he believes has been done to him, and he perceives Elliot as a Black Knight, the man who took everything away from him - his girl, his wealth, and his future.

I mentioned in the pilot that I thought Walt is good at taking advantages of opportunities, but this episode absolutely blows that out of the water and really shows how Walter's ego, arrogance, and anger at his lot in life is at a self-destructive level and the only thing he has left is a maze of lies.

We start out with Jesse at a job interview for a sales position. He's studied the manual of all the right things to say, those catch-phrases that interviewers hear a million times a day. It turns out that this sales position is as a human billboard sign twirler. Jesse is having none of that. He sees his friend Badger across the street in his over-the-top billboard costume and they head to the alley to smoke a joint. Badger is a hoot, I really like the actor, Matt L. Jones. Jesse says he's retiring from the crystal business and Badger offers to partner up if Jesse decides to start cooking again.

Walt and Skyler attend Eliot's birthday party. Everyone is in beige or tan - what is that, Southwestern Posh? Walt and Skyler feel out of place because of their clothes and because they were told there wouldn't be presents, however there is a mile high stack of them and they look particulary embarrased about their small gift. We also meet Gretchen, the woman in Walt's flashbacks. There's a hint of a slightly uncomfortable hug and some smalltalk about Skyler's pregnancy. We get some background on the company, Elliot just got a new patent and his company is worth over a billion dollars. Walt checks out their two-story library, and sees some framed Scientific American articles showing Elliot's breakthrough of "flipping the molecular switch". Back at the party, he meets an old friend from Cal tech, who introduces Walt as a master of crystalography. We get the creation story of the company name here and a few details of the work he did. Walt tells the group that he gravitated toward education .. "Oh what university?". As Walt's balloon deflates, he can only sip his champagne.

During the opening of the birthday presents it looks like Walt and Skyler are about to leave in embarrassment. One of the gifts is a guitar owned by Eric Clapton. It's their turn and Walt's gift is a bag of Ramen. Elliot likes it and there's a nice little story of how Elliot and Walter survived on it in grad school. A little later Walt and Elliot discuss old times and then Elliot offers Walt a job and and mentions great health insurance. We find out as they leave the party that Walt turned down the job offer and also an offer to pay for his treatments. He's angry at Skyler for mentioning his cancer.

In the meantime, Jesse takes Badger's offer to partner up and they head out to the desert in the RV. Badger brings a bag full of Sudafed and we get a little montage set to a nice beat of Jesse cooking while Badger is clowning around. Jesse is becoming more the perfectionist after learning from the master and tosses out what is probably pretty top grade meth which drives Badger crazy. After the second sub-standard batch there's an all out fight which leaves Badger in the middle of the desert and the RV with a few arrow strikes from Badger's crossbow. The RV's been shot up and now pierced by arrows, it has a lot of battle damage.

We see Jr. outside a mini mart with some friends trying to score some beer. The guy he approaches turns out to be an off-duty police officer. Hank shows up to drive him home and he's more upset that Jr didn't call his father than over the beer. Jr has to face the music when he gets home, but Hank is cool about it and says he's just acting out because of his dad's illness. First the pot and now the beer. The pot? I like the comic look on Hank's face when he realizes that it was Walt and not his son who was smoking it.

Then we come to the intervention meltdown and the "talking pillow". I love Hank's discomfort here as he's reaching for snacks. He makes a baseball analogy and tells Walt to take the money and run. Jr. calls his dad a pussy because chemo is nothing compared to what he's gone through, and Marie takes Walt's side which leads to an all out fight between the sisters until Walt grabs the pillow and says his piece. He gives his arguments for not wanting to go through with the it The next morning he reconsiders by taking account of what he's going to lose and tells Skyler that he will go into treatment. We get to see a little bit of this at the medical center.

Gretchen calls him to ask why he turned down Elliot's offer. She asks if it's because of what happened between them. Walt just can't let it go and lies and tells her that his insurance is covering it.

We end with Walt going to Jesse's to ask if he wants to cook.
I purposely didn't read this until after i posted my own notes.

I am suddenly electrified.

My only note on your note would be about the name of the company. It could be seen as morbid, which would be bad branding, post-90's. The name of the company was chosen to illustrate the situational nature of ethics, though that's certainly not obvious at this point in the show.

Thank FSM it's not a FW.

But the writers were clever enough to give Elliot the right surname so that it makes sense anyway.
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Old 02-14-18, 09:50 PM   #77
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Re: Mr. Bill's Re-watch of Breaking Bad (First-Watchers Welcome)

Re: Grey Matter
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Spoiler: massive series ending spoiler, i wouldn't put this, even in spoiler tags, in anything less than a re-watch thread. Do not read this unless you KNOW how the series ends
An argument could be made that Walter chose Gretchen and Elliot for the role they would serve because they were convenient and particularly vulnerable to what he wanted from them. The evidence that he uses people with that particular modus operandi of his forms a clear pattern.It would be a fine argument.

My argument is that he chose them because it was personal. I submit that the individuals he singles out for his most devilish punishments are always chosen for deeply personal reasons, Skylar most of all. Jesse's final torments work in so many ways, but his resolution is the realization of Walter's forgiveness.
Spoiler: Response to massive spoiler.
Interesting points and I agree, it's deeply personal for Walt. I think as far as Gretchen and Elliot on Charlie Rose, they were in "save the company" mode and distanced themselves from Walt's contributions. At that point, he is one of the most wanted men in America and I don't see what other choice they had. Walt takes it personally and sees it as a personal attack as a result of their remarks and because of his pent up anger of being cut out so many years prior. I don't remember Gretchen's actual comments on CR, but I think she genuinely cared and was deeply concerned about the path that Walt has chosen at that point. Also being on National TV gives a certain level of insincerity to her plea. Walt takes it as condescension. Just my take on it.


Hope I didn't miss your point entirely.
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Old 02-15-18, 04:39 AM   #78
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Re: Mr. Bill's Re-watch of Breaking Bad (First-Watchers Welcome)

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Re: Grey Matter


Spoiler: Response to massive spoiler.
Interesting points and I agree, it's deeply personal for Walt. I think as far as Gretchen and Elliot on Charlie Rose, they were in "save the company" mode and distanced themselves from Walt's contributions. At that point, he is one of the most wanted men in America and I don't see what other choice they had. Walt takes it personally and sees it as a personal attack as a result of their remarks and because of his pent up anger of being cut out so many years prior. I don't remember Gretchen's actual comments on CR, but I think she genuinely cared and was deeply concerned about the path that Walt has chosen at that point. Also being on National TV gives a certain level of insincerity to her plea. Walt takes it as condescension. Just my take on it.


Hope I didn't miss your point entirely.
I don't think you missed my point at all.

Spoiler: final season spoilers
Walt is definitely pretty far gone, mentally, at that point in the show. But i don't think his anger towards Elliot and Gretchen suddenly started with an appearance on the Charlie Rose show, nor with Gretchen asking him why he lied about taking money from Elliot. Those things stoked the fires of his rage, but i think that he's truly hated them since, in his own mind at least, Eliot stole his idea and his girlfriend.

I never thought Gretchen off the mark in asking if Walt wouldn't take Eliot's money because of her, though i'd say she clearly underestimates Walt's Pride and re-iterate that she thinks a bit highly of herself. His physical reaction to her and her hug at Elliot's birthday make it clear to me that Walt still feels deeply betrayed by them, long before any of the things that take place in the seasons to come.

Spoiler: I'm pretty sure it's second season
Walt's family "and close friends (?, but whatevs)" throw a little party to celebrate Walt's victories against cancer, though he has risky surgery yet to face. If it helps to remember the scene, Walt (over Hank's objections) gives Junior enough tequila that the kid pukes in the pool while Walt's looking about ready to take Hank to the mat.

Anyway, toward the beginning of the party, as Hank is mixing up the first margaritas, somebody kills the music so Skylar can make a toast to two wonderful amazing generous true friends who couldn't make it that day.*Walt had counted on that emotional distance when he decided he could pretend that money was coming from Elliot. With an accountant wife, it surely seemed likely that he'd get caught eventually, but i think he chose Gretchen and Elliot because they knew he resented them and would stay away whenever possible.

I didn't and don't intend to derail the thread too long, just to discuss these supporting roles, or at least not still so early in.

Iirc my real point in the remark that started this discussion was that i don't think Walt really appreciates the woman he has in Skylar. Sure, she's not perfect, but she's pretty damned great all things considered. I think it's silly of him to still be so upset about losing Gretchen all those years ago. But, Mr, Bill, you pointed out, if not directly, that maybe their wealth is what he's envious of, and you might be right. Perhaps he once felt that teaching high school chemistry gave him the moral high ground and now he regrets that because his values have shifted and/or the moral high ground didn't win back anything he felt he'd lost.

Either way, the character of Walter speaks as brutally honestly as any other fictional character to what is commonly called, "the human condition."
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Old 02-15-18, 03:33 PM   #79
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Re: Mr. Bill's Re-watch of Breaking Bad (First-Watchers Welcome)

Great post and I understand your POV.

I do like Skyler and can't imagine the challenge of the writers of keeping her relevant through the entire series without her appearing stupid or oblivious- somewhere on "cloud 9", or gone. She just doesn't realize the trap she's in at this point. Excellent character development.
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Old Yesterday, 01:43 AM   #80
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Re: Mr. Bill's Re-watch of Breaking Bad (First-Watchers Welcome)

So I'll try to get started on Season 2 this weekend. I'd like to add some content from the "Insider's Podcast" hosted by Kelly Dixon who is one of the editors. Vince Gilligan is always there, some of the writers show up and occasionally the actors, directors and other production crew. There's a lot of small talk to dig through, but there is some really interesting behind-the-scenes information as well.
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