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Krysten Ritter (#110 of 5)

Breaking Bad Recap Season 2, Episode 12, "Phoenix"

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 12, “Phoenix”

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 12, “Phoenix”

What does it mean anymore to be a father? We still roughly know what it means to be a mother. Indeed, we rather know it in our bones. Giving birth, nurturing, caretaking, we get all that. But, increasingly, the notion of fatherhood feels almost taken for granted, as something we’ve constructed up around the male parent to give him something to do. You teach the kids to drive. You make sure they stay on the straight and narrow. You provide for them somehow, guide them in a way to help them realize their dreams, maybe even some of your own dreams. Those pundits who bleat about how the role of the father is disappearing in modern culture aren’t right, not exactly, but what they say sometimes, critically, feels right, as though dear old Dad and the patriarchy he drags along with him is powerless in the face of modernization, even as we know that the smiling benevolence of Father Knows Best was, at best, not always true and, at worst, a complete myth. We respond to deeper urges, then, know, somehow, that to be a father is to hold your baby for the first time and say to yourself, “All right. It’s not all about me now. Let’s see how that changes things.”

Breaking Bad Recap Season 2, Episode 11, "Mandala"

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 11, “Mandala”

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 11, “Mandala”

A young boy, on an errand we can’t quite figure out yet, rides his bicycle through a desolate corner of the city of Albuquerque, rot surrounding him. Standing in the middle of that desolation, a large man dressed all in white with multiple piercings surveys his domain. Shot from below, he looms, until we see that he’s sipping from a large soda cup, the sort you might buy at a 7-11. He’s waiting for someone or something, and when a couple of other guys in a low-riding car pull up to give him some guff, he shoos them off quickly enough. The kid keeps riding, finally reaching the man in white, and he circles him once, twice, many times. Then he inquires as to the origin of the man’s earrings, and the man finally has to shoo the kid off. He’s worried about the guys in the car, who have pulled up to the corner and parked down a side street to keep an eye on them. But when the gunshots come, they come from behind, from where the kid has gotten off his bike, is holding a gun. As the guy stares at the new wound in his gut in horror, then at the kid, the kid stares in shock, as if he, himself, didn’t think he could do this, and then after a few moments, he fires again and again and again as the man in white tries to flee. The guy collapses in the middle of the street, blood pouring from his mouth. The kid and the car pull away from the scene of the crime in almost perfect synchronization, a high shot showing us the two parties leaving in opposite directions, the guy bleeding out in the middle of the street.

Breaking Bad Recap Season 2, Episode 10, "Over"

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 10, “Over”

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 10, “Over”

If there’s one thing I find a touch annoying about Breaking Bad, it’s that the show will occasionally lean on a too-easy symbol or two. It doesn’t do this incredibly often, but it will every so often use some mundane object to make a Larger Point about What’s Wrong with the Characters, and while the show is getting better at it, it often has the stink of something you might find in a too-proud-of-itself short story in a college lit journal. On a first viewing, I thought the idea of Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) foundation on his house being full of rot was one of these over-obvious symbols. Walt’s built so much of his life now on an empire of lies that the conceit of his own house literally not being in order felt too much like the parable of the wise man building his house upon the rock. After a second viewing, however, I’m not so sure. There actually might be more there there to this symbol than first meets the eye.

Breaking Bad Recap Season 2, Episode 8, "Better Call Saul"

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, “Better Call Saul”

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 8, “Better Call Saul”

“Better Call Saul” is the kind of episode that made me get interested in television in the first place. It’s not perfect, by any means, but it would be nauseatingly hilarious in one shot and then cut to another that would load on the unbearable tension. In so many ways, it’s a minor encapsulation of so many of the show’s major themes (from the idea that you can’t be just a little bit of a criminal to the thought that resisting temptation is so very, very hard), but it’s also a surprisingly fast-paced episode of the notoriously slow-moving series. The episode even manages to make famed comedian Bob Odenkirk seem like a part of its universe with a character who is both the sort of joke-y character he plays well and a necessary piece of the puzzle of Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) burgeoning criminal empire. Season two has been building to this. Hell, the SHOW has been building to this. We’re at a precipice, and the RV is pointed downhill. We just passed the point of no return.

Breaking Bad Recap Season 2, Episode 7, "Negro y Azul"

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 7, “Negro y Azul”

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Breaking Bad Recap: Season 2, Episode 7, “Negro y Azul”

Early in Sunday’s episode of Breaking Bad, “Negro y Azul,” there’s a shot of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) extending a bond from nitrogen to oxygen on a whiteboard, creating a connection where one didn’t exist before. Walt’s trying to explain chemistry to a student who’d really rather just get a better grade so he doesn’t have to go to summer school, trying to tell him how bonds are what makes “matter ... matter,” a lovely unintended pun that says so much about this episode and Breaking Bad in general. Though the student is just trying to put one over on Walt (“Don’t bullshit a bullshitter,” the teacher says with just a hint of menace), the notion of bonds forming between elements or between people unites everything in a rather quiet episode of the show. It even concludes with a beautiful shot of one person reaching out a hand to another, tentatively forming that new connection, just not at an atomic level.