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Tuesday, July 17, 2012
TV Round-Up: "Breaking Bad, Eureka"
It's kind of a bittersweet week for two of my favorite shows.  Breaking Bad makes its return, kicking off the fifth and final season of what is one of the best--and most addictive--shows on TV.  Then we've got Eureka winding up its five season on the air with a series finale that, for the most part, hits all the right notes.

I'll get into details on each one, including SPOILERS for both (and for the entire run of both shows) but first let's all declare it Miller Time for both shows...



Breaking Bad: Live Free Or Die

Last season was the battle of minds and wits between Gus Fring and Walter White.  In the end, Walt came out on top, but only by a combination of luck and finally figuring out a way to--for a moment--be one step ahead of Gus.  Gus never saw the bombshell coming and now that he's gone, Walt is faced with a choice--he can either walk away from the drug business without facing or he can fully embrace the Heisenberg aspect of his personality and become a full-fledged drug king-pin.

Based on the pre-credits flash forward, it looks like Walt will choose the embrace his Hiesenberg side and be the king of the drug cartel.   I'm sure that Vince Gilligan and company dropped a lot more hints into the teaser than I'm aware of, but it will be interesting to see how Walt gets to the point he does in the teaser and what the cost will be to him.  I have a feeling it's going to cost him his family at some point because it appears the thrill has worn off for Skylar.

Between knowing that Walt took out Gus and what happened to Ted, Skylar is slowly having her eyes opened to the darker side of what Walt does.   Last year, she found a bit of thrill in laundering the money for Walt, but now she's got in over her head--just as Walt did in the early seasons.  And she's finding that no matter how good the intentions are, there are always unintended, dark consequences to the actions.   Not only is Gus dead at Walt's hands, but Ted has a broken neck and no longer looks at Skylar with love or friendship.  Instead, he looks on her as someone to be feared and that could hurt him and his family if Skylar is crossed.

I slowly begin to wonder if Skylar might not somehow be part of how Walt is brought down.  The emotional toll of Ted, coupled with Walt's "forgiving" her in the final scene could be the straw the breaks the camel's back.  Could she turn Walt in to protect the family and get some kind of immunity?

Meanwhile, Walt could get out of the business--but first he has to get the security footage Gus had of he, Jessie and Mike back.   Once again, the show deals with the unintended consequences and implications of being a drug dealer and the impact it has on Walt.   With the computer containing all that information in police custody, Walt has to dream up an elaborate caper to somehow get inside the lock-up and wipe the hard drive.  Mike believes it's impossible but Jessie comes up with the idea of using a magnet to wipe the hard drive.

And, once again, we see that Walt finds out that no matter how much money he makes, it's never enough.  In fact, he's now in debt to Jessie for the expenses of the electromagnet and the truck used to try and wipe the hard drive clean and scramble the computer.*  But just as Walt puts his finger into one hole in the dam, another one opens up--unknown to him.  Shifting all the evidence using the magnet reveals that Gus kept secret bank account numbers behind a picture.  Of course, this would have eventually come to light, but it's come to light sooner and will probably only make Hank that much more interested and suspicious that Heisenberg isn't really gone.

*Interestingly, we're not yet sure if the plan succeeded, though I'm going to assume it did. 

The episode also continues to underline the theme that no matter how well thought out Walt's plans are, he never quite gets all the details buried.  His throwing out the bomb making materials and the potted plant he used to manipulate Jessie last year probably took care of that mess for now, but Saul knows what Walt did and at some point could tell Jessie.   Saul wants out, but Walt won't let him.  Could Saul be the one who helps bring down Walt?  Or will it be a combination of all those Walt has double-crossed over the years?

All I know is that I'm hooked and will be watching these final fifteen episodes with a great deal of interest.  And after that, I may loop back and watch the whole show again from the start.   It's just that good.

Eureka:  Just Another Day

As a hastily-written finale, "Just Another Day" works fairly well.  It hits all the points that it needed to server as a finale for the show, but I still find myself wishing SyFy had given the series six episodes to wrap things up as opposed to just one.

The last fifteen or so minutes felt rushed with revelation after revelation--Alison is pregnant, Henry gets Beverly to exonerate Grace, Trevor Grant buys the town from the DOD and provides funding for things to continue.  Yes, it was all good and I applaud the creative team for coming up with a way to wrap things up while keeping the door open to revisiting the town and its inhabitants again in the future.  But there was so much happening here that it never had the chance to make a full impact.

Perhaps the show should have considered dropping or minimizing the wormhole plotline.  It led to a nice moment  with Jack seeing various flashbacks of his time in the town during his journey, yes.  But it still felt like a lot of time was spent figuring out how to solve this problem and not necessarily wrapping things up as satisfyingly as they could or should have been.

Again, a lot of that is probably because SyFy pulled the plug with the production team expecting six episodes at least to give us closure and not just one. **

**Though I did love all the not to subtle jabs at SyFy.  I have a feeling Jamie Paglia won't be working with SyFy again in the near future. 

I also have to admit that while I liked the concept of one of our heroes being radically different from the original time line (in this case Henry), I still feel like the show getting to this three episodes before we wrap things up was almost a case of too little, too late.  Mayhaps if we'd developed this mid-way through season five, it might have felt more satisfying.

So, I guess while I enjoyed the finale I didn't love it as much as I'd hoped.  It's still nice to think the town and the characters could come back--though I don't think a movie version would work.  Too much backstory.  Perhaps a mini-series at some point would work....

I also get the feeling the final party in Cafe Nervosa included a lot of the crew and creative team that we normally never see in front of the camera.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/17/2012 10:34:00 AM | |
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