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TV That Matters 10/13: Breaking Bad and Bored to Death

By Matt Ern, Columnist

Breaking Bad- "Face Off"

Grade: A

Attention other TV shows: this is how you do a season finale. 

Breaking Bad wrapped up another flawless season this week, and this time it didn't end with a major cliffhanger, so fans can rest easy until next summer when it returns.

Before going into the episode I just want to point out my two minor gripes with it.  One is Gus in the aftermath of the explosion.  I went into the episode hoping/expecting the title "Face Off" to be literal as well as figurative, but Gus' Two Face makeup looked a little cheesy, no?  That said, a villain a memorable as Gus needed that kind of sendoff.  

My other complaint is that last shot going towards the plant. I guess that was supposed to be a big twist at the end, but like, I think it was pretty obvious that Walt was behind Brock's poisoning.  As silly as I thought that last shot was though, the fact that Walt would poison an innocent child to protect himself is a huge indicator that we will be seeing a new Walt next season. 

Over the course of the show we've seen Walt grow more amoral, cooking crystal meth, killing to protect himself and his family.  But there has always been a limit to how far he would go.

But now we have a Walt who would poison a child just to manipulate Jesse and set a bomb off in a nursing home if that's what it takes to kill his rivals.  He even tricks an elderly neighbor into going into his house first when he suspects Gus' men may be waiting there to kill him. 

It's especially dark considering Walt's whole conflict with Gus started when Walt killed some of Gus' goons that were responsible for the death of a child.  Now Walt is casually poisoning kids himself to stay alive (okay, the poison Walt used on Brock wasn't fatal but it's still a little dark).   


Bored To Death- "The Blonde In The Woods"

Grade: A-

The episode begins at a signing for Jonathan's second novel (where he'll "be signing books, iPads, and Kindles").  George has opened up an organic restaurant since leaving his magazine, and Ray is preparing to meet his infant son for the first time.  Clearly a lot has gone down since last season's finale. 

Jonathan's case this week involves tailing a woman to a hotel room, where he is knocked unconscious.  When he wakes up there's a gun in his hand, a dead body in the room with him, his pants are around his ankles, and the police are knocking on the door.

Bored To Death is really good at constructing such strange circumstances but this time there's a much more sinister element here-  Jonathan is being framed for murder (maybe this all relates to the mysterious guy at his book signing in the beginning of the episode?).   A scene where the main character wakes up next to a dead body would ordinarily be terrifying, but the fact that Jonathan's pants are off eases the tension and makes it silly. 

Meanwhile, Ray finds new purpose in life taking care of his son.  And we're treated to a great scene where Zach Galifianakis breastfeeds the baby after soaking his nipple in booze.  George is troubled to find out his daughter is dating someone around his own age, despite his predisposition for younger women.  Keeping with the fatherhood theme, Jonathan finds out that he was conceived with donated sperm from a sperm bank in New Jersey.  

It's hard to really judge this episode on its own because the cliffhanger ending (Jonathan is literally hanging from a giant clock) indicates more to the story is forthcoming, but it sets up a lot of good plots for the season.

The actual Jonathan Ames (the show's creator and writer) hasn't lost his touch and personally I'm very excited to have Jonathan, Ray and George back in my life.  They're the kind of characters that you can actually picture yourself hanging out with and drinking some white wine, even if you can't relate to hanging out with artists in Brooklyn.

Next year we're sure to be treated to a showdown between Walt and Hank.  But with Walt blowing up nursing homes and poisoning people, he's not likely to go easy on Hank just because he's family.  Mike certainly has to pop up again too, and I'm expecting major fallout from Walt's nursing home explosion both from the DEA as well as what's left of Gus' empire.  

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