Every week I think I’m finally done with Falling Skies, but my DVR keeps stubbornly recording it, and to tell my DVR to not record it means I have to push, like, three buttons, so I keep watching it, hoping it will get a little better. It hasn’t, really.
The recent storyline has a lone army guy showing up and saying, essentially, “I need to take all the children away from the camp because of ALIENS. And you parents can’t come for SOME REASON.” And the parents are all “No way!” And he’s all, “But, ALIENS! And, SOME REASON!” And the parents are all, “Okay, then. Good luck with taking our children away, I guess.”
To the shock of no one watching, this army guy has an evil plan to trade the kids to the aliens in exchange for the aliens letting the adults live in peace, and then the people from the camp find out this plan, and find the kids, and everything is resolved in a completely long and unexciting way in the course of two episodes. Also, some people we don’t care about get killed. We’ve also got that guy Pope back, and he continues to be gross and suck and talk about cooking, which is supposed to be funny because he’s a hardass, and hardasses shouldn’t know about cooking, you guys! There’s only two episodes left, so I’ll probably stick around for them, but if it doesn’t improve, I’m probably done with this show. I will summon the energy to push those buttons before next season, so help me.
The second episode of Breaking Bad aired this Sunday as well, and while nothing gruesome happened, it was still good in a number of ways (that number is one).
So. Walter knows Gus will have him whacked as soon as he finds a replacement chemist, and he plans to beat him to the punch. He buys an illegal gun (there is apparently such a thing in this country) and practices killing Gus for the first half of the episode, then requests a meeting. Hitman Mike informs Walt that there’s absolutely no way Gus is ever going to meet with him. Walt then approaches Gus’ home in the dead of night, but gets a phone call that lets him know that Gus is totally aware of his plan and that he should just go home. Still determined to gain the upper hand, he goes to visit Mike in a bar. Walt, in all his wisdom (he has none, we’re learning this week), thinks he can talk Hitman Mike over to his side, but Gus is Mike’s boss, and Mike, no matter that Gus coldly killed another employee right in front of him, isn’t going to cross his boss. And why? Because Mike is a professional. Gus is a professional. Walt, with all his planning and calculations, is a rank amateur.
This is really, really great stuff: Walt trying to be a criminal mastermind, even donning his badass Heisenberg hat, and getting essentially nowhere, because he’s not a mastermind, he’s a scared chemistry teacher who has survived to this point mostly on luck. And as a viewer, I’m an amateur as well. I see Walt planning his cold-as-ice assassination, and donning his black hat, and I think, “Yeah, go get him, Walt. Get gangsta. Clip his ass. ” And Walt, of course, can’t, because he’s way out of his league, and his plan to kill Gus and recruit Mike were incredibly naive. I loved the Walt stuff in this episode, as I almost always do. A great touch was giving Walt a cool soundtrack as he approached Gus’ house, only to have the music quickly dribble away as his plan was interrupted by the phone call.
Now to the stuff I generally don’t love. Jesse, for his part, spends the entire episode surrounding himself with people and noise, trying to keep a meth-fueled party going at his house for three days to avoid being alone with his thoughts. After appearing to toughen at the end of the first episode, it looks like he’s back to cracking again. Once more, he spends the entire show on the same set, doing very little. His scenes weren’t bad, but I just don’t much care for Jesse or the actor playing him, so his struggles don’t really have much of an impact on me.
Skyler has her own careful plans to become a crime lord, and they’re rebuffed as Walt’s were: after making an offer to buy the car wash she plans to use as a front for their drug money, she’s turned down by the owner who is still smarting from when Walt quit the car wash way back when. Hank, meanwhile, continues to rehab from his injuries while being a complete dick to his wife. And, in an exciting twist, Walter Jr. comes out of his room and has some breakfast, which is apparently all he does this season.
This is Breaking Bad. It inches along with flashes of brilliance and occasional bursts of extreme violence, just enough to keep the slow pace from becoming interminable. There’s always something great buried in it. It’s not always a lot, sometimes it’s just a little moment or turn in the plot, such as in this episode, where Walt’s seemingly badass and brilliant plan of bumping off Gus turns pathetic as Mike quietly beats the shit out of him and leaves him gasping on the barroom floor. But the little collection of great scenes every week, amid long bouts of not much else happening, keep the show worth watching.
I also watched Alphas. Oh wait, I didn’t. I meant to watch it. But I keep forgetting. That’s probably not a good sign.