Tag Archives: drugs

Review: American Beauty

american beauty poster
via IMP Awards

American Beauty (1999)

R / 122 min

Drama

Starring: Kevin Spacey, Annette Bening, Thora Birch

Director: Sam Mendes


Mid-life crises hit people hard.  They’re usually drastic and come completely from left field.  They have the potential to make you do weird things…things you’ll regret after it’s all over.  American Beauty, the academy award winning drama from director Sam Mendes, gives us a peek into the life of Lester Burnham, a suburban father who finds himself smack dab in the middle of a mid-life crisis.  A really weird one as well.  What takes place during the movie is fascinating piece of work.

american beauty 1
via attheback.blogspot.com

Kevin Spacey plays the sexually-frustrated Lester, which might be one of his best roles to date.  As he narrates the movie, we get introduced to the many annoyances that plague his life.  Lester’s wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening), is a stressed out real estate agent who needs to take a chill pill.  Bening give a great performance, it’s just a shame that her character gets no redeeming moments at all throughout the course of the movie, but that was most likely Mendes’ goal.  On the other hand, we have Lester’s daughter Jane, played by Thora Birch, whose bad tempered and generally unfriendly.  American Beauty is family dysfunction to a T.  It’s no surprise that Lester is bored with life, because he certainly isn’t getting any pleasures from his family.

Things quickly start to take a weird turn when Lester is introduced to Jane’s cheerleading friend Angela Hayes (Mena Suvari).  She puts him into a state of trance, giving him feelings he hasn’t experienced in a long while.  She essentially drives him to quit his job, work out, and smoke weed.  He even buys a new car.  Topping it all off, he begins to have fantasies about Angela where she’s always covered in roses.  The symptoms of a mid-life crisis.  Not perverted enough for you yet?  Well, we’re also introduced to Rick (Wes Bentley), the kid from next door who has a drug problem and a knack for filming people from his window.  There’s a scene where he is filming Lester work out in his garage naked from his bedroom.  Like I said, the movie isn’t afraid to get weird.

american beauty 2
via Toutle Cine

At first I didn’t know where this movie was going.  I knew that the outcome was heading for the worse, but I didn’t know how it was going to get there.  Then the third act came into play and it all started to come together and make sense.  I started to learn things about characters that we previously didn’t know and the pieces started putting themselves together.  It was enthralling to watch it all play out.  It was a depressing ending, but it made a lot of sense.  It came together brilliantly, which is the product of good screenwriting.

Perhaps the most enticing storyline of them all was the relationship between Rick and his family.  His mother doesn’t really speak much and his father, played by Peter Gallagher, is an ex-military prim-and-proper type.  Rick is a mentally estranged kid who has had problems with drugs in the past.  As the movie goes on, things get more tense in the family as Rick develops a relationship with Jane.  On the outset it might not seem like a big deal but Rick’s father gets the wrong idea, which is where things start to get interesting.

american beauty 3
via Masculinity Movies

Everything about American Beauty works really well.  Everything from the imagery to the performances make the film a stand-out.  It’s no surprise that the movie got well received by the Academy.  Every character is chasing their own version of the American dream, but they all fall short in their own ways.  It’s a smart movie that comes together in an illustrious way, which is a surprise given the fact that this was Mendes’ directorial debut.  American Beauty is an example of films done right.  Also, nothing ever good comes from having an infatuation with your daughter’s friend.  Just don’t do it.

american beauty score

Advertisements

Review: Breaking Bad Season 4

via Meet in the Lobby
via Meet in the Lobby

Breaking Bad (Season 4) (2011)

AMC / TVMA

Crime / Drama / Thriller

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

Creator: Vince Gilligan


With season four of Breaking Bad, we’re starting to see a changed Walter White.  He has had numerous close calls, successes, and hardships that have grown to shape the person he is by the credits of the season’s finale.  We have a much different Walt than the one we had back in the show’s first season…and boy have we come along way.  Season four has probably been my favorite season of Breaking Bad so far…and I still have the final season to get through.

via Pop Screen
via Pop Screen

I should probably start off by talking about the one blemish in an almost perfect season.  The previous season had a great ending with some tense episodes leading up to the finale, which included a pivotal moment for Jesse (Aaron Paul).  Because of the season’s finale, the beginning portion of season four was a bit slow, tying up loose ends that were not taken care of in the previous season.  These first couple of episodes were absolutely necessary to the story, but they would have fit better in a longer season three.  I know things like this are not really possible, but they should have thought about that going into the third season.

It’s around episode four when season four of Breaking Bad technically begins and it keeps rolling all the way till the finale.  Things pick up quickly as Hank (Dean Norris) starts a brand new investigation after the wake of his big accident.  The “blue” just can’t leave his mind and he starts to look into the events that took place at the end of season three.  He believes that Gus (Giancarlo Esposito), the supposed charitable owner of the Los Pollos chain of restaurants, is the brain behind the operation.  As one would expect, this makes way for a lot of problems.  Walt (Bryan Cranston) has to desperately pick up any crumbs that he might have left.  The same goes with Gus, who noticeably looks a lot more concerned as time goes on.  That isn’t normal for the guy that always maintained a somewhat unbreakable facade.

via AMC TV Blog
via AMC TV Blog

Skylar (Anna Gunn) also plays a big role this season when she starts to dip her toes full force into the mess that Walt has gotten himself into.  She begins to take over the operation of a local car wash, the fuel to their money laundering schemes.  Out of nowhere however comes her old boss, who presents her with more problems that could potentially lead to trouble down the road with Walt’s operation.  Because of this, she has to cover her tracks as well.  With all of these people covering their tracks, it’s only a matter of time before someone forgets a crumb.  As one would expect, the finale was the end of the road for one important character and it was a spectacular end.  They went out with a sort of comedic bang…in a messed up sort of way.

What made this season stand out the most however was the stockpile of great moments that kept flying in left and right.  Walt had some touching moments with Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte), Mike (Jonathan Banks) and Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) continued to have great scenes, the flashback to Gus’s older days was fascinating to watch, and Jesse had an amazing monologue at his group therapy session.  Let’s also not forget Walt’s powerful speech about how “he’s the guy that knocks people off.”  It was a chilling chain of words that left even Skylar speechless.

breaking bad s4 3

This brings up the point of Walt’s changed persona.  So far, Walt has been levelheaded and cautious, always aiming to please.  He was always careful to get on everybody’s good side.  With season four, Walt takes a turn down to the dark side.  His speech to Skylar was just a starting point.  The act of killing someone starts to not faze him as much as it used to.  He starts to pack heat in order to protect himself.  He frequently gives the bird to the cameras that are scattered throughout the meth lab.  He even brings a bomb into a children’s hospital.  How evil do you have to be to bring a bomb into a place full of children?  Even Jesse realizes that’s a certain level of messed up.

Walt’s taking a journey down a dark road, and the fact that season four ended with little to no loose ties makes the prospect of the final season even more enticing.  What decisions is Walt going to make in the future.  How is he going to alienate his family who he is growing detached from more and more?  What is Jesse going to do in all of this madness?  He seems to be the wild card at the moment.  Say what you will about the slow nature of the season’s beginning or perhaps the comical ending, but season four felt like a complete package full of tense and memorable moments.  How come I have the feeling that there’s going to be exponentially more great moments in the final season?

breaking bad s4 4

Review: Beauty Behind The Madness

beauty behind the madness coverBeauty Behind The Madness (2015)

The Weeknd

Pop / R&B

Label: XO, Republic


It’s been cool to watch the journey that Abel Tesfaye, more famously known as The Weeknd, has taken from his more obscure roots as an R&B croon to the mainstream star that he is today.  The Canadian artist first got his start putting out mixtapes and then proceeded to get noticed by record labels.  I guess it’s only ironic that the guy who relished being closed off from the world would go on to be noticed by more and more people.  Beauty Behind The Madness is Abel’s first foray into the mainstream and he takes the spotlight with grace.

via The Island Critic
via The Island Critic

I have to admit, I was pretty worried going in.  The tried and true tale of lesser known artists going mainstream and drastically changing their sounds is one we hear often.  I was worried the same would be true of The Weeknd.  His classic dark and atmospheric sound, fueled by his past, love, and drugs, was the sound that made me gravitate towards his unique brand of R&B.  It also doesn’t take a genius to recognize that this kind of sound doesn’t necessarily translate well to the top 40 airwaves.  (Just take The Weeknd’s first official album Kiss Land for example.  It was lauded well by critics but didn’t strike big among the general populace.)  Luckily for me, and probably everybody else, his doesn’t miss a step, taking his familiar sound to the mainstream spotlight while appealing to the masses.  Beauty Behind The Madness is simply the best case scenario for everybody.

Abel manages to fuse his addicting verses and melodies about troubled love and drugs with songs that are fit and ready to go on the radio.  Just take “Can’t Feel My Face,” for example.  The song manages to remain a “The Weeknd” song while at the same time providing us with one of the songs of the summer.  It’s also pretty easy to realize that Michael Jackson is a common influence through it all.  Literally, his influence rears its head on almost every note.  Other songs like “The Hills” and 50 Shades of Grey’s “Earned It” are great examples as well.

via All-Stars
via All-Stars

Don’t let the mainstream coating around the album scare you away if you were a fan of the old Weeknd though.  There is still a ton of material to keep you satisfied in between.  “Often,” which has been released in the past, makes another appearance on the album and continues to be one of my favorites.  Two songs towards the beginning of the album, “Real Life” and “Tell Your Friends,” act as good introductions to not only Abel’s music, but his life as well.  They go into his dark past and the decisions that he has made while going on and stating that he is not going to change his ways despite his new-found gust of fame.  He lays it out like it is.  Abel has been pretty open in the past, but the songs on Beauty Behind The Madness dive deeper into the shrouds that surround the intriguing crooner.

Another thing that makes the album pop is the amazing production that is interlaced through every single track.  The Weeknd handled a lot of the production on the album, but he also signed on the expertise of guys like Illangelo, Max Martin, Mike Dean, and even Kanye West for production duties.  Everything sounded very great, setting a mood and atmosphere that just kills.  On a side note, “Tell Your Friends,” produced in part by Kanye West, was in dire need of a Kanye verse.  Just saying…

via Okay Player
via Okay Player

The album is primarily a solo affair, which only makes sense for the kind of artist that Abel is.  The only features on the album are Che Pope, Ed Sheeran, and Lana Del Rey.  Aside from Che Pope, Sheeran and Del Rey are two artists that just go hand in hand with The Weeknd’s style.  The Weeknd and Sheeran’s “Dark Times” is a fantastic sounding song where the two feed off each other’s energy as the song goes on, culminating to a sweet sounding final duet.  “Prisoner,” featuring Lana Del Rey, presents us with the musical styles of both artists which ultimately goes together like peanut butter and jelly.  (Sorry, I had to use the PB&J analogy because it just makes sense.)

Beauty Behind The Madness is a textbook example by The Weeknd on handling new-found fame preceded by years of general obscurity.  A couple of songs lack the luster that the other’s bring to the table, but ultimately The Weeknd presents us with a final package that will please everyone in the end.  It’s a well put together album that will hopefully put The Weeknd on the map, if he hasn’t been put on there already.

beauty behind the madness score

Review: Dope

via Screen Slam
via Screen Slam

Dope (2015)

R / 103 min

Comedy / Drama

Starring: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons

Director: Rick Famuyiwa


This summer seems to be looking good for hip-hop fans.  This weekend we were treated to Dope, with Fresh Dressed and Straight Outta Compton still to come.  It is hard to say what caused this recent spike, but it will definitely give us a nice breather from the usual cinema fanfare.  Let’s just face it, we do not have enough movies about hip-hop culture these days.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though.  Was Dope actually dope?  You bet it was.

Dope would be the fresh and fun lovechild if The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Superbad were to have a child.  The movie stars Shameik Moore in his breakthrough role as Malcolm, a solemn and honest geek living in a tough neighborhood in Inglewood, California.  His best buds, Jib and Diggy (Tony Revolori and Keirsey Clemons) are geeks as well.  The trio are stuck in nineties hip-hop culture, but like “white shit” like skateboarding, doing well in school, and…yes, Donald Glover.  As the movie points out, life is hard for a geek living in Inglewood, California.

via Vid Shaker
via Vid Shaker

The comedy starts fast and does not slowdown in its intensity.  Malcolm is a smart kid who is looking to get into Harvard.  He’s been working on the application and he already has an interview with a Harvard alumni.  It’s his senior year, and Malcolm and his friends want to have some fun.  Unfortunately for them, they get involved in the wrong type of fun.  On the way home from school, Malcolm gets caught up in the business of the slinging and dealing drug dealer named Dom, played surprisingly well by A$AP Rocky.  He invites the trio of misfits to his birthday bash, where things ultimately go bad, leaving Malcolm and his pals waist deep in a big drug caper.  They have some of the best dope around that they need to get rid of fast.

Things get more out of hand as more characters are introduced and plotlines start to intertwine with each other.  Things happen quickly and the trio are thrust into some pretty uncomfortable and often funny situations.  The movie provides a satisfying feeling when everything gets connected together.  Malcolm, Diggy, and Jib have a ton of smarts that surprisingly translates to some pretty credible street smarts.

via Music Times
via Music Times

Cultural callbacks to the nineties era of hip-hop are plentiful and numerous.  Everything from MTV to N.W.A. and even to Wack-a-Mole finds its place in Dope.  The fashion, the haircuts (let’s all take a moment to acknowledge that Malcolm has a top-notch haircut everybody), and the music make Rick Famuyiwa’s tribute to nineties culture feel real and complete.

The first two acts cruise right along, nailing all the right spots, but then the third act comes around.  Now, I might sound negative when I say that, but that is not the truth.  I heartily enjoyed the films right turn that it took towards the end.  It was completely unexpected, but demonstrated the depth and intelligence that Dope brings to the table, which is something I did not expect to say about the film.  Skip to the next paragraph if you have not already seen the movie, because I want to talk about it a little more.

via Infinite Leg Room
via Infinite Leg Room

Throughout the movie, we get the constant theme of realness and fakeness.  It’s a question that not only Malcolm has to think about, but the audience as well.  Is he like those other dudes in the hood, or is he real to himself?  The third act is the revelatory answer to the thoughtful question.  In the end, he is both.  He is the smart straight-A Harvard student, who happens to wheel and deal like the rest of them.  Malcolm breaks down the whole movie into a couple of minutes while he takes viewers on a journey to this conclusion.  It was really satisfying to see it all come together.  However, it’s the acts dark undertone that made it so unexpected.  Malcolm shaves his head and loses the nineties fashion.  He comes to grips with himself as becomes a truer version of his character.  This leads to one of the few gripes I have with the film.  I would have almost liked the movie better if Malcolm took a deep dive into the drug dealing trade.  What if he lost the will to go to college?  What if he decided to pursue the life of a drug-dealing kingpin?  His intelligence and his street smarts that he acquires as the movie progresses would have made him one fine dope dealer. This is the direction I would have wanted the film to go.  Yes, it might not have been the nice happy ending that most would have wanted from a film like this, but it would have had a more profound effect on viewers.  It would have left me with a stronger aftertaste.

dope 5

Like I said before, I still enjoyed the direction that the movie took.  I knew going into Dope that I was probably going to enjoy what it had to offer.  As a fan of hip-hop, this movie was made for my kind of interests.  However, it took me on a ride that I was not expecting at all.  It was a crowd-pleaser, giving us a dose of humor and intellect, with a side of Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance.”

dope 4

Review: The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe

via Movie Newz
via Movie Newz

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe (2015)

Lifetime / TVMA

Biography / Drama

Starring: Kelli Garner, Susan Sarandon, Emily Watson

Director: Laurie Collyer


At this point, the wild and tragic life of cultural and sexual icon Marilyn Monroe has been explored by everyone and their father.  Their almost a dime a dozen.  Books have been written and documentaries have been made, picking apart almost every aspect of her short and troubled life.  What makes it all fascinating is the amount of info that she was able to keep away from the media for the longest time.  It is what makes these documentaries riveting.  Lifetime’s The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe is yet another biopic about the dark secrets that Monroe managed to keep to herself.  It manages to keep itself fresh, albeit some problems.

The two-part made-for-TV movie tells the story of Monroe within the sometimes awkward frame of a psychotherapy session.  Monroe, played by Kelli Garner, talks through the many different aspects of her life that eventually lead to her tragic end.  Dr. DeShields (Jack Noseworthy) is earnest in learning about her life story, but at times this leads to some awkward writing which at times seemed clunky.  It was meant to drive the different parts of the documentary.

via Movie Newz
via Movie Newz

One of the things that provides the backbone for the biopic is Monroe’s mother and her mental issues.  Gladys, played by Susan Sarandon, is painted as a troubled woman with a dark story.  The movie sets this as the prime reason for Monroe’s troubled childhood.  She was an orphan for most of her childhood life and it is assumed that some of her own mental issues where a direct contribution from her mother.  In between bouts with her mom, her main caregiver was her aunt Grace McKee (Emily Watson) who raised her to be the model and actress that she slowly began to morph into, much to her real mother’s dismay.

kinopoisk.ru
via kinopoisk.ru

The first part of the biopic depicts Monroe’s childhood and the second part really starts to tell the tale of Monroe’s downward spiral thanks to her problems with men and drugs.  We see a lot of her relationship with retired Yankee Joe DiMaggio (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and the problems that arose from the marriage.  We also see the relationship with playwright Arthur Miller (Stephan Bogaert) that also had its fair share of problems, including Monroe’s miscarriage.  Towards the end, we have a brief look at Monroe’s affair with President Kennedy, which I would have loved to seen explored more.  All of these things, along with her zealous use of prescription drugs, eventually leads to her death, which was a result of an overdose of barbiturates.  The movie ends in ambiguous fashion, showing Monroe take some pills before going to bed.  We are treated to one of the documentaries most touching scenes between Monroe and her mother on a beach, right around the time when Monroe was really starting to get noticed.  It’s what the young starlet always wanted, but the depressing scene makes us realize that you have to be careful about what you wish for.

via Mondo Moda
via Mondo Moda

In terms of Garner’s performance as the iconic figure, there are some things that could have been done better.  First off, she looked more like Kelli Garner than Marilyn Monroe herself.  I realize that finding an actress that matches the look of Monroe is quite a feat, but she did not always seem like the right fit.  With enough make up, she looked fine, but there were some points where I noticed she did not look quite right.  She also does an okay job at mimicking the actresses’ iconic voice, but at points Garner’s portrayal of the voice was almost overdone and exaggerated.  Monroe was always typecast as the “dumb blonde” (see her movies like Gentleman Prefer Blondes and How to Marry a Millionaire) and Garner is bubbly and flirtatious, but to an extreme at different parts of the feature.

Although Garner’s performance could have been better, I really enjoyed the performances brought on by the supporting cast.  Emily Watson and Susan Sarandon did a wonderful job of playing Monroe’s closest family.  Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who played Joe DiMaggio, turned out to be one of my favorite characters from the feature.  The second part of the documentary really focuses on his dynamic character, a man jealous of Monroe’s fame.  He goes through a lot of emotions but ends up becoming the good guy by the end, one of the few people that was always there for the actress.

via Movie Newz
via Movie Newz

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe does not give us any new bits of information about Marilyn Monroe’s life, but it manages to keep things fresh with a story told through a different lenses.  I would not consider it a grade-a look at the troubled star’s life, marred by Garner’s portrayal of Monroe, but she does a serviceable job of telling one of the most intriguing, and maybe depressing, stories about the types of problems that come with living life in the lights of Hollywood.

secret life of monroe score

Review: No No: A Dockumentary

via Google Play
via Google Play

No No: A Dockumentary (2014)

NR / 100 min

Documentary / Sports

Starring: Dock Ellis

Director: Jeff Radice


Baseball is a sport that has had a lot of characters throughout its long storied history.  Among the long list of famous baseball players, Dock Ellis is one of those guys that probably flies under the radar. How he flies under the radar, I do not know.  He is probably one of the most intriguing players, if not one of the craziest pitchers to play the game.  No No: A Dockumentary tells his story.

Director Jeff Radice does not waste his time in the beginning of the documentary, starting with Dock’s claim to fame; his no-hitter with the Pittsburgh Pirates under the influence of LSD.  A feat like this is almost impossible, but somehow, some way, Dock Ellis found a way to pull history off against the San Diego Padres.

via The Dissolve
via The Dissolve

The title is misleading though, as the documentary starts to branch off into other directions.  We indeed get the story of Dock’s no hitter, but we get a much bigger exploration into the crazy life that Dock Ellis led.  He was an alcoholic, a drug addict, and was never afraid to ramble off what was on his mind.  He’s a player that would not last a second in today’s world, but managed to create a name for himself back when he first played for the Pirates.  He was a talented pitcher, managing to pitch under the influence of a number of different drugs.  The drugs “took the edge off” and managed to loosen up his appearance on the mound.  He was a pitcher that had an effect on the psyche of hitters.  They never knew what kind of state the man was in.

With that many drugs going through his system on a daily basis, it was no surprise that his personal life started to take a downhill direction.  He had different girlfriends, but these relationships never seemed to all end abruptly thanks to Dock’s drug problem.  He also led a party life that often got him into trouble.  These effects changed him however, and the last part of the documentary documents Dock’s return to sobriety, and his defeat of his drug and alcohol addiction.  It was a change for the better, and it led him to teach and counsel others going through the same types of struggles that he went through.

via PGH City Paper
via PGH City Paper

The story is told by friends, family, former players and Dock himself, who was present for some interviews.  They all had interesting things to say about Dock, painting him as a good man, with a lot of vices.  Radice does a good job of framing the story with music from the era as well, giving the documentary a cool psychedelic feel straight out of the 70’s.  It was a good fit.  As far as actual game footage go, it was pretty scarce.  Most of the footage came from his famed no hitter, but the majority of the film was still photos and interviews from others.  It would have been nice to see some other footage, perhaps from his game against the Cincinnati Reds, where he was on a mission to hit everyone in their lineup until he got taken out.

Another thing that came to question was the documentary’s sudden end.  The documentary does not disappoint and managed to keep the story going through its 100 minute runtime, but it came to a quick end.  It almost seemed like there was a little more story to be told.  I do not know if Radice had to make some cuts for time concerns or what, but it just did not seem right.

via Youtube
via Youtube

No No: A Dockumentary manages to tell a compelling story about one of the craziest and lesser known players of the game.  He was outspoken, pitched a no-hitter, started an all-star game, and played for a number of teams during his wild career.  He has not received a hall of fame nod, but perhaps that is because the kind of life he led does not necessarily match up with the kind of example you want to set for young players of the game.  Either way, the now deceased Dock Ellis deserves a nice comfy spot in baseball history as one the most storied players of the game, and his documentary demands your attention.

no no score

Review: Breaking Bad Season 2

via Film School Rejects
via Film School Rejects

Breaking Bad (Season 2) (2009)

TVMA / AMC

Crime / Drama / Thriller

Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

Creator: Vince Gilligan


Heisenberg and Jesse are not just dealing off the block anymore, the game has changed.  Things are getting bigger and more out of control, and business is only getting better.  The first season of Breaking Bad might as well have been a preview of what is to come.  The show’s second season is where we start to take a dip into the craziness that will ensue in coming seasons.

The season picks up seconds after the drug deal between Walt (Bryan Cranston), Jesse (Aaron Paul), and drug kingpin Tuco (Raymond Cruz).  Thanks to Walt’s extensive expertise in chemistry, the unlikely duo have managed to create one of the hottest meth products on the market.  A better product means a bigger market.  Which means that it is time for Walt and Jesse to take their little side business to new heights.

??????????????????????????????????????

As Walt’s secret side job escalates to new levels, so does the family situation at home.  Skylar (Anna Gunn) and Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) are going through a range of emotions in light of recent events.  Walt’s dual personality that he has to uphold really throws Skylar and Walt into a sort of taboo the whole season.  Skylar starts to get the suspicion that Walt is up to something, but Walt does the best he can to keep those questions diverted.  He can only uphold the act for so long though, as things start to catch up to him in the last couple of episodes.

Walt is not the only character with a dual personality.  In fact, season 2 really gave us a look at everybody’s dual personalities.  Jesse tries to play the part of Mr. Tough Guy, but reveals his softer side to his new landlord Jane (Krysten Ritter), Jesse’s first true love.  Skylar tries to stay faithful to Walt, but we start to see the brewing chemistry between Skylar and her new boss at her new job.  Walt’s brother in law Hank (Dean Norris), the DEA agent, makes it seem like he is a fearless individual, when we know this is not the case, when we see his anxieties start to kick in towards the middle of the season.  Skylar’s sister Marie (Betsy Brandt) is a loving and compassionate relative to the White family, but she shoplifts and does some things on the side that might make us think otherwise.  Even Walt Jr. has another side, preferring to be called Flynn among his friends.  Some of these personalities are more prominently featured than others, but the theme still remains clear.

breaking bad s2 2

Jesse Pinkman probably had the hardest season out of all the characters however.  He goes on a wild character arc throughout the season, ending on probably the lowest we have seen him.  He starts off as the tough guy that we remember from season 1, but this act cannot be upheld forever when he is literally thrown to the streets by his parents.  With no car or house…or pretty much anything…he is left to his own devices to build his life back up again.  We then see him evolve into a fake kingpin as business starts booming.  This is another act that he cannot uphold forever though.  Finally, thanks to his new girlfriend that is his landlord, he devolves to the status of a heroine junkie and literally injects himself to the lowest totem on the pole by the end of the season.  The last episode however gives hope to Jesse, making it look like he will make a strong return in season 3.

It’s funny to see the scope that Walt and Jesse’s business has grown to by the end of season 2.  The two most unlikely criminals have pretty much rose to the top of the drug game.  However, just like any business, problems start to arise, especially when you try to take on new territory.  This presents us with two new characters, Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and Gustavo ‘Gus’ Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), the owner of the Los Pollos Hermanos food chain.  Bob Odenkirk brings a great performance to the table as the shady criminal lawyer Saul.  He teaches Walt and Jesse a couple of lessons about the game, while providing some funny moments along the way.  What makes Gus interesting is his striking similarity to Walt.  The two are both very cautious with their business proceedings, while at the same time, trying to live normal lives.  Gus helps Walt make the biggest deal of the series, netting the two close to about $500,000 dollars each.

breaking bad s2 3

This season was very well done.  It managed to tie up a couple of loose ends, while making room for new ones which will drive the series onward.  Towards the end, we see Skylar give birth to a newborn girl, and Walt even gets some good news of his own.  However, the finale is a tough one for Walt.  The show sets up season 3 to be a big season for Walt’s character.  With his new situation that is presented to him, is he going to try and fix it, or go all in with his business?

Season 2 was a hell of ride, providing me with some of the most intense and riveting episodes that I have seen from the series in a while.  It’s hard to pick out the faults from a season that did so many things right.  Time’s running out for Walt, and what he does with this time is going to be one hell of a ride.

breaking bad s2 score