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10 Things I Thought About “Buried”

In which I expand upon incoherent livetweets and deliver my thoughts on last night’s insane episode of Breaking Bad. You probably shouldn’t read this article if you haven’t watched the ep, so I’m putting it under a read more.

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End Times: In Preparation for the End of Breaking Bad

I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating when I refer to Breaking Bad as The Best Show On Television. Vince Gilligan’s sophisticated, riveting, and beautifully engineered meth drama is a masterpiece of television, with a cinematic quality that almost seems too great to be contained by the small screen. AMC’s gem is well-written, beautifully photographed, thematically complex, and contains top notch performances unlike any on television.

Bryan Cranston is mind-blowingly amazing (and often terrifying) as the once high school science teacher and cancer patient Walter White, a brilliant chemist and family man who, to secure his family’s future, morphs into the criminal mastermind and meth manufacturer “Heisenberg”, the New Mexico kingpin constantly eluding capture by his DEA brother-in-law Hank Schrader (Dean Norris). Anna Gunn is absolutely brilliant as Walt’s wife Skyler, an amazing character who, for some reason, gets a lot of misguided hate from viewers (back off, Skyler is queen). Aaron Paul shines as Jesse Pinkman, the heart of the show whose humanity and tender-heartedness only become more apparent as his business partner and frenemy Walter White grows colder and abandons more and more of his scruples.

Walt in His Underwear, Part 1 in an infinite series #tbt

Walt in His Underwear, Part 1 in an infinite series #tbt

A lot has changed since the Pilot, in which Walter White is first diagnosed with cancer, teams up with his former student Jesse Pinkman, and cooks his first batch of meth in a beat up RV. As Walt says, “Chemistry is the study of matter. But I prefer to see it as the study of change. It is growth… then decay… then transformation.” Growth, decay, and transformation are the basic plot points of the show, as viewers witness the frustrated, dying chemist stuck in a low-paying job transform into Heisenberg (and by Heisenberg I mean an enormous douche who kills people and does terrible things).  My mom used this proverb to describe Walt (even though she doesn’t really watch the show): “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Most times, Breaking Bad makes me feel like I’m on the verge of a heart attack. Season 4, my personal favorite, is like one gigantic instant heart attack, especially the last three episodes, which contain a level of intensity so high it’s almost dangerous. When you’re not crying, cowering, or on the edge of the seat, Breaking Bad also has the ability to make you laugh a lot with its brilliantly crafted dialogue. It’s an amazing show, and an amazingly well-written show. It also has really good music.

And now, after four and a half seasons, AMC is preparing to air the final eight episodes that will bring the series to its close. It’s not the kind of show for which a happy ending seems likely, and I could speculate about who will die and how, but, like everyone else, I’m just going to have to wait and see how the drama unfolds. In preparation for the conclusion of my absolute favorite television show, I’ve been marathoning a rewatch via Netflix (the first eight episodes of season 5 became available on streaming just in time!), and I’m currently extremely emotional about this insane roller coaster ride of a show.

Walt blows up a car because he can, peasants

Walt blows up a car because he can, peasants

Since writing the above, the first two of the final eight episodes have aired, and after watching both multiple times, I’m still in shock. 5×9, “Blood Money”, was a finely crafted episode directed by the wonderful Bryan Cranston, who I think deserves a big round of applause. Tears appeared in my eyes the second it started, and throughout the rest of the episode it became apparent that this is going to be an insane final season containing a dangerous level of intensity. If every episode is anything like this one, I thought, I’m not really sure if I’m going to survive the end of this show.

“Buried” aired last night, and there’s so much that I could say about it that I should probably make a separate post. Basically, it was even more intense than “Blood Money”, and had me crying at intervals. Breaking Bad is probably the most stressful show on television–you’d think that sitting down to watch your favorite show in the evening would be an enjoyable experience. Well, watching Breaking Bad is… certainly an experience. THAT EPISODE WAS CRAZY.

The short version of this post? Go watch this show if you don’t already. And if you do, please join me in a group hug as we await the end.


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Farewell, The Office: Top 10 Episodes

The Office deserves a proper sendoff, and I decided the best way to do that would be to look back on the show’s best moments. These episodes, however, are in no particular order, because, well, it’s just too hard to choose. When The Office gets it right, it gets it really, really right.

“Casino Night”

casino night

This one might just be my favorite episode … ever. I’m more than a little biased, because I love Jim and Pam, but this episode is just all-around great. Michael is in rare form, between ranting at Toby (“I hate so much … of who you choose to be”) and ending up with two dates to Casino Night. The adorable Ryan-Kelly awkwardness and Jim-Pam flirting don’t hurt either, not to mention the cold open where Jim convinces Dwight he can move a coat rack with his mind.

“Goodbye Michael”

goodbye michael

I have no words. This episode from Season 7 was the best episode The Office had produced in several seasons. Michael lying about when he was leaving to avoid saying goodbye, his and Jim’s final conversation in the office, Michael taking off his microphone, Pam finally catching up to him at the airport- it all got me. This episode was so well done.

“Christmas Party”

Christmas Party

Who doesn’t love a good Christmas episode? One of my favorite Michael Scott moments is in this episode: Michael storming out of the gift exchange, being outraged over other people’s gifts, capped at $20, not matching up to the iPod that he broke the rules to buy. (“Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It is like this tangible thing that you can point to and say ‘Hey man, I love you this many dollars worth.'”) This episode is also full of Jim-Pam tension, since he buys her a Secret Santa gift (a teapot she really wanted, with “bonus presents” inside, including a note saying how he feels, which he eventually removes before she can read it) and then has to spend the party making sure she’s the one who gets it, as Michael turns it into a White Elephant exchange. Michael also ends up going to the store and buying 15 bottles of vodka to get everyone drunk: Christmas is never a dull time at Dunder Mifflin.

“Halloween”

Halloween

Another prime holiday episode of The Office! Besides the fun costumes, there’s some quality prankster Jim- in this episode, he puts Dwight’s resumé on the Internet and starts finding him a new job. Pam, of course, helps, But the best part of this episode is Michael, who has been told he has to fire someone by the end of the month, calling in various employees and trying to fire them, with no success. Creed Bratton manages to talk Michael out of firing him and convinces him to fire Devon instead- he’s the one Dwight rehired in the series finale.

“Michael’s Birthday”

michael's birthday

This is the kind of TV that never fails to cheer me up on a bad day. For me, the highlight of the episode is Michael “subtly” informing everyone that it’s his birthday- he calls Jan “to wish her happy birthday”, and when she tells him it’s not her birthday, he replies, “Really? ‘Cause I thought we had the same birthday.” The other side plot, centered around Jim and Pam shopping for Kevin’s favorite things to cheer him up in the midst of a health scare, is equally light and funny. There’s just something about this episode that will never fail to make you laugh.

“Pilot”

Pilot

A lot of times, if you go back and watch the pilot again after you start watching a show, you realize it’s actually not a very good episode. But the pilot of The Office will always be a classic. It’s very similar to the pilot of the UK version of the show, setting up all the characters and the different relationships. No matter how many times I watch this one, it stands the test of time.

“Diversity Day”

diversity day

This episode, the second one in the first season, is where the audience realizes exactly how crazy, for lack of a better word, Michael Scott is. It’s because of his accidentally racially offensive comments that they have to have the diversity seminar in the first place, and he ends up overhauling it and makes such offensive comments he gets slapped. Meanwhile, the audience also learns more about Pam and Roy’s issues, and starts to get attached to her and Jim. This episode isn’t just funny in itself, but is also where the audience really gets to know the characters.

“Fun Run”

fun run

I think I’ve seen this one more than any other episode of The Office. It starts with Michael hitting Meredith with his car. Then Pam’s computer crashes because she buys a celebrity sex tape. Kevin tries to prove her and Jim are dating, which they eventually admit they are. Michael than forces everyone in the office to help him plan a run to raise awareness for the fact that there already is a cure to rabies. I mean … is there a reason not to love this episode?

“The Fire”

the fire

If I had to pick one single episode to represent this show’s sense of humor, it just might be this one. First of all, BJ Novak’s writing is perfect. The Michael-Ryan dynamic in this episode is absolutely hilarious, not to mention Dwight. Everyone else standing around playing Desert Island games is pretty fun too, especially when Amy Adams shows up. Also, I’ll never listen to “We Didn’t Start the Fire” the same way again.

“Finale”

Finale

Once again I have no words. This episode is (Chris Traeger voice) literally everything the fans could have ever asked for. Michael came back, and has kids. Dwight and Angela got married. Ryan and Kelly ran off together. Andy got famous. Erin found her parents. Nellie got a baby. Jim got his dream job and his relationship with Pam is cuter than ever. Honestly, every single character got everything I could have ever wished for them. I just wish Michael would have insulted Toby one last time, for old times’ sake.

The Office had its ups and downs in recent years, but the first two seasons are some of the best TV I’ve ever seen. The writers really pulled it all together and gave it such a great sendoff, even though, in the immortal words of Jim Halpert, “Goodbyes are a bitch.” Thank you, and that’s what she said.