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#Breaking Good Companion for 1x04

Super cut of all the time lapse sequences in BrBa.

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At three years old, my son told me that she was actually my daughter. This is our story… so far.

This is the first episode in a podcast I produce about our life together. See, or search on “How to Be a Girl” on iTunes.

For background on my podcast, check out:

Breaking Good Companion: 1x04 - Cancer Man rewatch
This week A.Ron and Jim discuss how BrBa slows down to catch it’s breath, and add some extra dimensions to players such as Jesse, Walt Jr, and Hank. They talk about pacing, talk about Skyler’s likability and Walt’s hostility, as well as why it’s so satisfying to see a bluetooth douche in a convertible BMW get a bit of justice. Here’s my collection of links and notes for deep dive enjoyment: 

Mentioned on podcast:

  • From Alan Sepinwall’s review: “…after being interested in but not necessarily riveted by the first three episodes, I’m finally starting to feel engrossed by this show.” WTF?! This is where he gets engrossed in the show?
  • Director: The episode was directed by TV veteran Jim McKay, who’s credits include RectifyThe Good WifeTremeBossBig LoveIn Treatment and The Wire. All except The Wire came post-BrBa, with only a couple R.E.M. videos and a couple eps of Law & Order: Criminal Intent to his credit. Vince with an eye on young talent!
  • "Really good early work out of Aaron Paul in this episode." This is the first episode where we see some shading in Pinkman beyond the Cap’n tool that he is in eps 1-3.
  • 99.1% purity is dropped by Hank in the cold open segment. Walt has mad skills, yo!
  • "Cranston has zero shame." Yup.
  • Funniest line in the cast came from A.Ron: “Skyler’s hand job spontaneously gave him lung cancer. It was so bad and awful…”
  • Fun Factoid: Anytime you see someone smoking some crystal meth on the show, they’re actually lighting up sugar. This was explained on the Breaking Bad Insider podcasts.
  • They ask: Does meth give you hallucinations as strong as the one Jesse has with the Mormons? Apparently it’s very possible, if you are a chronic user. “With prolonged or heavy use, an addicts ability to function is reduced. they’re grip on reality suffers.” (x)
  • What would Walt’s Mom have been like? “I bet she’s a piece of work,” says A.Ron. They praise the show for having the focus and discipline to not go down this story road. I agree, but not for the same reasons they give. I just think she’s unnecessary for Walt’s characterization and journey. 
  • Walt Jr.’s crib shows the logo of Tampico Furniture. In the previous episode (1x03) we learned that Krazy 8’s father owned the store, and that Krazy 8 may have even worked there when Walter bought the crib.
  • I’m totally with Jim: There’s nothing more impotent and sad than pool nets, and pool cleaning.
  • Bad Boys: This episode is the first to introduce Jesse’s closest friends, Combo and Skinny Pete. Badger is introduced in 1x05.
  • Life out of balance: A.Ron compares the time-lapse shots in Breaking Bad to that of the film, Koyaanisqatsi (1982). Koyaanisqatsi means “life out of balance.” Koyaanisqatsi, which was conceived in Albuquerque, is the first in a wonderful triology of films that you should check out if you haven’t seen them. While I feel this comparison is more apt later in the series, here I think time-lapse is more literal - it’s just being used to show the passage of a day’s time while Jesse sleeps. BrBa gets more Koyaanisqatsi-esque with it’s time-lapse in Seasons 3 through 5B. Bonus: Check this fantastic supercut of all the time-lapse sequences from the series, some of which are reused in the Ozymandias trailer for Season 5B..
  • Fun factoid: In this episode, Vince Gilligan got the idea to blow up KENWINS from his brother. When they were younger, his brother was working in the garage on his vehicle, when he looked away for a second, the battery exploded. He said it sounded “like a cross between a shotgun and a bomb.” Luckily, no one was hurt.
  • Not-so-fun Factoid: Walter is diagnosed with Stage 3A Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer. Patients with this stage disease have a 5-year survival rate of 10% to 15%.
  • Callbacks and parallels: In the spoiler section, the Baldies discuss/debate the shows extensive use of visual callbacks, what A.Ron calls “Strip-mining the past to make the present seem more relevant/interesting.” Villigan, the writers and various directors have all stated that much of this was intentional. I believe Vince (or maybe MacLaren) called it “mining our show’s mythology.” This was never more apparent in Seasons 5B, where they put this technique in overdrive, intentionally composing shot-for-shot replicas of scenes from previous seasons. Vince has also called these “visual echoes.” Given that they had the same director of photography, Michael Slovis, for the majority of the series, I suspect that some of these echoes are just repeating instances of Slovis’ stylistic choices. But on a number of occasions, it’s obviously intentional. So what do these echoes provide as a storytelling device? They create a rich visual motif that makes the story feel more connected and purposeful over time. They also can be a subconscious or subtle way to connect themes, ideas or motives. Says Dustin Rowles, “Everything from the previous five seasons informs this sixth season (or season 5B, if you prefer). By calling back to earlier episodes, Vince is rewarding his audience for paying attention and, in the process, enriching those earlier episodes, which mean more now that we’re seeing how they inform the final eight episodes.” Also see Michael Darnell’s exploration of how callbacks can reveal deeper meanings in the show’s theme.
  • Gardener vs. Architect: Also in the spoiler section, they discuss at length which writing approach is present in Breaking Bad and which approach leads to a better show. George R.R. Martin sums up the approaches well here. Watch this lecture by Brandon Sanderson if you really want to go deep. For record, Vince considers himself a gardner. At The Sydney Writers’ Festival earlier this year, Vince said that even though the plot appears to be intricately planned and thoughtful, he’s more of gardener instead of an architect in his story-writing approach. The script and characters grew organically. For more on how the BrBa writer’s room worked, check out this gem from Brett Martin, author of Difficult Men (a fantastic book, btw).

Additional 1x04 notes & goodies:

  • The title of this episode, Cancer Man,is a reference to The X-Files. Villigan got his start in television with that show, which featured a character The Smoking Man. “Cancer Man” was the disparaging nickname that Fox Mulder had given to the Cigarette-Smoking Man. More here.
  • Film & TV great Tess Harper, of Tender Mercies fame, makes her debut as Jesse’s mom. 
  • Ken Wins is played by Kyle Bornheimer, who’s career seems to be summarized by a ton of one-off roles like this.
  • Rodney Rush, who plays Combo, was a local ABQ hire. This was his first acting role. Mainly, he’s a rapper. His Reddit AMA was pretty damn funny. IRL, he’s just like Combo. 
  • Breaking Bad Observations for 1x04. Aria Mohtadi’s in-depth visual analysis cleverly dissects clues, and provides a comprehensive look at callbacks and parallels that reference the pilot throughout the show’s run. Always an enjoyable read. 
  • The Science of Breaking Bad: John Preece talks about using superglue to suture wounds and how Walt blew that car battery up.
  • You can find a ton of fan art, gifs, callbacks, locations and factoids in the Chronicles’ rewatch project for 1x04 from last year. I’ll be reblogging some of my faves separately.

More info:

– Companion by Shayne Bowman, Heisenberg Chronicles

More Finale and Book 3 Discussion - "From the Spirit World" Podcast #138
  • More Finale and Book 3 Discussion - "From the Spirit World" Podcast #138
  • Dongbu Feng

More Finale and Book 3 Discussion - “From the Spirit World” Podcast #138

The end of the Book 3 finale and Book 3 as a whole are discussed as Dylan is joined by Mel and Delaney. 

Specific topics include (in order): The subtlety of the end of the finale, Korra’s character arc throughout the season and in the finale, debating the quality of K313, and positives and negatives of Book 3 as a whole. 

Here’s Mel’s article on Korra’s character arc which is referenced:

This podcast is 2 hours and 12 minutes long.

Pod #179

Beyond Belief, “The Bloodsucker Proxy” Variant A

Recorded on May 3, 2014 at Largo, Los Angeles

Recorded at Largo in LA on May 3, 2014, and later performed for the “official’ version at Town Hall in NY. We made some clarifications, changes, and punch-ups after the LA show, but everyone’s performances are so terrific that we wanted to share it with you.

Frank Doyle: Paul F. Tompkins

Sadie Doyle: Paget Brewster

Donna Henderson: Janet Varney

Arturis Severvein: Craig Cackowski

Johnny Vampire: Evan Neuman

Cistala, a succubus: Shannon Woodward

Phil, the changeling: Noah Segan

Invisible Men/Gypsies: Mark Gagliardi, Mark McConville, Jeremy Carter

Michelle: Katie Crown

Old One: John Ennis


Photo by Maarten deBoer

#Breaking Good Companion for 1x04 - KENWINS roundup:

Goof: In the scene where Walt blows up the BMW with the KEN WINS license plate, Walt pops the hood and then short circuits the battery. In BMW 318i models (the one in the scene), the batteries are actually located in the trunk of the car, instead of the front as shown in this scene.

Fun Factoid: Vince Gilligan got the idea to blow up KENWINS from his brother. When they were younger, his brother was working in the garage on his vehicle, when he looked away for a second, the battery exploded. He said it sounded “like a cross between a shotgun and a bomb.” Luckily, no one was hurt.

The Science of Breaking Bad: John Preece talks about how Walt blew that car battery up. “While films often show unrealistic detonate-on-impact cars, the battery explosion in this episode can actually happen.”

Ken is played by Kyle Bornheimer, who’s career seems to be summarized by a ton of one-off roles like this.

Season 12:15 -- EXTRA BONUS...STUFF
  • Season 12:15 -- EXTRA BONUS...STUFF
  • Some Idiots In a Call
  • Is This Even the Shizno? Are We All the Shizno, Deep Down? I Don't Even Know Anymore

We had too much silliness in the recording last week (Season 12:15 — The Gravy Challenge) for all of it to make it into the show. So, here’s some extra! LISTEN AT YOUR OWN PERIL.

Now with extra mp3 compression so we could post the audio here directly and not sully our absolutely spotless Talkshoe page.