Archives October, 2013

12 October
ibrews

B

 

Hoo-rah!

  • Well-written script by Bruce Norris– compelling story that never felt too spoon-fed, and all very real characters who reminded Liz and I of actual people in our lives.
  • Appreciated the balance of the slightly absurd theatrical elements with grounded, true-to-life depictions.
  • The show moves swiftly with excellent pacing– all scene and set changes happened while the action continued, and characters would move from one scene to the next without missing a beat. This was used to great comedic effect in a scene where the wife (fabulously played by Laurie Metcalf) tells her lawyer there’s no way they’re going to become the kind of people who talk to a therapist, and literally a second later they’re sitting down talking to a therapist. I believe Bruce Norris/Anna Shapiro (the director) have mastered the theatrical smash-cut.
  • ‘Theater in the round’ style of the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre felt intimate, and the blocking was such that you never had more than one character facing away from you.
  • Ian Malcolm– the later years! Jeff Goldblum was an excellent choice for a philandering, unfaithful, selfish prick who could still entertain and hold your interest.
  • Loved the Cambodian daughter never speaking to her family, but continually giving a school presentation throughout the show that progressed into further and further humiliation for various male species of animal.

Blech…

  • There’s definitely a better title for this show than ‘Domesticated.’ Maybe they were playing off the whole domesticated animal thing in addition to the family dynamic, but when I hear a show is called ‘Domesticated’, I imagine a somewhat inane, low-stakes family drama. This wanted to be called something grander, perhaps ‘The Descent of Man’ or ’Humiliated Male Species 101.’
  • As much as I like the idea of it, I don’t really buy that Bill (Jeff Goldblum) would stay quiet through the almost the entire first act of the show. He clearly loves the sound of his own voice, and as we learned later, wasn’t really ashamed of his actions, so the notion that he would allow a constant barrage of verbal abuse without speaking up rang untrue.
  • While the ensemble casting was certainly efficient (7 performers covered about 20 characters), it definitely caused confusion. A couple of the more bothersome double-takes: the actress who played the wife’s lawyer also played her best friend, and the actress who played the defending lawyer of an injured prostitute and her mother also played an Oprah-esque talk-show host who interviewed them. Costumes/hair-styles/demeanor– not sure what or how, but more certainly could have been done to distinguish some of these parts.
  • One of the actresses took me out of the moment a number of times: she spoke far louder than the other performers, and never really disappeared into any of the five roles she was playing.
  • Jeff Goldblum has a strange physicality when he plays heightened emotions. He bangs on things over-dramatically, makes big gestures, and swings his whole body– it struck me as unnatural, but maybe I just haven’t seen enough tall, lanky people get angry.

 

Fun Facts:

Jeff Golblum plays a guy who can’t stand to be monogamous with his wife, and keeps going after younger people. In real life, Jeff Goldblum was married and divorced twice, then has dated on and off with numerous people for the past 23 years. His current girlfriend is half his age.

 

Laurie Metcalf plays Jeff Goldblum’s wife and the mother of their two children. She is sickened by her husband’s actions and can’t stand the sight of him anymore. In real life, she recently filed for divorce after a nearly 20 year marriage, also with two children.

 


4 October
ibrews

SPOILERS! (obviously)

 
 

This show has meant a lot to me since I started watching in June of 2010. I was in a terribly-depressing, sweat-shop-like job working for a starchitect, and Breaking Bad carried me through that experience. Like Jesse imagining himself in a woodshop, this was the mental escape that kept me sane. I will always be grateful for that. Sometime in the future, probably after going back and rewatching the series in it’s entirety, I will likely write a full  retrospective. But for now, since a few days have passed, I feel comfortable giving my ruminations on the end of my favorite show:

 
I think the true genius of the conclusion of Breaking Bad is that we weren’t given just one ending– we were given three. And not in a Lord of the Rings, too-many-endings kinda way, but in a ‘thematic variations’ kinda way, conveniently tied to each of the last 3 episodes.

 

1) Ozymandias. The episode Vince Gilligan said was the best Breaking Bad episode they ever made, brings the karmic force of Walter White’s misdeeds full circle. Hank dies, Walt sends Jesse to his death, Walt Jr. and Skyler see him as a monster, call the cops on him, and force him to change his identity and leave town. It’s emotionally exhausting, full of twists and turns, wholly dark, and forces the kind of mad-improvisation out of Walt we’ve come to expect from Breaking Bad. It’s full of callbacks to the pilot. It’s where the glorious, all-powerful Heisenberg truly dies, and Walt can no longer pretend that those close to him are better off thanks to his influence. Now, can you imagine if the final shot of the entire series was him driving off in that red van? It would have been powerful, harrowing, divisive, and debated for ages. It gave us what I’m calling the ‘emotional’ ending to the show; where things became irrevocably awful and at long last, Walt didn’t have the lying power to convince himself otherwise.

 

2) Granite State. Here’s where we see the ending that so many people felt Walt deserved: a kind of purgatory or prison, stuck living without any power (literal and figurative), knowing no one loves him, slowly dying and left with nothing but the weight of the enormity of his sins. It was slow, quiet, depressing, contemplative. To end the series after the Charlie Rose talk, whiskey glass half-empty (or half-full?), can you imagine? As the Breaking Bad theme swells for the first time ever during the show proper, we would have been left to put the pieces together ourselves for what Walt does with the machine gun and and ricin, though as became evident later, many of us were spot on. Without the spoon-feeding that came in the next episode, this was the ‘intellectual’ ending to the show.

 

3) Felina. Personally, I’m glad we were given this ending, as despite the checkbox quality to it all and the nice little bows that were put on everything, it was sweet, and it was satisfying. Surprises were few and far between, but like eating chocolate cake from a bakery you’ve heard nothing but good things about, sometimes it’s okay to have your expectations met. Ozymandias and Granite State were entrees– this was dessert. This was for people who didn’t have the stomach for the open-endedness of the show concluding on either of the other two episodes. For the first time ever, almost nothing went wrong for Walt– no being abducted on his way to assassinate Gale, no Spidey-sense Gus avoiding his car in the parking garage. Walt got what he wanted, and was able to gesture toward the idea of being a good person before dying with contentment on his face. Jesse was ‘freed’ and all the people we hated died. This was the ‘Hollywood’ ending.

 
——

 
Within those parameters, there’s still a lot of room for theories and speculation. For example, I like the interpretation proposed by Emily Nussbaum, that Felina is just the fantasy of a powerless, dying man stuck in New Hampshire– that the moment those keys fell out of the visor and the snow fell away with a Fonzy-bop, we were living inside Walt’s head, where everything goes just the way he wants with little-to-no hitches. Cool, I say. By questioning the ‘realism’ of any of the final episodes, you are given the tools to shape the ending as you wish. I don’t think that’s ever happened with a season finale before.

 

I love the fact that these final episodes allow you, the viewer, to read whatever you want into them. So I choose to read that I wasn’t just given the ending I wanted, I was given three of them.

 

What do you think? Which of the three episodes did you enjoy the most?