The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 13: “Arrow on the Doorpost”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 13: “Arrow on the Doorpost”
Directed by David Boyd
Written by Ryan C. Coleman

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Clear” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Prey” – click here
IMG_0084Daryl (Norman Reedus), Hershel (Scott Wilson), and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) head to Woodbury. The former sheriff and resident crossbow expert go in, as the old man waits outside; equipped with a sneaky weapon on his knee’s stump. Tricky stuff. At a dark, quiet barn, Rick meets the Governor (David Morrissey). They’ve got a table and chairs setup for a proper meeting.
But can these men meet face-to-face like two people who’ve not been trying to murder one another and their respective people for the past long while? Hard to tell.
IMG_0085The situation’s tense, at first. Slowly but surely both of the men relax. Weapons go down, even as the egos stay up. Hershel and Daryl are on edge outside, which doesn’t change as Milton (Dallas Roberts) reluctantly shows up alongside Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Caesar (Jose Pablo Cantillo). Inside, Andrea hears a quick quip about something happening to Maggie (Lauren Cohan) courtesy of her dear Phillip, though he tosses it off fast. No good. She shouldn’t be on his side in any way, regardless.
Back at the prison Glenn (Steven Yeun) tries keeping the place going and organised, while Merle (Michael Rooker) wants to ride in on the Governor, hard and heavy. Especially with Daryl out in the shit. Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Glenn want to stick around their makeshift home, and nobody’s really thrilled with Merle running his mouth.
Rick offers boundaries – the prison and Woodbury each take their portions of land where they’ll operate. Only the Governor wants “surrender” and doesn’t need or want a deal. Then they shoo Andrea outside, to speak alone. There’s even a bit of whiskey. Outside, Daryl and Milton butt heads a little, as Caesar laughs. They all kill walkers together, too. Like an exercise in bonding. Well, Andrea kills them instead of listening to the men have a pissing contest.
A bit of tension arises when Milton inquires about Hershel’s leg. He wants to see the stump, the amputation and such. For medical reasons. “I just met you, at least buy me a drink first,” Hershel says and laughs it away. Little does the nerdy dude know the old guy’s hiding that weapon in case shit goes sideways.
IMG_0087Hashing out their issues Rick and the Governor speak of choice – destroy it all, or find a way out? The former Sheriff Grimes won’t back down, and the eye-patched villain won’t be perceived as weak by his people in Woodbury. The Governor tells a story about his wife dying in a car crash, how quickly life changes. They have loss in common, if only one thing. They haven’t killed one another yet. That’s something at least.
Glenn continues taking charge at the prison. He finds Merle packing up to head out on the road, not wanting his brother out there without him. A fight breaks out. Surprising enough, Beth (Emily Kinney) is the one to break it up with a gunshot in the air.
The Governor tells Rick he wants Michonne. That’s the deal. He gets her and the whole thing “goes away.” Rick is left with a tough, dark choice to make, or not to make. Is selling his soul worth keeping his people at the prison safe? I don’t think so. Speaking of Michonne, she and Merle have their own talk. About sneaking into Woodbury, ending the fight for good. She has no time for him, though. She has faith in the new group who accepted her.
Since their capture Glenn and Maggie have been troubled. It was a traumatic thing, especially when Glenn felt he couldn’t protect her. He finally admits he made it about him, not her and what nearly happened at the hands of that horrible man. Then they sneak off to make love for the first time in so long.
IMG_0088At the table, Rick questions why the Governor would be so petty over a “vendetta” when he’s supposed to be the big saviour of it all. He isn’t sure to trust the man at his word. Offer is good for two days. What will Rick choose? The groups part ways, but soon they’ll meet again.
Woodbury is poised to kill the prison crew. The deal is bullshit, though the Governor still wants Michonne alive. What we see now is Milton diverging from the path his master is setting forth, so he has his own choices to make. As does Andrea. Although she’s kept at arm’s length and doesn’t know the terms of the deal.
Rick tells his people the Governor wants them dead: “Were going to war.” Afterwards, he tells Hershel the full truth about Michonne. The old guy doesn’t like the sound of it, not after she’s done so much for them all.
But right now, Rick doesn’t see any other way.
IMG_0089An intense yet somehow laid back episode at once. Great build up to the chaos that’s coming, starting with “Prey” up next.

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The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 12: “Clear”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 12: “Clear”
Directed by Tricia Brock
Written by Scott M. Gimple

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “I Ain’t A Judas” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Arrow on the Doorpost” – click here
IMG_0069On the road, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is with Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). They see someone on the road, somebody alive. But they choose not to stop. Carl doesn’t really understand, or he does and would rather not. Further up the road they find a bunch of smashed up cars, zombies inside, stuck under wrecks, and so on. The trio get stuck in the car, then they ‘re crowded by a horde of undead.
Rick shows his son a few tricks to get a car out of the mud, in case he ever finds himself in that situation by himself. The kid is a bit of a nag, though it isn’t for nought. Rick explains their “common interests” and that it’s all only temporary, as Michonne listens sitting in the car. The man from the road gets near, so they get going, leaving him calling to them in the road.
You can never be too careful. Each time is worse when Rick & Co. find other humans. Easier to avoid any new ones altogether.
IMG_0071They head into town and start looking for supplies. The armoury at Rick’s old station is cleaned out. Like, licked clean. Barely a single bullet rolling on the floor. They’ve got to figure out something else. Either that or they go up almost naked against the Governor (David Morrissey) and his army of men, women, and children at Woodbury.
The whole place is rough. Charred bodies and tanks of gasoline. Markings, warnings, mantras on the walls and arrows pointing along the sidewalks guiding a path. In the middle of town there are a number of obstacles setup, wooden poles fashioned into spikes, more warnings spray painted everywhere. Someone highly prepared, and maybe unstable, is camping out there, someplace.
From a rooftop someone fires at a walker, alerting the trio to his presence. He calls down and asks for them to drop their weapons and leave. Rather than that Rick fires, he and Carl hide, and Michonne, she makes her way up towards the roof flanking. The man, disguised in a helmet, comes after Rick then Carl drops him with a hard shot. Another bad ass Grimes in the family.
And who is the mystery man, covered in body armour? None other than Morgan (Lennie James). He’s booby trapped that section of town, including his hideout. Since last Rick saw him the guy’s gone crazy, that much is clear. The entire place is like a piece of tribal land, pitfalls and other nasty bits await. They make it through and put the unconscious Morgan in his apartment. Moreover, they find all the stuff from the armoury.
IMG_0076But Rick pities the guy who saved his life. His son isn’t around, that much is obvious; he turned. Morgan snapped somewhere along the way. The walls are covered in mad ramblings, as if the apartment is more a cell than a place to live. Remembering their past, what the guy’s done for him, Rick opts not to take all his things and leave. He wants to wait for Morgan to wake up. And so he isn’t a danger, they zip tie his hands and feet.
Poor Carl. Lots of people shit on him, and for a point when I first watched the series through as it aired I didn’t like his attitude. The more I watch, the more I realise he and other kids don’t get to be kids anymore. If you were a kid, no matter how serious the zombie threat, you wouldn’t just automatically become a ruthless killer of the undead. Not even after you’ve had to kill your own mom, either. Takes an adjustment. So what we see here, particularly after Carl looks at a map Morgan drew of the town – including their house, which is now BURNT OUT according to the drawing – is the loss of innocence, the loss of his childhood and his past. Not only is Lori dead, so are the memories of her, literally. The only memories of family which exist now for Carl Grimes is in his mind.
The kid and Michonne go off to find supplies, hopefully baby stuff. He tries to take too much responsibility while she is looking out for his best interests. Most of all, he’s trying to make that adjustment, he doesn’t want to be a helpless kid for others to save or take care of; this is a boy who wants to do his part. Even if he’s a bit stupid about it at times.
Back at the apartment, Morgan’s got a sneaky knife hidden under the bed and gets himself free. Rick fights him off trying to get through his psychosis. He gets stabbed for his trouble, but then Morgan begs to die. That’s fucking sad.
Rick: “You know me!”
Morgan: “I dont know anyone anymore!”
There’s a goodness we see here shine through more than ever in Rick. Despite everything, he still tries getting through to the crazy bastard. Once he holds up the walkie talkie Morgan remembers. He’s pissed Rick wasn’t there when he needed him.
IMG_0077Carl gets mouthy with Michonne, but she won’t quit. She’s determined to help him on his quest for whatever he needs. So they work together, using skateboard critters to distract zombies. When things don’t go as planned Carl lashes out. Then we see that snagged what he wanted – a picture of his family, with Lori, so that his sister will know her mother’s face. Plus, Michonne needed a multi-coloured cat statuette that looks hilariously awesome.
Then there’s Rick, who wants Morgan to come with them. Only the guy doesn’t want to go: “I have to clear,” he says, as if called to it by duty. He’s taking the death of his son, extrapolating, and then sort of letting the world rest all on his shoulders. Punishing himself, in a way. He wants to clear his mind.
The trio get back on the road again heading for home, some things for the baby, weapons, and a stab wound for Rick. More than that we find out he and Michonne have things in common; she used to see her dead boyfriend, just as he’s been seeing Lori. The start of a strong relationship, in many ways. On the road they see the man they left behind, now only a reanimated corpse
Rick (re: Michonne): “Everything okay with her?”
Carl: “I think she might be one of us
IMG_0083Love this episode, and love Morgan as a character! Very important to the series, then, now, again in the future.

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 11: “I Ain’t A Judas”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 11: “I Ain’t A Judas”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Angela Kang

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Home” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Clear” – click here
IMG_0047Rick (Andrew Lincoln) won’t run, neither with Glenn (Steven Yeun) or Daryl (Norman Reedus). But Merle (Michael Rooker) advises of the power of the Governor (David Morrissey). They could get starved out if they try staying. Then Hershel (Scott Wilson) finally lays down the line. Rick once said their group was “not a democracy” and that also comes with the responsibilities of said leadership implied.
Outside, trying to get his head right, Rick runs into his son Carl (Chandler Riggs), who says that he has to stop leading the group. He deserves to have a break, to rest. Not just body; his mind, most importantly. Perhaps out of anything this is what comes through to the man – from the mouths of babes.
IMG_0048For his part, the Governor is still brutal. Amongst his own people, as well. He says that “adolescence” is a “20th century invention” and why? Because he needs MEN and WOMEN to FIGHT. There’s a great parallel to be made between him and other likewise heartless modern Republicans. Willing to send anyone with a heartbeat and cognitive abilities to war. Milton (Dallas Roberts) clearly has reservations, and Andrea (Laurie Holden), well she is going to raise hell over the fact he’s planning to do more at the prison.
Over at the old building there’s trouble. Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) obviously don’t want Merle around, though Rick won’t offend Daryl by kicking his brother out. Surprisingly, Hershel says they shouldn’t underestimate Merle’s loyalty to Daryl. The old man talks with him, equally surprising is the fact the eldest Dixon knows the Bible, quoting scripture and finishing sentences for Hershel.
Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl continue to get closer. She has an optimistic point of view, glad that he’s back. He believes the prison is a “tomb.” Carol only wants him to make sure he doesn’t fall prey to Merle’s bad influence. Daryl’s a good man, she knows it; they all do.
At Woodbury, Andrea asks Milton about the plans at the prison. Then reveals she’s going there to talk to her friends. She wants him to help her out, to prevent other deaths by talking with Rick. Will he aid her? Or is he too far under the thumb of his master? I’d say the latter for now. Meanwhile, we always get these tiny glimpse into the Governor’s psychosis. They’re terrifying moments, often brief. Here we see him hold a lit match close to the bare, wounded eye, as if he’s about to cauterise the thing. Nasty. Great makeup effects work to boot!
IMG_0052Milton, of course, caves and tells the Governor. He’s asked to help her, to keep up the charade. He does, which requires having to help Andrea make a zombie on a leash like Michonne once did. They go at the dirty work, and it is DIRTY! Love it. Shows off some of the excellent effects, giving us a nice taste of zombie blood and gore. Certainly in part due to Greg Nicotero of KNB fame directing this episode.
Then they run into Tyrese (Chad L. Coleman), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and their crew – who look surprised at what they’re seeing, like you would. The new crew are happier to hear that Woodbury isn’t far, and Milton opts to bring them back while Andrea heads onward to her old pals.
In the prison there’s still tough times ahead. For instance, between Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Merle. He tries to clear the air, not necessarily apologising though relating it wasn’t anything personal. “Let bygones be bygones,” he hopes. This woman does not play that shit.
When Andrea arrives Rick & Co. come out to greet her at the gate, ready for anything. Weapons trained. They’re all worried, and Michonne is shocked to see Andrea, not exactly happy. She’s been in bed, literally, with a murderous animal.
Others receive her a little better, but Rick especially is hostile. Andrea’s caught up on the latest tragedies, who died, who’s lost limbs, so on. She also discovers more of the Governor’s lies. Still, they’re all fed up. “Were gonna kill him,” Rick tells her plainly. Whatever it takes. At the same time she’s sweet on him, calling him Phillip.
Back at Woodbury, Tyrese and his group relate they met a crazy man in a prison. This intrigues the Governor. Others in the group are keen to help with Rick. Although Tyrese and Sasha aren’t entirely comfortable, you can tell just by the look in their eyes.
IMG_0053When Andrea goes back to Woodbury she meets with the Governor, telling him they’re in squalor, that Michonne is there, too. He’s drinking, looking definitively sinister in the shadows of his apartment. I wonder, has the visit with her first post-apocalypse friends changed her mind? It doesn’t seem so, not right away. She falls right back into his arms again.
Beth (Emily Kinney) tries to keep spirits up, singing in the darkness of the prison. Giving the place a light bigger than any fire. It’s a teeny ray of hope. A ray of hope nonetheless. Meanwhile, Rick, Daryl, and Hershel weigh their options of what to do about their coming war. The leader says he’s going on a run, and also lays down the law about Merle; Daryl, the good man he is, understands. Everyone is at different places right now, stuck in the same location. Andrea could make a decision to kill the Governor, and doesn’t do it. It could end right there. Instead she allows more destruction to follow.
IMG_0057Always loved this episode. Such a juxtaposition of awful positions everyone is stuck in, from Rick and his mind, to Tyrese and Sasha hoping to fit in with a community, to Michonne and Merle in that prison, and so much more. Great writing from Angela Kang.
Next is “Clear” and there are many things poised to go down. But will they? Will the tension finally snap? Soon, my friends.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 7: “One Minute”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 7: “One Minute”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Thomas Schnauz

* For a review of the previous episode, “Sunset” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “I See You” – click here
IMG_0059We get a flashback of the Salamanca brothers as boys, their Uncle Hector (Mark Margolis) sitting in a lawn chair outside while they play. He talks on the phone, definitely about Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). When the boys get into a fight over a toy, uncle decides to teach them a lesson. When one of them grabs a beer from the cooler for him he holds his head under the water. Teaching a lesson on death, life, all the important things, before one brother saves the other.
And now, they’re nasty psychopaths, headed directly for DEA Agent Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), inadvertently due to Walter White (Bryan Cranston). Ah, the random, absurd chaos of the world.
Hector: “Family is all
IMG_0060Jesse (Aaron Paul) heads home after all the shit he and his old partner have been through. Not long after Hank shows up, angry beyond belief. He beats the young man within an inch of his life for the call made about Marie (Betsy Brandt); yet another inadvertent casualty of Walt’s criminal life. Instantly realising what he’s done Hank stops, knowing this could cost him his job. An ambulance is called and his career’s now on the line. Between this an El Paso, his boss George Merkert (Michael Shamus Wiles) isn’t sure what is going on anymore.
But Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) paints a great picture: “Best thing for you.” He tells Jesse that he’s home free now, after this beating. At the hospital, Walt sneaks in to see his former partner, who isn’t particularly thrilled to see the Paul to his Ringo, as their lawyer puts it. Walt isn’t King Midas, nor is he King Midas in reverse. He’s King Shit; everything he touches turns to absolute diarrhoea. Then there’s Jesse, keeping his eye on the prize: ruining Hank’s life. And cooking meth again. If anything goes wrong? He gives up Walt, even if the older of the two thinks he won’t go that far.
Hank is taken through the legal process, giving his statement to Merkert and other law enforcement. He explains the call about Marie, his bad judgement in going to Pinkman’s place. Furthermore, there are charges being pressed and Jesse looks squeaky clean, no drugs in his piss, not even taking pain meds at the hospital. Looking worse for ole Agent Schrader. When Marie comes to meet her husband he lets out a quick, rare fleet of tears. Just long enough for the elevator ride.


When Walt sees Skyler (Anna Gunn) again she asks if there’s anything he can do for Hank. She doesn’t realise how touchy the whole thing is, nor does she know the extent to which Walt is involved, either. How deep his finger is pressed on the pulse of it all. If the guy didn’t have cancer before this whole thing would give it to him.
At work things are well. Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) has coffee ready, he’s dressed professionally and has everything prepared for the cook. He isn’t so used to the help. Yet something about it pisses him off.
On the road the Salamancas meet a man with wares to sell. He has bullets, guns, bulletproof vests, explosives. They want vests, but need to test them. So they put a bullet in the seller who’s wearing one. Oh yeah – they work! The boys are gearing up for something nasty.
Walt nitpicks the temperature settings Gale used on their latest batch. He claims a different reading than what Gale wrote down. He acts very sour, shutting down production to start over. What is it bugging him so bad? Is there a purpose to the way he’s acting? Might be.
And today, Hank must face the music. His wife would rather him lie. He can’t do that, though. He made a mistake, and as an honourable man he’s got to own up to that. No matter how much it hurts. He admits that since the shootout with Tuco, he’s changed, and may be finished with law enforcement.
Hank: “It wasnt one mistakeIve been unravellingyknow?”
IMG_0065So now we know, Walt feels Gale isn’t working out. He wants to bring Jesse into the fold. Ahh, it makes sense! Bring him in on the operation, pay him, he keeps quiet on Hank’s assault. Walt argues for him best he can, that they have a “shorthand” way of working. He pleads with Gus without seeming TOO desperate. For the time being his request is granted. We’ll see how the whole thing works out. Isn’t always so easy. He presents it to Jesse, 50/50 split on the cash. Except the young man’s finished with Walt. He’s lost everything in his life that’s good, because of their relationship. After all this he’s discovered that Mr. White only cares about himself. As always, using a slithery way of speaking, the former chemistry teacher convinces him to come back to work.
Jesse: “Ive never been more alone, I have nothing, no one.”
With all the information at hand, Hank’s statement official statement given at full risk of the consequences, the DEA suspends Agent Schrader; no pay. He hands over his gun, then prepares to go on a forced vacation, of sorts. He heads down to the parking lot with one good bit of news: no charges being laid from Pinkman. One bit of hope.
On the way to his car he receives a call. Someone tells him there are men coming to kill him in one minute. He looks around, knowing he’s without a gun. In the distance come the Salamancas. They fire on him. He squashes one between his trunk and another vehicle. The other fires again, he takes a bullet in the lower back. With one of their guns in hand, Hank hides from the other brother still able to walk. Hank takes another two bullets. Instead of shooting him, the remaining Salamanca goes for his axe. Hank manages to chamber one last bullet and blows the back out of the guy’s skull, before passing out from blood loss.
IMG_0066CHRIST! One of the more intense episodes of the whole series. Can’t wait to review the next one titled “I See You” and there’s so much about to happen, between the fallout of this latest event with Hank and Gus Fring + Walter’s relationship changing fast.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 6: “Sunset”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 6: “Sunset”
Directed & Written
by John Shiban

* For a review of the previous episode, “Más” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “One Minute” – click here
IMG_0039Near the border a police officer checks on a family’s property. Inside is a shrine, the statue with a skull face and holding a scythe. At its base is a drawn picture of Heisenberg’s face. Outside are suits hanging on the line. Very suspicious, indeed. And when the officer heads out back he finds the fly ridden corpse to complete the scene. Inside is one of the Salamanca brothers. The other sinks an axe into the officer from behind.
No one is safe. Least of which is Walter White (Bryan Cranston).
IMG_0041He’s busy working over the divorce with Skyler (Anna Gunn), deciding on what to do with Walt Jr (RJ Mitte), explaining it to him and justifying everything so that they don’t have to tell him dad cooks meth. At the same time our anti-hero’s hubris is off the charts, bleeding from his professional life right into the personal.
Those Salamancas! They show up at Los Pollos Hermanos to see Gus. They sit in terrifying silence in the midst of the restaurant.
Over at the Pinkman residence, Jesse (Aaron Paul) shows off his Jolly Rancher-sized crystals to Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), who get high on the product while he watches on. Surrounded by addicts he’s only being given their junkie opinion. He doesn’t realise it isn’t as perfect as Walt’s, which isn’t REALLY that big of a deal. But in his own way a hubris develops. Now, even after the death of Combo, he wants to put his friends back out on the street, in the line of fire.
The whole time Hank (Dean Norris) watches from down the street, his eyes on the house after tracking down Combo’s mom and the RV. Uh oh. And Walt is going about his business as usual, getting into more of it with Gus and the super lab. He has no idea how close his own brother-in-law is to figuring out his drug dealing identity. They’re so near in that criminal v. cop parallel, in so many ways, it’s an exercise in brutal tension at times.


One of the other perks of the lab is having an assistant, a proper one with chemistry experience and training. Walt now has Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) at his side; an enthusiastic soul who’s prepared to learn from his journeyman chemist. Even brought a resume. Has an MA and specialised in “xray crystallography” and he makes a sweet cup of coffee with his elaborately refined method. They get to cooking, like a match made in heaven. They have fun, they play chess between processes. Very different in comparison to Walt and Jesse, in every way imaginable from the lab itself to how they work together. Gale genuinely cares about the chemistry.
So, in a sense, we’re seeing Walt’s genuine love for the chemistry behind the drug dealing, for the first REAL time. Also, it’s nice to see someone like Gale admittedly talking about how he got into that shady business. Basically he’s “definitely a Libertarian,” with an intent on giving people a clean product. They talk a bit more, of chemistry and Walt Whitman; this wonderful poet will come back into play later in the series, take note!
Hank sits waiting for Jesse to do something stupid, to lead him to the RV and break the case wide open. He’s been sitting in his car for what seems like days, fast food wrappers and containers and cups piled in the passenger side. Things work out for Walt, though. He gets a call from Hank wanting to know if he knows anything about Jesse’s RV, setting off alarm bells and whistles like FUCKING CRAZY. The game is on. Walt’s got to do something about their “rolling lab” before his brother-in-law actually finds the damn thing. He calls Jesse and they’ve got to start figuring out their problems.
IMG_0044Saul suggests getting rid of the RV altogether. The boys have no plan. It’s back to Badger and his cousin who owns the junkyard. They’ve got work to do. When Walt doesn’t include Jesse in the mix Badger calls him up. Ah, so many things happening.
The shittiest? Jesse’s leading Hank right to the RV.
Saul: “The Starship Enterprise had a selfdestruct button, Im just sayin‘!”
Preparing to get rid of the vehicle Walt has a walk down memory lane. So weird. Then Jesse shows up, pissed. With Hank on his tail. This is it: either he finds them, together, in that RV, or they manage to get themselves out of hot water.
When the chips are down, Walt gets Saul in the mix to pull them out of the boil. He has a call made saying Marie is in the hospital after a horrible car crash. Hank rushes off immediately, leaving the boys free to get out of there. After his wife calls he figures out the whole thing was a ruse it’s too late because the RV is destroyed.
At sunset Gus meets the Salamancas in the desert. He says Walter will not be killed. He says that if they must kill someone for what happened to Tuco, then they can have Agent Schrader. Whoa.
IMG_0046The green light is lit.
Next is “One Minute” and there are many things about to change. Very quickly.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 5: “Más”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 5: “Más”
Directed by Johan Renck
Written by Moira Walley-Beckett

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Green Light” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sunset” – click here
IMG_0030We start on a flashback to Walt (Bryan Cranston) when he gave Jesse (Aaron Paul) the money to buy an RV for them to cook. So, Jesse does the smart thing: he takes Combo (Rodney Rush) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) out to the strip club, for lap dances and “Don Perignom,” as he calls the champagne.
After the night’s over Jesse feels a bit shitty. Well Combo has the fix. His mom owns an RV. He takes the rest of Mr. Pinkman’s cash, after the funds were drained the night prior down to $1,400, and lets him take the RV off their hands. Without permission, naturally.
Ah, even the trusty meth lab has its backstory!
IMG_0031Skyler (Anna Gunn) still enjoys her getaways with Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) at his place. He has money, he doesn’t cook meth. What we see though isn’t all rosy. I don’t think that Skyler is as bad as most make her out. However, she’s still cheating on Walt. And her husband’s a bag of shit in his own way, he isn’t such a righteous guy. Remember that Mr. White could’ve swallowed his pride over Gretchen, he didn’t have to make meth. He chose this, and unfortunately cheating on him was the only way to truly get back at Walt right now.
Then there’s the situation with Jesse and Walt, the halved money for the recent deal. Saul (Bob Odenkirk) tries keeping the peace, stuck in the middle, as Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) plays a game pitting the two former partners against one another.
If the boys aren’t careful, they’ve got other problems, as well. Hank (Dean Norris) and Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) are scoping out RVs, narrowing down a list of vehicles. They mostly run in to people who aren’t, at all, cooking meth. Making things less and less credible all the time for poor Hank. Worst part is that we the audience know better, so it’s really agonising (in the right ways). At home, Marie (Betsy Brandt) can’t get anything out of her husband, either. Makes theirs a strained relationship, as he’s bottled up tighter than a pressed Mason jar.


Walt finally gets talking with Gus about his “ploy” to get him back cooking. But the thing which is clear is the fact Walt can’t let go of the business. He can’t help ragging on Jesse, for not cooking the product as good as himself. What Gus does is use the man’s hubris against him. Smart as he is, Walt is so full of it that he can’t resist falling into the trap. Because what’s waiting for him is the opportunity of a lifetime.
He’s taken to an industrial laundromat Gus owns. There, behind a piece of machinery, they go downstairs to a lab that’s been setup, top of the line and state of the art equipment. Like Christmas for the chemistry nerd. Walt gets an instant science-erection. Not just the lab. There’s no way to trace the chemicals, as they’re ordered in for the laundry service, employees are trustworthy and trained, chemicals are filtered out with the laundromat steam.
Walt still refuses. What will make him break?
At home things aren’t as bad, though not good. Love the imagery in one shot at the dinner table: Walt on one end of the table and Skyler at the other, a wall between them literally dividing them as is the wall of their own choices, their mistakes, so on. One great thing about Breaking Bad is the use of visuals, in many forms. This being one fine example. Something so simple becomes powerfully resonant in terms of themes.
IMG_0035At the office Steve’s being celebrated as he prepares to take the place of Hank in El Paso. Poor Agent Schrader. He looks crazy to others, and in some ways weak. I can’t blame him not wanting to go back after seeing what he saw, a head on a tortoise exploding and maiming, killing people? That’s fucked up. All the same law enforcement is what he chose, DEA at that. Furthermore, Hank’s inability to deal with his problems and talk, to anybody let alone a doctor of any kind makes it the hardest. Although he’s validated when getting himself closer to that RV. Baby steps.
In other news, Walt is granting Skyler the divorce for which she asked. But does she still want it?
Back to Jesse and Saul, who’ve got a meeting on the books with Mr. White. They have to talk about the halved cash and what’s to be done. No love between the two former partners, that’s a definite. Rather than comply with any of what Jesse wants, Walt has decided otherwise. He gives back the half of the money and he’s going back in business with Gus. $3 million dollars for three months of work with only 5% going to Saul.
Walt (to Jesse): “Im in, youre out.”
When Hank goes to see a Mrs. Ortega about her RV, we see it’s the same place where Combo took the one he gave to Jesse. From his dear ole mama. Closer and closer we see our man Hank getting nearer to Jesse. In turn, he gets closer to Heisenberg, his own brother-in-law.
IMG_0037Another damn good episode. Lots of tension building between Jesse and Walt, which isn’t anything new. The steam is getting ready to release, and things will implode eventually. One way or another.
Next episode is “Sunset” and we’re also getting closer to another implosion, or explosion, in Hank Schrader.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 4: “Green Light”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 4: “Green Light”
Directed by Scott Winant
Written by Sam Catlin

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “I.F.T.” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Más” – click here
IMG_0005At a gas station, Jesse (Aaron Paul) stops and fills up the RV. He doesn’t have enough cash to pay, then offers all he can: the blue meth. Takes a bit of convincing, especially with a cop lurking around. The worst part of it is that Jesse is pulling more people into the unclean web he’s been living in for the better part of the past few years. He wants to get away from that person he was, though as long as he’s in that world it’ll never happen.
Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) receives a visit from Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) about the situation between Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Skyler (Anna Gunn), who’s just banged her boss Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins).
Worst is the jilted husband’s headed for the office, to pay him a visit. Something Mike and Saul would rather keep contained, if possible. Bad news for everybody any time Heisenberg’s true identity shows up noticed by any authorities. Also, Walt looks pretty foolish in his, albeit justified, bruised masculinity trying to break the window at the office before security shows up. Everyone in there knows exactly what’s going on, too. Real awkward for them, Ted, and Skyler.
Before anything gets too crazy Mike arrives to cart him off to their mutual lawyer. Saul tries to talk some sense into him. But it isn’t long before Walt figures out he’s business partner is keeping tabs on him, real close. “Thats just my meticulousness,” Saul explains. After a bit they wrestle. The relationship’s begun to sour. What our anti-hero needs to remember is that he’s got other people watching him, and a sinister chalk marking on the street outside his house is a grim reminder for the audience, as well.
Saul: “Oh, boo hoo, ‘I wont cook meth anymore.’ Youre a crybaby, who needs you?”
IMG_0006Walt has troubles at school, then tries putting the moves on Carmen (Carmen Serano) when they meet in her office to talk. He is out of sorts, taking the betrayal of Skyler in their marriage in strange ways. He isn’t the only one feeling strange, either. Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and wife Marie (Betsy Brandt) are at odds over his going to El Paso. Particularly after the last brush with death. Before he can go into the airport he gets a call: more blue meth. He decides to stay; both as a way to further his vendetta against the mysterious Heisenberg and as an excuse not to go, because of the fear inside he won’t talk to anyone about.
After Walt takes a sabbatical from school – “indefinite,” he says – Jesse turns up outside the school to chat. He wants to meet the distributor, to get back into the business. He’s sober, but won’t give up the meth money dreams. His former partner wants no part of it, though Jesse has his heart set on it. He’s cooked his own blue stuff. Only Walt calls it inferior, “my formula” and “mine” are the words he uses. Suddenly he becomes full of anger, resentment. Another relationship going sour; more like already there, long ago.
Meanwhile, Skyler faces backlash in the office over the affair with Ted. They keep having one, despite that. And there’s a spark, too. They have chemistry, which makes matters worse.


Over at DEA headquarters Hank and partner Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) keep chasing the blue meth connection. Problem is they’re all too often getting information from idiot junkies. Aside from that Gomez isn’t thrilled with what they’re doing lately, feeling that his partner’s reaching for a case.
At his office Saul’s visited by Jesse with his bag of blue. He wants a meet with the distributor. However, something tells us it won’t be easy for him to get a meet on his own. Speaking of the man himself, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) gets a full report on Walter White’s cancer, his mental state, et cetera, from Mike. Plus he lets him know the Salamanca brothers marked the house with a chalk scythe. Moreover, Gus agrees to do a deal with Pinkman. Because he wants to get to Heinseberg, to motivate. He wants to do business, and bad.
Hank finds himself at the gas station where we saw Jesse in the beginning. He questions the girl who took the meth. Agent Schrader gets what he wants, eventually. She tells him about the guy who came in, trading for gas. But there’s not much to tell, outside a basic description. Add that to the fact she remembers the RV. Nothing to really go on. Not until Hank discovers an ATM outside; one with a camera inside. This will give him a picture of the vehicle. Uh oh.
Later, Jesse receives money from Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui). Only half. Why? “Thats your half,” he’s told. You know where the rest is headed.
IMG_0010There’s now a choice on the table for Hank: go to El Paso, or stay. He puts it off, saying it’s about the Heisenberg case. Finally, he has to make the choice. He decides to stay and keep chasing the blue meth, despite how it looks to anyone else. His boss knows there’s something up, everyone does. It’s up to Hank to sort that out for himself.
Walter heads on down the road and hears that Donald Margolis, father of Jane, has shot himself. Then he stops at a red light. Victor pulls up quick, tosses him a bag full of cash: “Your half.” This confuses Walt, but we understand. He will too. Soon enough.
IMG_0012Another excellent episode. Further down the rabbit hole we go.
Up next is another solid chapter called “Más” and that means MORE in Spanish.

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 10: “Home”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 10: “Home”
Directed by Seith Mann
Written by Nichole Beattie

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Suicide King” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “I Ain’t A Judas” – click here
IMG_0020Rick (Andrew Lincoln) watches the prison yard. In the distance he sees a woman in a white dress by the graves and their crosses. It’s Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), who isn’t really there at all. She stands in the white juxtaposed against the dirt of the graves, flies searching for the smell of corpses, buzzing in the air. Then Lori disappears. Suddenly, she’s outside of the gates. He goes running after her, which catches Michonne (Danai Gurira) and the others a little off guard. Because the man is literally losing his mind. Faith has to waver, even just a bit. They’ve put it all in this man, to lead them and protect them, to give them hope. And here he is hallucinating his dead wife. For someone like Michonne who’s only come to know them all recently, this is shocking. Rightfully so.
IMG_0021In Woodbury, Andrea (Laurie Holden) is trying to come to terms with how she feels about the Governor (David Morrissey), reconciling that with what she knows of him, the person he is after all she’s discovered. She worries about her friends back at the prison. He wants her to be the interim leader until he gets his shit together: “We need you
Out in the woods together are Merle (Michael Rooker) and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), alone and arguing. The older brother doesn’t want any part of Rick or the prison. He assumes they’re all dead anyways, once the Governor raises hell. Back at the prison Glenn (Steven Yeun) starts figuring out the reinforcements in the various wards, to prepare for an invasion. He wants to end the whole thing. Hershel (Scott Wilson) thinks otherwise, he thinks they ought to get out and worries Woodbury is now on alert, possibly even headed for them as they speak. Truly, there are no good options. Either way Glenn decides they’re “making a stand” and they’ve all got jobs to do now.
Milton Mamet (Dallas Roberts) is always tinkering with some experiment or another. He gets a visit from the Governor wondering if he’ll stick around, praising his help. He’s surprised. Yet we can see what his leader is doing, he’s sizing Milton up. He also wants him to keep tabs on Andrea. Hmm, interesting. And not really the right guy for anything covert. For a smart, science-oriented guy, Milton’s both cowardly and kind of a weakling-type.
Glenn goes to see Maggie (Lauren Cohan), wanting to talk about their problems. About what happened during their invasion on Woodbury. She tells him what happened in that room with the Governor. It’s almost more about him than it is her; that’s the problem. He makes it like there’s some relief for HIM that she wasn’t raped. But it was never about him, it was always a threat to her. She was being used, and could’ve been assaulted viciously while Glenn was mostly concerned for how HE would feel if it did happen. Tsk, tsk, dude.
An excellent scene to follow is when Axel (Lew Temple) gets a lesson on how to load, cock, and handle a gun from resident bad ass Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride). I love her. One of the greatest in the entire series. A great actress given the chance to shine through an especially well-written character.
On the road Merle and Daryl come across a family on a bridge in trouble with walkers. While the older of the two is content to make fun, laughing at them, the younger rushes in to help. Or try, anyways. Another show of Daryl’s good, honourable heart, as opposed to his ruthless brother. Goes to show that nature v. nurture doesn’t always turn out how you expect between two siblings. Fuckin’ Merle even wants to rob the family after his brother helps. Except Daryl ain’t having that. After it all we see the scars that the younger of them bears having been left alone with their abusive father all those years when Merle left.
Merle: “I tried to kill that black bitch. Damn near killed the Chinese kid.”
Daryl: “Hes Korean
Merle: “Whatever, doesnt matter, man. I just cant go with you.”
Daryl: “Im the one thats walkinaway. But youre the one thats leavin‘. Again.”


Glenn’s taking too much on himself and Hershel wants him to step back. He doesn’t want him to end up dead, especially when he trusts him with the life of his daughter. Can’t tell Glenn what to do, though. He’s headstrong, he wants to be a leader when Daryl is missing and Rick is “wandering crazy town.” Can’t blame him, he has those instincts. He’s a smart cookie, too.
Still pushing the limit of sanity, Rick walks along the outer grounds of the prison. Hershel calls to him from the other side of the fences, worried about Glenn, the whole place sort of going to shit without his influence. Rick admits to seeing Lori, hearing her and Shane on the phone before. Instead of making him feel crazy, the old guy reassures the former sheriff that things will be okay, but it won’t bring him back inside just yet.
Then from nowhere a bullet blows Axel’s brains out. The Governor has arrived, he and his men firing on the prison as Rick and the crew take cover, firing back. A truck comes flying in through the gate. The back opens and walkers come piling out into the field causing chaos. Before Rick gets bitten, Daryl puts an arrow into a walker’s head, as he and Merle emerge through the trees. The Governor and his boys back off leaving the chaotic mess, and the prison gang just barely make it out by the skin of their teeth.
What now? All hallucination and no protection makes Rick a mad boy.


An intense one. Particularly due to the relationship between the Dixon Bros, which I always love. On top of that this is one of the most psychological episodes, as we’re seeing the dark depths of what’s going on in Rick’s mind.
Next is “I Ain’t A Judas” and it’s my favourite-titled episode of this season. Also, another fun episode!

Fargo – Season 3, Episode 3: “The Law of Non-Contradiction”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 3: “The Law of Non-Contradiction”
Directed by John Cameron
Written by Ben Nedivi & Matt Wolpert

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Principle of Restricted Choice” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Narrow Escape Problem” – click here
Pic 1Thaddeus Mobley (Thomas Mann) is at an awards ceremony, the Singularity Awards. He’s won Best Sci-Fi Novel for The Planet Wyh. Could his stories of aliens somehow connect with the interests in aliens from Ted Danson’s character in Season 2? Hmm. Either way, Mobley winds up at the bar with a man named Howard Zimmerman (Fred Melamed), a film producer. Might be the big time for young Thad. He’s whisked off to make his novel into a “major motion picture” with a studio. Although things aren’t exactly as they seem.
Howard leads him on with starry promises. “Tit for tat” is how things get done, so he tells the young gentleman. Prying money from him, as he snorts at least some of it up his nose. Isn’t hard to see where this is headed. Poor, innocent Thad is getting grifted. Hard. One thing leads to another and he’s also into the drugs, as well. He keeps on writing, but those are the least of his worries now.
Pic 1AA beautifully animated bit brings us to Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) on a plane, reading The Planet Wyh. A man next to her (Ray Wise) asks about it and they have chat. Everyone around them stares at their phones, and he laments the change in times. Me too, Mr. Wise. Me, too.
Gloria’s on a trip to California hoping she’ll find out more about the elusive Mr. Mobley – a.k.a Ennis Stussy – going off a few books, newspaper clippings. What’ll she discover? I’ve pondered it ever since we saw the first glimpse of his books.
At the motel checking in she chases down a thief, or tries to, anyway. She winds up talking to a cop named Officer Hunt (Rob McElhenney) and asks if he could run information for her, re: the case. A possibility. In her room Gloria finds a box, in the closet. A strange box with a switch that opens then closes itself. I actually laughed out loud a bit. Not the weirdest thing about most motel rooms.
We see the difference between ‘small town folk’ and the ‘bigger city crowd’ as Gloria’s one of the only people at a diner, again, not using a cellphone constantly. She asks around about Mobley, tracking down a waitress; the one who helped seduce Mobley into the dark side now near 30 years sober. “Its basically nothing but a dream,” she tells Gloria rather than dredge up those haunting memories.


At a bar Gloria meets Officer Hunt. The difference between city v. small town is so painfully awkward. A funny and brutal scene, sort of sad the way she’s treated. Meta moment for Fargo, as many viewers get a chuckle out of the Minnesota accent. But then Paul (Wise) shows up again. He makes her feel more comfortable the way he acts, they can actually talk like human beings.
More of the Android Minsky and The Planet Wyh. Great animation that I’m glad was included. Sort of helps with the at times surreal feel of the series. In this moment it’s like a dream in Gloria’s mind as she falls asleep.
The next day she’s up again searching for clues about Ennis’ previous life as Thaddeus. She goes to the Writers Guild of America and finds a script for the novel’s adaptation; curiously misspelled as Planet Why. The producer’s credit leads her to Zimmerman, living in a long term care facility. He’s in terrible shape. She asks her questions about Mobley, and old Howard goes on about “quantum something” – physics, I’d imagine. Nothing much concrete, though.
At night a note is slipped under Gloria’s door. Then we’re whisked back to Thaddeus discovering his girl used him, he and Howard. The young man’s crushed, particularly when she lays into him with vicious words. Howard chokes him then gets whacked in the brain with a cane over and over. Thad nearly kills them both before running out. But as Gloria sees it in present day, it’s only “a story.” Or is there more to the Mobley connection? Yes, you know damn well there’ll be more down the line.


We see the aftermath of that bad night years ago. Thad packing his suitcase frantically. A picture perfect dual image: the award he won and the blood on his hands. Sort of nastily poignant. At the same time, a parallel shows us Thad puking in the toilet at the thought of his deeds versus Gloria noticing a stamp for DENNIS STUSSY & SONS company on the rim of the toilet in her room; only the D is worn off. It meant a new life, new beginning for Thad.
More of the Android Minsky and his adventures, the wild animations. One of the most unique episodes of the whole series, honestly. Dig it or not, you’ve got to give Hawley & Co. their due.
Gloria and her son Nathan (Graham Verchere) say goodbye to Ennis at the funeral home, a weary life behind the old man. She gets information about fingerprints from the murder scene. Maurice LeFay, of course. How long until Ms. Burgle gets herself closer to Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor) and Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)? Not too long, I’d bet. It’s gonna get real complicated real quick, and I, for one, cannot fucking wait. Such an interesting setup already. Also, what’s Gloria doing with that weird box from the motel? Keep your eye on that.


Loved the episode, it was so unique. Amazingly written, as well as flawlessly directed by John Cameron, also a producer on the series. Next episode is “The Narrow Escape Problem” – with a title like that, you can be sure there’ll be excitement, a few thrills in the darkly comic world that is Fargo on FX.

Fargo – Season 3, Episode 2: “The Principle of Restricted Choice”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 2: “The Principle of Restricted Choice”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “The Law of Vacant Places” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Law of Non-Contradiction” – click here
Pic 1Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) goes over the crime in her head. She digs into the box she found at the Ennis’ place in the floorboards. Inside are several Thaddeus Mobley (Thomas Mann) novels, she flips through them to see if there are any little notes or anything significant stuck between the pages. Nothing. There’s a newspaper clipping of Mobley winning a Golden Planet award. A photo of a woman, signed. She says Ennis Stussy and Mobley are “one in the same.” Hmm.
Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregory) and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) go see Irv Blumkin (Hardee T. Lineham) about their problem with Mr. V. M. Varga (David Thewlis) and their stupid, illicit deal. The two men are clueless, it’s almost amazing how they got as far as they have at this point in life. A curt commentary on many ‘successful’ businessmen, to my mind. Either way, Emmit still has problems with Ray (McGregor), the stamp. Although Sy says he doesn’t want the stamp, he wants his brother’s life; the “green monster.”
Watching Irv operate a computer, let alone Google, is absurdly hilarious. When he manages to search Varga, a webcam turns on and takes a picture of them. Then everything shuts down. Now that can’t be a coincidence, can it? That Varga is sketchy. His teeth alone are the stuff of nightmares. Even with that grill of rotten chompers he’s somehow charming, in the way he speaks to others like some villain from a fairy tale whispering in the ear of others along the peripheries.
At a lot Sy and Emmit control, Varga’s parked a big rig truck. What could be inside? Something sinister? “Slave girls,” Sy wonders? Who the hell knows. They’re trying to cover their asses while bigger things are happening, and have been a long while, without their knowing.
Pic 1AGloria meets with Moe Dammick (Shea Whigham). He’s a bit more of a rough character than some of the cops we’ve seen on Fargo, which is a welcomed touch. There’s already a tension between the two characters, as well. He’s her new boss, and wants to lay down the law at the office. He also wants her to take time off, after the death of her stepfather Ennis.
She goes out and starts investigating. A store owner says a Russian man came in – though, he doesn’t remember it was only a shirt with Russia on it (that’ll cause something to fuck up at some point) – and tore a page from his phone book; we know that man was Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy), but the information’s been mangled by this bumbling man.
Ray is checking on the death of Maurice, at the very same time. It’s been logged as ACCIDENTAL. Making him a very happy man, putting more pieces of the puzzle together for him. All the while the guy’s brains are being scrubbed off the sidewalk over in front of the apartment where Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) lives. Things look as if they’re going well. She’s busy trying to put together a new job, to make more money. Ray would rather get “out of the woods” before anything else. She says there’s something wrong with his “chi.” Blocked up. Not good. Sometimes it’s like she strings him along, though it also looks at times like she loves him. She is damn dedicated, that’s for sure.
Ray: “I never killed anybody before
Nikki: “Well me either. Lifes a journey, yknow.”


Ray goes to Emmit’s place. At 10:30 in the night, imagine that? Goes to show the disconnected brothers, one a buttoned down family man and the other a semi-regular guy. It’s fun to watch McGregor play off himself, a hard thing to do. Yet each of the Stussy brothers is different. Their mannerisms, how they talk even under those Minnesota accents. While Ray apologises to his brother, inside the house Nikki tracks down the stamp’s location. It was moved. In its place is the picture of a donkey; an ass. She discovers the receipt for a safety deposit box in the office desk. Then leaves her bloody tampon in the drawer. What she doesn’t know is that the stamp wasn’t moved, the frame’s only being fixed.
Ah, the ole Fargo comitragedy of errors!
Moreover, we get a look at Meemo (Andy Yu) and his friend Yuri from the Old Country. They toss an old man over the side of a parking garage, then walk away like they just finished playing a game of basketball. Dark and hilarious. Now there’s more of a Russian-ish connection coming into play, I’m very interested to see that unfold.
Later, Emmit gets a call saying Irv jumped off his garage.


Gloria’s making arrangements to have Ennis buried, she and her boy Nathan (Graham Verchere). They can’t track him back past 1980, before he married her mother. He’s a bit of a mystery, especially considering her mom passed already. He didn’t really have friends. Gloria is stuck on the Mobley theory, which ought to prove for more interesting story in upcoming episodes.
In a diner Sy visits Ray, unhappy about the break-in. They certainly don’t have any kind of good relationship, not even a working one. Sy says Ray won’t ever speak to his brother again; “nonnegotiable,” he claims. Appears the guy’s got a temper, which Ray doesn’t take to nicely.
At the office Emmit finds Varga kicking around suddenly, like a wisp of fog out of thin air. He’s got Yuri and Meemo with him, too. They’re taking up some office space. They’ve got plenty of boxes of… files? Already being wheeled into an empty wing. We’re coming to see V.M’s shadiness. In a way, he represents others outside America today while Sy and Emmit are the stupid men at the helm of the nation currently in 2017; as he says, they think the deal “can be changed” but once you’ve started down certain roads there’s no stopping. “Youre trapped,” Varga explains. He further assures the audience of what happened with Irv. Nasty dude.
Pic 4Loved this second episode! Hawley did a great job writing, and the characters have started opening up. I particularly have interest in Varga, whose purpose becomes clearer with this episode and specifically the final few minutes. Awesome stuff.
“The Law of Non-Contradiction” is next week.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 3: “Sunk Costs”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 3: “Sunk Costs”
Directed by John Shiban
Written by Gennifer Hutchison

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Witness” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sabrosito” – click here
Pic 1We start in familiar desert territory. A Los Pollos Hermanos delivery truck drives down a desolate road. As if signifying what’s in the truck, as if we didn’t know, and how long this has been going on, the sneakers on an electrical wire above drop from their perch to the ground.
Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) gets a call from Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) on the cell he’s found on top of a gas tank cap in the middle of a road. He’s told to “expect two cars momentarily.” The man himself arrives in sombre, black attire. Mike wants to know why he received the DON’T note. Gus relates that Hector Salamanca needs to stick around; at least for a while. But the problem is there have been threats, nasty business. What the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos explains is that, as long as the “hurt” Mike doles out to Hector is kept on a business level rather than a physical, fatal one, then he won’t interfere. Well, we know there’s more to Mike and Gus’ eventual relationship, so it’ll be interesting to watch it all play out. Now, Mr. Ehrmantraut makes clear he’s “not done” with Salamanca, and that he understands Fring wants to disrupt the guy’s business because they’re in drug competition.
It’s excellent to see the back story of these characters coming together.
Note: love how the camera frames Mike and Gus in positions of power; they’re on a flat, straight road, yet the shot shows them on an angle which puts Gus higher up on the plane than Mike. Very interesting, great filmmaking techniques are often used in this series (as it was on Breaking Bad) and that’s a huge reason why this is GREAT TELEVISION!
Pic 1AIn other news, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) must deal with the fallout from rushing in on brother Chuck (Michael McKean), smashing the tape recorder in a rage. He’s having a cigarette, finding the number he has for a bail bondsman. To see the brothers fall further into despair is ugly, considering the older brother’s planning on pressing charges. All under the guise of being for his younger brother’s benefit. I’m not sure if he’s being honest, or if it’s because he never wanted to see Jimmy succeed in the beginning. For his part, Jimmy tells Chuck that he’ll die alone.
Then it’s off to jail in a montage for the unlucky lawyer, the man we’ll someday know as Saul Goodman, lawyer to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.
What about Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn)? She’s busy, as usual. Doing the tough job of living life in the same hemisphere as the McGills. Ernesto (Brandon K. Hampton) arrives to tell her he’s been fired, and worrying about Jimmy. And now she knows that her good buddy is sitting in lockup, clad in orange. In court he pleads Not Guilty; Kim turns up as his attorney, though he’d rather represent himself. He refuses to let her have any part, then he’s bonded out at $2,500 and gets back to the office to plead his case to Kim, to let her know he’ll fix things. Somehow.
Jimmy: “I fucked up
At a doctor’s office, Mike – or, Mr. Clark – goes in to see a “mutual acquaintance” to retrieve a package. He tucks it away in his trunk with the sniper rifle he’s carrying. Hmm, ominous. More trouble is certainly headed Hector Salamanca’s way.
Pic 2Jimmy’s trying to get an old law buddy to help with his case. Looks like it won’t pan out, seeing as how they’ve worked closely in the past. This takes the wind out of his sails a bit. More scheming ahead, just wait. Meanwhile, Chuck is meeting with an attorney about what’s happening next in his brother’s case. She isn’t going to take it easy on him, wanting to make sure lawyers aren’t held to a lesser standard. I only wonder: will his condition make it difficult, or cause issues, in court? Should be fun to watch.
Back to Mike, in the desert again. A place we Breaking Bad lovers realise he knows all too well by the time Walter enters his life. The old fella is out putting drugs in a pair of red sneakers, tossing them up on a nearby wire; the worn out shoes we see finally snap off the line some time down the road, as evidenced by the ALTO sign without the bullet holes shot through it yet.
He then sets up camp on a hill with his rifle, watching through binoculars to see who’s approaching on the road. A pair of men come to look under a sort of trap door in the desert floor; is this the same one Mike later goes to in Breaking Bad when he and Jesse make collections? Either way, Mike plays a game with the men. Then he shoots one of the shoes as the truck passes, letting a thin powder flow over the truck, catching on its rear step. Whoa. That’s fucking sneaky, dude. When the truck is stopped for inspection, a drug dog picks up on the scent, and voila! Another Salamanca plot foiled, another plus for Fring’s business. I can see already how the meth kingpin will come to find Mike and his services invaluable.
Going back to the opening scene, we understand this as being an illustration of how Gus now owns the route, that it’s a sign of his, for a long while, undisputed power. Where Hector’s trucks once ran, the opener shows us that Los Pollos Hermanos takes that route, well into the future, and the bullet-riddled ALTO sign shows that there are many wars to come.
While everything else is going on, Kim and Jimmy are dealing with the “boxed in” situation he finds himself in with Chuck. So, what next? She suggests he isn’t alone, that he needs her. But I can’t help feel this is a one-way ticket to the nail in the coffin for their relationship. Maybe not next week, or the week after. Just sooner than later.


Another great episode. Many say this show is slow. Part of why I dig the series is because it burns, slowly, and if you don’t dig it that’s fine. Don’t say the show isn’t good, because it is, it lays out the groundwork for great characters and compelling, well-written plot. Good on the writers and producers. Next week is “Sabrosito” and I know we’re seeing more of Mr. Fring, too.

Fargo – Season 3, Episode 1: “The Law of Vacant Places”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 1: “The Law of Vacant Places”
Directed by Noah Hawley
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Palindrome” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Principle of Restricted Choice” – click here
Pic 1Year 3.
1988 in East Berlin. A man is interviewed by an officer, though claims he’s not who officer believes he is, a man named Yuri Gurka. Seems they’ve got a problem. “That state would have to be wrong” for all this to be an issue. Surely, that can’t be correct, can it? I see where this is headed. There’s a murder, which puts this poor man, not Yuri, at a disadvantage when up against the crumbling Soviet.
Now, we head into Minnesota during 2010 for our current timeline story.
Pic 1AEmmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) are conducting a bit of business, as a 25th anniversary party for Emmit and his wife Stella. Afterwards the celebration goes on happily. In attendance is their daughter Grace (Caitlynne Medrek), as well as brother Ray (also Ewan McGregor). And the much more greasy-looking brother is there to get a meeting with Sy and Emmit. It’s been some time, evidently.
They do a little catching up, awkward as that goes. The tension is clear. Ray obviously feels lower class compared to his brother; Sy’s like the best friend who’s more like a brother than the brother himself. We’re also introduced to Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and the fact Ray wants to get her an engagement ring. This brings up issues of money, plus some betrayal over a stamp collection, “vintage” stuff worth tons of cash.
The relationship between Nikki and Ray is a weird one. Likely she’s using him, but too early to judge. He’s a cagey one, too. So, I wouldn’t count anything out. Nikki says they’re “simpatico to the point of spooky” and he’s inclined to agree. Be interesting to watch more of them together, love McGregor and Winstead’s odd chemistry.


Ray is a parole officer – where he met his latest girlfriend – spending his days drowning in paperwork and piss. No short of characters he encounters. And no doubt we’ll see some kind of ethical murkiness rear its head; well, more than already with Nikki. You can’t help imagine what kind of plans Noah Hawley has for a main character with that profession in his quirky, twisted little world of Fargo.
At a bar Ray meets with Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy) who’s recently failed a piss test. This P.O is a little more lenient on those under his care. He wants Maurice to help him out with a robbery; quid pro quo, poof, vamoose, and the problems go away. If he can get his hands on the stamp in Emmit’s office.
Sy and Emmit have business to take care of late in the evening. Simultaneously, Maurice lurks around waiting for the right time to strike on his mission; he’s a little busy smoking a joint and talking to his shrink via speaker phone in the car. Then he loses the paper on which Ray wrote the address; it flies out the window, into the snowy roadside. Does he remember? Or will this cause unintended consequences? I’d vote on the latter.
When Emmit gets to the office he finds V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) waiting for him. He’s from their lender, Narwahl. Says they don’t need to pay back the money, apparently. It’s an “investment” he tells them. Followed by cryptic talk of “singularity” and “continuity.” Hmm, a few strings attached. Seems the boys got in over their head and didn’t ask questions before jumping in deep.


Chief Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) is at home celebrating her son Nathan’s (Graham Verchere) birthday. They’ve got a bit of a fractured family; modern by most standards. Another interesting family for the series.
A great tune, as always, plays (Adriano Celetano – “Prisencolinensinainciusol“) us through while cards are being dealt in a regional tournament. Dream team Swango and Stussy hit the tables together to make themselves a big a payday.
Poor, stoned Maurice, searching out the address he lost, remembering it incorrectly and headed in the wrong direction. Headed right for Eden Valley, where Gloria’s the law. Then the guy winds up going to Ennis Stussy’s – no relation to the twins, far as we know – place, where Gloria just left. She turns back to get the model he made for her boy, then finds the place in shambles, door open. The old man taped to a chair, dead. After looking around awhile she locates a hidden compartment in the floor with a box in it; inside, old books, a figure, and more.
When Maurice goes to see Ray, things are messy. The misunderstandings are only just beginning to pile up. It’s about to get wild, and nasty. Particularly when the parolee goes crazy on him, pulling a gun. However, Nikki’s always thinking. As Maurice leaves the apartment, they drop an air conditioner on his head obliterating him. They’ve got a plan and everything. A convenient way out.


This is the beginning of what’s sure to be an interesting Season 3. Such a great premiere, and I know there’s even greater things to come.
Not sure how the East Berlin moment earlier plays into the whole thing, though there’s a Russian connection: Maurice is wearing a shirt in the bar with RUSSIA written on it; maybe nothing, or maybe something. Who knows.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 2: “Witness”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 2: “Witness”
Directed by Vince Gilligan
Written by Thomas Schnauz

* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “Mabel” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sunk Costs” – click here
Pic 1Chuck (Michael McKean) is locking up for the night, having a cup of tea before bed. Diligently making sure the doors are locked, peeking through the windows. He has someone watching out at night, sitting in the dark at all hours. He’s waiting for something to happen. Anything.
Pic 1AA couple guys are waiting with a tracker. From a distance Mike (Jonathan Banks) watches them with his own tracker. He’s getting closer to figuring out who has a beat on him, his comings and goings. Could this all be a test? Is someone recruiting him to test out his skills? Or just somebody keeping tabs on a crafty guy like himself? Hmm. Whatever it is, Mike’s determined to get to the bottom of the mystery.
And then he follows a guy, in the night, into morning… all the way to, you guessed it: LOS POLLOS HERMANOS! God damn.
Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) is meeting with a woman named Francesca Liddy (Tina Parker) applying for a job in the office. She meets with Kim (Rhea Seehorn), too. They check out her resume, her experience, so on. They need somebody organised, to keep the place afloat. Kim isn’t sold, but Jimmy wants to hire her. Something like this is going to play directly into the plot, at some point in Season 3. When, exactly? Francesca will play a big role, in some way, shape, or form. Maybe she’ll wind up seeing Jimmy do something shitty, or she’ll flip on him for some reason, or who knows.
Mike calls Jimmy at the office: he wants him to go into Los Pollos Hermanos, to keep an eye on things, the guy with the bag whom Mike previously followed. Ah, the beginning of how Mike and Jimmy come into contact with Mr. Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Jimmy has breakfast starting out his spy duties. Soon the man with the bag arrives and our hapless lawyer tries to keep him in his sight.
FINALLY, our first look at Gus in a couple years! He sweeps up around where Jimmy sits, and the man with the bag, too (does he sweep something up from the guy? Is that their sneaky system?). Mike gets no information that helps from Jimmy, walking away empty handed. For the time being.


Mike keeps on Los Pollos Hermanos, determined that he’ll find out what’s been going on. It’s a tiring job, one he no doubt was prepared for all those years as a cop. Soon, a black SUV pulls into the restaurant rather suddenly, backing into the rear out of sight. Then it’s gone again in a rush. Who’s driving? Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui), our old pal from Breaking Bad. Another lead to follow.
At the McGill/Wexler offices, Ernesto (Brandon K. Hampton) can’t go in, so he phones Kim. She goes out to meet him and he’s so obviously stressed, with the information he knows from hearing Chuck’s clandestine tape. He wants to tell Jimmy about it, but doesn’t want to get in trouble because of helping his friend. So, he opts for Kim, whose view of Jimmy has once again shifted.
Gimme a dollar,” she tells him – the same he did with Walter White and Jesse Pinkman when they had him in the desert, hood over his head. They’ve now got attorney-client privilege. He spills the beans, involving his emotions over Chuck, wanting to cut him some slack mentally. Only the tape exists now. Note: when Kim’s talking to him, and he’s peeling tape off the newly painted wall, at first (before he gets frustrated) he uses the technique his big brother Chuck taught him last episode; he can never escape him, even when Chuck is screwing him over, eternally.


Still following that tracker, Mike is out in the middle of nowhere. He’s lead to a gas cap in the road, a cellphone waiting on top. And surely when it rings, on the other end are instructions for where to go.
In other news, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) is sneaking around in the neighbourhood near Chuck’s place trying to remain unseen. They have a little secret meet. Howard’s getting impatient with all the nonsense, all the money spent on private investigators, et cetera. All in the name of trying to snag Jimmy for his crime. He wants to get on with “alternate strategies” and finish with Chuck’s paranoia.
No sooner do they finish their conversation does the younger brother show up, pissed off and ready to beat down the door. Which he does. He flies into a rage and calls out Chuck over his betrayal. He breaks open the desk to find the tape, then cracks it into pieces. Could likely mean only more trouble for Jimmy, as there are witnesses to his frustrated outburst.


Man, oh, man! What’s next for the Brothers McGill? Nothing good.
Coming up is “Sunk Costs” and I’m so intrigued to see more of Gus + Mike, as well as what Jimmy must deal with in the fallout of his actions here in this episode.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 1: “Mabel”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 1: “Mabel”
Directed by Vince Gilligan
Written by Vince Gilligan & Peter Gould

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Klick” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Witness” – click here
Pic 1We start Season 3 with another black-and-white flash forward into the future of Jimmy McGill a.k.a Saul Goodman a.k.a Gene the Cinnabon manager (Bob Odenkirk). Nancy Sinatra croons “Sugartown” as we watch his daily life at the Cinnabon in the mall. Far from where we saw him in Breaking Bad, juxtaposed beautifully with the place we follow along in the current timeline of Better Call Saul; one of the fascinating parts of the writing and the progression of characters is how Gilligan & Co. pull off making his journey into a, at times, non-linear adventure. In turn, this keeps things fresh even though we already know where Jimmy/Saul ends up down the road.
What I’m most interested in is where Gene goes from this point post-Breaking Bad, or if he continues on in his purgatorial existence, a fitting end for a greasy guy such as himself. Eating lunch alone on a bench he winds up seeing a sketchy young man who looks to be hiding, in trouble. Rather than let the kid go on, he rats him out to the cops. Then in a burst he tells the kid to say nothing, and advises him to get a lawyer. That old Saul came loose, even for a second. Gene’s not as measured as he once seemed. Later while glazing some buns he passes out. Yikes.
Pic 1ATo the current timeline. Jimmy and Chuck (Michael McKean) are back where we left them, when the younger brother confessed to his brother believing no one else would hear. Not knowing Chuck was hiding a tape recorder the entire time. All the while Jimmy thinks everything’s well, or at least stable. A situation he can manage. The brothers reminisce about being younger, triggered by The Adventures of Mabel which Jimmy finds in Chuck’s bookcase. For the first time, they actually seem like brothers. Not for long, though. The older of the two reminds with an ominous tone: “You will pay.”
Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is doing her best to keep her chin up, too. Despite the rollercoaster of a life she has sitting next to Jimmy. He’s not exactly a dream dude to be involved with in business, or in friendship, love, et cetera. Eventually I have to believe Kim won’t be able to reconcile her morality with being on his side. She already knows he’s not on the level, but just doesn’t realise how deep the well of deceit goes. But as always, the problem is that Jimmy’s such a likeable loser that it’s very tough not to root for him.
Jimmy: “For ten minutes today Chuck didnt hate me. I forgot what that felt like.”
Meanwhile, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian) hears Chuck’s tape of Jimmy and the confession. Certainly the secret recording isn’t enough to hold up in court; Chuck knows. So why have the tape at all? Does it involve Kim?
Of most interest to me is Mr. Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). He was out in the desert, and found a note telling him to get away. A warning, but from whom exactly? Mike does the smart thing, speeding away from the scene then checking his car for any kind of devices; nothing. He heads to a scrapyard and has a closer look. And I mean a CLOSER FUCKING LOOK. Mike uses every last ounce of his training to look through the guts of his car, inspecting each inch with precision. Like he can smell it yet can’t seem to find the thing.
Finally, he discovers something hidden in the gas cap. THE GAS CAP! An ingenious, tedious place to hide a tracking device. That’s some next level deviousness. But now Mike has some idea, a starting point leading to whoever’s keeping an eye on him so close.


Jimmy receives a visit from Captain Bauer (Brendan Fehr), one of the military gentlemen whose eyes he pulled the wool over when needing to cut a commercial. Anyways, he’s not happy. Slick talkin’ Jimmy tries to sell him a load of horseshit, that doesn’t work. Either Jimmy takes the ad down or “therell be hell to pay.” He doesn’t dig that, so he threatens to take it to court and win. The captain advises him, in his own way of speaking, that eventually Jimmy’s going to get what he deserves. From the flash forwards and seeing Breaking Bad, we know this to be true.
With his newly acquired knowledge, Mike switches out his gas cap to head off after work. At an old warehouse he meets his friend the veterinarian (Joe DeRosa) to get himself some gear. Pricey, too: $1,000.
Back to Kim, over at Mesa Verde she’s doing great work. As always. Worse still she knows the treachery, the guilt eats her. How long before it eats her alive? Every time she hears about Chuck and his supposed mistake, it’s like a stab in the gut. Also, in the office – that rainbow… any imagery connections to that in Season 2? I’d like to revisit that.
Over at Chuck’s place, he has to get Ernesto to help him change batteries in the tape recorder. The thing is on when he changes them, he hears a bit of Jimmy confessing. This sends the old gentleman into a fit of anger, trying to make sure Ernesto won’t ever tell anybody about what he’s heard. “There could be terrible consequences,” Chuck convinces him with a torrent of quasi-threatening language.
Pic 3Mike, Mike, Mike; what will you think of next? He’s like the counter-intelligence king of the streets, using all that police knowledge from busting criminals, learning their ways, to fuel his own criminal enterprises. Except right now it’s like espionage, trying to discover who’s on the other end of the surveillance on him. He’s reversing the cat and mouse aspect of the dangerous game that’s being played, or at the least trying to do so. And he loves pistachios. Fucking loves them. I don’t blame him, either; they’re great.
After a long night of waiting, Mike sees a vehicle stop. Someone retrieves the GPS tracker from the gas cap then they’re off into the night fast as they came. So, Mike has a lead on where they’re headed.
Want to take a guess? Might have something to do with Los Pollos Hermanos, maybe?


Great start to the season! I don’t care if people say the show’s slow moving. It’s meant to; the storytelling and the character development and the plot moves are all spectacular. Great music and score, as well. Excited for “Witness” next week. Welcome back.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 3: “I.F.T.”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 3: “I.F.T.”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by George Mastras

* For a review of the previous episode, “Caballo sin Nombre” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Green Light” – click here
img_4034 We start on Tortuga (Danny Trejo). He sits in a little bar drinking, being an asshole, as usual. Then Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda) shows up. They chat, drink. The boss man has a present for Tortuga, he missed the man’s birthday. Only the present is a tortoise, that Juan paints HOLA DEA on before the Salamanca twins cut Tortuga’s head off.
The prequel to Hank and his run-in with the head-bearing tortoise.
img_4037 In the present day, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) is still watching Walter White (Bryan Cranston), checking in with whom I can only assume is Gus Fring (Giancarloa Esposito). All the while Walt scrapes the pizza off the roof. Not to mention now Skyler (Anna Gunn) is on her way home discovering her estranged husband has moved back in. Things aren’t pretty for the Whites, that’s for sure. Walt won’t budge, so she threatens calling the police. He’s willing to call her bluff. She does call, although when the police arrive they discover no evidence of him having forced his way in. He’s acting calm, rational, eating grilled cheese and potato chips with Walt Jr (RJ Mitte). As they’re not legally separated, the police have their hands tied. And by all outward appearances Walt isn’t a violent or bad man. Nobody else, aside from Skyler, knows what he’s been up to in his spare time. She’s not willing to come out and tell the police, or anyone, about Walt’s crimes.
Skyler: “Welcome home
Poor Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) reels from the death of his girlfriend Jane. He’s a bit of a broken man. In his new house he looks like a shattered soul, lost and lonely. Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) pops by to try talking him into getting in touch with Walt. Right now Jesse would rather be by himself.
Then there’s big Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and his partner Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada), they’re out doing their thing. Hank gets a call about going back to El Paso. He acts excited, to his boss, to his partner. It isn’t hard to tell he’s not one bit excited in reality.
And those creepy Salamancas, they’re looking for a handicap van. You can guess why – papa Tio (Mark Margolis) has somewhere to go. They’re meeting with boss Juan Bolsa and Gustavo. All about Heisenberg and the near hit on him. Problem is that Tio loved Tuco like a son, and Walt betrayed him supposedly; Juan believes the Salamancas have a “right to exact revenge.” But Gus won’t have that. Business must be completed with Walt, then they can have their revenge. This may lead to a much more devastating proposition for the time being.


Continually, Jesse calls Jane’s phone to hear her voice. He dials over and over, unable to let go. And how can he? Worst of all is the fact that Walt let it happen; he could’ve tried saving her and chose not to in an effort to save his own skin. At home, Walt suffers in karmic ways: unable to sleep in his own bed, in the same house as his wife yet on another planet altogether, pissing in the sink since Skyler won’t let him into their own. Privately with her divorce lawyer, Skyler reveals that her husband cooks meth.
At a bar, Hank and Steve have some beers. Except that Hank is distracted. He sees a little drug deal action going on at one of the tables. So, to try proving his own faux-masculinity to himself, he decides on going the hard knocks route; he leaves his gun in the car before they leave, heads back in, and throws some fists with a couple tough guys. He kicks the absolute shit out of them, though it’s clear Hank has some serious shit going on in his head. Later, Steve calls him out for leaving the gun in the car, clearly understanding his partner’s fucked up.
When Jane’s line finally goes dead, this is a real blow to Jesse. The last remnant of her voice is gone, never to return. And the real world, the life after Jane now officially begins as the pain breaks through further. Thus Pinkman goes back out to the desert in the Winnebago to start cooking. Because it’s all he has left.
Skyler prepares to leave then finds Walt in the living room, a bag of money at their feet filled to the brim. He gives what he considers his explanation: “That is college tuition for Walter Jr, and Holly, eighteen years down the road. And its health insurance for you and the kids, for Jrs physical therapy, his SAT tutor. Its money for groceries, and gas, for birthdays and graduation partiesThis money, I didnt steal it, it doesnt belong to anyone else; I earned it. The things Ive done to earn it, theythe things Ive had to doIve got to live with them.”


What will she do? Not long after she rushes into the arms of Ted. When she gets back to the house later, dinner’s ready and Walt is playing the adoring husband, doing his best to make things nice. A pot roast is in the oven, a salad made.
So after her husband rattles on like nothing’s ever happened, Skyler leans in and tells him: “I fucked Ted.”
img_4049 Wow! The reaction of Bryan Cranston in the end after Anna Gunn speaks those words is fantastic. Utterly perfect. They’re both quality actors and they play so well off one another, one of the greatest television couples in any series.
Next episode is “Green Light” and plenty’s poised to go down.

Black Mirror – Season 3, Episode 5: “Men Against Fire”

Netflix’s Black Mirror
Season 3, Episode 5: “Men Against Fire”
Directed by Jakob Verbruggen
Written by Charlie Brooker

* For a review of Episode 4, “San Junipero” – click here
* For a review of Episode 6, “Hated in the Nation” – click here
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Stripe (Malachi Kirby) dreams of someplace better, a time before when he was happy and things were nice. When he wakes, he’s in a military barrack. The troops are rallied for a “roach hunt.” Just so happens to be Stripe’s first time out. We’ve got the typical bully, the nice girl, all those army archetypes we’re used to seeing.
Everyone is transported to a camp where people stay, speaking of encounters with the roaches. Their food and supplies have been torn up, now useless. People in the camp are scared, worried for what will happen next if the roaches come back.
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The military crew are led by Medina (Sarah Snook), who takes them up to a local religious freak’s land where the roaches supposedly headed last the camp’s people saw. Armed with all sorts of gadgets, the soldiers start pressing down on the house in question. By all accounts it looks as if they’ll be able to take care of things fairly efficient and fast: “Optimal outcomeno shots fired,” Medina explains confidently before they prepare to lay siege to the man’s home. His name is Parn Heidekker (Francis Magee). He’s a little secretive, or just guarded. Either way, after a moment he lets the soldiers inside. He acts like there’s nothing going on. But is that what he wants them to think? Medina thinks that Heidekker’s religious conviction makes him even unable to turn against the “roaches.” She expresses the need to wipe them out, to stop kids from being born “like that” – are they feral, mutant people?
A great, creepy build-up leads to the upstairs where Stripe encounters some of these feral creatures. They leap from out of their hiding places. Guns are fired. Blood sprayed. Some of the creatures make it out of the house and into the woods. Stripe fights one viciously to the bitter end, stabbing it deep in the chest. And what is the strange glowing wand they carry? Like a sort of device to implant something? When Stripe picks it up, it shines into his eyes. Uh oh.

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Downstairs, Raiman (Madeline Brewer), Medina and the others keep everything under control. Well, Medina does, anyways. Raiman toys with Heidekker. Meanwhile we see something is not right with Stripe after those green lights shined into his pupils. What is the purpose of that device? Does it infect people? Wait. See.
The soldiers torch Heidekker’s place to make sure no contamination makes it out of those walls. They head out, everyone congratulating Stripe on his two confirmed roach kills, especially the second knifing. Only I feel like there’s something far more sinister headed for ole Stripe. At the barrack, he slips back into that nice dream again, a beautiful woman (Loreece Harrison) speaking “I love you” to him sweetly. But the dream changes. He sees quick cuts to blood smearing everywhere.
Raiman and Stripe do a bit of training the next day. She’s pretty pissed about letting a roach get away at the house. Their interface, the technology they use, it’s not unlike a Call of Duty game. They’ve got the technological edge. Or do they? That device the roach at Heidekker’s place had with him is really fucking with Stripe’s head and his aim game. Everything is starting to feel out of whack for him, which Medina notices. She sends him out to get checked, just in case.
The soldiers are linked to an implanted vision that’s similar to virtual reality, where they can see 3D objects, such as the aiming with their weapons and so on. Doctor clears him, though Stripe tells him about the “flashlight“-like device the roach had. Nothing’s amiss and he’s sent on his way. To talk to a man named Arquette (Michael Kelly). He’s like a psychologist, of sorts. He has Stripe tell him about what happened during the raid. Arquette only talks him out of the spiral he’s been on in his head.


Stripe’s put into a nice deep sleep, to help him get over the slight shock of his mission. He sees his dream woman once more. They lay together, making love. Then the woman multiplies in his vision – two, three, four, five times. His implant glitches, causing him to wake. Something strange is absolutely going on, no matter what Arquette or the MD say.
Back over at the camp, Medina has a location from Heidekker on where the roaches may be located. Off they go on another raid. Their eye on the sky scopes out an abandoned building where it’s likely the roaches are hiding. All of a sudden, Stripe feels his implant glitching again. His vision, everything seems different. When Medina gets taken out by a bullet everything gets very serious. Stripe and Raiman are left together against a group of roaches in the nearby buildings. The roaches, using rifles, start taking down their technology.
When the pair move in Stripe’s implant malfunctions worse and worse. He’s disconnecting from the neural network, it seems. His normal, human functions are returning. Does that roach device break down the army’s implant? In the meantime, Stripe and Raiman infiltrate the abandoned building, finding more devices like the one that zapped Stripe. They stumble across a non-feral woman, who Raiman shoots down in cold blood.
Soon they encounter some roaches, and Raiman goes absolutely nuts, firing rounds wildly throughout the building, almost hitting Stripe and nearly killing more non-feral civilians. It’s become just like a game to her. So Stripe attacks her, trying to stop her from killing them. In the process, he takes a bullet and cracks her head open with the butt of his gun.
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Stripe takes off with the non-ferals until he passes out at the wheel in the truck. The civilians drag him out to a safer place in the woods. To an underground lair. A woman tells him the truth: the army implant makes soldiers see civilians as roaches. Stripe can’t accept it, but she tells him firmly that “the implant made you see this.” Wow. I didn’t expect that, honestly. A nice little twist on what I thought had been happening. Still, Raiman is hunting for Stripe, and what happens when she finds him?
And what about the locals who say they’ve seen roaches? Perhaps it’s merely hatred, xenophobia, anger which drives them. One truly relevant approach to this episode, as we face a world wrought with such hate. It all started after the latest war. Policies were implemented. DNA checks required. Ah, sound familiar? At least it may sound similar to some of what certain people in certain countries have been suggesting as of late when it comes to members of particular groups. Y’know?
When Raiman locates Stripe he tries to explain the truth. That ain’t good enough. He’s been taken back to an army facility. Arquette’s come to have a chat, trying to convince him of the exact opposite of what the civilian woman had been saying. “The whole things a lie,” Stripe tells him. Arquette explains it’s all about making people more susceptible to orders, to fear. The implant allows soldiers to see something ‘other’ when looking at the enemy: “Its a lot easier to pull the trigger when youre aiminat the boogeyman.” All comes down to being pure. A 21st-century vision of Nazi Germany’s eugenics. Only Stripe agreed beforehand to effectively be hypnotised, to the point he can’t remember any of what happened. One strong headtrip.

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The army controls these soldiers, to the point they can literally take away sight with the implant. Arquette lays out Stripe’s options – go to jail, or have the implant reset and forget everything. But the soldier, he’s had enough. He would rather remember everything.
Or would he?
Arquette then allows Stripe to experience the raid at Heidekker’s place, to see everything as it really was, to feel the death, watch the blood flick over the walls. “You will see and smell and feel it all,” Arquette calmly explains.
In the end, he chooses to live in the army dreamworld. He sees flashes of that dream woman, their idyllic house. Yet none of it is real. Maybe it’s easier that way.

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A genuinely powerful episode. Lots of questions concerning the ethics of technology, as well as military technology and strategies in the ever-changing 21st-century. So many things to think about. Did I miss anything? If so, let me know. Love to hear what others are digging and thinking of each episode. Brooker’s series continues its amazingness with a strong third season, each episode is a spectacle unto itself.
My favourite observation of this episode is how rhetoric can eventually lead to terrible things, as Arquette explains the timeline of how civilians became referred to as roaches. Remember this, America. Right now.

Black Mirror – Season 3, Episode 4: “San Junipero”

Netflix’s Black Mirror
Season 3, Episode 4: “San Junipero”
Directed by Owen Harris
Written by Charlie Brooker

* For a review of Episode 3, “Shut Up and Dance” – click hereclick here
* For a review of Episode 5, “Men Against Fire” – click here
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In the 1980s, or somewhere reminiscent of it, Yorkie (Mackenzie Davis) wanders a city. She stops in front of a bunch of TVs playing Max Headroom. Everywhere around her people seem to be having fun. She follow some people into a big club. She doesn’t exactly look like she belongs, though pushes on through the crowd as the rock to old tunes, some play arcade games – and that’s exactly where Yorkie ends up, playing Bubble Bobble. A fellow nerd talks her up, but she replies she needs to get her “bearings” for the place. What does that mean: a simple social term, or a more broad meaning? I bet the latter.
This is only proved more when a woman named Kelly (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) uses Yorkie to help her out with a lurking dude. He talks about last week, et cetera, and it seems like this place it’s… temporary. Or something similar. Anyways, Yorkie and Kelly go have a bit of fun, a few drinks, in the background The Bangles ring loud through the club speakers. The ladies chat and get to know one another. Kelly admires Yorkie’s “authentic” look and that other people are only imitating what they think they should look like, not how they want. When the ladies step on the dance floor things feel strange, almost robotic and choreographed. This drives Yorkie outside. She’s like a foreigner in a distant land, unaware of the customs, the culture. Everything is nearly dream-like.
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Yorkie has a semi-romantic encounter with Kelly, then rushes off into the night. We skip to one week later, as Yorkie dresses, listening to mixtapes of ’80s music and posing in the mirror. She goes back to the trusty ole stuff she wore last time. At the club already Kelly finds herself accosted by the creeper Wes (Gavin Stenhouse) again, as people start flooding in to dance and drink and party all over again. She rejects Wes, having previously had a night of sexy fun together. He isn’t happy. Too bad, dude!
Later on Yorkie shows up. She’s clearly attracted to and interested in Kelly. Plenty of quality music with INXS rocking. But Yorkie, she keeps on staring until she and Kelly meet eyes, over and over, across the room. In the bathroom they meet, which they follow with a nighttime drive. The city where they are – San Junipero – isn’t one we know as real. What kind of destination is it, really? For now, we see Yorkie and Kelly come together beautifully in each other’s arms. It’s actually the first time for Yorkie, in any way, with anyone. Strange, seeing as how she has a fiancee. The two women lay in bed, they talk, bond. Kelly talks of her bisexuality, stemming from conversation concerning her onetime husband. She also mentions just “passing through” San Junipero, only there for having a good time.
Is the city of San Junipero a place that exists solely for people to live out the fantasies they can’t in real life? Well, it’s very Cinderella-ish in that at 12 AM, things seem to stop. Or, they end. Until one week later, all over.
Back at the club after a week, Yorkie doesn’t find Kelly anywhere. The bartender suggests checking the Quagmire. It’s a nasty sort of punk-like club on the outskirts of town, like the refuge of people literally on the fringe in every way. Poor little Yorkie looks crazily out of place walking in, looking for her friend. There’s music, strange cages, BDSM, fights in a caged ring, hands groping in the dark. Yorkie runs into Wes, dressed much differently than last we saw him. And he doesn’t know where Kelly is either.
Finally, the revelation: Wes says he saw her in a “different time” like “2002” or the ’80s, the ’90s. Whoa.

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This time, one week later is the ’80s, then the ’90s. Yorkie starts searching all the places they went together, looking for where the girl of her dreams went. She goes to 2002 specifically. Each time, the world changes accordingly, as we see different places and times and how things have changed, how they haven’t in some respects. Then Yorkie runs into Kelly, who isn’t so thrilled to see her. She only wanted to have fun. Yorkie wants something lasting, not a fling. It hurts her to understand this about Kelly: “Maybe you should feel bad, or at least feel something,” Yorkie tells her. Perfectly, after she leaves Kelly punches a mirror – not hurting her hand, or the mirror which goes back to normal almost immediately. Is there something further we don’t know about this woman?
Everything gets scary when Kelly sees Yorkie sitting on the roof’s ledge of the club outside. We find out that 80% of the “fulltimers” in San Junipero are dead. Say whaaat, girl? Ah well. At least Yorkie gets laid again.
But she’s getting married in a week. And Kelly, she’s probably only got months to live. So, is San Junipero the afterlife? Sort of, like a digital age invention to help people ease into the concept of death.
When 12 AM hits, San Junipero is no more. An older version of Kelly goes to a facility where she visits an older, incapacitated Yorkie lying in a bed, hooked to a breathing tube and machinery. We discover Yorkie is “passing over” soon. All turns out that she came out to her parents at 21, then after a fight with them crashed a car, rendering her paralysed.

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Kelly wants to go back in for a minute, to confront Yorkie about her passing. And then she decides to ask Yorkie to marry her instead. A truly gorgeous and tender moment between the two women. Tear worthy, indeed. Whereas so many Black Mirror episodes are often totally grim, which I dig, it’s actually nice to see something hopeful. Even if Yorkie is passing over into death, there’s still a beauty to it with how Kelly insisted on going back, to give her a real, genuine marriage with someone she loved. Heartbreaking and loving all at once.
After death, young Yorkie sits on the beach. She lets the tide wash up on her feet and rubs her toes, her fingers in the sand. Out in the real world, older Kelly heads back home to the facility where she stays. But not long goes by before Kelly’s out on the beach with her wife, the two of them together awhile. However, at 12 AM things are over for another week. Yorkie is lonely in San Junipero without her other half. Things break down when she belittles Kelly’s former marriage to her dead husband Richard. Suddenly, things aren’t so lovely or romantic. San Junipero isn’t as idyllic when put in context with Kelly and her loss. “You wanna spend forever somewhere where nothing matters?” she asks Yorkie.
This is a question about heaven, the afterlife: if death isn’t the end, then what the hell is death, actually? If there’s no end, there’s no meaning. If this is just one life before another, especially a fake one, then what are the stakes?

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When she’s ready to go, Kelly heads to San Junipero after all. She and Yorkie drive off into the sunset together. Out in the real world, it’s all a bunch of machines with flash drive-like systems running different scenarios, as there are a ton of San Juniperos with different names, each one a place all of its own. Ah, the future of death and the afterlife! Behold its splendour.

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Charlie Brooker is an impressive writer. His imagination never ceases to amaze me and for someone who isn’t huge on science fiction – though I do love to READ sci-fi more than watch – he sucks me into each new world he chooses to bring to life. This was another solid episode, one of the few with hints of hope at the edges. A solid rumination on the meaning of life, death, as well as how we deal with passing over to whatever comes after.

Black Mirror – Season 3, Episode 3: “Shut Up and Dance”

Netflix’s Black Mirror
Season 3, Episode 3: “Shut Up and Dance”
Directed by James Watkins
Written by William Bridges & Charlie Brooker

* For a review of Episode 2, “Playtest” – click here
* For a review of Episode 4, “San Junipero” – click here
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In a parking garage a woman gets out of her car, waiting. On her phone she gets a notification. She looks scared, or apprehensive about being there. She leaves abruptly, but where’s she going, and why is she there to begin with?
At a restaurant, Kenny (Alex Lawther) works as a busboy, cleaning up various messes and sorting out the kitchen. He’s a right sweet lad, too. Not treated overly well by the other males at work, but sometimes that’s life: people (especially young dudes) are shit. Kenny’s sister has his computer all muffed up with viruses and the like, so he goes about cleaning that up, as well. Always cleaning. But that program he downloaded, to get rid of the malware, is it also spying on him? Something, or someone, peers through the webcam at him.
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Kenny and his sister sort of fend for themselves, a bit. His mother’s a busy woman. He spends the evening lounging after putting locks on his door to keep out the nosy sister. Upstairs, he hops online for a wank. All the while the webcam points directly at him. After washing up he gets an e-mail stating WE SAW WHAT YOU DID, containing an attachment with the video. Fuck me. Knew that was coming. This obviously freaks poor Ken out. He covers up the camera, but finds another e-mail requiring his phone number, or else his contact list receives the video. A little hesitation, and then he sends it off. They start sending instructions via text. Ominous. He’s utterly terrified. Such an ironic and ultimate invasion of his privacy. He spent all that time putting locks on his doors to keep the family, his sister particularly, out of his private space. When somebody merely waltzed digitally right into his bedroom. Nasty, nasty stuff. Dig that.
So what are the stakes, I wonder? What is the endgame for the person(s) tormenting Kenny? YOU HAVE BEEN ACTIVATED. OBEY OR WE LEAK VIDEO. These messages come via text, along with a location for him to go to, or else. This has got him playing hooky from work, and I’m sure that’s only the beginning. He races to his first location atop a parking garage – a familiar location. We can already guess exactly what was happening to that woman in the episode’s opener.
Instructed to wait, Kenny does. Not for long. A delivery bike appears. The driver gives Kenny a box, taking his picture. He’s also being forced to do “their” bidding. Once the package is verified, another task is at hand. Kenny must go to a hotel room and deliver the box.

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In the room is a man named Hector (Jerome Flynn). He refuses the package, not wanting anything to do with it. When more orders come from the people behind it all, Kenny finally gets into the room. Hector’s confused as much as him, and the young man can’t explain it well enough. Until texts start coming through to Hector. At the same time they want Kenny to take his picture: “They said I had to do that.”
Each of them are getting instructions, in tandem now, it seems. The cake must go to a new address. A car waits in the garage for them. Oh, that old familiar image of the parking garage. And the car has keys laid on the wheel, just like the ones the woman at the start left. Oh, I love the writing in this episode! So fun. What an elaborate game these hidden people play.
Kenny and Hector go on their way, they’re headed just outside of town. The two of them bond over the extortion they face respectively. Having to get gas, they run into a woman on the PTA from the school where Hector’s kids go, and end up having to give her a ride. Because that won’t cause any trouble. Soon as they’re off, the messages start. They’re watching, and the car is going the WRONG WAY. The messages continue, advising them TURN AROUND. Only 20 minutes left to get to their destination. Hector starts doing some stuntman work to get his friend out of the car. At the location, they’re instructed to “look in the cake.” Hector digs out a gun, a hat, and some sunglasses. That’s promising. Along with texts questioning who will be the driver, and who the robber. Hector calls the former, quickly. In front of the car sits a bank. The equation is simple, although terrifying.

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The older of the two talks his younger companion into doing the robbery half of their task. Pretty slimy how he does, but they’re both desperate and nearly gone mad with the prospect of what’s going on around them. Kenny walks into the bank, if not very reluctantly. He points the gun and asks for money, all the while pissing himself. Jesus, that is so sad. A teller loads his bag with cash and then Kenny heads back to the car. They take off fast, only to come across a stop for construction, as sirens blare in the distance. The coppers aren’t looking for them, luckily, and the fellas are on the way once more.
Hector and Kenny get to the final instruction once at the next location – Hector must take the car alone and destroy it, Kenny has to drop the money, alone, at a separate location. The two part ways on their new tasks, amicably in fact; Hector apologises for being so harsh. When pushed, people will be nasty no matter how nice they are on a regular basis. Either way, Kenny heads out into the woods someplace to drop the cash. He stumbles upon a gated area that looks god damn spooky, like the exact place you wouldn’t go if it were a horror film. Yet on he goes, ever daring young man that he is, and continues after the point marked on his smartphone. In a remote location he sees someone waiting, a man. He has a drone. “They” require it being set into the air before anything further. Well, the money is “prize money” for a fight between Kenny and this man. The drone is watching, recording them. In any normal circumstances, a good man wouldn’t beat a kid. But these aren’t normal times.
Oh, and we start figuring out nice little Kenny boy wasn’t exactly jerking off to anything normal, either. They were likely underage girls. Same as the man before him. Kenny tries using his gun to end the fight, although no bullets remain. The drone watches from above, as the man attacks the kid.

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What about Hector, eh? What’s he up to? He arrives home to a sleeping family. And a Trollolololo message on his phone, meme face and all. Does it mean what we assume? His wife’s crying eyes confirm as much. The woman from the beginning, she’s also been trolled; her racist e-mails are leaked to the internet in all their glory. Everyone from the game has been blackmailed, then destroyed anyways. Even Kenny, as he crawls from out of the forest, beaten and bloodied, only to get a Trollolololo face and a visit from the police, a disappointed call from mother about looking at kids online. Wow. Now that niceness of Kenny from the first scene is way fucking creepy.
What a shocker of an ending. A nice parallel to the very first episode of Black Mirror, where a hideous act of extortion lead to a different though similarly queasy twist.
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Another solid episode in this Season 3 lineup! I can’t believe the writing, some of the best of the entire series yet. Great, great acting, as well. Fine stuff all around. And what a look into the things anonymous people can see and do, how they can extort you, all from behind a computer screen, anywhere; maybe near, maybe far. It’s a stunning and shocking view of how our most private moments, what we think are private moments, can now, in a day and state of extremely technology, become very public in the sound of one click.

Black Mirror – Season 3, Episode 2: “Playtest”

Netflix’s Black Mirror
Season 3, Episode 2: “Playtest”
Directed by Dan Trachtenberg
Written by Charlie Brooker

* For a review of Episode 1, “Nosedive” – click here
* For a review of Episode 3, “Shut Up and Dance” – click here
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American traveller Cooper (Wyatt Russell) is off on a solo adventure. He’s sneaked away under cover of the dark, early morning. He takes a plane, arriving in Australia, then Bangkok, Spain, Rome, and all sorts of other destinations. By the seat of his pants Cooper takes on the world, one place at a time. One night he meets Sonja (Hannah John-Kamen) through an online app, they have drinks at a pub and chat about his travels. She wonders if he’s “finding himself” or what the purpose of his trip may be in the end. Of course they wind up spending the night together, it being the tail end of his journey and all. Memories, yay! Aside from that we figure out Cooper took care of his dad at home with his mother – early onset Alzheimer’s – and so now, after his death, the son has gone on a trip for himself. He worries that something like that could happen to him, so seriously: memories!
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But travelling, it takes money, right? All of a sudden Cooper finds his credit is lacking after somebody might’ve stolen his card. Things are not looking good. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, poor Cooper.
Well, using an Odd Jobs app he comes across a Playtest job with a huge gaming company. They make horror games and wild things; Sonja clues Cooper in on things, being in the games industry and all. The company is owned by Shou Saito (Ken Yamamura), a visionary developer. She also suggests getting a picture of Saito’s super secretive operations at the company would be worth a ton more than whatever he’ll make at the job. Hmm.
So Cooper is brought out to the massive complex where the games are developed, the lair of Saito and his latest developments. A few good jokes (the “end of level boss” and “Gryffindor” jokes made me laugh out loud). He gets into the contract signing portion of it all. A woman named Katie (Wunmi Mosaku) walks him through everything, including that there’s a medical procedure involved. All has to do with a virtual reality-type experience. Katie implants what’s called a “mushroom” into the back of his neck, protruding from the skin a little. Afterwards, they do a small test, and then he’s initiated into the virtual world which the new game – or experience – is to explore. From 8-bit, the character in front of Cooper changes to become more realistic with every upgrade, only visible to him. As Katie puts it, the experience is more like “layers on top” of reality instead of virtual reality. A totally immersive experience. We get to watch Cooper do real life whack a mole – to Katie it only looks like he’s smacking the table. Love it. Either way, Cooper’s sold on the entire job.

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With all that done, Cooper is brought to meet the man himself, Shou Saito. They speak about the experience of gaming, how it makes us feel, the adrenaline involved. “You have faced your greatest fears in a safe environment,” Saito explains, going on to tell Cooper about a survival horror game which uses a gamer’s fears in order to scare the players respectively. An amplified version of what we’re already seeing today in horror games.
Only when Cooper gets hooked up to the game, it isn’t such a “fun” thing as he so wonderfully described the whack a mole. He’s brought to an eerie old house where the game commences, and will continue until he is too scared to go any further. Nothing can hurt the gamer. But what about when the fear is too much? Cooper wanders and his first encounter comes when he picks up a book with Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven in it – a huge spider crawls out from beneath the rug nearby. Only a relatively minor apparition, but an apparition nonetheless. The game probably has to slowly ingratiate the user so that the brain doesn’t explode with pure fright right away. Gradually the frightening things start to pile up. The painting on the wall changes, bit by bit. Licks flicker, sounds of footsteps beating around upstairs. When a 19th-century man shows up right behind Cooper, creeping him out, it shows the game is using his prior experiences and fears to scare him – the man looks like an old high school bully. So, for a moment he’s troubled. He goes on about his night after a few laughs, although he is shaken. Very clear.


A little more poking around sees Cooper terrified by an eerie, giant, human-like spider. Again, his subconscious drudging up bits of his previous experiences as a boy to be used by the game. Things start to get quite unsettling when he can’t reach Katie on the earpiece anymore. Is it the game? Yes, I’d bet on that. Plus, someone keeps banging on the door. It’s Sonja: “Youre in danger,” she tells him. Has the game manifested her? Or is she actually there? Cooper realises she is actually in the room with him. She talks about a “computerbrain interface” that Saito has been working on for a year. Cooper doesn’t believe it, insisting she’s still a part of the whole game even being real. But Sonja goes on about missing people, all who used the Odd Jobs app to apply for the job. She then attacks him with a knife, as the spider-bully shows up once more, as well. Cooper tries to fight Sonja off, she goes mad on him. One of the single most horrific sequences of Black Mirror ensues when Sonja’s face peels off like rubber, revealing a bloody skull beneath. Cooper survives this round, creatively impaling the skull on the knife through his shoulder.
And of course it’s all fake, a figment of the game and his tortured imagination. Yet it leaves Cooper shaken worse than before. He felt the knife, he felt it all. He freaks out, wanting to tear the mushroom from the back of his neck. Although Katie tries to rally him to the access point, so she and Saito can take him out of the game.
Cooper worries about what’s behind the next door upstairs. Just beyond lies the access point. However, he’s scared that the game knows about things with mother. What things, exactly? Inside, the room is empty. And now Katie says “there is no access point.” It’s all a ruse to get the player to obey directions without question. Oh. Fucking. Shit. This is now very scary. Katie’s not so nice anymore, as well as the fact Cooper’s memories are disappearing. The game is pulling them away, replacing them. Putting him into his ultimate nightmare, ending up like his father with his memories gone and nothing left. This sends him over the edge.
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Katie actually shows up now with a team of men, trying to help. But the process can’t be stopped. “I dont know who I am,” Cooper mutters at them. He’s stuck with the game worming its way into his brain, past his memories, leaving him a broken shell. He gets an apology from Saito, if that’s worth anything. “Put him with the others, please,” says Saito before the men drag him away.
He quickly is brought out of the game. He was in there for such a minuscule amount of time. Is his brain susceptible to an extreme length? Or is the software much too strong? Ah, the true ethics of gaming, as we step into unexplored territory and wildly uncharted waters, mixing human beings with technology in an unprecedented and likely dangerous manner.
Once Cooper goes home he sees his mother (Elizabeth Moynihan) again, in distress. She can’t remember her son, though, even as he stands right in front of her. Cut back to Cooper in that white room, first testing out the equipment with Katie. He convulses. His mother calls – like she tried to do when Cooper walked in at home. Everything loops around in a mindfuck of a sequence. Katie and Saito figure that the signal from the cell interfered with things. Still, Cooper lies motionless on the floor, a corpse, and in 4 small seconds another volunteer for the new Saito game is gone. Just like that.

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What an excellent exploration of the gaming industry in a near future sci-fi sense. Wonderful writing from Charlie Brooker, as usual. He is a treasure. Love the macabre way he puts his lens over certain subjects. We’re not really that far off from the point of this game in “Playtest” when there’s already a game coming out – or maybe it’s already out, I only remember reading an article about it recently – which has the antagonist A.I. trying to thwart players by learning from how you actually play the game. These are the best sci-fi stories, in any medium: the prescient, relevant, and close to home tales. Brooker’s Black Mirror is like a Twilight Zone for the technology obsessed 21st-century. So perfectly eerie and moving in one fell swoop.

Peaky Blinders – Season 3 Finale

BBC Two’s Peaky Blinders
Season 3, Episode 6
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Steven Knight

* For a review of Episode 5, click here.
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Here it is, the Season 3 finale!
We start as an institute for poor children in Grace’s name is being opened by Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). Everyone’s there, Aunt Pol (Helen McCrory) introducing him, Arthur (Paul Anderson) and John (Joe Cole), the lot of them. Tommy gives a nice speech about taking care of the children, proper. Looking after them. Naughty Arthur even makes sure to throw in: “By order of the Peaky Blinders.” Saucy.
But what would Grace think of all that Tommy’s about to do? The big job and all. Well, up shows Father Hughes (Paddy Considine) and dashes all the nice thoughts. He has an office there at the institute. Claiming a place there. Poised to do untold more damage. The look on Michael’s (Finn Cole) face speaks volumes when he sees the priest pass by.
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Lots of other things happening other than a reception for the institute. Peaky Blinders never rest, no sir. Of course Tom does his best businessman face, popping about with his boy, and doing all he can to appear legitimate, squeaky clean. That image doesn’t suit him all that well. Then all of a sudden his boy Charlie goes missing. A nurse took out apparently. Christ almighty. This is the ultimate nightmare to end all nightmares. Arthur tries to calm his brother, he sets things in motion. The word’s out now. Whoever took that boy is going to die. Hard. Who was it, you wonder? Father Hughes? This is a sinister turn of events, as the man himself arrives to confirm it. “All children are dear to me,” Hughes explains creepily. Afterwards, there’s a further deal struck. He has to blow up the train on his own now. All in the name of staying clear of Soviet Union influence, y’know. Communism. Rabble rabble. On top of that all the jewels and such they stole, Hughes and his crew want it. Every last bit. Or else.
Only problem is this makes Tommy paranoid. He wonders who’s grassed up. He points a finger at each and every last one of them. The whole family’s tense now. Bridges may start burning if he’s not careful. Nevertheless, he puts John and Arthur on a job, preparing for the deadly train bombing to come. Tommy’s too busy accusing Polly, insulting her, which is out of line; calling into question Ruben Oliver’s (Alexander Siddig) interest in her and why a high class fella like him would take a shine to a woman like her.


Tommy’s meeting, once again, with Alfie Solomons (Tom Hardy). The Wandering Jew himself turns up with a list of people concerning the Fabergé eggs, so that hopefully Shelby can figure things out. Then Tom gets upset. There’s a name he knows that’s left off the list. Ahh, interesting! He questions Alfie, his allegiance, so on. Whether he’s pulling strings and in with some of Tommy’s own enemies. He was in on most of it. Greasy.
When things go sideways Michael comes from nowhere to make things even. Instead of Alfie dying, he gives a savage monologue. He calls into question Tommy and his own idea of a “fucking line” over which he’s crossed. This brief appearance in Season 3 over the past couple episodes is fan-fucking-tastic. Hardy is beyond talented, enormously so. As far as Tommy and Alfie go, things are settled. “Well fucking said,” Tom tells him. And at least the one thing Alfie didn’t know about was the taking of Charlie.
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Alfie: “I want him to acknowledge that he who fights by the sword he fuckindies by it, Tommy.”
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Over with John and Arthur, Michael is proving to be every bit Shelby as any of them. They’ve got an address where apparently Charlie is being kept. Things are set, though they don’t want Michael pulling the trigger ultimately. Yeah, like that’ll happen.
The unnerving Father Hughes has the boy, and watching them together is just unbelievably terrifying. In the meantime, Arthur and the boys are getting things suited for the train bombing. Not everyone’s happy about the six men who will die; Arthur and John hand picked them. That’s rough, they take the brunt for what has to be done. At the same time, Tommy and his military pals are tunnelling through the earth, fast. So many things happening at once, all intense. Everyone straining under the brutal pressures.
Tommy gets through fine into the Russian’s little armoury/jewel stash. All the while Michael gets a beating from Hughes before he’s able to pull the trigger. John and Arthur wait for the train, as it starts to head out. Michael hulks out and slices up the dirty priest, cutting his throat. Then as Finn Shelby runs with news for Arthur seemingly to stop the blast, it goes up in flames. And at home, Polly sees her son now has the thousand yard stare like his cousins who came home from war, damaged and tortured. Seems like Birmingham is no better than the fields of war.


Arthur: “Who wants to be in heaven when you can send men to fuckinhell?”


Tommy offloads the diamonds and jewels with Tatiana Petrovna (Gaite Jansen), getting all that settled up. She is one hell of a piece of work. For a minute you almost worry for his safety. Then you just realize she’s a sly, dangerous business associate, and off he goes again to bigger, better things.
Back at his place, Tommy has the Shelby Organization all come in for a sit down. Everybody, from the wives to the family associates, the lot. He admits making a mistake getting involved with the Russians. He forks over money to Arthur and Linda, John and Esme, in a way of asking forgiveness. All’s well that ends in payment for the Shelbys, eh boy. The entire room gets money, though Lizzie (Natasha O’Keeffe) refuses her share. When Polly questions him, Tom reveals he cares nought about money. Not any more. He realizes there’s no change in his future. Because the politicians, the priests, the higher class, they’re worse than the Blinders, than any normal criminal: “You have to get what you want your own way,” Tommy proclaims. He gives up his praise for all those around him. Also, he’s straight up honest with them all, about every last inch of their business.
Pol steps up, though. She wants a better, more hopeful way for them all, as do the women. For his part, Arthur’s heading off for America with his wife. He’s saying goodbye to the family. Except that Tommy reveals there are charges headed for John and Arthur both, as well as Polly and Michael. They are all going down for the crimes. Tommy’s made a drastic deal with people “more powerful” than their enemies, so he claims. Wow. Just wow. Never saw this coming, at all. This is going to change the Shelby family dynamic for certain. How can we still feel as if Tommy’s a good man after this hypocritical move? We’ll what the next season brings.
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This has been a solid, intriguing season. Lots of things happening, especially now in this final episode. Just a wildly entertaining chapter. Can’t wait for the next season. Two more already confirmed, so that’s exciting. Head back and look at my other reviews, as I go back through the entire show, episode by episode.