LFF Day 4 – Apostasy | Last Flag Flying | The Final Year | Pickups

Apostasy

Every morning as I head to Woolwich Arsenal station to get the train to the festival I pass two Jehovah’s Witnesses standing next to a magazine rack filled with copies of The Watchtower. They never make any move to talk to me, just stand there waiting for someone to speak to them so that they can reveal The Truth to them and save their soul.

Apostasy is the debut feature from Daniel Kokotajlo, a former Jehovah’s Witness, and deals with a mother and her two daughters (Molly Wright and Sacha Parkinson) who struggle to follow their faith in a world at odds with their beliefs. As the mother Siobhan Finneran gives a masterclass in subtlety as a woman so sure of her beliefs she will put it before everything else, including her daughters.

Kokotajlo’s film is not explicitly critical of the religion, instead presenting events as plainly as possible and even showing the human side of the devout that we so often walk past on the street without a second glass. It is up to the audience to judge for ourselves the subtle ways the women are controlled and oppressed by their community and the devastating consequences of life in a patriarchy.

With three strong central female performances Apostasy is a stripped back and quietly devastating film.

Apostasy screens at the festival on 8th, 10th, and 14th October.

Last Flag Flying

Richard Linklater has had nothing but critical acclaim lately thanks to his hat trick of films Before Midnight, Boyhood, and Everybody Wants Some!!! so it was about time he made something that was just OK.

Steve Carell gives a subdued performance as a grieving father who enlists the help of his fellow Vietnam vets to help him bury his son. He gathers two old friends in the form of a charismatic drunk (Bryan Cranston chewing every piece of scenery he can) and a born again preacher (Laurence Fishburne). The reunited trio embark on a reluctant road trip and along the way reminisce about the joys and pointless losses of war.

With a period setting of 2003 (frequently cemented by repeated references to flip-phones) the film gives the war in Iraq a lot of head shaking disapproval that might have been edgier 15 years ago but now simply echoes popular consensus. While the film tries so hard to be cynical it is undermined by frequent lapses into sentimentality and a few too many close-ups of the American flag. I couldn’t pick up on what the film was trying to convey beyond the fact that war is bad and friends are good.

A fun enough experience but Last Flag Flying ends up overstaying its welcome and then ending abruptly. Not a Linklater classic.

Last Flag Flying screens at the festival on 8th, 9th, and 10th October .

The Final Year

When Greg Barker set out to make a film about the final year of Obama’s administration he can’t have imagined the devastating end the film would have. Trump lurks throughout the film long before his name is even mentioned as the administration discuss various things we now know he is undoing. There’s nothing more devastating than the bad guy winning in the end and realising you’re in the world he’s won.

The film follows Secretary of State John Kerry, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes, and to a much lesser extent than expected Barack Obama himself. In their final year we see them work to tackle climate change through the Paris agreement, create solid intelligence sharing with Europe and beyond, work on reducing nuclear weapons, encourage immigration, and advocate for diplomacy over military action. The film, as you can imagine, is positively dripping in dramatic irony.

Without the context of Trump the film might not have been so interesting. It doesn’t allow as much unfiltered access as I had hoped and in no way seeks to interrogate its subjects or show them in anything other than the best light. Those we spend time with appear to be the greatest, most flawless, government employees to ever grace the Earth and while they talk of arguments (“structured discussions”) we certainly never see anything close to an uncensored moment.

Fascinating thanks its belated historical context but ultimately toothless The Final Year is an otherwise fascinating look at how good we had it only just over a year ago.

The Final Year screens at the festival on 8th and 9th October.

Pickups

I really can’t help you with this one…

Jamie Thraves directs Aidan Gillen in a drama/documentary about Aidan Gillen (real or otherwise). Gillen is an actor so method that he becomes a serial killer in order to help prepare for a role. At least he does for a while and then is just a lonely weekend dad and beleaguered celebrity just trying to pick up his dog’s poo in peace.

I have no idea.

Pickups screens at the festival on 8th and 12th October.

Trumbo – Film Review

Trumbo

We’ve all seen films like Trumbo a dozen times. Glossy Hollywood films about America’s past that talk of some shameful part of their history but do so in a way that is very clean and safe. These are films that are good but not great. These films give actors scenery to chew but give the audiences nothing to remember by the end. Trumbo opens as Suffragette does; with white text on a black background setting the scene and with slow fades in between. The subtext here is that what you are watching is important and so should be instantly respected and eventually rewarded with golden statues come awards season.

Dalton Trumbo (Bryan Cranston) is a screenwriter and a communist at a time in America when being a communist would soon get you called in front of congress and banned from working for any major studio. Trumbo was, so we are told, the greatest screenwriter of his generation. The film covers decades of Trumbo’s life as he goes from his career peak to being put on the Hollywood blacklist and then fighting to continue writing to support his family and show that without the communists there would be no screenplays.

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This is not the proudest chapter in America’s story so it at first glance seems like a brave and worthwhile film to make. Sadly the film that has been produced is simultaneously theatrical and mundane. That’s not to say it hasn’t been made without skill. Every set and costume is made to exacting period detail and every scene is littered with witty one liners and the best in supporting character actors. John Goodman, Alan Tudyk, and Louis C.K. are particularly enjoyable but eventually the short functional scenes in which someone delivers some exposition and another counters with a quip become tiresome. Elle Fanning is particularly good as Trumbo’s daughter as she brings probably the only human element to the film while Diane Lane as Trumbo’s wife is life to just smile from the sidelines.

As for Cranston himself; he brings to mind part of what made Breaking Bad so great, but in the worst way. What Cranston could do so well was make it clear when his character Walter White was himself acting. His performance there had to layers; a level of artifice on top of the real character he was playing. Sadly in Trumbo we only get the top layer of pretending as if Cranston is playing an actor playing Trumbo. It is all caricature and no character. The result of this is that when bad things happen to Trumbo you don’t care as much as you should and you are infinitely aware that you are not watching something real. This film does not immerse you in its world but keeps you at arms reach.

Trumbo is not a bad film. Yes it could lose 30 minutes from its runtime but the film is certainly enjoyable and had me chuckling throughout. The story itself is also interesting but once the film was done no part of it was racing through my head the way the best films do. With films like Trumbo about an important subject the films themselves want to be treated as important. As Trumbo finished it was begging for applause and some of the press audience dutifully applauded but frankly it didn’t really deserve it. Just because a film is about admirable people doesn’t make that film automatically admirable itself.

Trumbo is in cinemas now.

Godzilla – Film Review

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The history of Godzilla goes back to 1954 when a Japanese film was released featuring a fire breathing dinosaur-like colossus rampaging its way through Tokyo. The film was a huge hit and acted as a scathing morality tale about the horrors that the country suffered during Atomic bombings in World War II.

Sadly my personal history of Godzilla only goes back to 1998 when an American film was released featuring a giant T-Rex that somehow manages to hide in downtown Manhattan. The film was negatively received and a potential trilogy was abandoned. This iteration was perfect for the ten-year-old me who saw the film in the cinema but subsequent viewing revealed it for the astonishing Matthew Broderick starring mess it was. This particular Godzilla was just a bit of fun, some light entertainment for a Sunday afternoon in front of the TV but nothing more than that.

The history of 2014’s Godzilla goes back to 2010 when British visual effects whiz Gareth Edwards released his debut feature as writer and director; Monsters. The film was a small story about two people trying to get back to America from Mexico in a time when the American border has been turned into a quarantine zone filled with extraterrestrial creatures. Working on a micro-budget, and creating his own visual effects, Edwards demonstrated a great visual eye and an ability to put characters first ahead of relying on the, admittedly excellent, CGI beasts. The question going into Godzilla is whether Edwards can learn from Roland Emmerich’s mistakes and make a film worthy of the 1954 original utlising the talents he showcased in Monsters.

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On most fronts Edwards’ Godzilla is hugely successful. The sheer scale, bulk, and scope of both the monster and its setting is frankly jaw-dropping. Godzilla is big. I mean BIG. Seriously though, Godzilla is BIG. The press notes alone were over 40 pages long; everything about this film is done on a bigger scale than I have seen in a cinema before. In what is a film with a relatively serious tone the only laughter I allowed myself (aside from a few amusingly convenient plot contrivances) was when I just had to giggle at the spectacle of what I was seeing on screen. It was just plain ridiculous. Ridiculous and sublime. And BIG. As the chaos got more and more chaotic I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself and shake my head in disbelief – a wonderful thing to be able to do at the cinema I’m sure you will agree.

With Godzilla as his second film Edwards is displaying some serious chops when it comes to a striking visual. While initially being coy about showing us the titular creature he is sure to give us our eyeful of monolithic prehistoric riotous beast before the film is done. When we aren’t feasting on creature visuals the film is littered with gorgeous photography filled with gloomy smoke, looming shadows, and this film’s signature red hue. While the 1998 Godzilla was a lumbering mess this is a gorgeous piece of cinema with endless treats for the eyes that need to be seen on the big screen. While I’m not going to be plugging the IMAX or 3D experience I really do think that this is a film that deserves a large cinema screen with loud speakers surrounding you.

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All that Godzilla lacks, something Monsters had in spades, is intimacy. While we follow the action through the experiences of a soldier (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and his family (Bryan Cranston, Elizabeth Olsen, and Juliette Binoche) the characters are rarely seen together so their disparate experiences don’t tie together in a satisfying way. The superb cast list is rounded out by Sally Hawkins and Ken Watanabe as Godzilla experts but they too feel a little underserved. The fact that I didn’t care who lived and who died is definitely a flaw but at the end of the day this is a story on a global scale with a large monster as its star. If you want a more intimate story about a big beasty might I suggest both Cloverfield and The Host? Both are films that take their stories down a notch to give a real human experience amongst the madness of a monster movie.

Godzilla is a big and beautiful film that knows what it needs to deliver to impress its audience. Special effects can so often leave me numb and disconnected but Edwards has a way of dealing with fantastical scenes to make them seem real and grounded. Both Godzilla and Godzilla have a real heft to them and the idea of a gargantuan creature and its effect on mankind is taken as seriously as is possible.

When the film was over my heart was pounding and I let out a quiet “bloody hell”. For well crafted spectacle you can’t do much better than Godzilla. There is room alongside the smaller, independant fare to enjoy big meaty blockbusters and I only wish they were all as good as this was.

Godzilla is in UK cinemas from today.

Famous People are Given Golden Globes – 2014 Edition

Golden Globes 2014 - Emma Thompson

The Golden Globes took place last night and boy did some people win some awards. Award ceremonies are both trivial and exciting and the Golden Globes in particular have a reputation for nominating people they think will turn up and that the voters would like to party with. That said the Golden Globes offer the combined excitement of the Emmys and the Oscars as awards are given to both TV series and films allowing Bryan Cranston to be sat feet away from Leonardo DiCaprio.

Regardless of the awards’ merits the list of winners put a smile on my face a few times this morning as actors/films/TV shows I love got given little golden orbs. This will serve as a quick summary of who won that matches who I think deserved to win and absolutely no negative feelings towards any decisions I disagree with. No Amy Adams hate. None at all. Nope…

Let’s start with the big winner 12 Years A Slave which grabbed only one prize last night but as it was the award for “Best Motion Picture – Drama” it’s hard to really complain. This is a fantastic film that could well have deserved more awards (no grumbling here, I promise) but I am really pleased that it beat the more audience-friendly Gravity to the top spot. American Hustle won the sister award of “Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy” which is a tricky category when its rivals Inside Llewyn Davis and Nebraska could arguably be seen as dramas just as easily as Philomena was. American Hustle is a fun period crime romp that puts wigs character at its core instead of a complex plot filled with endless reveals (hello Oceans Eleven!). The scene-stealing star of the film Jennifer Lawrence was rightly awarded the lengthy-titled “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture” alongside two of her co-stars.

Gravity may have missed out on the big award but was rewarded for its visual spectacle when Alfonso Cuarón was given the award for “Best Director – Motion Picture”. This sci-fi thriller didn’t make my top ten last year but is without a doubt a visual and technical marvel requiring the most precise direction of any film out last year; the precise camera movement required to believable create outer space on a soundstage require a steady hand at the helm. If you somehow managed to miss Gravity, or simply want to marvel at it one more time, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the film is back in IMAX cinemas where you can get the full immersive effect/throw up if you’re my mum.

Over on the TV side of things the departing juggernaut that is Breaking Bad took was awarded “Best Television Series – Drama” and the man who made the show what it became through his chameleon-like acting, Bryan Cranston, took home the “Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama” award. It’s a lovely cherry on the cake for a show that never let its quality drop while others that have been less consistent (*cough* Dexter *cough*) weren’t even nominated.

The winner of “Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television” is a confusing one as in the UK it was released in cinemas, and rightly so. The award went to my 3rd favourite film of last year Behind the Candelabra and its star Michael Douglas won “Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television”. Two rightly deserved victories and wins that might not have happened had it actually had a cinematic release in the USA and was forced to take on the might of David Russell’s American Hustle.

Last but not least TV’s best current comedy Parks and Recreation finally won its first major award as producer, star, and Golden Globes co-host Amy Poehler was handed “Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy”. For anyone ignorant of the joys of this series I urge you to seek it out and stick with it when Series 3 comes to BBC Four later this year. If you don’t enjoy it I will cook you dinner either as a reward or punishment, I can’t quite decide how to classify my cooking skills.

The awards also served to highlight for me the films I need to get my eyeballs on; Blue Jasmine, Frozen, Her, Wolf of Wall Street, and Dallas Buyers Club in particular.

As for what I have seen of the ceremony itself it looks to have been a fun affair but sadly we had to get our beauty sleep so missed out on watching it live. Emma Thompson proved to be a highlight and you can see why by clicking on this orange text. As for the co-hosts of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey… have a watch below:

This Ain’t Chemistry. This Is Art: An Analysis Of Breaking Bad And The Heisenberg Principle

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“You lost your partner today. What’s his name – Emilio? Emilio is going to prison. The DEA took all your money, your lab. You got nothing. Square one. But you know the business and I know the chemistry. I’m thinking… maybe you and I could partner up.”

Breaking Bad 101

When Breaking Bad first aired in the UK it was run on 5USA and then dropped after its second season failed to prove a hit for the network (possibly because of invisible marketing and obscure scheduling). Think about that for a moment. A show now widely heralded as perhaps the greatest television show ever – even over The Wire some say – was dropped by…… a sister of Channel 5. Luckily for those who did love the series, Netflix UK swooped in to give it a reprieve in early 2012 and it quickly became a poster child of the on-demand streaming service industry.

To be fair it’s not hard to see why in its earlier years broadcasters shied away from Breaking Bad. A show about a middle-aged man with cancer who decides to cook methamphetamine? That’s three counts on the studio exec’s “every successful show needs to be populated by young hotties, not be about a depressing illness and certainly not follow the corruption of man via a life of crime and moral ambiguity” chart. Who could ever see that being successful?

Truth is people want the grim. People want the corrupt. People want the tragic. The story of an above average-minded man living a pitifully average life before circumstances and a series of ill-thought out choices take him to extremely dark places is exactly what we, the ever-unhappy-with-our-own-lives, average viewers of television want.

Legacy, self-worth, family and a generous seasoning of tragedy: Breaking Bad is tight.

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“So it’s grade school t-ball versus the New York Yankees. Yours is just some tepid off-brand generic cola. What I’m making is classic Coke. … Do you really want to live in a world without Coca Cola?”

A World Full Of Classic Coke

Perhaps ashamedly I still haven’t seen all of The Wire or The Sopranos and I stopped watching Mad Men pretty early on (do people still consider that as one of the greats?) so to some I might not have much authority when I say this but Breaking Bad is easily one of the best television shows to ever grace (or disgrace) our screens.

While a few may scoff, I never thought I could love again after Lost. Even as I was watching Breaking Bad in between seasons of Lost nothing on television held up next to it. But I realize now that I was wrong. Lost is still my favourite show – it was my own lifelong fandom show: my Star Trek; my X-Files – but Breaking Bad is something else. Some shows have stellar acting and a cinematic style. Some shows have intricate storytelling and a damn fine soundtrack. Some shows have complex characters and heartbreak. Breaking Bad has all of the above but also what I think defines the series: novelisation.

A television show can have all of the mentioned qualities and still not be the greatest series of all time; it’s how those qualities are presented which decide how far a show can and will go. Most television shows read like a graphic novel: each episode we jump from panel to panel, moving from piece of exposition to piece of exposition, to character development, to page of action to panel of plot closure and then on to next week’s issue. Breaking Bad, however, comes in the form of a book, carefully laying down every word-laden page we want and need to fully appreciate the series’ narrative and character choices and emotions. We’re there with Walt or Jesse or Skyler or Hank at all times, in between those gaps that separate the panels in other shows.

The series’ far-reaching rise and fall of a great man turned wrong reads like an adaptation of a magnum opus novel due to its ability to hang in mercilessly through the seemingly mundane (yay, breakfast!) as well as the slow or exciting growth of plot and character so that the full scope of what makes these people we’re watching tick can be observed, contemplated and debated on because every moment matters. The series, spoken so intricately, never leaves a single grain of Ricin in the vial either. Remember in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix when Harry and Co are cleaning and come across a grubby throwaway locket that then turns out to be a horcrux of Voldemort two books later in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows?! That’s Breaking Bad at every turn.

There are other shows that are stylistically cinematic, tortuously plotted and beautifully acted but they are simply tepid off-brand generic cola compared to series creator, Vince Gilligan’s classic Coke.

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“I have lived under the threat of death for a year now. And because of that, I’ve made choices. I alone should suffer the consequences of those choices. No one else. And those consequences… they’re coming.”

50 Shades of Gray Matter

To complement and enhance the series’ production values and story-telling structure are the people we watch the show for: Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, as well as the series’ wealth of other morally ambiguous characters.

Moral ambiguity is something each and every one of us have dealt with at one time or another. Most of our ‘tough’ choices come in the form of moments like whether it would really be so bad if you pulled a sickie, knowing you could well selfishly ruin another person’s day or if you are a fundamentally bad person for stealing some of your housemate’s bread and then lying to them, perhaps even blaming another housemate (sorry, Dave). I don’t think I’m a monster or opie-eyed piece of sh*t if I nab a bit of milk from my colleague. I was doing what was necessary to protect my cup of tea from tasting terrible. Breaking Bad‘s moral compass is just relatability taken to the extreme. We can’t help but feel for and be right behind Mr Walter Hartwell White through thick and thin because he is (or was) a normal guy simply trying to do right for his family and to leave behind a legacy when he’s gone from this world instead of just a withered corpse that couldn’t even provide for its family, and whose to say that put in the same position we wouldn’t make the same choices as Mr White?

Up until Walt shoots Mike in season 5 you could argue that every misdeed Walt committed was for the protection of his family or in complete self-defence and therefore not an act of breaking bad. If you wanted to be that guy you could even argue that Walt cooking methamphetamine is not in itself inherently bad. Of course though, what Walt does with the product thereafter no matter his circumstances is, which brings us back into the gray.

One of the most interesting conversations to have about Breaking Bad is the speculation of just when Walt crossed the Rubicon and broke bad for good. Some name the first time he cooked meth; some when he watched Jane die; some call the aforementioned shooting of that stand-up guy, Mike Ehrmantrut. I personally believe that Walt broke bad long before he even purchased that trademark pork pie hat of his. His narcissistic behaviour was always present and all signs pointed to the fact that he was never able to settle (his pre-series kerfuffle with Gray Matter, his deriding of 308 Negra Arroyo lane on his first viewing of the property and his and Gretchen’s debate over the chemistry percentages of what physically makes a man), all of which sets him on his inexorable path to embodying his inner Heisenberg.

Karma and vengeance are a huge force to be reckoned with in Breaking Bad and moral ambiguity is apparent in every instance of those notions. Almost no character acts out of pure evil.* From Gus avenging the death of his partner and letting his pride cloud his judgement, to Skyler dipping her toes into Walt’s blood money or Hank’s inability to give up on his hunt for Heisenberg to the point of illegality; in the world of Breaking Bad where there is a gray area of morality there is an equal reaction of destructive karma waiting right around the side of an RV.

*- ‘The Nazis’ are pure evil, but rather than characters you could argue that they are simply a manifestation of all the worst parts of what Walt has become. They are a chaotic reaction of narrative karma rather than a group of ‘people’.

What makes the moral ambiguity of Breaking Bad so engrossing is not just that it pushes the boundaries of what viewers deem still-forgivable behaviour but the fact that every major character, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, has gone through deep internal struggle which makes the series not just about goodies and baddies but people and the complex difficulties each and every one of them have come into. Hence, I like to think that the point of no return does not exist in Breaking Bad, as who we ultimately see on the screen is who the series’ characters have always been and will be. It’s not nature vs. nurture; it’s how nature is nurtured. Walter White was always Heisenberg he just needed the right catalyst to awaken the demon within.

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“You see, technically, chemistry is the study of matter, but I prefer to see it as the study of change: Electrons change their energy levels. Molecules change their bonds. Elements combine and change into compounds. But that’s all of life, right? It’s the constant, it’s the cycle. It’s solution, dissolution. Just over and over and over. It is growth, then decay, then transformation. It is fascinating, really.”

The Study Of Change

One of the most worrying features of a television show is that, intermittently, it needs to change. This is – fittingly, given our anti-hero’s lifelong vocation – what Breaking Bad excelled at most (see above nature/nurture). Vince Gilligan and his creative team, and indeed the show’s enormously talented cast, revelled in the process of moulding the new together with the old, taking what was and defiantly shaping what was meant to be.

Incidentally, on a production level as much as a character level I feel that the crux of Breaking Bad’s developmental success was that the writers had no idea what they were doing, with much of the show’s most engrossing drama focusing on how its characters adapt to the almost-random chaos thrown at them.

Case in point: Jesse was supposed to die in episode nine of season one. Tuco was supposed to live until the end of season two, Hector “Tio” Salamanca was supposed to be season three’s big bad, Gus Fring was originally going to only be in a few episodes, meaning season four would have been considerably different, and (here’s a big one – the one you couldn’t love them more for admitting) when the creative team had Walt purchase that hefty M60 at the start of season five, they had no idea how the series would end.

Every time the writers added to their somehow-commissioned experiment the eventual outcome, good or bad, would be a product of its own volatile evolution. Vince Gilligan has stated numerously throughout the series that in the writer’s room they investigated the what-ifs of what they wanted to happen but always ultimately went with their gut feeling as to what they saw unfolding naturally in front of them, as if the show’s characters were real and uncontainable. This can be confirmed further by referring to both the Heisenberg Principle (Werner Heisenberg’s hypothesis that it is impossible to determine the velocity of an electron (character) or any other particle (plot device) with a degree of accuracy or certainty) and Walt’s reflective speech during one of the series’ highlight episodes, ‘Fly’: “The universe is random. It’s not inevitable, it’s simple chaos. It’s subatomic particles in endless, aimless collision.” This is, in a sentence, Breaking Bad.

No matter how much Vince Gilligan or any of the creative team wanted, Breaking Bad was not an entity that could be controlled, but merely coped with. Because of this the show feels (pardon the pun) pure. The series never dropped a plot, it never retconned or apologised for any missteps. It carried on forward, through the anarchy and bad decisions; slowly, tensely and surely, becoming what it was always going to be, much like Walter’s transformation into the notorious Heisenberg.

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[Walter White and Gretchen Thomas in flashback are calculating all of the known elements that make up the structure of the human body]

Walt: “We are 0.111958% shy.”

Gretchen: “Supposedly that’s everything.”

Walt: “It just seems like something’s missing doesn’t it? There’s got to be more to a human being than that.”

Gretchen: “What about the soul?”

Walt: “The soul? There’s nothing but chemistry here.”

A Trip To Belize

Death has been omnipresent since the start of Breaking Bad. Death, in the form of cancer, was the catalyst for Walt’s first step into his perpetual downfall. In the form of violent threat it was what drove him deeper and deeper into a semi-glamorised methamphetamine trade until it was such that death was being issued by his own hand and the show no longer held even a glimmer of hope for a single character. Consequently, by the series’ end death was knocking on everyone’s door and it was time for the show and its audience to assess their beliefs.

Faith is a tough subject to consider when discussing the Breaking Bad universe. On one hand all signs point towards that there is nothing in the universe but chemistry. On the other we have the latter half of Walt’s ‘Fly’ speech in response to coincidentally having a drink with Jane’s father the night she dies: “It’s subatomic particles in endless, aimless collision. That’s what science teaches us, but what does this say? What is it telling us that the very night that this man’s daughter dies, it’s me who is having a drink with him? I mean, how could that be random?”

Does this mean that the show’s karmic cataclysms are acts of god, not science? If Walter was in fact who he always became does this mean that destiny is present in Breaking Bad or is it simply just a case of you can’t perform the same experiment twice and expect a different outcome? It’s the variables that change in the Breaking Bad universe, not the constants. These questions are left, and will be eternally, for self-interpretation. Walter White claims that there is no soul but if there isn’t what was Breaking Bad all about? Just science? To take an agnostic’s point of view I like to think that both forces of science and belief are in play with Breaking Bad and complement each other as much as they do contradict.

In a way – and continuing the pattern of notions in the series reflecting real-life and vice versa – Breaking Bad singing its Baby Blues also signals a pseudo demise of Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston’s present careers. Don’t get ahead of me; I’m not saying these extraordinary actors have nowhere to go. Aaron Paul himself has admitted that he knows that he’s probably reached the peak of his foreseeable future. It’s a tortuous reality that the legacy of something so large should potentially overshadow what else we may think of what they have to offer – much like those legacies formulated in the show.

With that said death is not always a bad thing. With a perfect final series of episodes that complement the issues and themes that the show first laid out, Breaking Bad also achieved that rare thing of coming full circle without missing anything important or feeling forced or even overdue. In fact, the show went out literally at the top of its game: every episode in season 5.2 steadily increased in viewership and critical lauding.

Whilst not always a show we can all contextually relate to, Breaking Bad has proven itself to be timeless by delivering outstanding drama without the ‘melo’, deeply affecting emotion without the sentimentality and – to largest effect – devastating, sickening chaos and destruction without ever losing sight of its humanity. It’s over. Gilligan won, and I can’t imagine a world without Coca-Cola.