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Podcast: The Playlist Talks 'Breaking Bad' Finale & Where The Medium Of Television Is Heading

by Erik McClanahan
October 1, 2013 4:08 PM
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Breaking Bad

On this latest episode, host Erik McClanahan is joined by Editor-In-Chief Rodrigo Perez, Managing Editor Kevin Jagernauth, our British correspondent Oliver Lyttelton, and later in the show by writer Cory Everett to talk about the recent "Breaking Bad" finale. But since we've already written about the episode, we try to dig deeper and do more than just recap the finale. Throughout the chat we spin off into other, grander topics involving television as well. How is the medium changing with streaming, binge watching and recaps on every site? Even though most people agree this is a golden age of television, there's still plenty of formulaic material and tired tropes found in even the best shows, "Breaking Bad" included. Warning, SPOILERS abound in this podcast so don't listen unless you've already seen the finale or don't care.

You can stream the podcast below, or download via iTunes. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes as well as rate and review the show there. If you enjoy these shows we do on The Playlist, perhaps you'll also enjoy Erik's other weekly podcast, Adjust Your Tracking. Please email if you'd like to connect. Thanks for listening! Make sure to sound off in the comments section below.

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  • Skyler | October 2, 2013 7:49 AMReply

    Did anyone notice that Walt did lied to me in the series finale? About the 'money' you mo fo's, he lied that all of it is gone, when in fact he arranged it with that bitch Gretchen!

  • Ken Guidry | October 1, 2013 10:15 PMReply

    If this is just 80 minutes of you guys whining about the finale, then I don't know if I can take it! I kid, I kid...

  • bohmer | October 1, 2013 8:58 PMReply

    it's not on itunes...

  • Erik McClanahan | October 2, 2013 12:47 AM

    Apologies Bohmer, not sure why it's not on there yet. Were working on it. For now you can download the mp3 from the soundcloud embed

  • Ryan O. | October 1, 2013 7:07 PMReply

    I agree that the neo-nazis certainly just appeared and don't stack up against an adversary like Gus, but I think that's even more irony. Walt had been carefully building his empire, and outsmarted every adversary in his path, but the nazis, as flat they are, found Walt's Achilles heel: his family. He turned his back and got blind-sided by greed (Jesse claiming he found his money), and he paid for it. He was going quietly, like a man (with his one code) who had admitted it was beat.

  • MistaTMason | October 7, 2013 4:14 AM

    When the neo-nazis showed up, I was very interested in how the writers would deal with the fact that Walt had taken on the name Heisenberg (a German physicist who worked in the Uranium Club for Hitler). They could have been such an interesting foil for Walt if they were made more three dimensional, or even sympathetic. I was interested in the fact that Uncle Jack had such a sense of loyalty and family with Todd. I really thought they would take it in a direction where Walt might even seem even less redeeming than they were. They really did miss out on that.

  • TimParker | October 2, 2013 2:12 PM

    I understand that, and that makes perfect sense for Walt. As viewers though we can still pass all the judgment we want on Walt's vision of closure.
    To sum it up, he made the most of an unbelievably horrible situation.
    It's not as if Vince wrote a finale in which Walt does the following:
    1. wins Skyler back and regains the love of his son
    2. frees Jesse and they patch things up with a hug
    3. avoids capture after killing Jack's gang and destroys the meth lab
    4. devotes the rest of his life to starting something as inspiring as Gray Matter

    THAT would've been a justification of all he did wrong.
    Again, this is all an extremely relative victory. Let's let him have it.

  • Franka | October 2, 2013 9:32 AM

    Right, but read ANY (and several) interviews with Vince Gilligan. There's is note one even small gesture towards that it's an ironic death. In fact, read the quote from the Playlist article from yesterday where they recap the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast: If anything Gilligan says its a redemptive and earnest death on "Walt's own terms."

  • TimParker | October 1, 2013 11:14 PM

    Yes. Exactly. Thank you for articulating what I was thinking about this. I appreciated listening to this podcast, and understand that these guys have so much to cover even just in terms of this one episode but I still found it surprising that not one of them said something similar to what you wrote here, Ryan O.
    Also, there is a lot of comparison made to previous episodes, saying this was inconsistent with how the show had gone. The thing we have to realize when we criticize a series finale (I am not a critic, but just offering my opinion.) is that it is something that is basically forced to be unlike other episodes. Those episodes a few of the guys are comparing the finale with were meant as steps leading towards the "flag poles" as it was phrased, or they are like chess pieces. In this case, it is okay for them to be ambiguous, to end on downer notes (which most all of these episodes do), etc. A finale then has 3 basic choices: to continue in this same vein, leaving many matters unresolved; to attempt to resolve matters at least for the principal characters; to fall somewhere inbetween with perhaps some resolution / catharsis while leaving some matters left uncertain.
    Breaking Bad absolutely falls in this final category. In criticizing the neatness of the episode, one has to counter that with how horrible things were left with Walt's son Walt Jr / Flynn, and the fact that he had no friends left except for Robert Forester and even he was saying there relationship didn't go so far as for Walt to be able to trust him with delivering the money to his family. Also, the satisfaction with Skyler? Only because he finally didn't lie. Of course her response is to be relieved. But that doesn't mean she felt any better about him or what he had done. And it didn't change her own situation. Jesse's situation did change but of course it did...Walt had SO MUCH time to think of this plan. Yes a lot of it came down to the execution but what Walt is always so good at it, and one of the members of the podcast pointed this out, is his ability to MacGuyver situations. So combine that the time it took (after he made up his mind to go back and try to take care of business) for driving across the country from NH to NM and it's not surprising at all that he would have come up with this plan to kill the neo-Nazis. As for Jesse, he had a little less time to formulate that plan since he assumed he was dead already before hearing different from Badger and Skinny Pete.

    And I agree with Oliver that Walt's "satisfying death" is absolutely ironic. Just looking at the events of the past year for him, if you want to call this satisfying you're doing so with a very relative lens.

    Anyway, the finales are difficult. Damned if they do, damned if they don't. As a fan of the show I was curious to see how the story would end. All stories have to end. Why not end in dramatic fashion? It started that way too - with the RV, the underwear, the gas mask. We knew what kind of show this was from the beginning.

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