Monday, 17 April 2017

The Walking Dead Season 7: 16 Episodes of Nothing

***Contains spoilers.***

Never has a TV show made me feel like I'm abjectly wasting my life watching it quite as effectively as this year's Season of The Walking Dead.

When the show started years ago I rather enjoyed it's fresh approach to the zombie genre, the sympathetic Rick as the protagonist and his ragtag group generally seemed to be efficient at surviving even if they occasionally made dubious decisions.

Fast forward to now, however, and the series is really starting to grate on me. The writing seems lazy, lacklustre, predictable and above all just plain stupid in places.

Rick in particular has become a complete joke over the course of several seasons. He manages to completely fuck up almost everything he does, usually getting large numbers of people killed in the process. And yet the group still venerate him as THE GREAT LEADER WHO IS NEVER WRONG despite these constant idiotic blunders.

I mean, just off the top of my head, Rick has:

1. Left the excellently defensible prison "overrun" instead of merely clearing the few zombies out and resettling there after defeating the Governor.

2. Lost cars, food, people and guns on multiple ill fated outings to get supplies (usually cars, food, people and guns). Extra props for reversing a truck full of food into a lake.

3. Found an entire quarry full of zombies and proceeded to unleash them on his own camp, nearly killing everyone.

4. Got ambushed and captured by about 6 different groups of bad guys. In fact he gets captured every time they meet hostile survivors.

5. Nearly gone completely mad in the wilderness.

6. Fucked up every interaction with Negan he's ever had, despite moronically insisting over and over that he will "kill him".

7. Entrusted a huge cache of automatic weapons to some creepy cultists living in a junkyard even after they attempted to murder him and even TOLD HIM that they take all their shit off of other survivors by force. Group then of course betrays him at the critical moment (really Rick? You were that dumb? Really?)

Then we have stupid situations like Darryl and Maggie hiding from the Saviours in Hilltop (which is constantly visited by suspicious Saviours) rather than literally any one of the hundreds of anonymous abandoned buildings in the towns near camp.

This season has been even worse, though, not merely for Rick and the other characters consistently acting like brainless gibbering idiots, but also for the incessant padding of practically every scene.

When we're not treated to long, lingering shots of zombies walking about or long, lingering shots of people walking about we're plied with cheesy sentimental conversations.

Or flashbacks. The Season 7 finale features Sasha having about 10 flashbacks with Abraham, all of which were extremely long and barely made any sense.

Normally I'd place this on poor pacing (which The Walking Dead is awful for: remember the season with the cannibals featured them for literally 2 episodes after building up to it tediously for about 12) but this season and last season all this mind-numbing filler bullshit feels intentional. Call it cynical, but if I didn't know better I would say that pretty much the entirety of the last two seasons have existed only to set up Finale cliffhangers for the next season.

Think about this season: what's actually happened? We lost a couple of uninteresting characters no-one really cares about (Richard's death at the hands of Morgan was perhaps the only jarring thing that had any meaning, and even that felt silly and not particularly noteworthy) and that's it. We're in exactly the same place as we were almost SIXTEEN HOURS of television ago, with the exception that Rick et al. managed to fuck up shooting at Negan once in the last 5 minutes.

To me that's pretty inexcusable. Viewers should be rewarded and entertained for putting the time in, not just feel like they're clocking up the hours until the next series is commissioned and something vague happens.

I'm going to give the show one more season to buck up the shitty writing, dumb characters and lack of any kind of actual real plot...and then that's it. Right now the only thing that's good is Negan: I actually like him more than Rick. He may be evil, but he's leagues more efficient and is actually pretty good at surviving as a form of society compared to our utterly dysfunctional heroes...

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Black Mirror, the Kardashians and the Insanity of Modern Celebrity

Okay, so I'm going to open this with what is probably an astoundingly ignorant comment, but I think this is possibly the only kind of ignorance I can feel proud of:

I have no idea who the fuck Kim Kardashian actually is.

Seriously. I mean, Googling her reveals she is a "Reality TV star", and other than that all I know is that she is married to Kanye West (who is himself an egotistical fuckwit). Apparently she has abnormally huge arse and shows it off at every opportunity. That's it.

This is now seemingly the criteria for the soulless vacuum that is the A-list celeb member's club - looking "attractive" and being rich. And even the definition of "attractive" is something the media itself defines in an insane cannibalistic feedback loop. I don't think huge arses are attractive, personally, but apparently I should because ALL GUYS LIKE BIG BUTTS RITE?

See, I know Kim is an A-list celebrity because she is literally everywhere. If you go on Buzzfeed you see article after article on her, if you switch the TV on she's always on it. In the papers and even on rolling news channels the most inconsequential details of her life are apparently ranked as more interesting than mass murder in Syria, starvation in the developing world, or a UK-wide vote to cut student funding.

How is it we've now arrived at a point in society where ignorant, privileged people who offer literally nothing useful to the world are seen as something to aspire to? Where doctors, soldiers, scientists and entrepreneurs and seen as less important than the Kanyes and Kims of the world? Is the world of "Idiocracy" coming to life, slowly?

Perhaps it's unfair to blame the more vacuous celebrities themselves. Mass media is the demon behind all this bullshit, anyway.

I'm on S1E3 of Black Mirror at the moment, and it's an excellent series. I highly recommend it. The writing and acting is top notch, skewering this cult of false celebrity perfectly. Charlie Brooker's satire of our own society through only moderate exaggeration is quite profoundly horrifying.

The episode "15 Million Merits" in particular plays out almost as a modern "Entertainment 1984", depicting a near-future where people spend their entire lives mindlessly riding exercycles, apparently to provide power for their own society. The only release from this dull tedious loop lies with intrusive and tasteless TV entertainment, pointless digital avatars and apps and a hellishly manipulative X-Factor-style talent show. The latter offers a select few the ladder to becoming a celebrity: though the price paid is typically grotesque exploitation.

Like "1984", the episode ends with the soul-crushing revelation that one person, no matter how principled, enraged and despairing, cannot alone stand against a society gone too far without being corrupted and chewed up by it.

Let's just hope that unlike the bleak mass-media saturated future "15 Million Merits" offers us, we draw a line in the sand and recognise what human qualities are actually worthy of celebrity.

(Oh, and for the record I'd say those qualities are bravery, hard work, creativity, compassion, intelligence and altruism. When was the last time you watched Geordie Shore and saw that?)

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Matt's Blood Bowl Tactics: Norse Team Overview (video)

So, after a long hiatus, I made a video this weekend discussing some opinions regarding one of my favourite Blood Bowl teams, the Norse.

Catch it below, and drop me some comments.


Sunday, 4 January 2015

TV Series Overview: Mad Dogs

*Contains spoilers*

So today, after a TV journey that's lasted a couple of years, I finally finished watching the British TV series Mad Dogs.

My feelings have flickered between real interest and irritated boredom over the course of the series, and the ending itself was so disjointed and bizarre as to really highlight exactly where the script was weak along the way.

For the uninitiated, the show follows four English middle-aged friends: Baxter (John Simm), Quinn (Philip Glenister), Woody (Max Beesley) and Rick (Marc Warren). Having reached the mid-point of their lives they have very little to show for it.



All of them exist in a state of disillusionment at the start of the series, whether it be with erstwhile partners, dull jobs or kids they've missed growing up...and so they agree to take a holiday trip out to Majorca to meet their old friend Alvo (Ben Chaplin). Alvo is rich beyond the wildest dreams of the other four, and they quickly end up embroiled in dangerous business after he is murdered in Season 1.

Season 2 and 3 then focuses on the after-effects of this disaster, and how the four hope to extricate themselves. Season 4 deals with the inevitable consequences of all that came before.

Now, all four actors are pretty much heavyweights of British drama, so you'd expect the script to pull the big punches too. The actors certainly play the characters very convincingly: but disappointingly, Cris Cole's writing seems to go nowhere over the course of the four seasons.

"Going nowhere": it's a prominent theme of the series. In every season, oddly melancholy and sinister billboards can be spotted in the background in some scenes showing a sad woman in makeup, or a creepy demonic face, prefaced with the slogans "road to nowhere" or "going nowhere" in foreign languages.

An example of one of the sinister billboards

It's a clever bit of foreshadowing that hints at the ultimate fates of the characters, but at the same time as the series drags on for four seasons without any real character development it becomes hard to see if the characters' lack of self-awareness is intentional or an oversight of bad writing.

Both in the first and last series the characters bicker with each other over stupid things. They get into a major fight in practically every series. And despite being offered the chance to leave behind all the bad things that happened to them, they repeatedly go back for more.

This isn't so much of a dealbreaker when you consider that it's likely that Cole intended for the narrative to feel like it's stuck on a loop: the show attempts to go for that Shakespearian tragedy feel of characters that are painfully unsure of themselves or even how to interact with their life-long friends. Characters who can't be grateful for what they have, and who always want the easy way out rather than facing up to fixing their lives.

However, other choices in the finale and from the halfway point of the third Season on feel very lazy and generic, almost as though the series was cut short.

There are several big plot strands in the last few episodes that are introduced and then dropped with no explanation, which I found highly irritating:

- Rick at one point finds a glass eye in a toilet seemingly at random: the object later prompts him to change his mind and risk his life when he could otherwise remain safe. No explanation is given for what the object might represent, or why he came to find it in the first place.

- The *third* CIA agent in the story seems amazingly incompetent, even given that Season 3's Lazaro was an absolute nutjob. Cole seems to have written her as an obligatory "zany" character, but she just comes across as really unprofessional and irritating. She then gets killed in a really stupid way, too, and we're expected to believe that a thirty-year veteran of the CIA would just turn up at random to a house siege and not even be prepared for a violent confrontation: ridiculous.

- Quinn's friend at the bar, the "connected" bald guy he shares many discussions with in Season 3, doesn't do anything. He does literally nothing over the course of the series except provide an ear for Quinn to talk into. I kept thinking he would turn up later and help the group out, but no.

- Mercedes, the female soldier who saves the four in Season 3, vanishes forever at the conclusion of S3 and isn't seen again. This is despite the group looking for the CIA's files on her, and finding that she mysteriously had none. It's repeatedly hinted that she is somehow a lot more important than she seems, but this never materialises.

- The fate of Woody's girlfriend and adopted kid is never answered.

Even more unforgivably, the choices the friends make at the end of the show are absolutely insane and show no forethought at all:

- Pursued by professional killers, they make no attempt to hide, contact the police or other authorities, or even just lay low at a hotel or something. Instead they drive out to a deserted beach (!)

- Quinn owns a bar and supposedly has lots of social connections, but mentions that "You can't just call people there, they don't give out numbers." If he owns the bar, why not just call the bartender and get his friends put on the line? That he doesn't even try to do this seems ludicrous.

- Woody ineffectually fires the group's only weapon (a shotgun) at a guy about 500 metres away, until he runs completely out of ammo. WTF?


Plot Summary:

Season 1: The group goes to Alvo's villa. Alvo is murdered by a group run by Dominic (a corrupt cop, English ex-pat), Maria (a CIA agent running narco-finance operations) and an old English dude named Mackenzie who is running the drug operations. The series ends with Maria dead and the very tense scene of Dominic walking up to the villa, about to kill an unsuspecting Quinn.

Season 2: The group promptly run Dominic over in a car and escape. There's a lot of well-plotted stuff with Mackenzie, who wants his cash back. The group is eventually cornered in Morocco by a militia force funded by the UK.

Season 3: The group is held in a blacksite prison, the CIA connection is explained, eventually they are sent to South Africa with new identities and they wriggle their way out of a CIA hitlist (though it's perplexing the CIA care about them so much, since they're essentially four civvies in the wrong place at the wrong time).

Season 4: This, for me, was where it started getting stupid. The group sells Alvo's villa, gets rich, decides to move back to Cape Town for no reason and promptly the whole lot of them get executed by Dominic's gang. The ending has them plunging off a metaphorical road to Hell.

I mean, just look at those summaries: we go from a plausible crime thriller in Season 1, to the Season 4 ending in which everyone dies and goes to straight to Hell, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

While the doom of the group was hinted at the whole way through, I was pretty disappointed at how it happened. It seemed completely avoidable had the group actually had half a brain, but the plot demanded they died in such a fashion and so they did.

Verdict

So, should you watch Mad Dogs? I'd say yes - just be prepared to be irritated by it towards the end.

The acting's good and Seasons 1-2 have some really good moments. Season 3 has some poignant scenes and purposeful plotlines, but for me Season 4 was when the show really seemed to lose sight of where it was going.

For the record, I don't mind ambiguous endings: and the ending of Mad Dogs is very surreal and very ambiguous. It's more the fact that you can assemble such a talented cast with such an interesting concept...and then do so very little with it and leave so much unexplained.

[*][*][*][ ][ ]

3/5

A show that's equal parts interesting and frustrating, and sadly descends into poorly written nonsense close to the end as it searches to be more profound than the sum of it's parts.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Movie Review: Strange Days

A while ago I heard of "Strange Days", a sci-fi movie set in LA during an alternate 1999. It got pretty good reviews (~70% average) so I thought I'd give it a watch.

The basic premise of Strange Days is interesting: SQUID magnetometry (a phenomenon ironically used in my work field as a Chemist in real life) has evolved to the extent that it can be used to completely record someone's feelings, thoughts, emotions and experiences on a "tape", directly from their brain.

Obviously, this technology is not merely limited to recording mundane things. The film opens with a bombastic sequence in which a man "tapes" the robbery of a store, culminating with his own gut-wrenching death as he falls from a building. This depiction of real death in a "tape" makes it a "blackjack".

The main character, Lenny Nero (Ralph Fiennes) is a washed-out ex-cop who makes a sleazy living from selling "tapes" that allow users to experience illicit thrills. He has a pathetic hang-up on his ex-girlfriend, Faith (Juliette Lewis) that's bolstered by his constant re-watching of his SQUID memories of her. While he proclaims that he has ethics ("I don't trade blackjacks, everyone knows that."), most of the film he comes across as a loser with minimal scruples.

Fiennes does a really good job of somehow making Lenny likable enough to care about. It'd be very easy, with his fake Rolexes and selfish demeanour, to make him a character that the audience takes an instant dislike to. But somehow he hits that sweet spot where we pity him because his life is such a wreck, and also perhaps because his wretched state stems from losing his "true love".

Really, though, the show is stolen by Angela Bassett as "Mace", Lenny's close friend. A bodyguard in an LA completely overrun by crime, Mace is tough, smart and uncompromising. However, she's also caring, compassionate and honest, unlike almost everyone around her in the film. It is often her discussions with Lenny that give the film it's best moments.

Unfortunately, the film itself for me was a real example of how poor scripting and lazy action scenes can really detract from a movie. Despite Fiennes and Bassett putting in performances that are worth watching, the story itself devolves into being almost nonsensical by the end, and it feels like the film entirely squanders the ability to really explore the whole "tape" concept when it goes off trying to make some really vague, confused statement about civil liberties instead.

Firstly, there is a ridiculous amount of repetition. The worst example in the film has to be the club scenes: there are so many scenes in which Lenny walks into the same club and bickers with Faith and nothing actually gets resolved that I started genuinely feeling like the DVD was stuck on a loop or something. This is combined with slightly bizarre drawn-out shots of Faith singing in the club with a Grunge band that seem to go on for ages and contribute nothing.

Philo Gant (Michael Wincott) is Faith's new man. He is one of the most pointless and irritating characters in the movie by far. He plays a part in the plot, but is a 2D character stuck in the same loop of walking around pouting and threatening Lenny while not doing much else.

Finally, the action scenes are just stupid in places. We have a scene in which a bad guy gets shot in the chest three times at almost point-blank range, but then simply jumps up and is fit enough to have a car chase immediately afterwards because he was wearing a weedy looking bullet-proof vest. There are a couple of good fight scenes with Mace, but the majority of them are so over the top they're just silly.

The ending deserves a paragraph of it's own: it's clear that the scriptwriters wanted to produce an "unexpected" ending, but they do it through a really formulaic twist that doesn't make any sense at all. Especially when it requires us to believe that one of the main characters is actually a psychotic rapist, but can completely hide that trait from everyone else for years.

-

So what do we have? We've got a unique and interesting concept that is actually left barely explored over the course of the film. It's perplexing: the story could have been really strong if it focused on the profound nature of being able to experience any sensation as any person, but the fact that doing so requires that you leave your own consciousness and ethics behind.

Similarly, making the action more realistic and cutting all the pointless scenes with Gant and Faith to allow us to focus on Lenny and Mace would have made the film much more lean and dynamic.

As it is, though, with so much filler and so many pointless scenes, parts of the movie are a real drag. Combined with the ludicrous ending, it's a real shame that I can't give it more than 2 stars.

Rating: 2/5
[*][*][ ][ ][ ]

An excellent premise with some strong main characters, sadly hampered by a go-nowhere story and a complete inability to actually use that premise in the plot in a meaningful way.

I still recommend seeing it if you're a Fatboy Slim fan: you'll immediately recognise Mace's amazingly distinctive shout of "Right here, right now!" as one of his samples.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

"Assassin's Creed III": Soon to be called "Creed III".

So I got the last installment of AC on Steam for £3.74 during the last sale. A bargain, so it's probably unfair for me to criticise it here.

But I shall nonetheless. Because as engaging and interesting as it feels at times it suffers from the same glaring problems of almost every AC game thus far:

1. The protagonist is far too strong in combat, to the point that it's ridiculous. Combat is too easy, in terms of game mechanics. Stealth is underdeveloped.
2. We're not actually "assassins" in all but the first AC game. We're just playing renegade badasses that go round pulling off crazy martial arts and seducing wenches.

1. Combat:

Point 1 was never such an issue in AC 1. It was fairly plausible that Altair, a ruthlessly trained expert warrior, could perhaps take on 6 or 7 poorly trained Middle Ages militia in a swordfight to the death.

AC II I think was almost the combat apex of the series. It took AC 1 and made it a bit harder. Brute Guards were capable of being quite dangerous, as were the Spear guys, until at least you realised that disarming them both made things much easier.

Brotherhood was a disaster in terms of combat, excellent though the core game was. The "execution" chains made everything boringly trivial: Brute Guards were now just as easy to kill as standard rookie soldiers, and that was a real step backwards in terms of game challenge.

And now, since I missed Revelations, I'm back to AC III. And if anything, combat seems worse than Brotherhood.

My first real fight in AC III was against six soldiers. Redcoats, to be exact. Redcoats armed with muskets and bayonets.

What was my weapon of choice in this dangerous scenario, reader? Have a guess. Yes, that's right, I used my bare hands.

At first kung-fu fighting gun-wielding baddies seems cool, and the animations look fantastic. But the simple notion of fighting with 6 armed men with no weapon and utterly kicking their arses is completely ridiculous. If they shoot at you you get this stupid human shield move which basically gives you an invulnerability field. You can even counter two bayonet charges at once with no weapon yourself!

The core problem is that fighting with any weapon in the game seems to feel identical. You're just as deadly with a sword as you are unarmed, which makes no sense at all. The fact that you never actually have to run from bad guys since you can take on 20 at a time with just your hands really emphasises the weaknesses of the game.

2. The "Assassin" in "Assassin's Creed". Where is it?

This, I think, is the absolute crux of the issue at the moment.

In AC 1, Altair was an Assassin. That was his sole purpose, with some extra story layered in regarding Templars and the Assassin Order. The game revolved around killing high profile bad guys, and dramatically escaping the city afterwards.

The escape scenes were easily the most enjoyable part of the game for me. Running away from the entire city guard while bells sounded out and awesome music blared was exhilarating, and made you really appreciate the parkour mechanics.

From AC 2 onwards, we seem to have drifted from Assassin into the realm of "Generic Male Fantasy Badass Guy". Tons of scenes in the sequels seem to have absolutely no function in eloquently explaining the plot, especially Desmond's plot in the modern world, which feels like it's been going nowhere for decades now.

AC 2 and Brotherhood in particular devoted far too much screen-time to Ezio getting laid with historical women, prostitutes and minor female characters - which I always thought was utterly bizarre. Yeah, we get that the protagonist is supposed to be "cool" and everything, but why is having random sex with every female character the best way to illustrate that? The answer is that it's not. It's a really lazy (and almost sexist) way to try and give a character more depth than a 2d lasercopy.

AC 3 seems to have the same exaggerated "dashing rogue" laziness going on - the first mission with Haytham he already gets about 6 women flashing doe eyes at him in cutscenes or the background.

Other diversions, such as the historical cameos, are at times a bit stupid too. I sighed when AC III introduced me to Benjamin Franklin, and then immediately explained he's lost pages of his Almanac. "That's a fetch quest for completely irrelevant collectibles, then." I thought, rolling my eyes. And it was. It had absolutely nothing to do with the plot.

I'm a no-nonsense Templar assassin (no capital!) who's just arrived in America. Why the fuck would I want to hunt for pages of some guy's missing book strewn around a city? It's totally nonsensical and almost screams "YOU ARE PLAYING A GAME."

Then we have sidequests. Piles and piles of sidequests, inane stuff like delivering letters or stealing from chests or randomly doing errands for peasants (for absolutely no logical reason).

But where are the assassinations? Why do we only get to use our Hidden Blade, apparently the game's signature weapon, about once every 4 hours? Why do we never seem to actually kill any important characters until right at the very end of the game(s)? Why do we never sneak into large restricted zones to silently kill enemies?

The best mission of Brotherhood by miles was the one where you sneak into the huge circular castle to try and kill Cesare Borgia. The caste was enormous and had many different entrances. You could silently eliminate guards and lookouts, and climb all over it with parkour. It was a glimpse of what AC should actually be about - sneaking into a heavily guarded area with all your different skills, to kill an important enemy.

Unfortunately, it was the only mission like that in the whole game, the rest being stupid things like chasing pickpockets or delivering letters to people like some kind of cheap precursor to FedEx.

*Sigh*

Diversion aside, if I play Black Flag I hope it's about the actual assassination again, not just wandering around having conversations that end in collectible hunt non-sequiturs and random cutscenes that don't actually further the plot one iota. But given that the game is now about being a fucking pirate, not an assassin, that's highly unlikely.

What will Assassin's Creed V be? "AC V: Robot Ninja Pirate's Sidequest Simulator." perhaps?

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Breaking Bad: Quick Thoughts So Far (Season 2)

So after a good friend pointed me to Breaking Bad a while ago, I have to say it's rapidly becoming my absolute favourite TV series since...well, since anything!

1. I'm a Chemist.
2. I like intelligent crime drama.
3. I like dark comedy.
4. I love media which depicts smartly written characters who have real motivations and personalities.

Breaking Bad satisfies all four in spades, with razor sharp writing and acting that I can only describe as absolutely spot-on.

I'm way behind, only now starting on watching right through after getting the box-set for Christmas. But the show is consistently fantastic so far.

I think the most fascinating aspect of the show thus far is easily the central shift of Walt's morality. Even more than his morality, actually: his humanity itself.

Walt starts Season 1 as a character who is almost unquestionably sympathetic. He's a decent man who, through a lack of assertiveness and simple bad fortune, has essentially been screwed out of everything he could have expected from life as a successful, honest scientist.

He's felt dead for a good chunk of his whole life. He has a stressful home life with a disabled son, a wife he struggles to express his emotions to...and biggest of all, a crushing sense that his brilliant understanding of Chemistry has got him nowhere but teaching to a bunch of uninterested, obnoxious teenagers. He's frequently too nice to offend others, and submits to pressure rather than pushing to put his desires and viewpoints across.

So when he's abruptly told he's dying of lung cancer (despite having never smoked, no less), it's understandable, even if certainly not condonable, that he begins to feel deeply sickened (and envious) when he sees the idiotic local drug pushers rolling around with more money than he's ever seen.

When he realises soon after he begins cooking that he must murder Krazy-8 to save his family from retribution, we see the despair and sadness wracking him terribly with guilt as tears flow down his cheeks.

Fast forward to Season 2, Episode 10, the episode I just finished. Walt's spent several episodes manipulating Jesse with Machiavellian grace, remorselessly lying to him and showing next to no compassion when Hank confiscated the funds he required to even have somewhere to live.

At the end of the episode, he has the following confrontation with a couple of up-and-coming meth peddlers he spots at the local DIY store. Going from the "silent partner" who very much prefers to force Jesse into getting his hands dirty, we see him suddenly assert himself as a street hardman directly:


"Stay OUT of my territory." 

It's like Walt has ceased to exist in this clip, with Heisenberg taking full control. Bryan Cranston is utterly convincing with his narrow eyes and ice-cold snarl - fabulous acting. The other guy may be bigger, but just look at that dangerous look in Walt's eyes, the thinly veiled disgust on his face, and you know immediately that he's not a guy you want to fuck with. At all.

After his "blowfish" discussion with Jesse, we see that Walt's toughness isn't bluster, either. He has nothing to fear from death, already possessing a death sentence.

Walt's disgusted look is doubly ironic considering that the big bald guy and his partner could almost be a mirror showing a more physically imposing Walt and a dirtier, more meth-y Jesse. A clever casting similarity I'm sure was deliberate.

I think the most heartbreaking thing is that as Walt becomes more adept at being Heisenberg, he starts losing everything that makes him Walt. In Season 1 he was a decent man making a lame effort at being a hardcore criminal. Now, he's sliding towards being a ruthlessly efficient hardcore criminal, but losing what makes him a likable, decent human being completely in the process.

Very interesting. And very funny. And very sad.

I love this show ;)