“Breaking Bad” ranking the top 5 episodes of the series

After re-watching AMC’s Breaking Bad all the way through for the second time, this series maintained a comfortable spot in my top 5 television series of all time.  The characters of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman, played brilliantly by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, have so much depth.  They both possess flaws but as viewers, we accept them for it, and they transform into even more complex characters throughout the series.  Their partnership is heartfelt and tragic at the same time, remaining constant among a whirlwind of dangerous challenges and foes along the way.  After re-watching the series for a second time, I was eager to rank my top 5 episodes from the show.  Please note that spoilers are below if you have not gotten the chance to watch and if you haven’t, I strongly recommend that you get to cooking!  My top 5 episodes from Breaking Bad are:

5

“One Minute” (season 3, episode 7)

For starters, the flashback to “The Cousins” as young boys guided by Hector Salamanca is haunting on its own.  The two boys are fighting and one wishes the other was dead.  Hector proceeds to drown the boy, asking the other one how much longer he has down there.  When the boy comes up for air, Hector reminds the brothers that family is everything.  In present time, Jesse is recovering from the horrific beat-down that Hank gave him, after Walt had someone prank his cell to claim that his wife was in the hospital.  The end of the episode had me on the edge of my seat, as Hank is seen entering his car in a shopping plaza with flowers for his wife.  Everything seems to be going fine until he gets an anonymous call that two men are coming to kill him.  Even before we see “The Cousins” approach the vehicle, Hank’s reaction to every little sound and flash that goes by almost makes time stand still, which makes this episode that much more haunting.

4

“Dead Freight” (season 5, episode 5)

The opening of this episode is so innocent and tranquil.  A young boy is riding his dirt bike in the desert when he comes across a tarantula, which he captures in a jar.  The sound of a freight train echoes in the distance.  As the episode continues, I almost forgot about this opening scene.  The episode is jam-packed with so much action and drama.  Even after watching a second time, my heart was beating out of my chest when Jesse and Todd were pulling off a heist to replace the Methylamine with water, while Walter monitored it.  Meanwhile, Mike and the rest of the gang kept watch and distracted the drivers.  Everyone played a major part in this heist and I worried about it unraveling with each new obstacle.  The heist is successful and everyone is celebrating when the young boy from the opening of the episode is standing in front of them and innocently waves.  The unthinkable happens when Todd waves back and then shoots him, as Jesse screams “No” in so much agony, that it almost echoes through the television.  In a fleeting moment, the innocence is destroyed and reality sets in that everything is not without consequences.

3

“Face off” (season 3, episode 13)

This is probably one of the most intense season finales of a show I have ever seen.  The previous episode revealed Walter’s failed attempt to take out his nemesis, Gustavo Fring, with a car bomb.  The viewers know by now that although Fring is a worthy opponent, one should never underestimate Walter White, Heisenberg himself.  Walter calculates every moment of revenge, involving Fring’s former enemy, Hector Salamanca, keeping the phrase, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” true.  Who would have thought that Hector could still be so dangerous in his condition?  The ominous ringing of his bell returned and ended with an explosion.  Perhaps what was most eerie about this, was that Gus adjusted his tie and walked out of the room, keeping up his polished appearance per usual, only to collapse, revealing that half of his face had been completely torn off.  The writers don’t stop here, however.  At the end of the episode, we get a shot of the Lily of the Valley berries that we know poisoned Brock, the child that Jesse had grown so close to.  Walter will stop at nothing to remain on top, but clearly has gone too far this time.

2

“Grilled” (season 2, episode 2)

This is the episode that completely hooked me on the show.  While I enjoyed the short first season, this episode elevated the show to an entirely new level.  Walter and Jesse had been kidnapped by their insane opponent, Tuco.  You may think that is crazy enough, but Hector Salamanca steals the show with his incessant ringing of the bell, which ultimately brings Fring to his demise later in the series.  Tuco explains that the ringing of the bell means “yes”and no ring means “no.”  Walter and Jesse had been trying to poison Tuco, but Hector is not going to let them get away with it that easy.  They try to convince Tuco that Hector was mad because they changed the TV station, but with each threatening ring, Tuco becomes more and more suspicious of the beloved duo.  The episode even ends with the bell ringing throughout the credits to leave the viewer with that sound to remain in their senses for just a few minutes more.  Talk about intense!

1

“Salud” (season 4, episode 10)

After watching the series through for a second time, this episode still remains my absolute favorite.  Any true Breaking Bad fan will take just a glimpse at the infamous pool and be transported back to this intense episode.  Part of what makes this episode stand out so much to me is that Walter is not involved in the action-packed scene, which leads to Gus Fring poisoning the entire cartel.  Jesse, Mike, and Gus meet the powerful, Don Eladio.  After Jesse comes to teach the cartel how cook successfully, the cartel now insists that they “own” Jesse.  Don Eladio is in for an unfortunate turn of events; however, when Gus presents him with his favorite bottle of tequila and proposes a toast.  Gus even takes a sip himself after insisting that Jesse does not have any because he is an addict.  As the cartel begins dropping like flies, Gus is shown puking in the bathroom to get rid of as much poison as possible.  It shows the viewer just how far he will go to bring his enemy down, which is what makes his later demise so extreme.

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post your comments along with your own favorite episodes below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

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“Shameless” ranking the top 5 moments from season 8 episode 2

Happy Monday TV viewers!  After watching my Sunday evening shows, I am excited to discuss Showtime’s Shameless, season 8 episode 2.  I am already hooked on the second season and from talking to other fans of the show, they are too.  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch yet.  My top 5 moments from yesterday’s episode are:

  1. Kevin’s “save second base” tee-shirt at his cancer group therapy meeting. I was thoroughly amused by Kevin’s need to share with the group about his fear of not being able to be “groped” by other men to make money and he seemed right at home surrounded by a sea of women.  I am ecstatic that Kevin will be alright and his misunderstanding of the word benign kept the laughs coming.
  2. Lip running, or really sprinting, every time he craves an alcoholic drink is still making me laugh. He has a lot of intense feelings going on and doesn’t really know how to deal with them.  So he then naturally breaks into Charlie’s apartment to steal the drugs he planted after he feels remorse seeing him at one of his addiction meetings, and then gets attacked by his dog.  I didn’t think this moment could get any funnier until Charlie came to see him and gave him a hug to show his appreciation for Lip looking out for him.  Sure Lip’s plan might have back-fired, but at least he is making the right choices…or correcting them.
  3. Deb’s new sense of confidence. Debbie is embracing her womanhood and is leaving poor Neil to play full-time parent to her daughter, while taking on drinking adventures with her new work friends.  Deb has always been self-absorbed, but is now taking it to a new level.  Neil gives her a compliment about how nice her outfit looks and she replies with “I know right!”  Very Clueless-esque if I might say so.  My favorite part of Deb’s transformation into a sort of trashy butterfly is Kev saying “what are you wearing?!” when she walks into the bar with a look of disdain.  This didn’t snap her back into reality, however; as she embraces her new found confidence and winds up with a new hair style and a hickey!  Poor Neil.
  4. Ian crying while cuddling in the arms of a “chub” had me laughing for a few and I didn’t think this moment could get any funnier until he decides to forever honor his mother, Monica by getting a tattoo. The tattoo artist starts talking about how you can’t really pin down emotional pain and that’s why a tattoo is therapeutic when Ian shares about his mom.  The tattoo artist explains that he wished he had known it was his mom before he started, as Ian displays a look of horror at the naked breasts tattooed onto his back.  Absolutely hilarious.
  5. Fiona gets ditched by her renters. From Mrs. Cardinal’s fake dog to the woman who actually runs away from her with 10 million screaming kids, Fiona is stepping into a new role of leadership and accountability.  She starts off playing the nice landlord and even gives the woman a chance to pay her part of the rent now which I thought was more than fair.  However, after that check for one cent, there is no fury like Fiona scorned.  She places an eviction notice on her door to show everyone that she means business.  Go Fiona!

 

I hope you enjoyed my top 5 moments from season 8 episode 2.  Please feel free to post your comments below and share some of your own as well.  Happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

Throw-back Sunday: “Lost” ranking the top 5 characters

It’s Throw-Back Sunday TV viewers, otherwise known as my favorite day to catch up on other series or re-watch some of my past favorites in cozy pajamas with my dog!  For today’s Throw-Back Sunday, I am re-watching some of my favorite Lost episodes.  After re-watching the series 16 times, yes 16, my favorite characters have shifted over the years.  I think it has to do more with me as a person watching since the character story-lines haven’t changed.  Each time I watch, something new is happening in my life and I connect with the characters in a different way.  While some stay ranked the same, others have shifted in and out of my top 5.  Jacob got it right when he revealed to the candidates that none of them were doing fine before they crashed on the island.  They were all looking for something or some way to connect and the island sparked that in each of them.  This holds true for me as well, as I find myself connecting to different characters and empathizing with them over the years.  Please note spoilers are below in case you have not watched all of the episodes by now and if you haven’t, I strongly recommend that you get to that immediately!  My top 5 characters from Lost are:

5

Juliet Burke

For me, Juliet is the character that reminds me of myself the most.  She is loving, smart, and strong; but is guarded with her emotions.  When Juliet is introduced in season 3, her flashbacks were so interesting to me.  She was clearly looking for some way to make a difference and help; only it takes her leaving the others and coming to help the Losties to truly find a sense of purpose.  For me, Juliet has always been selfless.  Sure she makes mistakes just like the rest of us, but that’s what makes her so complex as a character.  Her love with Sawyer is beautiful and when she tells him that “just because two people love each other, doesn’t mean they have to be together,” it shows that she is used to disappointment and pain, but she is all right with it, as long as something good comes out of it.

4

Desmond Hume

Desmond has always been somewhere on my top 5 ranking.  The introduction of him in season 2 was brilliant.  My favorite episodes of the show all feature Desmond and it’s because he brings something elevated and real to the show.  Desmond desperately wants to prove his self-worth and later realizes that Penny already saw it in him from the start.  She mentions that he is a “good man which she finds that is hard to come by.”  I think that sums up Desmond perfectly.  He is a good man, but he is also a coward, which shows his weakness.  He screams that he wants to go back and he’ll do it right this time in “Flashes Before Your Eyes,” which touches my heart with each re-watch.

3

Kate Austen

Kate has probably shifted the most throughout my list and used to not even make my top 5.  From what I see, Kate gets the most hate from online forums and fan sites.  Viewers often refer to her as annoying and useless.  However, I find Kate to be smart, courageous, and loving.  Similar to the other characters, she crashes on the island and it is revealed that she is a fugitive and was always born to run.  Like Sawyer says to her, “You run, I con.  Tiger don’t change their stripes.”  Kate, like Jack, was always keeping busy to help others.  She was always the first to volunteer to go on a hike or get caught up in whatever drama was going on because she was so used to running away from everything and everyone, avoiding herself in the process.  When Kate begins raising Aaron off island, she finds her new identity as a mother.  Even when she leaves him to go back to the island, it’s not to run away, but to find Claire so she can reunite her with Aaron, a truly selfless act.  Kate also gets a bad rep for getting caught in the middle of a love triangle, or maybe love rhombus is more accurate, with Jack, Sawyer, and Juliet.  However, I don’t fault her for this.  She has conflicting feelings for both Jack and Sawyer because they represent different things to her.  I think both are right for her at different points in her life, but it’s her love for Aaron that truly helps her find out who she is.

2

James Ford aka “Sawyer”

From cruising through polls and Lost forums, Sawyer is the favorite character of many and used to be mine before Jack surpassed him.  Sawyer represents a redeemed hero, which also shows his own transformation.  In the first season, Sawyer is very much out for himself and wants others to hate him.  He is his own worst enemy; however, as he reveals hints of goodness along the way.  While Sawyer has shown signs of selfless behavior over the seasons, him jumping off the chopper so that the others could make it to the freighter was more out of fear of what might happen if he didn’t, as Cassidy so eloquently put it when talking to Kate.  It’s not until Sawyer remains on the island and embraces his con-man smarts in order to protect everyone that he finds his way.  When he falls in love with Juliet, Sawyer reaches his full potential, putting his past baggage behind him.  His snarky humor and beloved nicknames lighten up the show as well, making him an excellent candidate for rank #2.

1

Jack Shephard

You may be thinking that this is the obvious number one character since Jack is presented as the lead character in Lost for the most part.  For me, Jack’s quest to overcome his need to “fix everything” along with him realizing that he has had his father’s approval the whole time, makes him stand out as a real and true hero.  The series opens with Jack’s eye opening and from the minute he is awake, he is playing hero and trying to help everyone he can.  You may think that he has been a selfless hero from the start, but that’s not the whole story.  Sure, I do find Jack to be a selfless hero, but he didn’t start off that way for me.  I took the opening episodes with a grain of salt, as it seemed like he was trying to keep busy and distract himself from his own inner demons by helping everyone else.  It’s not until we get to the “White Rabbit” episode that we see Jack truly vulnerable.  The empty coffin at the end of this episode reveals that Jack has not found what he is looking for just yet.  Jack makes it his mission to get everyone off of the island, only to later find out that this is a mistake.  The island gave him a sense of purpose and he was finally able to step into the leadership role, rather than being in his father’s shadow.  “We have to go back!”  Yes, you do Jack.  The island is not done with you yet and it is your destiny.  The last episode of the series brings tears to my eyes each time and this is mostly because I have come to adore Jack Shephard over years of watching.  When he comes to terms with what is happening his words, “Live together, die alone,” stay true as the dog, Vincent, lies down next to him so that he is not alone.  The series ends with his eye closing and I cannot think of a better way to end the show.  When Jack’s eye opens, he is in desperate need of finding himself and when his eyes finally close, he has found it.

I hope you enjoyed the list and feel free to post thoughts on your own favorite characters.  Enjoy your throw-back Sunday!  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

“Once Upon a Time” Season 7 episode 6 review: Ivy/Drizella vs Regina…who will wind up on top?

Happy Saturday TV viewers!  I thoroughly enjoyed the flashbacks in ABC’s Once Upon a Time, season 7, episode 6 last night and am looking forward to the blossoming rivalry between Ivy/Drizella and Regina.  Please note that spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch yet.  While I found Lady Tremaine to be a true villain right down to her core, there was something about her that was lacking and uninspiring.  Sure she’s got the look and knows how to talk down to others while keeping her head held high with disdain, but do we really care enough about her as a formidable foe?

For me, the introduction of Ivy/Drizella as the true villain waiting in the wings was an excellent move by the writers.  For one, she has a fabulous sense of style.  Her pairings are to die for and she is polished and smart, which makes her very capable of out-maneuvering her opponents.  Her harmless posts showing her and Henry drinking together were pure genius.  The flashback showing Regina trying to mentor her really resonated with me.  It shows the full transformation of Regina as a character.  The evil queen recognized so much of her former self in Drizella and wanted to help her channel her anger and use her power for good.  Of course this backfires, creating a very dangerous opponent.  But I’m not so worried.  Regina may have embraced her good side, but she is a fiery and strong woman and will do anything to protect her son.

It was also interesting to see how much of an impact a mother can have on a child.  Ivy/Drizella’s quest for revenge is completely driven by her mother’s lack of care and interest in her, similar to Regina as well.  While these mothers had a damaging impact on their children, mothers can also be a source of unbelievable goodness and strength.  Jacinda has been doing all she can to be able to provide for her daughter, Lucy and Regina’s love for Henry is resilient.  Their unconditional love makes them a true match for Ivy/Drizella and Lady Tremaine.  But where will Rumpel fit in to all of this?  I thoroughly enjoyed Regina handing over a bottle of MacCutcheon’s whiskey to him, a Lost easter egg.  It was also very clever how Ivy/Drizella insisted on pouring herself a glass from the top shelf, using the very same fictional brand.  It reminded me very much of Charles Widmore lecturing Desmond Hume that he was not worth a swallow of this whiskey in Lost.  Desmond was able to prove Charles wrong and I am certain Regina will do the same.  Are you?

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

“Supernatural” Lucky season 13: How has the longest running show on the CW lasted?

Can a television series air for 13 seasons and still bring in viewers without becoming stale?  The CW’s Supernatural series is currently on lucky or perhaps unlucky season 13 and it begs the question, how has this show lasted so long?  A few thoughts come to mind as I myself am a long-time fan of the show.  For starters, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles are believable as brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester and have an undeniable bond.  Viewers connect and empathize with them as you find yourself on the edge of your couch clutching your popcorn, wondering if one of these challenges along the way will ultimately separate the brothers forever.  That being said, they have survived hell, purgatory, and whatever else has been thrown their way while still keeping a sense of humor through it all.  Is the brotherly bond enough to keep the Supernatural series from becoming tiresome, however?

 

For me, it also comes down to the clever way that the writers integrate episodes that some critics may refer to as fluff.  Episodes like season 4’s “Yellow Fever,” where the opening scene reveals Dean running for his life from an adorable Yorkie or season 9’s “Thinman,” which has a creepy vibe brewing until you find out that it involves fan favorites, the Ghostfacers, are brilliant.  Throughout the serious plot twists or the enemies that come their way, whether it involves angels or demons, this can sometimes wear on you as a viewer.  Incorporating episodes where Sam and Dean are just merely going out on hunter adventures keeps it exciting and fresh, while giving true fans that sense of nostalgia that hooked them onto the show in the first place.  It’s the reason why shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Charmed which were also favorites of mine, did not have as long as a run as Supernatural.  These shows eventually ran their course, while Supernatural keeps going strong.   It follows the main plot for the season while strategically sprinkling in fun and lighter episodes that remind you why you keep coming back for more.

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

“Riverdale” Review Season 2 Episode 5: Lollipop, lollipop…sweet or sour?

“Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli lolli lolli, lollipop.”  Not sure about the rest of you, but I had this song stuck in my head after watching yesterday’s episode of the CW’s Riverdale (season 2, episode 5).  Betty’s ringtone played over and over with this song while the black hood toyed with her, threatening her image of kindness and perfection.  I’m not sure if I was left with a sweet or sour taste in my mouth at the conclusion, however.  I have become a fan of Riverdale after binge-watching the first season on Netflix and have been really excited to see where the show is going after solving the first major mystery from season one.  Growing up, I loved reading the Archie comics and I enjoy how Riverdale has transformed into a saucier, more mysterious version of the comic series.  It has just the right balance of bubble gum pop with a hint of Gossip Girl nostalgia along with a Nancy Drew like quality.

Episode 5 had a vortex of story-lines going on, however; which split my attention a little too much.  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch the latest episode.  We had the mysterious black hood calling Betty and testing her left and right, threatening her sister’s life is she would not comply.  Who is the mysterious villain on the other end?  So far he or she has been outsmarting Betty with every move, convincing her to bring her mother’s secrets to life, spoiling her friendship with Veronica, and destroying her relationship with Jughead.  As I started to think about who the black hood might be, their motives seem focused completely on shattering Betty’s world, unleashing her own darkness in the process.  The black hood even leads her on a wild goose chase only for her to end up looking at her own reflection so that she would understand that they are very much alike.

While this story-line has my full attention, episode 5 also sprinkled in Jughead’s tests to become part of the Serpent gang, leading him to kiss Toni in the very same day Betty sent Archie to break up with him, which begs the question:  is the love between Jughead and Betty really that epic?  Will Betty and Archie get together instead?  They have been growing closer and closer trying to decipher the black hood’s clues, while Veronica has been distracted by her old lifestyle, desperately trying to win the approval of her father.  Speaking of Veronica, her old friend visiting only to bring havoc onto the small town of Riverdale and ultimately trying to attack Cheryl seemed forced.  While my heart goes out to Cheryl, was this necessary for the episode?  Was this only to set up a convenient bad guy for Betty to target, rather than the black hood going after her family?  Either way, the secrets and lies beneath the surface of Riverdale have not all reached the surface, so I will continue to watch to see them unravel.  Will you?

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

Et tu, Winter? Review of “American Horror Story 7: Cult,” episode 10

I just finished watching yesterday’s episode of FX’s American Horror Story:  Cult and I am still trembling.  Please note spoilers are ahead if you have not gotten a chance to watch yet.  The violence in this episode was beyond extreme, flashing back to the Charles Manson murders and glorifying the other stabbing of recurring character, Gary which had me shielding my eyes and cringing.  That was not the hardest part to watch for me, however.  It was the look in Evan Peters’s eyes who plays Kai when he choked the last breath of life out of his beloved sister, Winter, portrayed by Billie Lourd.  The acting in American Horror Story:  Cult has surpassed the previous seasons in my opinion.  It was wonderful to see Bille Lourd branch out of supporting role in Fox’s canceled series, Scream Queens and bring a truly haunting element to her character while still being likable behind her empty stares.  The stand out performance for me has been Evan Peters who is so believable as his character, Kai Anderson, that it makes me fear what would happen if this character truly existed in the real world.

This series has had its share of ups and downs for me as I have been trying to follow along to see which plot twist to cling to more, as a new story branches out with each episode.  The beginning of the series had me waking up in the middle of the night, clutching my teddy bear, fearing that one of the dreaded clown-masked culprits had broken in.  The series has grown past Ally’s fears and paranoia, played brilliantly by the wonderful Sarah Paulson, however.  She has grown into a strong woman filled with rage, clarity, and an unquenched thirst for revenge, as she has been picking apart Kai’s plan going unnoticed.

Kai made several comments throughout this most recent episode about how inferior women are to men and how they can never lead because they were too emotional.  However, Ally and Beverly are about to unravel that as they continue to cut deeper into Kai’s own emotional baggage which has now spilled out into the open after killing his own sister for fear of her possible betrayal.  After the killing off of some major characters, it makes the viewer wonder who will survive it all and come out on top.  I for one am counting the days until the finale next Tuesday and the preview suggests that Ally and Beverly will undo everything that Kai has tried to accomplish and unleash the untamed rage to the surface of these scorned and no longer broken women.

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl