Tag Archives: Raymond Cruz

‘BREAKING BAD’ REVIEW: Season Two, Episode Two

Anna Gunn and Betsy Brandt in 'Breaking Bad' — Photo courtesy of AMC

Review of “Grilled” (02:02)

SPOILER ALERT!

In the second episode of Breaking Bad’s second season, Walt (Bryan Cranston) is “missing” and his brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) is on the hunt. Coincidentally, as Hank personally explores Walt’s mysterious life, he also is professionally looking for Tuco (Raymond Cruz), the badass drug dealer who has escaped the authorities time and time again. Little does the DEA agent know that both his searches will wind up in the same place: Tuco has imprisoned Walt and Jesse (Aaron Paul) in a middle-of-nowhere house owned by his invalid father.

Skyler (Anna Gun), who is still perpetually pregnant, turns into an unlikely detective herself. She canvasses the neighborhood with “Missing Person” signs and talks with the authorities about her husband’s last known whereabouts. Simmering under her calm façade is a growing hatred for Walt. Not only is she prepping for her second child. Not only is she worried about paying the bills. Not only is her husband dying of lung cancer. Not only is her sister (Betsy Brandt) a klepto. But now Walt has apparently skipped town or been kidnapped. It’s all becoming too much for the loyal wife and dedicated mother.

In the house of Tuco’s father, the deranged dealer plays mind games with Walt and Jesse. He always seems two seconds away from gory violence. Even his father, played by the great Mark Margolis, seems creepy and deceptive. He doesn’t talk and is relegated to a wheelchair, but there’s something mysterious about the old man.

Hank continues his two investigations, and he stops in at the house of Jesse’s parents. Soon enough, he begins to realize that Jesse and Tuco have some connection.

Like an old-style Western, everything converges on a big shootout at the Tuco residence. Luckily, Walt and Jesse are able to escape before Hank finds them. Tuco isn’t so lucky. He goes down like a warrior. For such a crazy, crazy guy, he will be missed from the show.

“Grilled” is a superb episode, and I would rank it among Breaking Bad’s best. It features all the components that make for great television: drama, action, smart police work, invigorating conversation, nail-biting suspense.

Perhaps the most appreciable aspect of the episode is that the focus is finally taken off Walt. One single character can’t hold up an entire show. “Grilled” boldly puts its protagonist aside and hones in on Skyler, Tuco and Hank. We’re obviously moving toward some type of showdown between Walt and Hank, and I would also add Skyler and Walt. The high school chemistry teacher can’t keep his lies spinning out of control. In one form or another, the end is near. Walt is a classic Shakespearean character, and that means he will need to meet his demise in order to come full circle. I’m not sure if this means Walt will die at the end of the series, or that something profound and possibly earth-shattering (prison, divorce, etc.) will have to occur.

Either way, I’m watching.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
  • Breaking Bad

  • AMC

  • Created by Vince Gilligan

  • Starring Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris and RJ Mitte

  • Rating: ★★★★

‘BREAKING BAD’ REVIEW: Season Two, Episode One

Bryan Cranston in 'Breaking Bad,' the hit AMC series — Photo courtesy of Cathy Kanavy / AMC

Review of “Seven Thirty-Seven” (02:01)

SPOILER ALERT!

The difficulties continue to mount for Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in the season-two premiere of Breaking Bad. He’s still in need of money. His partner, Jesse (Aaron Paul), is still a blithering idiot. His wife (Anna Gunn) and son (RJ Mitte) look at him like he’s a stranger. Tuco (Raymond Cruz), a menacing drug dealer with a violent streak, is getting crazier and crazier. Oh, and he’s still dying of lung cancer.

When’s a man supposed to breathe?

“Seven Thirty-Seven” opens with scenes from the season-one finale. Tuco is displayed in all of his unhinged fury, while Walt and Jesse standby just about shaking in their boots. They are the definition of being “in over their heads.”

When Walt comes home, he continues his strange path of needing sexual satisfaction immediately. We saw this previously in the bedroom and in the classroom, and now he literally attacks Skyler (Gunn) in the kitchen and almost rapes her. It’s an uncomfortable, yet effective, scene that shows the increasingly widening gap between husband and wife.

On the drug front, Tuco circles around Jesse’s house and calls him in the middle of the night. The punk druggie calls Walt and tells him that he thinks they’re goose is cooked. At first, Walt chides Jesse for calling his house,  but he soon realizes that Tuco is probably watching his house as well. His two worlds — one public, one private — are starting to converge.

Sykler continues to fight with her sister, Marie (Betsy Brandt), after the whole diamond-studded tiara incident from season one. Meanwhile, Hank (Dean Norris) and his team of DEA agents start closing in on Jesse and Walt. In particular, they begin to review security footage from a recent robbery of a chemical used to cook meth (for newbies, the two guys in the footage are Jesse and Walt).

The episode comes to a close when one of Tuco’s accomplices is found dead and Jesse and Walt try to escape the clutches of the badass dealer. The final scene: Our two unlikely heroes are kidnapped.

Breaking Bad’s season two is probably the best follow-up that could be asked for after an impressive inaugural season. It’s difficult to keep up the energy in a television series from season to season, but Breaking Bad achieves its goals by slowing down time and taking extra moments with each of the characters. Every episode focuses in on a limited number of conversations and intense sequences. The actual time from beginning to end sometimes is only a few hours. Then, the next episode features a few more hours. We are dissecting these people, rather than simply viewing them.

Of all the dramas on television right now, is there any other show that stresses characterization more than Breaking Bad? I feel like I know these creations. I even care for them, which is somewhat surprising, because most of them make poor choices with harsh consequences.

Season two’s opener proves this is no one-hit wonder.

By John Soltes / Publisher / John@HollywoodSoapbox.com
  • Breaking Bad

  • AMC

  • Created by Vince Gilligan

  • Starring Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris and RJ Mitte

  • Rating: ★★★★