I have said to anyone who asks me what my favorite television show of all time is that it is a tie, forever unbreakable. Nothing anyone can say or do will make me change my mind.
“The Wire,” I thought, was going to be forever No.1 in my book. It’s just about perfect.
Then I watched “Breaking Bad,” and, well, it’s also just about perfect. Creator/writer Vince Gilligan gave us a masterpiece of plot, action, cinematography, acting, directing… just everything was so amazing. When it ended, it was a wonderfully satisfying ending. I was fine with never seeing another story as good.
Then, we got “Better Call Saul,” a prequel with one of the best BB characters, Saul Goodman, and it has been so satisfying over its four season existence.
But something about the end of “Breaking Bad” didn’t quite sit right with Vince Gilligan; we got to see the end of Walter White’s amazing story, but we don’t know how Jesse Pinkman’s life turned out.
And so, thankfully, we got the just-released-on-Netflix El Camino, which came out Friday and was devoured by me and millions of others this weekend.
A two-hour journey that picks up where the last episode of “Breaking Bad” left off, with a delirious, beaten-down but so happy to be free Jesse driving away from the Nazi torture cage he had been imprisoned in for months.
El Camino is, in a word, fabulous. Much like “Breaking Bad,” it starts slowly, unraveling its story little by little, but pays such close attention to detail and is so entertaining to watch, you don’t even mind that it takes a bit to see where it’s going.
I’m torn here because I want to discuss some of the plot but don’t want to spoil it for most of you who haven’t seen it yet. So how about I do this: I’ll talk generally for a few sentences, then let you know when I’m about to talk plot by typing in bold, capital letters and telling you to skip the next part.
OK, so generally, El Camino brings back many of the old BB characters like Skinny Pete, Badger, Ed the vacuum store owner who can “disappear” people for Saul Goodman, and Jesse’s parents, who appear in Season 1.
Most happily, we get a big dose of Todd, the psychotic sociopath who’s so sweet and mild-mannered you can’t believe he does as much evil stuff as he does.
The story of Jesse trying to get out of Albuquerque, and the challenges he encounters, is done really well. El Camino is funny, it’s tense, it’s dramatic, and most of all it’s a satisfying, wonderful end to this amazing story.
OK, I’M GOING TO TALK A LITTLE SPECIFICS HERE. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN EL CAMINO YET, SKIP DOWN TO THE GYMNASTICS VIDEO. THANK YOU.
— OK, so the scene with Badger and Skinny Pete? Absolutely fantastic. I laughed, I almost cried. Skinny Pete, wow, I mean that line when he tells Jesse he’s his hero? Who knew Skinny had that kind of acting range? Tremendous. I would watch an entire series of Skinny and Badger playing video games and trash-talking each other.
— The scenes in Todd’s apartment, both in the flashback to when he dragged Jesse there to deal with the body, and when Jesse encounters the two “cops” looking for money, were so fabulous. I had no doubt those two weren’t “cops” but the care and work in how it played out was fabulous.
— Loved, loved the callbacks to how Lydia died (Stevia, stevia, stevia) and of course the Bryan Cranston cameo. The righteous indignation on Aaron Paul’s face when he says “I got my high school diploma, you were on the stage!” was so fantastic.
— Finally, it’s kind of crazy that after watching the fabulous Robert Forster portray vacuum store owner/fixer Ed, I log on to Twitter and discover Forster died on Friday. What a performance to go out on, just magnificent.
Thank you, Vince Gilligan, for letting us spend two more hours in this wonderful world you created.
**Next up today, maybe the most dominant female athlete in the world today, when it comes to strictly dominating her sport, might be Simone Biles. The gold-medal winning gymnast just finished killing it at the world championships at Germany over the weekend, winning her record 25th all-time medal at the worlds, to go along with four Olympic gold medals.
Here’s a little video of Biles in all her glory, on the floor routine, landing moves that nobody else even tries. I don’t want to say she’s a lock for a gold medal next summer in Tokyo at the 2020 Olympics, but I’d bet my house on her (if my wife would let me. Which she probably wouldn’t. Because if we Biles lost we’d be homeless.)
**And finally today, a few quickie thoughts about the week in the NFL, when, I hope you’re sitting down for this news, the New York Jets won a football game! No really, they did, it really happened!
— As my friend and fellow longtime Jets sufferer David texted me during the Jets’ 24-22 win over Dallas, “It’s amazing what a difference a real QB can make.”
Indeed. After our hero and savior Sam Darnold missed the last three games with mono, and the Jets offense looked more inept than Rick Perry reading a science textbook, Darnold returned Sunday and voila! the Jets offense looked halfway decent.
Oh sure, the Cowboys came back and came close to tying a game they had no business still being in, but I ain’t picking at a win, not when it’s been so damn long since the Jets have had one.
One and four feels good. Let’s see, maybe the Jets get a little roll going, next on the schedule… the Patriots on Monday Night Football.
Oh well. One and five it is, then.
— About those two offensive juggernauts from last year, the Rams and the Chiefs? Not looking so hot these days. The Rams just dropped their third straight game, looking downright Dolphins-esque in scoring only 7 points against the undefeated Niners.
And the Chiefs lost a shootout to Houston with Patrick Mahomes looking a little gimpy and mortal.
It just proves once again that success is so hard to sustain in the NFL, and that one year’s dominance rarely continues to the next one.
Which is why it’s so remarkable that the Patriots have won so, so much for so, so long.
— It’s a shame someone had to win between the winless Redskins and winless Dolphins, but sadly, someone did. The Washington football team was a little less stinky than the one from South Florida.
— The 49ers might be the best team in football. Think the NFL would love a Pats-San Fran Super Bowl, with Brady against Jimmy G., his former understudy?