Breaking B1G

Submitted by BiSB on May 29th, 2014 at 9:32 AM

In our continuing pursuit to explain to outsiders "what is Big Ten football," and, more importantly, "why is the Big Ten football," we turn to the world of metaphor. Or simile. I forget.

We look now at the Big Ten through the prism of the characters of Breaking Bad. Minor spoiler alerts, of course, but the series has been over for almost a year, so if you haven't seen the series GET ON THAT. Totally worth the time

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Michigan

 Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Hank Schrader

Self-assured to the point of arrogance, but his brash exterior belies a deep-seated insecurity. He's not used to losing, so when stuff starts blowing up around him, he gets rattled. Everything started to go wrong when this upstart “Heisenberg” fella started to upset the order of things. He proceeded to pour unprecedented resources into chasing Heisenberg, like tailing people for weeks on end or spending $850,000 on a new offensive coordinator. He experiences successes, and occasionally seemed set to take down his quarry, but in the final confrontation with Heisenberg (who is, it turns out, family) he ends up busted and bleeding.

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Michigan State

 Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Walter White (aka Heisenberg)

He spending years – nay, decades – as the doormat for those around him. But then through a series of unlikely events, Walter finally found himself on top of his world. He is suddenly the one who knocks. He IS the danger. Still, his inferiority complex shines through from time to time, and he spends as much time trying to prove he isn't the man he used to be as he does being Heisenberg.

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Ohio State

Saul

Saul Goodman

Some would call them “sleazy. ” They would prefer to think of themselves as calculating. They have a very well-oiled system and the resources to make it work. He occasionally  gets punched in the mouth by Walter, and is threatened by Hank, though Goodman always stays just out of reach of the law. Also, of everyone in the show, he's the guy you really want to see get punched in the face, and you'd be like, "yeah, he probably deserved that, if not for this then for other stuff."

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Wisconsin

Gus

Gustavo Fring

Careful. Almost boringly careful.  Nothing is unnecessarily flashy, which is what makes him effective. At the end of the day, you realize he’s probably a step ahead of you. He will run the zone stretch six times in a row until you think “I’ll jump the zone stretch and take over the drug empire,” which is when he goes play action for 36 yards. Then goes to the zone stretch.

I suppose I could have gone with "Badger," because, well, Badger. But Badger was a chubby white guy who somehow survives. Wait...

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Purdue 

RV

The Winnebago

They were there at the beginning, and for a while they kinda fit with the whole scheme. It was full of fumes, had terrible accommodations, and was in the middle of nowhere. And usually there were only a couple of people there. If you get stuck there for a couple of days, it will probably turn into the worst weekend of your life unless you can figure out how to MacGyver a battery out of some brake fluid and pocket change to get the everloving hell out of there.

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Penn State

Lydia

Lydia

She used to be a major part of the drug empire until some turmoil threw that into doubt. Despite being marked for death a couple of times, and seemingly being on the cusp of being pushed to the side several times, she continues to find ways to be relevant. She's also conspiratorial as hell; she always thinks someone is out to get her. And while sometimes that's true, it's because she did some really, really bad things.

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Iowa

 Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Marie

As soon as she shows up in an episode, your immediate reaction is "ugh, this is gonna suck." She's a somewhat major character, but she does absolutely nothing to drive the plot. Instead, you just get caught up in small and annoying side-plots that just make you hate that you're spending time watching this. There is no depth to her character; she's pretty much a one-note kind of gal. But all things considered, her character flaws are pretty minor, especially when compared to some of those around her, so it could be worse.

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Maryland

Tortuga

Tortuga

It isn't really his fault, per se, but his arrival signaled an epic shit-storm that made everyone around him not want to be there anymore. Plus, Tortuga means "tortoise" and a terrapin is a turtle. Which is like a tortoise. So it fits.

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Indiana

Jesse

Jesse Pinkman

The plucky, scrappy little guy. Historically a f*ck-up, but occasionally pulls his act together enough to pull off a train heist or something. You root for him, largely because he's the lesser of however-many evils. His style is kind of refreshing, and often acts as a nice alternative to the heavy, dour roles played by everyone around him. Also, does a lot of meth.

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Nebraska

 Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

Skyler White

No one likes you. We get that you are good at some (limited) things, but that doesn't mean we want to see you ever.

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Illinois

Tio

"Tio" Hector Salamanca

Old, decrepit, and smells a little funky. They don't really do much anymore, and their best-case scenario is crapping in his opponents' place of business, because f*** the DEA. Also, stankface gonna stankface.
 
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Northwestern

Gale

Gale Boetticher

He seems like a pretty bright guy, and despite his quirkiness you find yourself rooting for him. But then one day, someone is like "you know, with the way things are going, YOU could run things in the West Division." And he starts to get all excited, and then BLAM.

In a way, he should have seen it coming. He isn't the type to lead. He's a born middle-of-the-pack type. Nevertheless, even though the natural progression of the plot needed him to... uh... exit the plot, we felt a little bit bad that it had to happen like it did. Also, tell me this pose doesn't look familiar:

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Minnesota

Badger

Badger

A chubby, gumpy-looking white guy who somehow manages to survive the whole damn series. He's not really a protagonist or an antagonist. You find yourself happy when he wins, but in the same way you're happy for your dog when he finally finds where you put his water dish. Sure, his accomplishments might not be impressive in the objective sense, but give the little guy a pat on the head anyway.

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Rutgers

The Fly

The Fly

What is this? Wait, this is it? This is what we're doing? WHYYYYYY?????

Comments

ijohnb

May 29th, 2014 at 10:05 AM ^

was a great character.  Once they figured out that she was not interesting enough by herself to carry full on sub-plots I thought she was a very effective character.  She actually ended up being the "moral compass" of the show, kind of crazy after her shoplifting endeavors.

michchi85

May 29th, 2014 at 9:51 AM ^

I'm so disappointed that Skinny Pete didn't get a mention.  After thinking it over though, I'm not sure where he would fit in.  I loved the randomness of Skinny Pete!

MGoBender

May 29th, 2014 at 10:24 AM ^

I also liked the Fly episode.

Plus, you have to consider it not as a stand-alone episode but in respect to the entire series.

Walt's dagger to Jesse's heat in the third(?) to last episode wouldn't have been as impactful without the intense suspense in the Fly episode of whether or not he would spill the beans.

Vince Gilligan admitted the budgetary issues, but also stated:

Even if financial realities didn't enter into it, I feel as a showrunner that there should be a certain shape and pace to each season, and the really high highs that you try to get to at the end of a season — the big dramatic moments of action and violence, the big operatic moments you're striving for — I don't think would land as hard if you didn't have the moments of quiet that came before them. The quiet episodes make the tenser, more dramatic episodes pop even more than they usually would just by their contrast.[11]

MGoBender

May 29th, 2014 at 10:26 AM ^

I'll note, though, that when I was watching the Fly episode, I was doing so on Netlix and could immediately start the next one.

I think it's easier to stomach a slow, non-plot-developing episode when you can immediately watch the next one.

If I had waited a week in anticipation for that episode and then had to wai another week for the next, I might have different thoughts.  But I'd hope I'd have the patience to give it a second chance and consider what it did do as opposed to focus on slowness of it.

ijohnb

May 29th, 2014 at 10:34 AM ^

was also really one of the only shows that focussed on just the monotony of their work and that when it came down to it, they were pretty much just co-workers who irritated the hell out of each other, like most colleagues do.  Not everyday was spent plotting ricin poisonings or getting into shootouts with scary gangsters.  Sometimes they just "went to work," and you really only saw that during "Fly" and a couple of the episodes when they were moving from house to house as the exterminators. 

BiSB

May 29th, 2014 at 10:36 AM ^

I did like that it pointed out that this was largely a workplace drama as much as anything else. But you don't need to take an entire episode to do that. Let SOMETHING else happen.

MGoBender

May 29th, 2014 at 10:53 AM ^

What THING would have fit, though?

Is it really good story-telling to have shit happen for the sake of shit happening?  I think the answer to that is clearly no, so I legitimately ask what would have been a good plot development that didn't mess with everything else?

Some people didn't like Gus Fring's backstory episode because it didn't advance the New Mexico plot.  I thought it was a brilliant episode that accomplished so much with respect to the characters.

ijohnb

May 29th, 2014 at 11:00 AM ^

was a major plot development.  For the first time, Walt really came to terms with the fact that there really was no going back from where he was.  He discussed that there had to have been "that one moment" where he could have stopped the train, where he could have gone back, where his "plan" could have been a short term success that he could just opt out of.  It was really during that episode where he realized that there wasn't any reason to stop at that point, even if he thought on some level he still could.  There was nothing to "go back" to.  It was kind of the final step toward full Heisenberg.

BiSB

May 29th, 2014 at 11:03 AM ^

And the episode was fine. It was a bottle episode, and a perfectly decent one. It just wasn't what I (or probably most fans) want with a series like that. I liked the Gus backstory episode because it combined some force-fed character development with just enough action and plot advancement to make it interesting. Not so much with Fly.

Just a personal preference, I guess, but one shared by most BB fans: http://graphtv.kevinformatics.com/tt0903747

ijohnb

May 29th, 2014 at 11:09 AM ^

like one where most people either love it or hate it.  I am not in either camp, I just thought it was a good episode.  People who put it in the same category as "And the Bag's in the River," "One Minute," or "Ozymandius" are crazy though.  It was certainly not one a top tier episode.

ST3

May 29th, 2014 at 11:16 AM ^

Just once I'd like to see Jack Bauer take a shit or eat a bowl of cereal. It's supposed to be 24 consecutive hours of his life, right? and you're telling me he never eats anything or takes a leak, or maybe takes a little nap? Or how about getting stuck in traffic? I figure he does those things during the commercial breaks.

I know, wrong show, but that's always bothered me. I did finally watch Breaking Bad over the holidays when AMC showed the entire series in a week long marathon. It took me about 3 weeks to go through the whole series.

ijohnb

May 29th, 2014 at 12:25 PM ^

what else bothers me.  Why does everybody in movies or shows go into a diner and order pie?  Who sits down at a diner and just orders one peice of pie?  How many diners even have pie?  But when you watch anything you would think that there are bunch of people just sitting around diners eating pie.  I don't get that.

Everyone Murders

May 29th, 2014 at 10:27 AM ^

Purdue as the Winnebago is really unfair to the Winnebago.  I know the Winnebago served as a meth lab and a scene of violent death, but West Lafayette is much nastier.

Decatur Jack

May 29th, 2014 at 10:57 AM ^

I feel like Nebraska should get a little more explanation for why they're Skyler.

Maybe something like "You sort of think you're the best at everything and are highly sanctimonious even though everyone knows your shit stinks too. You haven't really done anything in a long while other than pass judgement on everyone else and refuse to appreciate what you have."

DPUblue

May 29th, 2014 at 11:46 AM ^

I was kind of thinking Nebraska as Skylar because both walked into an already well established successful machine expecting to start running the show. You also cackle with glee everytime they become overwhelmed and things don't go as smoothly as they expected... and the more established parties run them over and continue to control them (Hank/Michigan, Walter/MSU, Saul/Ohio State). 

Erik_in_Dayton

May 29th, 2014 at 11:06 AM ^

I'm not on board with the Skyler hate.  Walt was a great character but also a guy who put his family in a terrible position.  Skyler's reactions to that were justified. 

Gulogulo37

May 29th, 2014 at 11:48 AM ^

It was crazy how much my girlfriend at the time would defend Walt, and she wasn't the only one from what it seems with discussions online. He did a bunch of terrible things but it was always like "Poor Walt, what are you thinking?" And hating on Skyler for being upset about everything.

ijohnb

May 29th, 2014 at 3:04 PM ^

hate is not really directed at how she reacted to what Walt did, but how she preferred him demasculated but held contempt toward him for the same reasons.  She demanded his subservience but believed him to be less than because he gave it to her.  She was like a reverse misogynist. 

Qmatic

May 29th, 2014 at 11:23 AM ^

Jim Delaney is Huell. Fat, bald, can put on a good act of being a tough guy, but when it comes down to it he just gets pushed around.

Crazy w Cheese Whiz

May 29th, 2014 at 12:23 PM ^

The SEC is Uncle Jack, Todd, etc.   They just happened to be in the right place at the right time regrading population shifts and exhaustive funding for college football.   They are ruthless and will knock-off anyone that is witness to their less than legal activities, even if they are just looking around for spiders in the desert. They are good at stealing away resources/recruits for their own purposes.  Kentucky doesn't exactly own, but they do have a good record against Jesse Pinkman all-time and in the tourney. The SEC is able to seemingly orchestrate things close to murder within the system (NCAA) and get away with it. We hope Michigan can take them down and restore order in the world, but if it comes down to it, secretly we want MSU to do some trickery and annihilate them in a football playoffs.