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/Film will be recapping and discussing each episode of the third season of Breaking Bad. For this installment, /Film discourses with Natasha Vargas-Cooper, a sharp-witted, caps-friendly writer at The Awl and author of the new book Mad Men Unbuttoned, due this July from HarperStudio. A spoiler warning applies after the jump for the recap and for the comments section. Meth heads welcome. For previous recaps, click here.

Hunter Stephenson: Before we discuss the hell-tinted game-changer that was “Mas,” tell me where Walter White resides in your obsession with masculine anti-heroes in current TV and film. What does Breaking  Bad tell us about the state of the modern man?

Natasha Vargas-Cooper: Walter White, thanks to magnificent Bryan Cranston, has quickly ascended into the highest echelon of beloved Manly Men Who Do Bad Things. He is Sopranos status for me. I think what White has—what you see echoed in characters like Don Draper, Tony Soprano, Jim McNulty—is fragmented existence. In their professional lives these men are the masters of their craft and at home they are considered failures.

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/Film will be recapping and discussing each episode of the third season of Breaking Bad. A spoiler warning applies after the jump for the recaps and for the comments section. Meth heads welcome. For previous recaps, click here.

In previous recaps, I have discussed the slower pace and subdued tone of season three, and several Slash readers have noticed the slight change as well. The initial episodes haven’t been subpar or boring, but for the non-diehards and for curious surfers, I imagine Walter White‘s broodiness and the larger-than-life, some have argued “cartoonish,” enigma of the Cousins is off-putting. But overall, the season’s kick-off is realistic. Figurative dust continues to settle after season two’s finale, and several main characters have used the shadow of tragedy to privately search and await a sign, an epiphany, or any justification to grasp at what he or she selfishly desires most.

Aptly titled, “Green Light,” the fourth episode shoves these characters’ ambitions and longings forward, and fans may have noticed the writers lacing the ep with the humor and foreshadowing that hooked us back when Walt still had hair/manners. After the jump, I’ll cease saying anything further about next week’s episode, but I will say it’s even better than “Green Light.” Season three’s slow burn is about to ignite into a highway to hell. (Yay?)

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For Hunter’s reviews/wrap-ups of the previous two episodes of Breaking Bad leading up to last Sunday’s divisive finale, click here for ep 11 (“Mandala”) and here for ep 12 (“Phoenix”).

Now that most everyone has caught up with the season finale of Breaking Bad, entitled “ABQ,” on their TiVo and what not, let’s take a look at what went…down. Actually, for the sake of disclosure, the mini-delay of this write-up is also due to the episode being a surprising disappointment in my eyes. For a series that is deftly founded on madcap realism, the natural awes of science, and the odds of consequence, I found “ABQ” to stretch way beyond the show’s established believability (and viewers’ trust therein).

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Our recap and mini-essay for last week’s Breaking Bad proved surprisingly popular. We’re glad to see so many /Film readers tuning in to this superb AMC series; it’s a show that frantically cooks up smart debate…as well as predictions for several main characters that are exceedingly bleak and exciting. Today, we discuss “Phoenix,” the 12th episode leading up to next Sunday’s whoa-insured finale. Beware of major spoilers below. Feel free to share your theories on the end of season two, or opinions on the show’s growing comparisons with The Wire, in the comments.

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