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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Breaking Bad Deadpool

Earlier this week, I participated in an on-line draft for political scientist Steve Saideman's "Breaking Bad" Deadpool game. Let's begin with a description of the game:
I have twelve players and twenty four characters (at least as far as I can count) who may or may not live to see the end of the Breaking Bad finale.  This means that in the draft (to be explained below), everyone will pick two characters that they think will survive.  Three points for those characters that are alive when the show is over--if the show makes a leap forward in time and has only one character alive, so be it.  One point if they are in a coma or near-death like situation that is unresolved.  Oh, and to make it interesting: -1 point for the first character to die in the final eight episodes.
Oh, and for a three part tiebreaker: you will have to email me at the end of the draft the name of who you think will be the last person killed, how they will be killed and by whom.  
So, this is the list of characters Steve provided for the 12 participants in his  "Breaking Bad" deadpool:
Walt Jr./Flynn (dying under either name counts for both)
Holly (the baby--yes, we have no humanity--Walt lost his, and we lost ours when we rooted for Walt)
Steven Gomez (the DEA sidekick)
Ted Beneke
Skinny Pete
Todd (formerly of Friday Night Lights)
Andrea, Jesse's former girlfriend
Brock (Andrea's kid)
Bogdan (the guy who used to run the car wash)
Kaylee (Mike's grand-daughter)
Group Leader played by Jere Burns--from Jesse's addiction treatment group
Gretchen Schwartz (one of Walt's former business partners)
Lawson (Jim Beaver, the arms dealer)\
Old Joe (the guy with the wrecking yard)
Huell, Saul's bodyguard
Declan, the new drug dealer
I encountered two big problems when I tried to partake. First, Steve did not receive my draft list email until the morning after the draft. I was going out on draft night, so knew I couldn't make live picks. Fortunately, I checked into the results board mid-draft and discovered the problem, so my draft card wasn't a total disaster. More on that later.

Second, I missed this proof-of-life warning: "Folks who never show up in the final eight get bumpkus/zip/zero/nil."

I never really took that warning into account. Indeed, my solution to the first problem was simply to post my complete rank ordering of possible picks on the comments board mid-draft:
Group Leader played by Jere Burns
Gretchen Schwartz 
Lawson (the arms dealer)
Old Joe 
Walt Jr./Flynn 
Ted Beneke
Skinny Pete
Badger (aka Brandon Mayhew)
Steven Gomez 
And now, for the results of the draft:
Players1st pick2nd pick
RobKayleeSteve Gomez
CaitlinSkylerGroup leader
Kelsey HuellBrock
WendyHankSkinny Pete
SaraMarieWalt Jr.  
MattOld JoeLydia
Blue means likely to live and be relevant, red means likely to be dead (using Nate Silver's prediction machine). 
I've got some serious proof-of-life problems with my picks. Steve doesn't mention that Gretchen Schwartz is Walt's ex-girlfriend. Or that she hasn't appeared on the show since April 2009.

Lawson the gun-dealer has been on the show a couple of times in the last two seasons, but actor Jim Beaver strongly implies in a recent interview that he was not invited for additional filming for the last half of season 5.

But there's hope.

First, Gretchen. In a NY Times story from mid-May 2013, actress Jessica Hecht apparently revealed a potential spoiler:
Jessica Hecht was filming in Albuquerque last year, reprising her role as the lost love of Walter White’s youth on the concluding season of “Breaking Bad,” when she got a call from Lynne Meadow, the artistic director of Manhattan Theater Club, asking how soon she could be back in New York for a reading of a new play
Look around on the internet, and you'll find speculation that Walt's cancer is back, which might cause him to connect with his former lover and colleague. Also, some people have suggested that the Walt Whitman poetry book Hank finds in the last episide may have been a gift from Gretchen. The inside note is signed GB. Walter's last name is White and some say her maiden name was Black [White plus Black = company name Gray Matter]. Of course, Schwartz is German for black, so this idea about her initials may just by hooey. Worse series creative force Vince Gilligan says dead meth scientist Gale Boetticher gave Walt the book.

Dunno about all that fun stuff, but I think we'll see Gretchen again.

Second, Lawson the gun dealer appears prominently in the opening sequence of season 5, selling Walt an M60 machine gun and ammunition. This remarkable opening scene was a flash-forward to a time period that we have not yet viewed. Walt has a full head of hair and a beard, along with a false New Hampshire ID and a different vehicle from those we've previously known. This must occur some months into the future after Hank finds the poetry book.

Like Checkhov's gun, the M60 is almost certainly going to figure prominently in the resolution of the series. I'm hoping Lawson himself will re-appear in an extended re-play of that transaction. Potentially, no new filming would have been required for this to happen.

Still, my challenge is significant. These long-lost or minor characters have to appear in the upcoming episodes -- and then they have to survive. This is my tiebreaker scenario:
Last person killed: Walt
Killed: gun battle
By whom: law enforcement
I'm looking forward to the final half-season, which begins August 11.

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