Sunday, September 15, 2013

Breaking Bad macarons and new review



Like so many other people at the moment I am in the middle of the 'Breaking Bad' last few episode mania, every episode that comes out only serves to make the craving stronger, I need to know what's going to happen, I need to know. Safe is to say the obsession has been reignited and with the imminent end approaching all too quickly (yet not quickly enough somehow) it feels like it's a flame so strong that it engulfs everything.



All of this is just a long-winded excuse as to why I felt the need to make Breaking Bad inspired macarons. The summer is over and therefore macarons will soon seem quite out of season, for me anyway. Therefore as one last moment of delicious hurrah of this summer I decided to make  my Breaking Bad cookies from pistachio macarons.

How to make them suitably Breaking Bad themed. I decided to attempt to make them like the elemental symbols in the logo. For this of course they would need to be green, hence the pistachio. However it appears that macarons resist being square (duh, I guess), still they were moderately successful.

Perfectly round, oblong, kinda square?!
To further emphasize the theme I think it essential to include the signature blue powder. Now before you get ahead of yourself - NOT the real deal, but instead my drug of choice - sugar!
To create the blue substance I mixed 50g caster with 2 pinches of salt and 2 drops of blue food colouring gel. The result is a pleasing sky blue powder that I would like to think resembles the ground down meth.

Whaja think? Wanna try?!
So the macarons... I used the same recipe that I always use which you can find here but this time I replaced half the ground almonds with ground roasted pistachios. As you can see from the photos the inside of the macarons is a vivid green but the outside is much paler green/brown, therefore to make the sign I used the inside, remove the bottom and pipe on the letters to have the cream lettering against the green background. However as you can see they are not square, but they are deliciously cool!! (no? maybe....ok)


 The filler is a simple vanilla butter-cream, that I thickened with extra icing sugar  so that it doesn't come out the sides of the macarons. Once the pictures were taken each macaron was filled in and sandwiched, then the sides were dipped in the blue powder.


So lets talk season five part 2. I said in a previous review that 'Breaking Bad,' is like a Shakespearean tragedy. We already know it will end badly and yet with every passing episode we continue to convince ourselves that things might be ok. We are given glimpses of a dismal future but years and years of Disney movies and WB shows have indoctrinated us with a belief that there can be a last minute turn around, our hero will always prevail. However no Disney movie prepared us to have a psychotic hero, to root for the bad guy. In fact no other tv-show has prepared us for this one. 

I've spoken before about the addictive nature of this show. I thoroughly enjoy the ironic experience of being completely addicted to a show about drugs, an addiction so strong that it will interfere with your daily life. As with any addiction it worsens and reaches a low where the addict becomes desperate when they cannot get a 'fix'. In this final part of the final season the watching experience is no different. Every episode ends on a cliff-hanger, with each cliff-hanger getting more and more intense. By s5e16 we are absolutely on the edge of said cliff ready to jump because we can't see how to make it through the next week without knowing!

This next section is spoilers abound so if you are not up to date on the show, stop reading here (and catch up now) - 


We pick up where we left off at the end of season five part 1, Hank has just realized that Walter is Heisenburg, so how will he react. Well its Hank, so it's fairly safe to say that he has to go all Harriet the spy again which sets the stage for an epic chess battle between Hank and Walter. This leads to some of the funniest moments in the season to date (not to mention a memorable meme).

Walter's character appears to be less stable than he has been to date. Where at the end of last season we saw him as a character who was steadily progressing his status as a big player, with an underlying motivation to achieve the success that once eluded him. Now he seems to have done something of a 360'. It's difficult to see his motivation clearly. He almost appears to vacillate between the manipulative heart-less business mogul and the man who loves his family more than anything and will go to the end of the earth to provide them into the future. It is revealed in the first episode of part 2 that his cancer is back and much like this cancer it appears that Walter has been re-infected with his humanity. Once again the foreboding from the flash-forward pre-rolls enters our minds and one must wonder if this characteristic is being re-visited now to emotionally prepare us to experience the depth of the tragedy to come.

Jesse is spinning wildly out of control (quite in character for him) and as per usual everyone is underestimating him. Jesse has always been a key player; Walter can't cook without him, won't continue operating without him. This season it appears that all Jesse's loyalty to Mr White is being eroded. At the end of s5 part 1 he had reached a stage where he appeared to need to end this relationship. But a bond like theirs doesn't just sit happily in obscurity, and the slightest push can turn bro-mance to hatred. Considering the foundations of this particular relationship, I wouldn't be surprised if there was enough fuel there to burn everything to the ground!  Skyler is coming into her own. She has embraced the life and has decided to support Walter and this season she is having to face a choice between her loyalty to Walter and her other family. This is a pivotal moment for Skyler and her transition from passive 'victim style' participant to active decision maker may change our view of her as a character.


Another character of interest in this season is Todd. As we saw from part 1 Todd played a key role in breaking Walter and Jesse apart. Now Todd wants to be the new Jesse. He tried (unsuccessfully) to cook with Walter in Jesse's place, he tried to learn from Walter and as we will see he is now trying to be the new cook. However what's most interesting about Todd is his unique combination of innocence and sociopathy. In a review by Firewall and Iceberg (19-08-13) they interestingly explored the choice of Brian Cranston for the role of Walter White and pointed to the idea that Cranston's public identification as the zany but loveable father from 'Malcolm in the middle,' is essential in our perception of Walter White. That it is the differences between these two iconic characters that helps us as an audience build a more complex view of Walter White as a person. Thus allowing us to excuse some of his more immoral behaviour. If this is the case then Jesse Plemons appearance being so much like Matt Damon is a very deliberate move to confuse the viewer. Todd is a living juxtaposition. His appearance makes the audience think of any/every Matt Damon role we have seen; upstanding, loving, earnest and hard-working young man. He matches this with many of his actions; his eagerness to work with Walter, to please Mike initially and Lydia subsequently. He reeks of innocence at times, e.g. in e15 when he genuinely offers to have his uncle talk to the foreign buyers, like a child who runs to their parent to fix every problem. However all of this is in stark contrast to the vicious and violent acts in which he engages/participates. Unlike Walter however, we have not been able to build a complex view of Todd. Like a classic psychopath we are presented with the extremes of his character from the outset and there is not progression up to violence and no remorse afterwards. If you follow me to this point I would posit that Todd's entire position in the show is to embody the negative part of both Jesse and Walter's motivations and as such, through contrast, to highlight the best of their characters. Like Jesse he's in it for the money but unlike Jesse and like Walter he has no limit to what he is willing to do but he lacks the honourable pursuits of acting to provide for others.




All in all watching the final section of the final season of Breaking Bad is an assault on the mind and emotions of the viewer. It seems that much like the experience of watching this show has been simultaneously a stimulating, sensational and yet dangerously addictive experience, the finale is lining up to be a uniquely traumatic and lasting experience that few shows could replicate.

References
Firewall and Iceberg (19-08-13) only plays in IE - http://www.hitfix.com/the-fien-print/listen-firewall-iceberg-podcast-no-197

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