Monday Morning Critic – Breaking Bad Season 6, Episode 1 Review (Spoilers, Discussion) – Ronda Rousey, Retirement, MMA & Movies

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One of the big stories this week in the MMA world was the non-story of Ronda Rousey’s “retirement,” talk which came out of the usual lines of reason: Rousey is going to be in two films by the end of the year, in training camp overseas while doing so, as Fast & Furious 7 and The Expendables 3 are both going to be shooting this fall for a summer 2014 release. The talk always comes about for an attractive WMMA fighter because of how Gina Carano left fighting for movies, teasing a return but never doing anything substantial about it.

And of course all the usual speculation came out and Rousey discussing how she could be out in two years, and then walking it back to saying she wants to “accomplish all her goals first” before leaving for motherhood, et al. it’s a walk back, of course, because no athlete talks about retirement until it’s time to leave career wise. Athletes as a whole walk away after their peak, not before, and Rousey isn’t walking away from MMA for a career as the latest tough gal de jour until being an actress is more lucrative than being a fighter.


And right now being a fighter will pay her a ton more than being an actress … as well as maintain and probably increase her Q-rating, et al. So far she’s known by the MMA community and not much more beyond that. The one thing a lot of hardened MMA fans tend to forget is that MMA is a niche sport, a growing niche sport, but a niche one nonetheless. Trying to transition from that into something that isn’t physically related, like becoming a pro wrestler, is more difficult because the popularity of MMA isn’t quite pro football, basketball, et al. The

The fact that Carano has managed to find a career in film, despite having no actual talent despite being insanely attractive, is fairly remarkable. She managed to find some fame from American Gladiators, et al, but was always the ‘hot chick who does MMA” before Steven Soderbergh put her into Haywire. She turned out to be such an awful actress they dubbed over her lines with someone else’s, of course, and she looked just as awful as the rest of the Fast & Furious cast in the latest sequel to that film.


The key to all this is trying to understand Rousey’s scenario. Zuffa and Dana White want Rousey fighting regularly because she’s their ticket to expanding the fan base. There’s only so far that getting famous via sports will take her in something that isn’t football, basketball and baseball. The big three aren’t going away; Zuffa’s deal with Fox is something that Roger Goodell and the NFL would call “a nice start” and don’t expect that to change anytime soon. The money for a pro fighter is substantial, of course, but a high level actress can command more for less work.

It’s why Carano left when she did .. And it’s why Rousey is looking at the prospect of acting more sooner than later. The money in MMA wasn’t worth the hassle for Carano, who probably makes about the same cash with no where near the work ethic needed to be a top line fighter. Being an ancillary character in an action film franchise dominated by other, more established actors is infinitely easier than being the best at anything; it doesn’t take nearly as much work and effort to have a handful of scenes as opposed to having to carry a whole film.

Rousey’s in a better spot than Carano was when she left MMA, of course, therein lies the problem.


Rousey can make more money fighting than she can as an actress over the next two years. Nothing she can do as an actress will make for her in a single moment what fights against Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg and others will do for her financially. She can make more for a single fight than she will for a single film when all is said and done.

Hollywood may be progressive politically but they’re top heavy when it comes to earning power. Only a rare handful make in the seven figures or more for a film; once you get beyond the third or fourth lead in a film (which is where Rousey would be at best) the pay scale isn’t so wonderful. As much as Hollywood loves talking about equality, et al, the people at the top get the lion share of the revenue.

When Dana White talks about how Rousey will make more fighting than she could acting he’s absolutely right; a $200 million blockbuster isn’t going to give her a big salary with nothing proven in that area, especially considering the flops of this past summer. When Hollywood starts losing money with proven draws like Johnny Depp, who doesn’t come cheap, you can be sure that they won’t be investing heavy in new talent that doesn’t have at least one significant role in a big film.


The crazy thing is right now is the absolute perfect time for her to leave to become an actress and not look back. Hollywood is still insanely sexist in how it views women and the roles for women over 35 get fewer as the years go by. There’s a reason why actresses like Kate Beckinsale, among others, have taken throwaway roles as wives and girlfriends on a consistent basis: the number of roles for women decrease as they age.

As a fight fan I hope she stays until there’s nothing left for her to conquer. As a film fan … that question can be a bit more loaded.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge


This Week’s DVD TV Show Episode – Breaking Bad (Season 6, Episode 1)

I’m not really a TV recapping kind of person, I admit, but frankly I didn’t watch anything on DVD this week and have nothing in the hopper to throw in here. Thus, with the last season of Breaking Bad under way, I figured it’d be a fun time to discuss the direction of the final season of the show. Plus with the first episode unfolding how it did … it’s time to talk. Long form, if you will.

I didn’t get into it when it first came out for no real good reason; there probably was something else on or some stupid excuse like that. There never was a good excuse to not watch it; just an excuse. Mainly laziness, most likely. I remember glossing it over during Jordan Breen’s once legendary Friday afternoon chats on, waiting for the talk of the show to die down before we could get back to talking about the minutia of MMA, but always thought I’d get to the show sometime in the future.

And then I moved and wanted to reward myself for buying a house. Amazon had a deal, et al, and after picking up seasons 1 and 2 for a song I power watched them. And when I stopped season 2 I just had to continue watching, which at the time was 2am on a Wednesday. One trip to Wal-Mart later and I was watching Season 3 at nearly 4am. Yeah … the show got me hooked in a way that only great binge-watching can do.

I reviewed Season 1, right here even, but I need to qualify why I watched it because I kind of short-changed the review. Late nights, etc, so sometimes you have to cut things short.

There’s something inherently cinematic about the fall .. and fall … and fall … and fall of Walter White. I’ve heard it described as Goodbye Mr. Chips meets Scarface but I’ve always liked to think of it as Mr. Holland’s Meth Leb. Mainly because that title is funnier, I think, but it’s always a bit more appropriate. Chips was about a grade school teacher in Britain and Holland was a high school teacher; the life path of Mr. Holland and Mr. White are similar to a point as well. Both took high school teaching jobs for the money and wound up staying for much longer than they intended; the final results changed significantly but the basic premise is much closer.


Plus Holland is an American and a bit more relevant for a modern audience, perhaps, as Chips is a significantly older film. Most people don’t get the reference unless they love older films; Chips is nearly 75 years old. A good chunk of the audience of Breaking Bad made jokes about Mr. Holland’s Opus like my friend Jess did when we were in college.

“What a waste in futility for Mr. Holland; he spends all those years writing this great symphony and it turns out to be a cheap Yanni rip-off.”

Walt is such a cinematic character you don’t see it, I can imagine, if you spent most of the past couple years just watching the show weekly. It’s a slow decline into evil; if you binge watch it there’s a clear, linear progression to it that just develops at a faster pace. That’s mainly because when you knock out episodes en masse it feels like a really long movie instead of a television show. You get to see the character development and what Vince Gilligan had in store; there’s a unity of story to it.

This is a show that’s been steered to this exact point from episode 1; there’s too much cleanliness for the show to get here on accident. This isn’t a case of something like The Wire, which had its first four season finales set up almost like series finales until the fifth season did it properly; it could’ve ended as each season had its plotlines tied into a bow.

Breaking Bad never felt like that and season six, or the second half of season five if you will, starts us out after Walter White has left the drug business. He’s banked more money than he could ever spend, probably, and now it’s time to walk away. But life doesn’t happen like that, unfortunately, and now it seems like the business that he walked away from desperately wants him back. Walt wants to be a car wash king with Skylar, in order to laundry the $100 million or so he’s accumulated from his empire building.


He’s truly trying to be a full time working stiff, which is amusing in its own right, as he’s left behind the whole drug-making life to be an honest man again.

Throw in Jesse Pinkman unable to live with him, or the money, and we have a setup of unimaginable proportions for the next seven episodes. I found the flash forwards interesting as well; obviously something completely bat-guano crazy happens and Walt is presumed dead at some point. Something big is going to be happening … but I have this feeling it’s going to be something so nutty that the internet collapses on itself for a moment. Plus you have the reveal to end all reveals … in a scene that probably will earn Bryan Cranston another Emmy. And maybe Dean Norris, too.

Hank knows who Walt really is … and Walt knows that Hank knows.

The final confrontation in the garage that ended the episode, along with the added perk of Walt’s cancer back (and apparently worse than before) was just insanely epic. I’m still blown away by just what a moment that was. Hank had a wild hair up his ass and the tension was really well built up until that moment when Walt pulls into the driveway. The tension was so well done and when Hank hits the garage door closing … there was a feeling of dredd.

What a great episode … highest recommendation possible.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Jobs – A biopic of the Apple founder … portrayed by Ashton Kutcher

See it – Kutcher has a very punchable face, of course, but it’s an interesting casting choice for one of the guys who changed the world with technology. I’m curious if Kutcher, who is the poster boy for the bro/d-bags of the world, can pull it off.

Kick-Ass 2 – Aaron Johnston and Chloe Moretz are back … this time McLovin has become a super villain. Shenanigans ensue.

See it – The first was pretty good and the second so far promises to up the ante.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler – The Precious director brings his exploitation level comedy shenanigans to the White House. Seriously … John Cusack as Nixon would be the worst casting choice of most films … and he’s maybe the fifth worst in this film.

Skip it – This is the film all the usual suspects will claim is the best thing ever, et al, and turns out to be just like Precious and The Paperboy: an exercise in seeing just how far name actors will degrade themselves.

Paranoia – Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford get into corporate battles over something with Thor’s little brother.

Skip it – Oh god does this look like a piece of steaming hot trash.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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