[…] characters and predicaments that are senseless as well as incomprehensible1 leaves people cold. Like BREAKING BAD, THE AMERICANS does not really sustain scrutiny, but BREAKING BAD, though never a hit on the level […]

Not sure why, I've always found scenes including hotwiring a car more distracting that keys/visor, while effortless lock picking and playing the piano really well were skills I've wished I had acquired along the way. Cliches/improbabilities are of course indispensable to dramatic enterprises. Like irony they turn up in real life sometimes with excessive frequency.

Just thought I'd note here that the key-in-the-visor-flap device turns up in CLOUD ATLAS - so some writers are in fact still resorting to it. Gilligan may even have been reminded of it there, for all I know.

That was another point where it could have ended, but the whole discussion makes me think that Deadwood may have had it better after all. The Sopranos ending ends up looking better to me now, too (although I find that the early Sopranos episodes don't).

Digress away. Helps keep up the appearances of a lively blog. Plus I really have always wondered what was up with keys in the flap. I saw it mentioned on cliche lists before I ever noticed it in a movie. Maybe writers were cured of resorting to the device. Or it could be that putting keys in the flap is now rare enough, both in TV-movies and in the real world, that it never occurs to them at all. Gilligan may have thought he could get away with it because it has in fact become less a cliche than an improbability for viewers. Makes me wonder if writing about and identifying with rule-breakers who are degraded by their activity yet somehow achieve victory doesn't tend to have an effect on writers: Gilligan is not just God, but he's also Walt, a really smart criminal whose most outlandish, fanciful, and contrived ideas end up working ridiculously well. I wonder how Walt's total haul - what was it?, $80 Million or so - compares with Gilligan's.

Yeah, I got that the key/visor thing was a minor point. I guess I find it almost interesting because it kinda points to how people can think about security, both personal and national, from different points of view and assumptions, each with an ensuing version of rationality.

Anyway, answering your question, I never key/visor-ed. In HS, there seemed to be a variety of reasons ranging from general stupidity, macho invincibility to making the car easily available to others engaged in a shared criminal enterprise.

As for the snow thing, I don't think that entered it. Shoveling snow really requires pretty limited range of motion surpassed by all kinds of other mundane activities. And I got lots of practice at it growing up between living in Syracuse, and having a long driveway due to a detached garage.

Hope my digression is ok...seems like it's been a while since we've had a really shaggy dog exchange here.

OT, Andrew Kaplan has come up with a prequel to Homeland, giving some background to Carrie, Saul and Abu Nazir, it's set in Lebanon and Iraq mostly, it's pretty good.

Well he's more like the idealized version of Frank Lucas in 'American Gangster, I say the idealized, because the real Frank Lucas, was not as charming as Denzel portrayed him to be, Jacobsen's gloss, is amplified by the screenplay.

In the past when you compared WW to Moriarty, I thought it was off because W was so clearly fallible, so often made errors or found himself in one way or another over his head, and because Moriarty had no family project at all as far as I know. It's the transformation of W into a genre villain that lowers BB, or at least the finale, to B level. Scarface looks like a comparatively more realistic character.

I guess I didn't really think no one ever put their keys in the visor-flap. Could be that in rural areas especially it seemed a better place to put them than in a pocket, especially if you had to do some heavy work shoveling snow. I really have no idea whether it's still done in 2013. Would you ever do it? Anyway, if it was the only or the main thing I disliked about the episode, or the worst thing, I'd have gotten over it pretty easily.

I think I coined 'Moriarty of the SouthWest' since the Scarface comparison that Gilligan has bandied about was too facile, He also resembles a villain from a little known novel by Kyle Mills, Volkov, who is a Romanian born biznismen, who is also operating in plain sight

I've found your posts about BB more interesting than the actual show. I stopped watching after the body/bathtub scene in the first season.

As a note, yes indeed people used to put car keys in the visor. As a teen in late 60's Syracuse, our HS teachers spent some time trying to convince driving students not to leave their car keys in the visor while parked in the school parking lot.

My house was locked with a skeleton key, spare under the welcome mat until I was in college for a couple of years.

None of this refutes your points. Looking back, a version of the breaking fourth wall was a part of why I stopped watching.

No I was referring to the Fly episode, in retrospect, you were right as Marlow put it, Grey and Schwartz did 'contribute to Heisenberg, somewhat like Kurtz.

Walt has destroyed thousands of lives, as part of his livelihood,

You mean the Schwarzes on TV in the prior episode? That was an instance of another Worst Cliche - the crucial info from a TV (or in the old days a radio) at the only possible moment - again, potentially excusable as a one-off, but still incredible. "What are the odds?"

Maybe Uncle Frank should have killed Walt and Jesse both during "Ozymandias," with some hint communicated to Walt that Skyler and Marie would also have to be taken care of. Then we could have had a second, truly horrific series detailing the rise and fall of the neo-nazi empire built with Walt's loot.

Well that was an instance of chaos theory, to wit, the example of a butterfly flapping wings, creating monsoons on the other shore.

Great piece, CK. My favorite sentence:
"Put simply, too much contrivance refers us to TV writers at work, and their revealed presence “breaks the fourth wall” or all the walls, cracks the flat screen."
LOL. A very intelligent, but commonly distracted writer friend of mine thought he had watched the finale when, in fact, he had watched the second to last episode thinking it was the finale. He saw when Walt watches the Blacks with Charlie Rose etc, and thought, "Good for them for just ending it like that--with nothing 'tied up.'"
I explained to him that he had not actually seen the finale and we laughed. My writer friend had been a fan of BB in the early days and lost interest. I told him not to bother with the real finale and regretted having set him straight on the point.