It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything regarding “Breaking Bad”. As some of you may or may not know, seeing as I missed the show when it first was on the air, now that I have Netflix I decided to go back and review each season. I took a small hiatus after the third season to focus on other things, but I’ve finally returned to the show.
The show has been hailed by many to among the best TV shows of all time. The first season I didn’t quite see it yet. I thought it was finely made however still not quite in the upper echelons of Television history yet. An advantage that TV shows have over movies is you can take several seasons to build up your characters and story. So even if your first season isn’t amazing, it doesn’t necessarily destroy your show. “Breaking Bad” already had a head with a great first season even if it didn’t show it’s true greatness yet. Season two was a big step up in quality, and the third season was even better than the second. Each season has gotten better written, acted and has had a increasingly darker tone.
Now entertaining its fourth season, we have truly seen the troupe of greatness. This show continues to refine itself with an intense season opener and an ending you won’t soon forget. The season shows the characters making decisions in their lives on almost biblical levels. The actors are firing on all cylinders, while the writers seem to be able to craft great stories on command. When people complain that there is no good shows on Television, they clearly haven’t viewed this program or this season.
After surviving Gus’s wraith, Walter and Jessie continue their lives on somewhat separate paths. Skyler and Walter attempt to buy a car wash for money laundering purposes, while Jessie seems to become cold and distant from everything else. Gus and Mike however have different plans for Jessie as they attempt to bring him in as one of their own and turn him and Walter on one another. Meanwhile Walter’s DEA brother in law, Hank, starts his own investigation on Gus and his entire operation. With the pressure mounting Walter tries to stay a few steps ahead of Gus but it becomes increasingly apparent to him that he and Jessie must kill Gus.
Once again the writing in this show gets increasingly better. The dialogue is sharp, the characters continue to develop, and the stakes keep rising, but not to outrageous levels. Understandably, many TV fans sometimes get worried if their show might “jump the shark”. What we mean by “jump the shark” is as simply put, the characters or the story doing something completely outrageous and/or ridiculous that had no previous build up or place in the show. With each passing season, in trying to stay fresh and keep coming up with new material to interest the viewer, the writers of the show might try write something in of that nature that completely “jump the shark”. This show does not have that problem.
The tone and it’s plot is kept consistent from the first three seasons. Sure, with each passing season the show may be getting darker, and the stakes keep getting higher, none of it is outrageous. It just continues that roller coaster moving up the tracks getting higher and higher but it’s all done gradually with proper development. If your roller coasters tracks shoot up too quickly, the roller coaster will derail and fall backwards. “Breaking Bad” is like a carefully constructed roller coaster that keeps the coaster moving at a proper pace and incline without moving too quickly or sharply.
Another thing I can say is, thank god for Netflix and the recent trend of binge watching. I cannot imagine having to wait a whole other week to see the next episode after certain ones have ended. The last 4-5 episodes are so riveting and leaving hanging, wanting more, that you’ll be reaching for your remote or game controller (or however else you choose to watch this show now) wanting to get the next episode on. All of which leading to the absolute incredible season finale that in some ways feels like a series finale. The stakes and tension get that high for the characters.
The line between good and evil, right and wrong is once again blurred. Real life does not work in absolutes and neither does the show. The characters that are the protagonists have to make choices that you wouldn’t agree with, and the antagonists make choices that seem morally just and vice versa. It challengers the viewer to see things from different perspectives and this what some of the best written stories in all media do. Good vs. Evil works in certain kinds of genres and types of stories, but in a show such as this it can’t abide by those conventions and it doesn’t.
The acting continues to shine. Bryan Cranston takes his performance to a level that you didn’t even existed as the high school chemistry teacher turned drug dealer, Walter “Hinesburg” White. He continues into darkness and madness with scenes showing his character sometimes tethering between the lines of sanity and insanity. Aaron Paul continues to dazzle as Jessie Pinkman, Walter’s partner in crime (and former high school student). In the beginning of the season, his character is in a very cold and distant place. He doesn’t seem to care about anything, not even his own personal safety. Under Mike’s wing, his character goes in some unexpected places as Walter’s and Jessie’s relationship will be tested like never before. It all reaches fever pitch for both of them in one crucial scene that had me watching in awe as these two actor’s worked incredible emotions and tension into that very scene.
The supporting cast continues to excel. Anna Gunn steps it up as Skyler White, and plays a more significant role than ever. Dean Norris does great work as Hank Shrader. Hank brings himself out of his own self pity to get back on the job, one that could cost him his life. Giancarlo Esposito has never been so good as the methodical crime boss Gus Fring. I could go on and on, listing off every major actor but the short version they are all excellent and do a good job.
Each season has gotten progressively better, it ‘s hard to imagine season 5 being as good as this one. “Breaking Bad” season 4 builds upon everything that comes before it. The acting and direction is terrific, the writing is among the best around and the show’s integrity remains. This is a tough act to follow but I’m sure creator Vince Gilligan was up for the challenge, bring on season 5.