“Are we in the meth business or the money business?”
With the final episodes about to air in August, this doesn’t only end the run of a great TV show, but it also ends the run of a series that has been a staple in this golden age of television we are in. I don’t believe you’ll find anyone that could argue against the impact Breaking Bad has made to the television landscape since its premiere in 2008. For me season 4 of Breaking Bad is hands down one of the greatest seasons of television I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching, and I happily put it in the company of other greats like The Wire, The Shield, Lost, and Justified. The only problem I have, or foresee, is how do you bring it all to an end? After all one look at the fan reaction to the conclusion to The Shield, The Sopranos, or Lost, it’s impossible to satisfy the masses.
After the explosive conclusion of season 4, season 5 takes a mini leap into the future with Walter (Bryan Cranston) in a Denny’s celebrating his 52nd birthday. The breakfast is anything but random as it turns out, considering he’s waiting for the very man who armed him in season 4 with the snub nose, but this time Mr. White is purchasing something bigger and with a lot more punch. It’s this opening that gave me hope for what’s to come, but instead it was all just a tease, since everything jumps back to when Walt gave Skyler (Anna Gunn) the call after Gus’s demise at the end of season 4.
Getting to see Walter and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) work through their issues, personal and business-wise, is part of the charm that makes the show work. Creator Vince Gilligan and his writing team have always managed to keep White and Pinkman as more than simple meth cookers, but always as men in conflict with their own conscience. Both men fully accept their mistakes and know their hands are dirty with the blood of others, but both seem to maintain the chance at redemption. Unfortunately redemption seems out of the question.
Season 5 (at least the first 8 episodes) shows us White and Pinkman going into business together with Mike (Johnathan Banks), who seems to want to retire but just can’t seem to catch a break. Personally Mike is my favorite character, and what Banks has done with the role is impressive to say the least, watching as he plays through a scene, how he can show his respect and admiration for Pinkman without saying a word…seriously, he’s like the sweet old grandfather that whacks “bad” guys between breakfast and taking his granddaughter to the park. The decision to put Mike in charge of the business side of things was brilliant, but you just know Walter won’t be able to simply let it be. As for how White and Pinkman get back to cooking, that is something so cool and clever it’s better to be watched than to have spoiled.
The highlight of the season is episode 5 Dead Freight. Keeping details to a minimum, just imagine Walter, Pinkman, and Mike working together to pull off a heist on a freight train. If that’s not enough to have your eyebrows arched with a smidgeon of curiosity, then I’m not sure what could. The unfortunate aspect of what we’ve gotten to see of this season, though, is that sadly, this is about as close as we get to the intensity that we got in season 4. There are moments that come close, for instance when Walter attempts to help Mike dodge the DEA, but the payoff…for me, at least, it didn’t sit well. Of course there is more going on in the show, for instance Skyler seems to be having a meltdown after the events that took place in season 4. Skyler seems to be a point of debate with fans on how she is acting towards her husband. For me I see her side of things and feel she is acting out in the best interest for her family. After all who wouldn’t be scared after hearing Walter’s infamous “I am the danger” speech only to discover he’s responsible for the deaths of at least three men?
And then there is Hank (Dean Norris), who seems like Mr. Magoo for not being able to figure out his brother-in-law is involved in the meth business. Seeing Hank out of bed and recovering is a great thing, and seeing him work the investigation probing deeper into the businesses that funded Gus’s meth empire is actually engaging finally. But I feel it’s too late in the game to be bringing Hank in as a possible threat to Walter and everyone around him.
Sure, we all have our theories as to what will end up happening to Walter, but is him being taken down by his brother a serious possibility anyone actually wants? I understand this cannot end well for Walter, and after watching more than a fair share of films about drug dealers and gangsters, they tend to always end with them dead or in cuffs. Walter deserves both, though his intentions at first were understandable, cooking meth to simply pay his medical bills, but along the way greed and the hunger for power changed the man I think in the beginning we all were rooting for.
In August we’ll get to see how the final chapters will end for these characters, and I’ll be watching eagerly anticipating how this story will come to a close. Bear in mind when rating this, I’m rating a story that has not yet been completed. Do I enjoy what I’ve seen thus far for this season? I sure did, but sadly at this point it does not live up to the previous season. And I do believe season 4 was a flawless season. The final 8 episodes I’m sure will leave a mark upon the television landscape; hopefully the conclusion will be one to live up to all the expectations.
“Say my name”