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Breaking Bad: Season 5.1

Breaking Bad: Season 5.1

What She said:


I need to start by griping.  I had a very hard time even writing this review.   You see, we’re in the final season of Breaking Bad, one of, if not THE best shows on television.  But AMC made the decision to split Season 5 in half, hence the point-1.  There are lots of rumors as to why.  I’m convinced it was just to make me mad.  Whatever the rationale, the first half of the season concluded with a run of 8 episodes airing from July to the first week of September.  These 8 flew by super-fast, and it just doesn’t seem that enough really happened to write a full review on.  That said, we’ll have to wait until next summer to see the final 8.  Pure craziness.  How patient do they think we are? 

So there’s your background.  And if you don’t know the basic premise of Breaking Bad then shame on you—you shouldn’t be skipping forward to a Season 5 review and spoiling things for yourself.  I suggest you pick up the Season 1 DVD and start at the beginning—don’t even Wikipedia it—spoilers hurts on this show.  For those of you who are caught up or considering watching Season 5, know that things are progressing well.

Breaking Bad: Season 5.1

And here are your spoilers: The once conflicted Walter White has become more evil and power hungry than ever before.  Even Jesse Pinkman, who used to really not care about anything, is terrified of him.  Walt has become self-serving, unethical, and cold.  Season 5.1 catches us up with Walt as he moves forward with establishing his own meth enterprise, one that he can fully control in equal partnership with Jesse and hit-man Mike Ehrmantraut.  But the once cautious Walt seems to have become a bit irrational.  He’s flaunting his wealth a little too much, taking on risky endeavors, and encroaching on others’ territory.  In addition, the DEA, under the leadership of Walt’s brother-in-law Hank Schrader, has been following Mike very closely.  So far, Mike has been shaking them pretty well, but it’s only a matter of time until someone slips up.  I won’t say how things begin to go awry for Walt, but know that his life, both at work and at home, continues to fall apart, and the first half of the season ends with a big revelation.

Breaking Bad’s success has always been its marvelous “real” characters that are superbly acted.  Season 5.1 is no exception.  Bryan Cranston has turned a corner with Walt that I never really imagined possible, and it’s a feast for your eyes.  Aaron Paul’s Jessie Pinkman has come a long way as well.  The dynamic between him and Walt has changed so much since the earlier seasons, and there is one scene in particular from this season, involving Walt’s wife Skyler (Anna Gunn), that is particularly prickly.  It may be one of my favorite TV moments.  Jonathan Banks does an excellent job as Mike, and Dean Norris and Betsy Brandt are as entertaining as ever as Hank and Marie.  I love Marie as the semi-clueless but always entertaining sister-in-law.  I relish every moment that the character of Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) is onscreen.  He’s the best sleezy lawyer on TV. 

You can feel the tensions and the world spinning out of control in Season 5.1.  It leaves me curious to know how it all will end next summer.  If only I could wait that long…

Thumbs up.


What he said:


This review contains spoilers from both this season and last. You’ve been warned.

Well, here we are folks. The final season of Breaking Bad is upon us(sort of). Where do they go after last season’s jaw-dropping finale? Part of me is still in shock that Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) is dead. The character was only in 26 of the show’s 62 episodes, but he had such an impact in that time. Hell, I still reminisce about the episodes with Tuco (Raymond Cruz) as well. That crazy SOB still sticks in my memory as if he’s been around the whole time. He may have only been in 4 episodes, but he was a memorable character. That’s what Breaking Bad does; it makes the most out of everything. So by comparison, Gus was pretty much the bad guy of all bad guys as far as the show is concerned. He was the same man who took out an entire cartel by himself after all. So when a show kills off its main antagonist and there is still a full season remaining, you have to wonder what direction it’s headed in.

Breaking Bad is a smart show though and they are always thinking of this kind of stuff. Gus may be gone, but his death doesn’t go unnoticed by both the authorities and his competition. His enforcer Mike is still around and plays a big role in the first half of the final season; which is good because the actor is excellent in the role.

Breaking Bad: Season 5.1

Gus is gone and Walt (Bryan Cranston) has aspirations of continuing to sell his product and grow it into an empire. The only problem is that Gus was his sole method of distribution. Mike (Jonathan Banks) still has a lot of connections, but also happens to hate Walt. He thinks Walt is a loose cannon and is ready to kill him on-sight. Jesse (Aaron Paul) convinces him that they have bigger fish to fry; like eliminating any evidence that ties them to Gus’ operation. After that, they also somehow manage to convince Mike to become a partner in their business ventures. The DEA is hot on Mike’s tail and has recently frozen his off-shore accounts, as a result of suspecting him of being employed by Gus. This essentially “forces” Mike back into the business. He hates Walt and is livid at him for costing him money, but also realizes he now has none. So the uneasy alliance and storyline for the season – the first half at least – is set.

In order to get this business venture off they ground they need a few things, and with that comes some new characters. Lydia (Laura Fraser) is an office worker who was supplying Gus with materials he used to create his state of the art meth lab. You would think that a character that doesn’t make her appearance until the last season would be nothing more than an afterthought or throwaway. But, she is actually quite entertaining.She is eager to make a buck, appears to have no ethics, and is a nervous wreck (which can be quite amusing at times). Humorous doesn’t describe Todd (Jesse Plemons) in the least bit though. When we first meet this character, he helps out with Walt and Jesse’s mobile meth operation, and we think he’s nothing more than a minor henchman. But as we learn later on, he is much more disturbed than we originally thought. While not funny in the slightest, he is one of those characters that reminds you the drug-dealing business is not a nice one.

Breaking Bad has always had this ability to blend the violent, ugly side of life with the more amusing ones (like this or this). I mean take a look at that second clip. There are nine words to the entire clip. Two of the three characters don’t even say a word, yet it’s utterly hilarious. It is also has a very slick and stylish way of telling a story that makes you - not necessarily forget, but not care - that you are watching people do these terribly violent things.

It will be very interesting to see how things shape up for the second half of the final run; because we all know Walt isn’t done cooking. His ego won’t let him.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on September 10, 2012.

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