Recurring Cast: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Giancarlo Esposito, Jonathan Banks
Season Four opens with a stalemate between Walter White and Gus Fring. Gus cannot kill Walter, because he is the only one who can create the infamous blue meth that is making all the money in the trade at the moment. However, he is a liability and deserves punishment. As Walter and Jesse wait Gus’s retaliation to the gut-wrenching finale to Season Three, they try and come up with a comeback plan. Can they actually do the unthinkable and kill off the biggest drug distributor in Southern America. Meanwhile, Hank is suffering from his disability, turning into a frustrated cripple, taking his rage out on his wife. Skylar is now a part of the drug conspiracy, working on the money laundering, keeping her family out of the taxman’s suspicions, although she has no idea how deep Walter White has gotten. As Gus takes on the Cartel, Walter White’s days seem truly numbered.
I have run out of ways to tell you how amazing Breaking Bad is. The writing really is one of the most phenomenal I have ever seen on a show. There are too many things to point out in a review that no matter which one I embrace I will never do it justice. I can talk about how Vince Gillian uses the public’s unfair opinion of Skylar to progress her character arc. I can talk about even dead characters continue developing. Sometimes, it is just the symbolism of certain objects, reflecting the current character arcs at play. Everything used it used well and it makes Breaking Bad build up to a really amazing show, one that you just sit back down after and appreciate all the more. Usually, slower, quiet shows get old really fast. Walking Dead revels in slower moments, but after a while, you end up getting fed up of them. I am all for a show taking its time to give its actors and characters something to do, but when it stretches on for too long or these moments crop up one too many times, we get bored of the trick. We never get that with Breaking Bad. I actually found myself doing the opposite. I was waiting with anticipation for these quieter moments, actually wanting Breaking Bad to stop with its story progression for a moment and just hit me with another one of those quiet scenes. I have never felt that with a show before and doubt I ever will again. The quieter approach also makes the endings so much more addictive. When an episode quietly closes, you feel like you need to start the next one up immediately, just to carry on the flow of the story. The direction is phenomenal, the best I have seen on television.
Season Four has a few great moments to watch out for too. I don’t want to spoil any of the twists and turns that Gillian throws at you, but just be aware that they work so well. Breaking Bad is sometimes guilty of skimping on set-pieces, but since Season Three hit us with some great battle scenes, Gillian seems prepared to give us the full Breaking Bad experience. The first episode has a gruesome death sequence that will haunt you for some time. A new villain is introduced, played chillingly by Steven Bauer, the purposefully addition of the Scarface actor not lost symbolically on this audience. The entire scene is played out slowly and in Spanish, yet the show-runners trust our patience enough to treat us to that moment, the tension and surprise being whacked up to a true high. The action is good too. The conclusion to the Cartel storyline is great television and shocks at every turn. The two part finale is jaw-dropping too, as we are hooked to the screen, wondering how everything is going to turn out. At times, you wonder if we are watching the final season, as it becomes impossible to imagine how Walter is going to get out of this situation. You are gripped from the beginning to the end.
The most surprising thing that always gets me about Breaking Bad is Walter White. When people reflect on the show, they get across this image of the leading character that he is this ruthless killer, totally dedicated to protecting his family and evolving into a heartless killer in the process. That is the impression that the merchandise and gossip about the show gives you, even if when you sit down and watch the show, Walter isn’t actually totally like that. In fact, for 90% of the show’s running time, he is a bit of a klutz. He hangs around the show with his mouth slightly agape, looking vacant. He has no idea what he is doing for most of the time and whenever he tries to go out of his way to solve a problem, it usually explodes in his face. Episode Two seems him buy a gun for protection and it quickly becomes clear that this is not a man who can kill on a whim. Any other writer would have jumped a few character turns and made Walter start Season Four (or Season Three), will Walter becoming Heisenberg. He would be this cool figure that everyone seems to think he is. Yet Vince Gillian always wants to remind us that he is this everyday man who makes mistakes just like the rest of us. However, there are moments, brilliant moments, when the writers do give Bryan Cranston a moment to become that cool figure. We can always tell when this is, because the rage settles into his eyes and conviction spreads over his features. Shivers come down our spine, as Walter White becomes unrecognisable, the inner businessman without mercy taking over. These moments are used sparingly and always work. He will always be Heisenberg. He is the one who knocks!
Final Verdict: I barely need to review this anymore. I just need to confirm that it is just as good as befo… better than before and let you get on with diving into brilliant television.