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Channel: AMC
Recurring Cast: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks

The strange thing about the final season of Breaking Bad that for a long time, it doesn’t seem like it has any intent of slowing down. We are left in the aftermath of Gus Fring’s death and rather than cutting and running, Walter White plans of filling this massive gap in the market. The first half of this season sees Walter really become the villain figure, as Jesse Pinkman and Mike try to break out of the game, but his manipulative way of talking keeps dragging them back. His business becomes routine and before long, he has more money than he even knows what to do with. As well as a strong story, we are still be introduced to characters who have a few good seasons of material in them. Lydia is one of the most unusual villains we have had in this show and it makes her endlessly interesting as a new face in the series. She is as heartless as they come, her first introduction being a scene where she tries to force Mike into killing nine people just because they have seen her face around Fring’s drug empire. She has few moments of redemption. However, besides from her actions, she never seems like a villain. She is neurotic, always panicky, and cannot stand the sight of blood. She orders a hit on a few business partners and tucks herself away into the corner of the room, as the bullets thunder overhead. She is the last thing we expect from the bad guy who replaces Gus Fring and, as a result, she is the perfect person to do so. The other interesting new face is Todd. At first, he seems a little bland as a character. He acts as a spare body for some of Walter’s plans and, later on, as Jesse’s character arc takes him away from Walter’s, he could be argued to be little more than a Jesse replacement to keep the story going. However, there is definitely something sinister about his lack of character. A massive character development will come up that leaves the audience reeling, yet Todd takes it in his stride so calmly. Soon his expressionless face and polite manner breaks away into something far darker.

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But the characters we already have are the ones to watch. It is quite clear that this is going to be their swansong, as there won’t be another series of Breaking Bad. Therefore every actor gives it their all, tying up their character arcs neatly with their performances. Bryan Cranston is nothing short of amazing. A theme of this series is that almost every character is reduced to a shell of their former self and no one quite gets that across as Cranston. Even when he has fully transformed into the villainous Heisenberg, he has a sad, pathetic shuffle to his mannerisms. He delivers ultimatums as if there is no other conceivable way. As a result, when his character does eventually get emotional, it hurts so much harder. A phone call in Ozymandias is endlessly upsetting, Cranston’s voice firm and demanding, his expression nothing short of a breakdown. Jesse Pinkman is little more than an angry husk of the bright young kid he once was. Certain frames are breath-taking, when we see just what Aaron Paul’s character has been reduced to, the actor treating Pinkman like a ticking time bomb, which is pretty much one of the main catalysts of the second half of the season. However, my star of the show, which is saying a lot, was Anna Gunn. At the start of the season, her character is more interesting than she ever has been, rejected to the hostage wife lifestyle and too weak to turn herself and her husband into the police. Her teary monologue as she tries to persuade Walter (or is it Heisenberg?) is show-stopping, but just as impressive is the small expressions she makes, as Walter touches her shoulder in bed at night. He sees his family as the perfect American dream, unaware that his wife is terrified of the man he has become. It is one of the more poignant moments of the series.

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So, is the ending just as good as we want it to be? As I said, the show doesn’t seem to be in any rush of budging, but before long, everything begins crumbling apart. And when it does, it does so in moments. In the case of a few episodes, we have gone from the most stable drug empire out there to rushing around, trying to protect the money. There is no clear way out of the situation. The second half of Season Five evolves into a chess game between Walter White, Pinkman, the DEA and many more factors, including a group of hit men that could become the nastier pieces of work in the show’s run time, thanks to a heart-breaking cliff-hanger. Every new development pushes the characters closer and closer to the edge, to the point where every episode could, within reason, be rewritten, so it is the end of the show. However, Vince Gillian endures and his choice ending is fantastic. It is surprising, poetic and… it feels right. I have spent my entire binge-watching of Breaking Bad not wanting it to end, but when it perfects its close as it has, then… it just feels right.

Final Verdict: It ends here. What could potentially be the greatest show of all time, manages to get together one of the best finales of all time. Bravo, Breaking Bad. You will be missed.

Five Stars

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13 thoughts on “Breaking Bad – Season Five: The Review

  1. Nice review Luke, very well written and true and fair.

    The Breaking Bad finale was fantastic, absolutely perfect and couldn’t have gone any other way.

    Having said that, in a way season five was my least favourite.

    To me it was the least ‘fun’ and didn’t have an array of fantastic characters like seasons three and four. I liked Todd a lot – he was the most interesting new character for me. He was SO outwardly cold hearted – yet he loved Lydia! His manner was very interesting.

    It was the darkest season, no doubt about that. All the death, Walter Junior having a hissy fit over his dad. And poor Jesse 😦 some of the scenes with him reminded me of a horror film! (towards the end)

    I never got over the heady delights of the ‘Gus Fring’ days really. That’s when I loved the show more than anything! The launderette, Gus, the “terminator shit”, Mike, the Mexicans….I loved those series SO MUCH!!!!!

    And Saul has always been my favourite character 🙂 are you watching Better Call Saul?

    • *see the next review – and I get your point. The last five episodes were so extreme, there wasn’t much fun to be had. But as a send-off, it worked so well. Season Four is probably the most entertaining for me.

      • Yay! And yeah I do honestly agree the ending was perfect and couldn’t have been better. I just didn’t like the entire series AS much………..I LOVED season four as well! 🙂

        Can’t wait for the next review Oh Oracle You!

  2. I agree that this show has the most talented actors and incredible character arcs. It’s worth watching just to see the character development. I’ve never seen a TV that compares. I know that it’s a great show and everyone loves it but, to be honest, it just isn’t my favourite.

    I enjoyed watching it but I wouldn’t watch it again. I found the story lines (particularly in the first few seasons) to be repetitive and it put me in mind of Dexter, they way that he was always almost getting caught and then he’d find a way out of the situation at the last minute. It takes the suspense out of it if you know that he’ll get out of whatever trouble he’s in, in the end.

    That being said, that is obviously the nature of a show like this, you can’t have him in prison halfway through the first season. I just found that there was a fairly predictable formula and I saw a lot of the plot points coming. I can’t offer any suggestions for improvement because, like I said, that’s the nature of this kind of show. I suppose it’s just not my cup of tea. I will admit that the last season was better for this sort of thing (mostly because it was the last season so there was no holding back).

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said and I understand why people love it and I definitely appreciate it… I’m just not the biggest fan. I am a huge fan of the acting and the characters, to the point where the annoyances I have with the plot are almost overlooked, but not quite.

    Anyways, I have a pretty unpopular opinion when it comes to this show so don’t pay my comment too much attention, haha!

    • No, it’s a valid opinion and welcome on my blog. I love the style of storytelling over anything. This is a show that treasures dialogue over everything else, which rarely works, so Breaking Bad is an impressive risk, and one that was definitely worth taking.

      • Yes, I agree that it is very well written and the dialogue is great, the storyline just wasn’t for me. I can still appreciate it though, so I see exactly where you’re coming from.

  3. I still miss BB. Like you said it was a risk, but it paid off, and I don’t think we’ll see the likes of it again any time soon. I haven’t watched Better Call Saul yet (I saved them up to binge), so can I read your review of it, or are there spoilers?

  4. Talking a lot about the heartbreaking moments – the point where Jessie is “imagining” making furniture and then the truth is revealed – it’s so heartbreaking because of how broken Jessie is by that point.

    Just one of the great moments that makes up this season.

    • I was wondering where that scene was going – the box was mentioned way back in season one – and when the reveal kicked in, yes, I was heartbroken too.

      • I didn’t realise that it had been mentioned before. You just watched and hoped for the best… then bam!

  5. ❤ ❤ ❤ Breaking Bad was just… perfect. Truly. Every single part of it. Great character development, so many little things that made it truly fantastic, great humour, crushing scenes, ridiculous tension and stress and a great cast… I miss it 😦 I am glad they ended it the way they did, it all tied up nicely and was given a proper send off.

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