Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Breaking Bad Season Four Finale

Season Four of Breaking Bad wrapped up this week, and what a season it’s been! For some reason, I was under the impression that this was the final season, and the suspense and cliff-hangers built into each episode helped support that false belief. I’m grateful that we’re going to have one more season—I love this show! But I’m also apprehensive because seriously, how are they going to top this season?

If you’re unfamiliar with the AMC hit, first of all, shame on you! But rest easy—you can get the early episodes on DVD. The show’s two main characters are Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher, and Jesse Pinkman, a low-level meth cook and dealer. Walter finds out in the pilot episode that he has lung cancer, and his prognosis is bad. His wife is a writer who makes little if anything working from home. Together, they have a son, Walt Junior, who’s in high school, and who has cerebral palsy. Plus, the Whites are expecting a new baby. They’re in debt and have no assets. Walter’s worried about how his family will get along once he’s dead.

Then he takes a ride with his DEA brother-in-law, Hank, and watches the good guys bust a meth lab. While Walter watches the raid from the car, he sees his former, way-underperforming student, Jesse, jump from a window and elude the police. Walt’s a smart guy and a great chemist. He has a general understanding of how much money can be made from cooking and selling meth, and he has the know-how to produce it. Jesse, obviously, has the beginnings of a marketing network. Together, they form a (criminal) partnership and the fun begins.

In the first two seasons, Walt and Jesse go up against characters of all types—vicious and lethal, bumbling and hilarious, sad and stupid. The minor characters add layers to the story and help develop Walter and Jesse’s characters further. And then they meet Gus Fring at the end of Season Two.

Gus offers them a job that seems like it’s too good to be true. Well, you know what they say about things seem too good to be true, dontcha? Throughout Season Three, the enigma that is Gus begins to grow claws and teeth. During this last season, Gus shows us his worst, and brings out the worst in Walt and Jesse in the process.

I loved the way the final episode of Season Four ended. I loved the way certain plot lines were wrapped up and the way they implicated Walt at the end in a crime that I just can’t believe—and yet I have to believe—he committed.

Next season will likely be a battle of values—trust, love, and honor—between Walt and Jesse. Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are phenomenal actors, so I have no doubt their portrayals of these constantly evolving characters will be worth watching. I hope, though, when it’s all said and done—for good—this time next year, that I won’t be wishing Breaking Bad had ended this week with “Face Off.”

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