This week represents the return of Breaking Bad for the latter half of its fifth and final series. Breaking Bad is the brainchild of Vince Gilligan and follows the story of high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Brian Cranston) as he discovers he has months to live and reconnects with one of his lost flock to start cooking methamphetamine to build a nest egg for his family.
I first got into Breaking Bad because the concept seemed so incredibly bizarre it had to be good. I knew of Cranston as the hapless father in Malcolm In The Middle and the idea of him ‘breaking bad’ was just as ridiculous to me as it was to Jesse Pinkman. What happened is that I discovered one of the most intense and brilliant television shows of the last decade. After getting the first season on DVD I borrowed the second and watched the third and forth on LoveFilm and Netflix at the time the fifth series was being aired. It was exciting to know there was so much content to get through, so many places it could go, so many drug lords to be toppled and misadventures for Walt and Jesse. What happens to Walt and what happens to the series as a whole is that it continues to draw darker, like an approaching dusk. The deaths in the first series, particularly the acid bath have a near humour to them, like a Laurel & Hardy sketch, with corpses but as Walt bumbles his way into things you can’t help but be drawn to what he does, after all it is essentially good. Is it wrong to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family? Is it wrong to cook meth to cover your family in the event of your death?
Walt does break bad and he just gets badder. He is the one who knocks. He is the danger.
What is executed so well is how believable this change in his character is, after all this is a development we have seen over four and a half series. The shy and retiring Walter White, high school teacher and cancer patient is not the same as the W.W. who gets things done. He seems so calculated and malicious and yet we are all still there for him, on his side and waiting to see how it played out after the incredible cliffhanger of Walt’s DEA agent brother-in-law Hank having a eureka moment on the toilet and realising the great Heisenberg he had been chasing was sat outside eating BBQ.
The new episode did not disappoint. There are already clues to what could happen to Walt and his family as the sun sets on one of the most stunning and fantastically written series I’ve ever seen. At one point Walt even muttered the immortal line ‘to be continued’, practically to camera and we know where it’s going and can’t wait to see that showdown. The flashforwards continue to drip information like a crack in a dam but we will get there.
The only disappointing thing at this stage is we are sat waiting for Sunday, for the next episode. There is no backlog for the majority of people anymore. Much like the product of the desert-bound RV, we are hooked.