Posted by: markfender | October 19, 2011

Breaking Bad – Face Off

Remember when I said that I didn’t know how they were going to top that episode? Well, they did.

It’s hard to talk about this one without spoilers because it’s kind of the payoff of the entire series so far. It’s so rare to see a Walt plan actually work (season one maybe?), especially against the ultra-careful Gus. But work it did, and with nuanced performances from the principles and some fairly intricate plotting from both sides.

Walt’s journey from Mr. Chips to Scarface is pretty much complete. As this show was written before the crew knew that they were renewed, Vince Gilligan has said that he wanted this episode to close out the show if they didn’t get it renewed. And it did. In spades. “I won” might be the most chilling thing Walt has ever said (Next to “I’m the one who knocks” from earlier this season). The nice thing is, there’s still that whole Jesse angle to take care of next season. Walt still has secrets from Jesse that Jesse would be very interested to find out. I am really looking forward to seeing that play out next season.

As for Gus, Giancarlo Esposito was awesome in the role and this season really expanded his characterization. But, it was time to go. And what a way to go. I was seriously quite upset when he walked out of the room. Like, seriously, are we pulling an Omar here? How the hell did he survive that? And then we get the pan and the realization that was more shocking than his initial walk out. Plus, a beautiful humanizing gesture at the end to show that Gus is still Gus.

I’m going to say that this was the best season of the show so far. The first season is a lot of fun, establishing the vibe for the show with both humor and startling violence (If you watch the first three episodes with Krazy 8 and don’t think this show is amazing afterwards, you’re lost to me). Season two was a misstep, as far as I was concerned. The individual episodes were fine, but the season long reveal of…random chance was pretty disappointing. Season Three seemed to be an on-again, off-again season – individual episodes were good, but there were a few that were just random filler. But Season 4 had a purpose from day one and moved towards that conclusion every time it was on. Yes, it’s a slow, measured pace, as this show does, but I always felt like it was going somewhere. If the show can keep this up next season, it could surplant The Wire as the greatest show ever (and, let’s be honest, as far as fifth seasons go, it doesn’t have to try too hard to beat the Wire’s fifth season).

If you still haven’t watched it, you’ve got a year to catch up. Get to it.

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