There's not much you can say about a show that you haven't seen the entire season of yet, but what I can say is that BREAKING BAD, under the very watchful eye of Vince Gilligan, has become such an incredibly superior hour of television that it's become the best straight-up crime drama alongside FX's current winner JUSTIFIED, and what has been elevating it beyond belief in its fifth season is not the star of the show Bryan Cranston, who is still brilliant in his portrayal of Walter White, and really knows how to play his cunning and his desperation. It's also not in Aaron Paul, who's been phenomenal since the first minutes of his performance as Jesse Pinkman, the moral compass of the show (basically, if Pinkman thinks you've gone too far, you REALLY have) and its resident guide through the world we've found ourselves navigating through. It's also not through Anna Gunn as the increasingly put-upon and disassociative Skyler White, whose own personal journey over this season has caused her character to become a powder-keg of potentially epic proportions. It's not in the revelatory performance of Dean Norris as DEA ASAC and forthright brother-in-law Hank Schrader, whose larger-than-life acting style has finally been given a good home after decades in the business. It's not in the delightfully flighty Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader, Hank's wife and Skyler's sis and Walt's surprise confidant.
No. This season belongs to one person, and that is Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut. Forget the young psychotics of the Tuco variety. Forget the ever-expansive reach of the Mexican Cartels and their inhuman killing machines. Forget Gus Fring and his straight-laced terror. Mike is the most frightening character on this show simply because he's the most experienced and most efficient problem-solver this show has ever had. Every subtle stone-faced glance he throws; every quiet moment of him just sitting in a room; every syllable he utters is dripping with menace. In this character, Walt has found a unique match; a master manipulator whose mind is always working overtime to figure an infinite amount of angles on not only the people he works with, but the people he must care for and especially the people he needs to "take care" of. He's the perfect foil for Walt in the sense that Mike, knowing what he knows already, feels that he knows or can expect what Walt will do and then Walt, not being your typical criminal, will ultimately try work out a way to out-manuever Mike. It's like a game of chess that in Walt's mind has to be a zero-sum game, but to Mike, there can be a way for everyone to win. The episode "Buyout" is the very best example of this dynamic as Mike finally finds a way out for everyone that can score himself, Jesse and Walt millions of dollars and walk away from the business forever. Walt doesn't want that, though, for reasons that are made all-too emotionally vital to his character. Ultimately Mike and Walt have to face off against each other, and Walt's way out of that volatile situation is also unexpected but totally in character and totally in line with where the show is heading toward.
There are many comparisons to the characters of Walter White and the character of Michael Corleone; neither of them wanted to be who they became, but how they get there is something that is not so much something that is forced, but rather simply an acceptance of who the person can be when all pretense is stripped away, and yet we watch in horror as Walt sinks deeper and deeper into this subtly evil alter-ego he's created of a 'kingpin'. From the first moment Walt donned the fedora and adopted the moniker of "Heisenberg", he was forever altered and destined to become the man he is now, and none of what Vince Gilligan and his fantastic staff of creators like George Mastras and Michelle MacLaren have navigated these characters through seems inorganic. It was troubling to me for a while how Walt seemed to balk so heavily at getting out of the meth business, and I should have trusted in the show to lead me to a place where it not only makes sense, but it's necessary for the character to stay.
It's further proof that BREAKING BAD is a gritty, dirty, and incredibly smart show that has no illusions about what it is, but what it is, is gold.
on October 4, 2013
When I purchased Season 5 of Breaking Bad I thought I would be gettng all 16 episodes of the season. Instead it only comes with the first 8 episodes which I can easily watch already without buying this (and have for that matter) through Netflix. What I thought I was purchasing was the entire season 5 containing all 16 episodes. Unless I missed it when I bought this I did not see anywhere it said that it would only include the first 8 episodes and nor do I see anything referencing that as I write this review. I have no use for a "season" of a show that only contains half the episodes that I have already seen. I would like a refund on this since I did not get what was advertised.
on April 10, 2013
This set only contains Part 1 of Season 5, Episodes 1-8. Unfortunately, this information is NOWHERE to be found on Amazon.
Addendum 07-03-13: Obviously, my point was not clear to anybody, so I'll give it another try:
First, this review is about the MARKETING, not about the content of the actual series.
Second, the TV standard is still 12 or 13 episodes per season. With this pack, you get 8 episodes, for the price of a 'full' season. To break it down for you: As of today, this set is $40 on Amazon, so instead of $3 per episode, you're paying a whopping $5 here. Unless you do the math and break down the 374 minutes stated on Amazon (and who really does that? I know I don't), there is NO information that this set contains only 8 episodes.
Last, a word to the commentators who tell me I should have known this upfront and that 'the other episodes have not been aired yet': Please gimme a break. What do you think I am, a walking-talking TV Guide or something?
To each his own, but I have decided to not buy this set and rented this season from the video store instead. Still a brilliant show, and I figure I'll rent Part 2 of the season next year as well. Maybe I'll buy the 'Complete Season Five - All 16 Episodes' when it comes out for Christmas next year.
on July 24, 2012
Viewers describe Breaking Bad as Mr. Chips to Scarface. As clever as that is, I see something different. I see it as a revenge tragedy for a man who feels that he has been emasculated by circumstances and the world and his cancer diagnosis gave him the opportunity to take his revenge. Walt was a genius who due to his teaching job was so broke that $15 worth of printer paper was a purchase that broke the bank. He was the constant butt of his brother-in-law Hank's derision and teasing. Hank after all was a "real man" a DEA agent. Now Walt is the drug dealer and criminal mastermind that Hank is unknowingly pursuing and Walt loves every minute of it....as long as everyone in his life is paying tribute to his genius and his manhood to whatever extent that they know the truth.
What happens to the family of this man when they discover that the husband and father they knew is in fact an entirely different person and not because he used his chemistry skills to cook methamphetimine? To me, that is the big message of this episode despite the fact that there are a lot of plot points with Mike, a genuine tough guy and bad ass. Perhaps that is why Walt doesn't like him, because Mike is the man Walt wishes he was.
Anyway, Skylar realizes that she has no idea who her husband is, but it is dawning on her that he is a very dangerous man to be around: the very definition of mad, bad and dangerous to know and not becasue Walt is the "one who knocks" as he arrogantly informed Skylar in the last episode, but because he is a loose cannon whose motives are different than stated and who is lying to himself. Last episode Walt informed Sklyar that he forgave her, one presumes for the affair with Ted and this episode Walt terrifies Skylar when he reaffirms their marriage and is unaware of her fear - or worse enjoys it.
Mike copes with other problems and former employees of Gus's empire that may cause problems for the new triumverate of Walt, Mike and Jesse. Mike also proves once again that even though he can do a dirty job that Mike knows who he is, his motives are clear and he still has a moral compass.
A good episode of Breaking Bad that deepens the psychological portraits of the characters and continues the tragic arc. In the flashforwards, as yet unexplained, Walt is still alive and presumably on the run but has a final trick up his sleeve. This viewer is hoping that the writers have the courage to take the tragedy the whole way but no matter what I will be watching with interest.
on July 16, 2012
So, I got rid of cable TV, subscribed to Netflix, got a broadcast TV antenna, saved tons of money and now watch only what I want. This is the first TV show I feel compelled to buy on streaming video. Amazon charged my credit card $2.84 for HD Season 5 Episode 1 this Monday morning and I already watched it twice just hours after its premier. No spoilers here, don't want to kill the thrill for anyone. This is the most exhilarating TV ride I've been on. The good thing about buying episodes on Amazon is that there are no commercials and you can pay to see current shows the day after release. Wish they would play on my phone like Netflix. Amazon HD has better resolution than Netlix on my Roku box.
on October 30, 2012
Breaking Bad has been a gem ever since season one, yet it somehow manages to surpass itself in qualify every season. This has become undoubtedly one of the finest hours in television drama history, rivaling some of the big timers such as The Sopranos and The Wire (and yes, I've seen them both multiple times). A friend told me this show is about a good man becoming evil. I would say this show is about a man that has always been extremely intelligent, resourceful, yet heavily underutilized and bitter for his underachievement of things in life, which has taken him down a greedy and disturbing road. Whether it's almost getting rich from Gray Matter Technologies or being "outdone" by Hank in looking cool and successful, especially in front of his son, Walter White has been bitter from the very beginning.
In the first few seasons, Walt had many, many moments of vulnerability while trying to just make enough cash for his family to live on after he died. Remember the plate guy from season one? Walt had to think long and hard before making a decision, and it appeared to hang heavy on his moral conscience. Over time, however, I believe Walt has realized that this monster had been lurking within him all along, and when that revelation appeared - he embraced it and evolved into it over time. Walt isn't dorky Walter White anymore, but has fully transformed into Heisenberg. Season one plate guy wouldn't even cause a moment of moral dilemma for this man now, and this has become much more about just making enough money for his family and quickly getting out, but now it's more about power, greed, and building an "empire," like Walt says himself. He has successfully become one of the best antiheroes in television history.
Although it's difficult to give a very in-depth review considering this is only half of one season, the first eight episodes were more than enough to tell me that this show is back and better than ever. It's always an hour of non-stop tension, heartache, horror, empathy, and fun. Almost all of the characters are morally ambiguous, which always makes for a more interesting experience for the viewer as well, who is left to make their own judgments of characters, rather than be spoon fed what the writers want them to feel.
A great example is Mike Ehrmantraut (played by the very talented Jonathan Banks), who is a cold-blooded hitman and grandfather of the year. His slyness, intelligence, and completely badass characteristics, along with his occasional kindness and empathy (especially toward Jesse) and relationship with his granddaughter makes him an easy to like character. It's almost easy to forget sometimes that he was Gus Fring's hitman; a killer that will kill whoever is asked of him without question.
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman won an Emmy for last year's performance, which is highly unsurprising. This year, more than ever, we see how Jesse is becoming one of the most morally pure characters on the show, even though he's committed some cold-blooded acts of murder himself. Paul is one of television's best young actors, and his portrayal of Jesse is riveting, funny, complex, and heartbreaking.
The cast has amazing chemistry together, and being able to see Walt, Jesse, Mike, and Saul work together again at the beginning of the season is just pure fun. We also have a new character this season, Lydia, who was one Gus' guys, and she stirs up a lot of trouble. You never know if she is being honest or completely full of it. Anna Gunn as Skyler White is amazing as ever, and even though Skyler is somewhat of a hated character, that means Gunn is doing her job well. She is another morally ambiguous character, with some people thinking she is completely unfair and annoying towards Walt, while others support her wholeheartedly. When there is so much division on issues such as this among fans, you know it's a good show. Dean Norris as Hank Schrader, who I think deserves more credit for his part, definitely plays a very important part this season, with everyone wondering - is he going to figure out that Heisenberg = Walt? Walt stoops to some all time lows this season, including manipulating Hank to help his meth business.
Someone without any interest in character studies or development could simply love this show for the action and grittiness, and a psychologist could love it for its successful combination of both. This is one of the very few shows that has ever been able to incorporate non-stop action into a show that has deeply complex characters that viewers truly care about. Vince Gilligan has proven that he knows how to make great television, and with only eight episodes remaining in this saga, I can only hope that it continues to live up to what it's been so far.
on July 14, 2012
I've watched a lot of television and movies, plays, read books. Nothing has ever made me say Oh My God like "Breaking Bad" and that's not something I usually say. Without a doubt, nothing has every been written or filmed like this series, and I can think of no television show, no Hollywood blockbuster, no Indie film, that can come close to this brilliance. It's not pretty but it is amazing.
on July 25, 2013
I heard a lot of great things about this season from my brother so I was really excited to watch it, however I found myself bored with it after the first episode. I drudged my way through the remainder of the season expecting things to pick up eventually, but they never really did for me. Admittedly I think my oppinion is partially affected by the deterioration of Heisenberg's morals. It was cool to watch in Season 4, but now it's just hard to watch how terrible a person he has become and to witness how strained his marriage has become. Honestly, I don't quite understand why his wife is so depressed all of a sudden. She seemed to be okay with her situation last season. What has changed? I'm still interested to see what transpires in it's final season. I hope it's the best season yet.
I love this series, but I despise the half-season volumatic format, especially when the studio creates deceptive packaging that DOES NOT ADVERTISE THE FACT that the set is incomplete.
This is The Fifth Season "Volume 1" and NOT "Thew Complete Fifth Season." This is double dipping and I despise being double-dipped.
It comes with UV, but I have no idea whether the UV code unlocks the entire season (you get new episodes as they're released)or whether it's a UV code for ONLY the first 8 episodes of the season and you still have to re-purchase the entire last half of the season to get the rest on UV. If the latter is the case I'm gonna' be pretty pissed. I'm already pretty pissed about this.
Amazon should really do the right thing and title this or describe it to make it perfectly clear it's only a half-season set.
If you're a completist, you may want to wait for the "COMPLETE Season 5." Vote with your money. I feel I got suckered into this by deceptive packaging... I don't watch the show on TV, so I assumed that since they were releasing a set called "The Fifth Season" it was the COMPLETE Fifth Season. IT IS NOT, and moreover it's not made clear that it's not. Very annoying the studio would choose to release the show this way (no blatantly obvious indicator on the packaging that indicate it's NOT the complete season).
5 stars for the show itself, which is great as always, docked a point for the poor half-season, bordering-on-deceptive-marketing double-dipping release format...
on September 3, 2013
I didn't read clearly thought it was COMPLETE 5TH SEASON! So please read covers! Now have to buy it again :(