TV Evangelist: Breaking Bad
The boys are all set for the new season of Breaking Bad.
Gus Fring is dead but Walt and Jesse are not out of the woods yet. As the new season begins with a terrific episode penned by series creator Vince Gilligan, we get a flash forward in which Walt is acquiring seriously heavy weaponry. Looks like bad things are going to happen. Again.
Then we are yanked back to the present, in the aftermath of last season's finale. Chemistry teacher-turned-meth cook Walt (Bryan Cranston) has just killed Fring, the drug dealer who had kept him and Jesse (Aaron Paul) effectively enslaved, with a bomb planted in a nursing home.
Walt's wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), still under Drug Enforcement Administration protection, rings him breathlessly to ask if he has heard the news.
''It's over. We're safe,'' Walt says.
''What happened?'' she asks.
''I won,'' he says.
Ah, but there's still a loose end dangling. Walt burnt the underground meth lab but he doesn't know where the footage from the lab's security cameras is stored. So he and Jesse head out into the forbidding New Mexico desert to see Fring's main henchman, Mike (Jonathan Banks). Mike has just heard of the bombing and is keen to blow Walt's head off. But given the fact that Mike is also on the camera footage, he has to throw his lot in with Walt and Jesse.
And it is kind of urgent. Walt's DEA-agent brother-in-law, Hank (Dean Norris), has found the cameras in the burnt-out lab, and it won't take him long to find the footage on Fring's laptop, already in the police evidence lock-up. Walt tries to think of a way to destroy the computer using an incendiary device, but it is Jesse who hits on what might be the best solution: using a giant magnet to erase the hard drive from outside the building.
At the start of its fifth season, Breaking Bad remains as taut and compelling as it was in the beginning, even though everything has changed. What has changed most of all is Walt. He started making meth only because he was dying of cancer and wanted to leave something for his family; now, he has a taste for the money. He used to abhor violence; now, he has quite a pragmatic equanimity about it. He used to be an open book; now, he is less than scrutable.
Jesse and Skyler have changed, too. And, like Walt, they are far from one-dimensional, far from predictable, and still have us rooting for them, though they have done horrible things. Of course, it helps that the people they associate with would make Genghis Khan seem nice.
The performances are terrific, the photography is cinematic, the writing and direction as tight as a drum, and the ominous, unsettling score a feature in itself. Gilligan and his roster of fellow writers and directors continue to do an amazing job.
Season 5 premieres on Showtime at 7.30pm, Sunday, July 29.