Monday, September 03, 2012

Penny Thoughts ‘12—Breaking Bad, season 5, part 1 (2012) ****

TV-14, 8 45-min. episodes
Creator: Vince Gilligan
Directors: Michael Slovis, Michelle MacLaren, Adam Bernstein, Rian Johnson, George Mastras, Colin Bucksey, Thomas Schnauz
Writers: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Sam Catlin, George Mastras, Gennifer Hutchinson, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Christopher Cousins, Steven Michael Quezada, Jim Beaver, Larry Hankin, Laura Fraser, Michael Shamus Wiles, Matt Jones, Emily Rios, Jesse Plemons, Mike Batayeh, Franc Ross, Charles Baker, Todd Terry, Bill Burr, Louis Ferreira, Chris Freihofer

They’re calling it a mid-season finale, but it sure feels like the end of a mini-season, especially since the 5th season won’t resume until next summer with the final eight episodes of the series.

Despite any ill will fans might feel by the truncated and broken up season, “Breaking Bad” is still one of the very best shows on television, if not THE best. The first half of the final season is the most claustrophobic of the bunch. The walls are closing in, but now that Frain is dead, Walter is the one doing the closing.

Because of the shortened season format, there doesn’t seem to be as wide a scope to this season. It’s much more highly focused on Walter than anybody else. After the last season I called Walter an asshole. He’s not an asshole any more; he’s a monster. He keeps telling Jesse, “That’s the last time, I promise,” after anyone dies because of their operation. Then, he turns around and kills a bunch of other people. The season’s most ominous moment comes when Walter finally confesses to Jesse that he’s not in the money making business, he’s in the empire making business.

Is this monster in us all? Walter was such a shlub in the first season of this series. The writers have done such a good job of bringing him from point A to point T, that nothing that he does or says is a surprise. But when you compare the character we kind of loved from season one to the one we’re beginning to hate today, the whole thing is rather amazing. Now, the only question is where exactly does point Z lie.

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