I very nearly lost my way with Breaking Bad watching this season. Not only was it a chore to watch, turns out it’s a chore to write about, too. I mean… How much actually happened? Particularly around episodes 7 and 8, I have several notes about this being the toughest season to get through. It wasn’t particularly entertaining to watch, and even characters who I used to love lost their spark and became less interesting to watch. Not to mention the fact, it turns out they actually DID kill off my favourite little scientific assistant, Gale. 😦
The season started strongly, at least. Aaron Paul did an incredible job in the opening episode – where he managed to convey more emotion than the rest of the cast put together, by saying almost nothing at all. He can seriously act and it was fascinating watching Jesse’s mind process everything. But, that was episode one… Seven episodes later, when Jesse was still as dark and gloomy as ever, I realized how much I missed the character he used to be. I’m all for character growth, but why get rid of all of the aspects that made someone fun?
Just how I enjoyed the approach to Jesse’s character in episode 1 but felt it got too drawn out over the course of the season, I felt the same about Gus. That long, slow, silent scene in the first episode where he murdered his assistant, Victor, was so tense and he really seemed like someone Walt should be afraid of – finally! But then we had to watch the quiet, composed, ‘scary silent man’ routine throughout all of season 4. The longer it went on, the less threatening he became – even when he poisoned the cartel in Mexico. During the penultimate episode, I noted down that I really hoped Gus finally got taken out as I was bored of his character. I will admit his death scene was pretty amazing though, and felt like it could have been taken straight out of a comic book with the excellent way it was shot. Other than that though, Gus very much fell flat for me this season. I might hate Walter, but at least it can be fun to watch the chaos he causes.
And speaking of the chaos he causes… HE POISONED BROCK?! Walt became more and more sinister as this season went on, and as much as I dislike him, he had some incredible moments – his “I am the one who knocks” outburst to Skyler was probably the first time I’ve genuinely found him threatening, and I admit I kind of loved it just a little tiny bit.
Though alongside that great Walt moment were so many frustrating moments that just reinforced why I dislike his character so much – particularly, the dinner party scene when he was literally on the verge of shaking Hank off of the case before actively denying that Gale was Heisenberg, all because he has too much pride. UGGGGH WALT, YOU ARE KILLING ME.
The second Jesse said it wasn’t Ricin that had poisoned Brock, I knew Walt had planned it all and I sat up in my seat. I admit, that was a pretty great dark twist. Although, it hasn’t answered where the Ricin cigarette actually went?! Somehow, Walt must have managed to get it from Jesse, in order to make him suspect Ricin in the first place… Surely we will revisit this next season, as otherwise it seems like a pretty huge loose end to leave dangling?
Similarly, the whole ‘Ted Beneke is dead’ storyline seemed to happen and then get dropped instantly without any resolution, and I can only assume that’s going to be a pretty big deal in the final season to add some tension to Skyler herself getting caught for everything she and Walt have been doing.
Skyler was, yet again, my highlight of the season by a mile. Even as she’s becoming more and more OK with breaking the law, the way she’s doing it is so, so much more entertaining than Walt and Gus. Any scene with her was just so much fun to watch – and the way her capability to lie improved over the course of this season was SO. DAMN. GOOD.
From first lying to the locksmith in order to get into Walt’s house, to negotiating with the owner of the car wash, to her hilarious run-through of her script of lies she planned on telling Marie & Hank, and to that fantastic moment when she played dumb to get Ted off the hook for his tax evasion… She had SO many fun, clever, great moments in season 4. Without her, I honestly don’t know if I’d have made it through to the end. Watching her slowly figure out how to effectively launder the money, and then panic about getting audited, was infinitely more interesting to me than the Gus/Walt storyline. Her descent has been much more gradual than Walter’s and I can’t wait to see where she goes in the final season. I really hope things work out for her, though!
Besides Skyler – and I never thought I’d say this – my other favourite character this season was probably Hank. His rock-collecting obsession is kind of hilarious and was a nice break from all the doom and gloom this season. On top of that, every time he got closer to catching Walt was SO satisfying. At this point, I feel like I’ve been waiting four seasons for Hank to finally make an actual break in this case – not the sharpest DEA agent out there, but I’m rooting for him.
Overall, Season 4 felt like a lot of build-up, finally kicking off at the end of the penultimate episode when Walt had his little, slightly psychotic, breakdown (pretty sure it’s not a good sign when your husband slips into hysterics while laying underneath the floorboards of your house, Skyler). I’m really hoping the final Season doesn’t go so hard on all of the slow build-up and gives us a little more variety. This season burnt me out with too much focus being given to the constant mind games between Gus and Walt.
I’m guessing Season 5 is going to focus on Walt trying to get back to his normal life while Hank investigates the murder of Gus. How I WANT this series to turn out and how I expect it will turn out are two very different things, however.
I really want Walt to face the consequences of all of his actions. I think Hank should be the one to arrest him and finally finish this case that’s been his obsession for, well, essentially almost the entire series. I would be OK with Skyler and Walt Jr. finding some way to keep part of the money Walt has made, but I really want Walt to be punished for everything he’s done. I would also *love* it if Jesse plays a role in leading Hank to Walt. For example, finding out Walt was the one who poisoned Brock, and therefore finally deciding to turn him in. Let’s be real, Walt is an awful person, and I think it would be so satisfying to spend a season seeing everything catch up to him.
But what I can see happening… Is Walt engineering some elaborate scheme that keeps him off the hook and, instead, implicates solely Gus and Hector. I think he’s probably going to end up getting away with everything, annoyingly. As long as he doesn’t throw Jesse under the bus… PLEASE don’t let it end like that!