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'Breaking Bad' season 5 premiere recap

Published: Sunday, July 15, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05

Breaking Bad

Special to The Prospector

Walter White (three-time Emmy Award winner Bryan Cranston) is chemistry teacher no more. In the final fifth season of “Breaking Bad” Walter has fully embraced his alter ego, Heisenberg, something that has been explored throughout the series (they showed a major hint towards his new persona at the end of Season 4). Now, Walt has become the terrifying drug kingpin that showed his true colors.

The final season started with a great teaser, one very reminiscent of Season 2; as a bearded and lonely Walt was on a diner in New Hampshire. He goes by the alias “Mr. Lambert” now, and apparently he is waiting for someone. After Walt and Lawson (Season Four's gun dealer) exchange packages, Walt receives a pair of keys and Lawson an envelope. These keys open the trunk to a car containing a machine gun and ammunition. Fade to black, cue credits. It was a fantastic tease at what is to come for the final season, presumably the beginning of the end for the series, leaving us wondering, what is Walt doing in New Hampshire by himself and what will he do with that machine gun?

The episode, written by executive producer/show-runner/creator Vince Gilligan and directed with beautiful cinematic flourish by original cinematographer Michael Slovis, is not only an outstanding season premiere, it also functions as an hour long short filma heist film essentially.  The plot of the premiere: After the destruction at the Casa Tranquila explosion and the meth lab, Walt and Jesse (Aaron Paul), along with Mike (Jonathan Banks), try to get back Gus’s laptop (which contained security footage of the entire operation) from the police headquarters since Hank (Dean Norris) and his DEA team got to it first.  

The Season 4 finale was not only explosive, it also provided for some questions that needed to be answered, and Gilligan manages to answer these here. We finally got to see what happened to Ted Beneke, Mike and the meth lab explosion, among others.  

The episode was all about trying to pick up after the destruction, trying to get things back in order. It also provided many funny moments (it’s “Breaking Bad” dark humor after all) and Mike and Jesse got to show some of the best lines in the entire hour. It was also a great return to see the dynamic between Jesse and Walt, (a moment involving magnets is particularly hilarious and Jesse’s line is a nice nod to one of the most iconic lines of the series) that characterized that fantastic and unique relationship since the very beginning. Just the fact that Jesse still calls Walter “Mr. White” is a small yet incredible detail that works so great. 

But of course, this is Breaking Bad and there is plenty of drama involved. A scene towards the end with Walt and Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) is simply masterful and will undoubtedly become a classic within the series; it was incredibly intense, and just dazzling to watch. The way that Slovis directed the scene, with hints of light and shades of darkness was beautiful. It also doesn’t hurt that both Cranston and Odenkirk are at the top of their game here and everyone in this episode was fantastic. From a terrifying and effectively disturbing scene involving Skyler (a wonderfully subtle Anna Gunn) to Aaron Paul’s chemistry with Cranston and Banks, to a moody and fantastic conversation at the end involving Walt, “Breaking Bad” shows why it is one of the best acted shows on television.

All in all, the season premiere was a welcome return for the series and effectively lays the groundwork for what’s to come. It continues its trend of great writing and great character work, technical cinematic craftsmanship and phenomenal acting that has made “Breaking Bad” such a critical darling and one of the most acclaimed shows of the decade. It’s cliché to say at this point that “Breaking Bad” is one of the best shows on TV, but I think we can all agree that this is going to be a hell of a season. “Breaking Bad” is back and summer TV cannot get any better than this. 

Oscar Garza may be reached at prospector@utep.edu

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