Breaking Bad Season 5 Review

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Two years ago we left off with Walt committing his most evil act to date, poisoning Brock. Who knew just how far it would go?

Season five of Breaking Bad brought Walt to his most evil state of mind. We had rooted for him against Gus, but here? No way, no how. His imprisonment of sorts of Skyler in the first half of the season was difficult to watch. But just as we thought this man couldn’t go any farther (I’d say just after Mike’s death), we see a glimmer of hope as Walt finally renounces his Heisenberg ways before the mid-season break.

Speaking of, the decision to split the season over two separate summers was an interesting one. There are two clear halves to season five: the tame (at least rleatively) empire building of the first half, and the rip-roaring, nothing held back endgame. It leads to a somewhat disjointed tone for the whole season, which would be a problem had both halves not been so incredibly well done.

Part one had a number of classic episodes including the grueling Fifty-One and the most fun episode of the total 62, Dead Freight. Part two impressively closed just about every character arc so perfectly that many are already calling it the most complete show of all time. Ozymandias perfectly ended Hank’s story while the masterful Felina finished out everyone else’s (except Marie! This has actually kind of been bothering me!).

The best thing about the entire season was the best thing about every other season: the way Vince Gilligan and his team of writers are able to surprise you no matter what. Breaking Bad continued to be the impossible show to predict, yet never sacrificing the characters in the process.

The most respectable thing about the season was the choice to end it here. Season four of Breaking Bad was one of the most impressive pieces of television when it aired, only to be topped by one of the best endings in television history.

We had beautiful evolutions of the characters. Jesse continued his role as the series’ moral high-ground, even as more terrible things kept happening to him (Andrea AND Jane? Jesus Vince…). Skyler walked the thin line between good and evil without ever becoming her husband. Hank became a rage monster hell-bent on one goal. Every character’s actions felt true to them while moving the story forward at an unbelievable rollercoaster pace.

Thus far, and yes, it is still early, Breaking Bad‘s fifth and final season appears to have broken ground. What other show has done this? The Sopranos infamous cut to black is the most memorable thing about its finale. Lost lost too many fans before the final season and failed to resolve the countless questions it raised. What other serial drama not only maintained but improved its quality with every season? Breaking Bad never got bad. It finished with one of its best episodes ever and the most rewarding, satisfying ending fans could ask for.

Season five was revolutionary television. It’s going to be a long time before a phenomenon like this come along that doesn’t disappoint. Look at all the bad press following one time Emmy king Dexter‘s series finale just a week before. Breaking Bad did just the opposite. That is why season five is the high point of this great series. That is why in December just about every critic will name Breaking Bad as the show of 2013 (and why many did back in 2012 with the first half). These shocking, tragic, beautiful last 16 episodes will be TV legend for decades to come. Grade: A

By Matt Dougherty

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