After last season’s finale — the Gus head and the flower pot reveal — how could the Breaking Bad season five opener (Sunday, AMC, 10PM ET) possibly live up to the expectations fans have for the final season of one of the best (the best, I’d argue) TV dramas of all time?
Yet, the first two episodes rate a five out of five stars, two thumbs up, 10 on a scale of one to 10 … by whatever rating system you use, the season premiere is flawless, picking up where season four left off and offering a hint into what I think is going to be Walter White’s downfall.
In short: his ego. Walt (Bryan Cranston) was feeling super badass after pulling off his Gus plot, but he’s not satisfied with being able to tell wife Skyler (Anna Gunn) that he won. Nor is he going to be satisfied with the fact that he did win. Without any major spoilers, there’s a moment in the season five premiere — the episode’s called “Live Free or Die” — where Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) tells his dad that Hank (Dean Norris) is going to be hailed as a hero for being the only person to have been onto Gus’ real activities.
Walt’s reaction is priceless, and so telling. He bristles ever so slightly at the thought of Hank as a hero, or more specifically at the fact that Walt Jr. sees his uncle as one, and it’s not because Walt knows Hank’s ongoing investigation of Gus threatens to expose Walt’s own misdeeds.
It’s because Walt wants his son to know what a tough guy he is (or thinks he is). And more than wanting his son to know how tough he is, the things he’s gotten away with and the people who fear him, Walt wants Hank to know.
Hank, who’s been vulnerable and insecure himself since his shooting, spent years poking fun at Walt and his meek high school chemistry teacher persona. And now that Walt’s Mr. Chips-to-Scarface transformation — as Cranston and BB creator Vince Gilligan frequently refer to Walt’s journey — is near completion, Walt wants Hank to know he’s no longer the schlubby teacher.
Despite what it would mean if Hank (DEA officer Hank) found out, Walt is dying for him to know what he’s done, what he’s doing and who he’s doing it to/for/with/against.
And that, I’m guessing, is going to ultimately be the specific cause of Walt’s downfall (and no spoiler there, because Cranston and Gilligan have often said Walt is not going to get away with his bad works).
Speaking of … if you still had any smidgen of sympathy left for Walt after his plot with the ricin and kiddie Brock, a scene in the season premiere between an ever more manipulative Walt and a still too trusting Jesse (Aaron Paul) should take care of that.
There are a couple of little surprises in the first two episodes of the new season (“Live Free or Die” and “Madrigal” are the eps AMC provided for review), and a couple of much-welcome moments of levity (two words: truck and magnet), but the most chilling scene is the one in which Walt utters the words “I forgive you.”
Because he doesn’t, and the person he says it to is very aware of what that could mean.
And if that isn’t enough to get you jazzed for the new season, check out these Breaking Bad goodies:
— The Hollywood Reporter‘s cover story on BB, with tidbits like the network that rudely rejected the show and the actors AMC initially wanted to cast as Walter White (John Cusack?!?!).
— Though he’s gone (and how), Gus Fring (Emmy-deserving Giancarlo Esposito) will certainly not be forgotten, and he continues to play a big role in BB events. In honor of his exit, AMC has a fun little “Go Fring Yourself” game, in which you put your head on Gus’ body and, well, a few “ding ding dings” later, you’re, ahem, facing off with Tio (RIP).
— The New York Daily News has an interview with the underrated Dean Norris, who plays Walt’s brother-in-law Hank. Norris, a Harvard grad, says playing the moral character isn’t as fun as playing the bad guy, and is often overlooked come Emmy time, but he’s giving a standout performance in a cast where there isn’t a bad performance.
— Dish subscribers who are freaking out about being AMC-less for Sunday night’s premiere can sign up to watch the episode live at AMCTV.com.
— You will love Aaron Paul even more than you already do after reading GQ‘s interview with him.
— Bryan Cranston picks his 13 favorite Breaking Bad moments at The Daily Beast.com.
— The 27 best Breaking Bad memes (numbers 16 and 19 crack me up).
— 25 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Breaking Bad from Buzzfeed.com.
— Aaron Paul in a Corn Pops commercial.
— A Breaking Bad A to Z feature I wrote for AOL before season 4 (so yes, it’s in serious need of an update, but still fun).
With less than an hour to go before tonight’s new (and particularly fantastic) new episode of Breaking Bad, AMC has just announced that the series has been renewed for next season, consisting of 16 episodes … yay. But the bad news: that’s it for the show, which will wrap after that fifth season.
Of course, it will be sad to see one of the best shows on TV, ever, to end, but since everyone from series creator Vince Gilligan to series star Bryan Cranston has insisted all along that Walt White will face consequences for his choices, it makes sense that the show won’t be dragged out beyond the point where Walt’s antics would be believable.
But I sure will be sorry to see it go. Yet another reason to savor every episode yet to come …
The official press release from AMC:
AMC RENEWS BREAKING BAD
Network Orders 16 Episodes to Conclude Series
New York – NY, August, 14, 2011 – AMC announced today that “Breaking Bad,” the Emmy Award-winning and critically lauded drama series from acclaimed writer/producer/director Vince Gilligan has been renewed for a 16 episode order that will conclude the series.
Production on all episodes of the final order will commence in early 2012. The roll-out of the episodes and premiere date schedule has yet to be determined by the network. The announcement was made by Charlie Collier, president of AMC.
“Breaking Bad’s” fourth season premiered on Sunday, July 18th to the highest ratings ever for the series. Household ratings are 30% stronger than season three and season four is delivering 28% more total viewers and over 45% more adults 18-34 than last season. The series was recognized as “…the most complete and extraordinary show on TV” by Entertainment Weekly while Daily Variety called it “the most addictive show on the air.”
“From the day we heard Vince Gilligan’s completely original vision for ‘Breaking Bad,’ it has been a complete joy to be involved with this show. Watching this story evolve into the complex, compelling, and intense roller coaster ride that it has become has been an incredible creative experience for everyone at AMC. Beyond that, working with Vince, his brilliant cast and crew, and our wonderful partners at Sony has been remarkable in every way. While it is sad to even contemplate the end of this series, we are so happy to have had the chance to go on this ride, and truly look forward to presenting the rest of this amazing story,” said Collier.
“It’s a funny irony — I’d hate to know the date of my own last day on earth, but I’m delighted to know what Walter White’s will be (episodically speaking). This is a great gift to me and to my wonderful writers. It’s knowledge which will allow us to properly build our story to a satisfying conclusion. Now, if we don’t manage to pull that off, we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves,” said Vince Gilligan. “‘Breaking Bad’ has been a dream job these past four years. Working with the best cast and crew in television has no doubt spoiled me for future projects. I’m lucky to get to work with them on sixteen more episodes, and I will always be grateful to both AMC and Sony Television, who from the beginning, believed in our show and supported me creatively and professionally. We have been able to take risks with ‘Breaking Bad’ which would not have been possible on other networks.”
“We’ve watched ‘Breaking Bad’ grow over the years with viewers, as championed by the unwavering support of critics and the well deserved accolades Vince and his talented actors have received. We’re looking forward to seeing Vince’s masterful storytelling come fully to fruition over the course of the series’ final episodes,” said Zack Van Amburg, President, programming for Sony Pictures Television.
“Breaking Bad” stars Emmy® Award-winner Bryan Cranston (“Malcolm in the Middle”) as Walter White; Emmy® Award-winner Aaron Paul (“Big Love”) as Jesse Pinkman; Anna Gunn (“Deadwood”) as Skyler White; Dean Norris (“Little Miss Sunshine”) as Hank Schrader; Betsy Brandt (“CSI”) as Marie Schrader; RJ Mitte (“Hannah Montana,” “Weeds”) as Walter, Jr; Bob Odenkirk (“Mr. Show with Bob and David”) as Saul Goodman; Giancarlo Esposito (“Gospel Hill”) as Gus Fring; and Jonathan Banks (“Wiseguy”) as Mike. “Breaking Bad” is filmed on location in Albuquerque, NM.
The series first premiered on AMC in January 2008 and follows protagonist Walter White, a milquetoast high school chemistry teacher who lives in New Mexico with his wife, teenage son who has cerebral palsy and a new baby girl. White is diagnosed with Stage III cancer and given a prognosis of two years left to live. With a new sense of fearlessness based on his medical prognosis, and a desire to gain financial security for his family, White chooses to enter a dangerous world of drugs and crime and ascends to power in this world. The series explores how a fatal diagnosis such as White’s releases a typical man from the daily concerns and constraints of normal society and follows his transformation from mild-mannered family man to a kingpin of the drug trade.
“Breaking Bad” has received sixteen Emmy® Award nominations in the following categories: “Outstanding Drama Series” (2009, 2010); “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series” for Bryan Cranston (2008, 2009, 2010); “Outstanding Supporting Actor” for Aaron Paul (2009, 2010); “Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series” for Vince Gilligan (2008) and Michelle MacLaren (2010); “Outstanding Cinematography for a one-hour series” for John Toll (2008) and Michael Slovis (2009, 2010); “Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series;” “Outstanding Single Picture Camera Editing for a Drama Series” for Lynne Willingham (2008, 2009) and Skip McDonald (2010); with six wins overall for Cranston (2008, 2009, 2010); Paul (2010); and Willingham (2008, 2009).
In 2008, the American Film Institute (AFI) included Breaking Bad on its list of the “Top 10 Programs” of the year. That same year, Vince Gilligan won the Writer’s Guild Award for his work on the pilot. ” In 2010, AFI recognized the show on its list again and that year the writers were also nominated for their exceptional work by the Writer’s Guild of America. In 2009 & 2010, the Producer’s Guild of America recognized the series with a Norman Felton nomination. In addition to his Emmy accolades, Cranston was nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award in 2011 and won a Television Critics Association (TCA) award in 2008 for his role on the series.
“Breaking Bad” is produced by High Bridge Productions, Inc. and Gran Via Productions in association with Sony Pictures Television for AMC. Executive Producers are Vince Gilligan, Mark Johnson, and Michelle MacLaren; Co-Executive Producers Melissa Bernstein and Sam Catlin; Supervising Producers Peter Gould, George Mastras, and Tom Schnauz; Producers Moira Walley-Beckett, Bryan Cranston, and Diane Mercer; Produced By Stewart A. Lyons; Associate Producer Andrew Ortner, Staff Writer Gennifer Hutchison; and Director of Photography Michael Slovis.
AMC reigns as the only cable network in history to ever win the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Drama Series three years in a row, as well as the Golden Globe® Award for Best Television Series – Drama for three consecutive years. Whether commemorating favorite films from every genre and decade or creating acclaimed original programming, the AMC experience is an uncompromising celebration of great stories. AMC’s original stories include “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Walking Dead,” “The Killing” and “Hell on Wheels.” AMC further demonstrates its commitment to the art of storytelling with AMC’s Docu-Stories, a slate of unscripted original series, as well as curated movie franchises like AMC’s Can’t Get Enough and AMC’s Crazy About. Available in more than 97 million homes (Source: Nielsen Media Research), AMC is owned and operated by AMC Networks Inc. and its sister networks include IFC, Sundance Channel and WE tv. AMC is available across all platforms, including on-air, online, on demand and mobile. AMC: Story Matters Here.
About Sony Pictures Television
Sony Pictures Television is one of the television industry’s leading content providers. It produces and distributes programming in every genre, including series, telefilms, theatrical releases and family entertainment around the world and for every platform: broadcast and cable television, first-run and off-network syndication and digital distribution. In addition to one of the industry’s largest libraries of feature films and television shows, SPT boasts a current program slate that includes the top-rated daytime dramas and game shows, landmark off-network series, original animated series and critically acclaimed primetime dramas, comedies and telefilms. Internationally, SPT is a leader in local language productions around the world, some of which are co-produced with local partners, and sells SPE-owned formats in approximately 70 countries. To better serve its clients and partners worldwide, SPT maintains offices throughout the world, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, the People’s Republic of China, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Venezuela and the United Kingdom. SPT’s worldwide television networks portfolio is a key strategy in SPE’s long-range commitment to the global marketplace, with 120 channel feeds, which are available in 159 countries reaching more than 500 million households worldwide. SPT also creates original content for and manages SPE’s premium video website, Crackle. Additionally, SPT owns Dutch entertainment company 2waytraffic, production company Embassy Row and Sony Movie Channel, and is a part owner of cable channel GSN, new 3D channel 3net, FEARnet, the premier horror/thriller website and VOD service, and national media sales company ITN Networks, Inc. SPT advertiser sales is one of the premiere national advertising sales companies, handling the commercial inventory in SPT’s syndicated series as well as in all of SPE’s digital businesses in the United States. SPT (www.sonypicturestelevision.com) is a Sony Pictures Entertainment company.
Charlie Sheen, Russell Brand and Louis C.K. are getting most of the attention, but I’m most excited that one of the best new shows of last TV season — Wilfred — returns for its second season on FX tonight (10PM ET). Season one of the series ended with a cliffhanger — had Ryan (Elijah Wood) […]