Breaking Bad Season 4 Premiere Review: Silent and Deadly

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No show does silence like Breaking Bad.

Think about the main characters on "Box Cutter." Jesse said two words until the final scene; Gus uttered five; with the exception of one great, desperate, character-revealing speech, Walt remained relatively quiet.

The show has developed such confidence and such a unique style of direction and cinematography, that is scarcely needs its characters to speak. It's almost as if creator Vince Gilligan and company are holding their breath along with the audience - and the results are simply riveting.

Gus vs. Walt

On the fourth season premiere, we don't immediately learn that Gale is dead. We hear a 911 call. We see a bullet hole in a tea pot. And we're also treated to a quick scene that makes Jesse's actions that much more tragic:

Gale wrote his own death. This was a man so innocent, so un-Walt-like, that he essentially convinced Gus to hire the men who would eventually be responsible for his murder. Cut to his corpse and then to Jesse in the car, distraught, in shock, scarcely moving and Breaking Bad has taken just over a minute to raise the stakes on last season's pulsating cliffhanger.

From there, it was a waiting game.
How would Gus react? Walt and Jesse waited anxiously. Viewers knew neither would be killed, but did anyone see Gus donning a protective suit, grabbing Gale's box cutter and slitting the throat of his most loyal associate coming? Not merely slitting it; but prying the neck open so the wound gushed blood and he simply stood there, staring at his captives.

Gross stuff. Shocking stuff. Menacing stuff. Well, get back to work. Point, Gus Fring.

Again, Walt was barely in the episode, but his plea for survival was pure Heisenberg. He focused solely on the job at hand, he didn't connect his entry into the drug world with Gale's death; heck, he blamed Gus for it. He said Jesse should be kept alive not because Jesse's life has value, but because Walt would not work without him. This is a man who never takes responsibility. He compartmentalizes all of his choices and his ego allows him to actually look down on everyone else for theirs.

And this is the main character of the series! Amazing.

Elsewhere, we got a glimpse of how Walt's decisions have affected those around him. Hank is bed-ridden, depressed. Skylar is lying (very well) to locksmiths. Saul is being hilariously scared for his life.

Breaking Bad mostly focuses on Walter White and his evolution into a hardened, soulless criminal, but it also takes the time to depict the world surrounding Walt, to show us how this metamorphosis affects everyone that comes into contact with the former chemistry teacher (and even those who don't, as the season two plane crash proved).

The fact that it can do so with an episode such as "Box Cutter" - where so few words are spoken and where anticipation often trumps action - just speaks to why this is the best show on television.


Editor Rating: 4.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (109 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


Well Gale was hardly an innocent, he was making crystal meth and getting paid quite a bit for it, that's hardly a safe form of work, he knew there would be dangers involved- and getting killed was one of them


How thick are you? Did any of you wqtch the episodes where WW endangered himself by protecting the weak (or killed others), beta Jesse. Walt could have been comfy budge ( he was nicey, nicey with Gus) but fucked himself for the ungrateful, selfish, self righteous prick Pinkman. WW character is conflicted-if he was so selfish as the assbites on this blog suggest why would he have risked himself for Jessie?


Much is said about the lieutenant being killed because he was witnessed, which is no doubt true.
But also: Might Gus have been swayed by Walt's argument? That, while the kid was talented, he didn't know science. And Gus would only hire the best. Could he have killed his boy because he dared mess with delivery (i.e. millions in drug profits)?


Great TV, Yep "the dude was killed because he was seen"...


Her name is spelled "Skyler". Don't misspell character names in reviews bud, hurts your legitimacy.


Iam just love the show! i was surprised that Jessie went through it knowing his character bt I guess he had no choice! that scence was brutal! the show i wiah would stay on longer season!


I agree, Herman. It had nothing to do with the recipe. The man was seen at the crime scene and I think that Gus knew Victor didn't give up the whole story at the apartment. Victor was seen, and could tie Gus to Gale....he had to go. Looks like Gale's fastidiousness is going to reach beyond the grave and come at them, though. A truly terrific episode of a great series. I like that even the hitman was shocked at Gus' actions...That was impressive. Nice ep right out of the gate.


the dude was killed b/c he was seen.


This show is downright amazing, and this primary episode has set the stage for the rest of the season. So fascinating to see Walt's and Jesse's (and Skylar's, no doubt) very slow descent into hell. I sort of figured out, quickly, that the loyal minion would buy the farm. Walt's reasoning was sound: sure the guy knew the recipe, but he didn't have a grasp of the fundamentals of chemistry - and if we can say nothing else, we can surely say that Gus is not a stupid man. Cold (very cold) logic won the day for Walt and Jesse. And that was evident the moment Gus stopped menancing them and went to stand over beside his loyal underling. Man, do these guys know how to write or what!


It's amazing to watch "Walt" rationalize his actions.

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