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Breaking Bad Review: In-Tents Action

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I could never bring myself to criticize Vince Gilligan in any way, shape or form, but I have to admit that my initial response to the latest Breaking Bad episode, "Hazard Pay," was this:

We get it.

Walt has made the official move from Mr. Chips to Scarface, which is how the creator pitched/sold his vision of the series to Bryan Cranston years ago. And the opening three episodes of Season 5 have done all they can to hammer this point home.

Breaking Baddies

I was enraptured by the premiere, which featured an uber confident and dangerous Walt; and also taken by last Sunday's installment, which honed in on Mike.

But this episode didn't move very much along. Yes, it set in motion a genius plan for how Walt and Jesse would cook their operation's product, but it mostly served to once again remind viewers of just how cold-minded and manipulative Walt has become. Heck, it even showed him watching and marveling at Scarface! Again: we do get it by now.

And I love it, trust me. Walt is pure evil, setting up Skyler as the bad guy when Marie confronts him over her sister's breakdown... toying with Jesse's mind and prompting him to break up with Andrea... making it clear at the conclusion that he's not afraid to slit Mike's throat. Or Jesse's throat, really. Walt has made the full evolution into the antithesis of Mr. Chips.

I'm just ready to now see where that takes him.

Unlike Mike, who is committed to "his" guys, and unlike Jesse who would jump off a cliff for his mentor at this point, Walt has no loyalty. He has no regrets (nice to meet you, Brock!) and he has no care in the world aside from being number-one. The man who kills Jesse James isn't automatically Jesse James? Mike couldn't have said anything more hurtful or irritating to his unstable business partner.

It's chilling to watch Walt stroll back home like he's invited, asking Skyler to sit down and watch her worst nightmare unfold: this dark man bonding deeper and deeper with her two kids. It's not even clear at this point whether Walt is aware he's a monster and is just toying with his wife, or if his ego allows him to truly believe he's welcome in her life and in the lives of their children.

I'm leaning toward the latter. His hubris makes him clueless about reality, whether that's his personal life or his professional world, where Walt clearly thinks he's invincible.

We all know that isn't the case, of course, not after the cold opening to kick off Season 5. Months from now, for whatever reason, Walt will be a disheveled, nervous wreck in need of a machine gun. I have no idea why and we're not meant to have an idea why.

But in only an eight episode summer season, the first few hours have really given us no hint whatsoever.

Yes, I could watch a nervous Saul vent about the Three Amigos becoming four for hours. And I appreciate the depth the series has given Mike in just two weeks. And Skyler screaming at Marie to just SHUT UP was tragically mesmerizing. But I am growing a bit anxious for the action to pick up and the stakes to be raised.

We know Walt White is now akin to Scarface. But just who will he be introducing to his Little Friend in the near future?

Review

Editor Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (58 Votes)

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

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AJA You make solid points. To each his/her own. I would like to make some arguments. The show has not lost its touch. its as beautiful as ever! did you see them cook in the fumigate house? that musical montage was as good as they ever did. There is still a lot of character study. jesse's growin up. Hanks becoming smarter. Skyler realizes her mistakes of not divorcing walt. and Walt has become Gus. Vince Gilligan said in 2008 all these things would happen. that the show itself would change completely. and it has. im glad. sorry you dont like it.

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Nah, not really. So, according to you, only the first two seasons were any good? Yet you're still watching two years later? Uh, why? And one more thing, regarding "yet another idiotic Scarface," can you please list all of the blatant Scarface references that this show has perpetrated in the past four seasons? This infantile newbie's inquiring mind wants to know since I'm not well versed in the in's and out's of Breaking Bad that a seasoned vet like yourself seems to be. I await with bated breath to read more of your well reasoned, soundly constructed criticism of this show.

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I didn't really have a problem with the Scarface thing because most of the Scarface talk has been in interviews but never in an episode. I think the Scarface thing was more for Skyler - watching Walt and her son watching it was so disturbing for her cause of what she's going through.

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cOME ON mARC, Mike is already getting irritating. He needs to get whacked..quick. Like within 3 episodes. And Skyler and the sister are gonna ruin the show with all their drama which was interesting in season one, now its played out. Lets keep this thing focused on the focus. Otherwise we wind up with a Sopranos type thing where the son and his baby antics destroyed the whole show. If the sisters do that here it will be a crime! Both sisters gotta go. And like Neil Dellacroce says "If Don Carlo had said you gotta go, Id'da come here with these 2 zips, and youd go." lol

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Lets fast forward a few more episodes. I think no matter what plays out, both sisters and their neurotic chattering and blaming is played out. I'd like to see both of them try to take off with Mikes money and he whacks em both...and Walt is happy! Especially Skyler, what an Albatross, a ball and chain she is getting to be. I myself cant even take her one more episode...how can Walt? Lol I say in the end Hank saves Walt because he wont lwet Walts son grow up without a father and the 3 of em walk of into the sunset. CANT END ANY OTHER WAY!

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..Yep, sounds about right: getting dissed for giving a review of Breaking Bad on the comment section of a Breaking Bad review article. Which is apparently only reserved for fans of Breaking Bad. That's about as much sense as anyone blindly sticking up for this show will make these days. But I'll answer your question: I didn't want to be unfair, I continued to watch the show even as I saw it rapidly lose everything that it had going for it in the incredible, non-self aware, subtle beauty of its first couple seasons. Back when it was an unapologetic character study that catered to no one and spelled nothing out for any of its up-and-coming infantile newbie fans. And now that I have watched it all, I bloody well feel like giving it a review of my own. Is that enough of an answer for you?

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LMAO @ AJA If you don't like the show, there's a real simple solution: don't watch. But I do find it HIGHLY amusing you would take the time and effort to come on to a TV review site and post a 3 paragraph critique of a show you obviously don't care much for. Odd. Seriously, if you don't like the show's writing and dismiss it as hackneyed nonsense, why don't you yourself undertake the task of creating, developing, and writing your own show, which I'm sure will be immensely superior to everything there is out there, including the "HIGHLY overrated" Breaking Bad. How does that sound?

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Mr. Richenthal, before you decide to "vent" about the admittedly ridiculous level of Scarface referencing-- by the show and by its fans especially, over the course of the last 4 years, you may want to consider the bigger picture: This show is not as well written as everyone says it is. It just isn't. Last week, in a phone voice-over, the writers had Jesse Pinkman saying stuff like "Yo I can't find the cigarette anywhere, Mr. White! What if some kid finds it and poisons himself, Mr. White!! I can't live with myself, Mr. White!" all prior to showing a box of crayons being ransacked in the ricin-search of the home of the lovable, kind-hearted, children-adoring sweetie pie non-criminal called Jesse Pinkman. I would be able to roll my eyes this week at yet another idiotic Scarface reference if my eyes werent already stuck from rolling at 80% of the heaped praise this highly, HIGHLY overrated show gets on a regular basis.

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this was a 4.5/5 episode, you criticism was too harsh. i dont think this episode was about walt's evilness, it was about his new business venture. all seasons had a episode about cooking and the business like 4 days out, mas, the pilot. but the cooking and business isnt gonna go walts way this time thanks to mike

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