'Breaking Bad': It was worth the wait
July 18th, 2011
12:58 PM ET

'Breaking Bad': It was worth the wait

The season 4 premiere of “Breaking Bad” was all about waiting.

Waiting for Gus to mete out his punishment. Waiting for Jesse to snap out of his vacant stare and speak (55 minutes, to be exact). Skyler waiting for Walt to come home, Hank waiting for his misery to end and the viewer waiting to see what Gale’s murder meant for Walter White.

And oh, was it worth the wait.

The episode began with a flashback of Gale setting up the Caesar’s Palace of meth labs (am I the only one who wonders how they got those enormous vats down there?). Poor, poor Gale was originally supposed to lord over this drug bunker, until he began praising Walt’s mystery blue meth.

“How pure can pure be?” Gus asked rhetorically about the product, a question that’s just as applicable to the gradual deviation of Walt’s intentions and brings us to Walt ordering the hit on Gale.

After killing the gratuitously likeable chemist, Jesse didn’t even flee the scene. He just sat in his car, probably hoping the cops would get to him before Gus’ attack dogs. Was Jesse finally throwing in the blood-soaked towel? We never really found out since, again, he didn’t speak until the end of the episode.

Just as Jesse was paraded back to the lab to learn his fate, we caught up with Walt’s wife, Skyler. In her quest to locate her husband, she showed herself to be quite cunning, mirroring Walt’s behavior early on in the series: small lies and manipulations to keep people at bay. Plus, she called Saul for help, which is basically the gateway drug of criminal behavior.

Meanwhile, in an epically depressing scene, Skyler’s paralyzed brother-in-law Hank spent his time bidding on minerals online (think those purple amethyst rocks kids buy after Science Center field trips). At one point Hank’s wife placed a bedpan underneath his hulking frame, while a strategically placed laptop (thankfully) obscured our view of his nether regions. This show’s ability to portray the suffocating frustrations of recovery rivals its ability to portray the grittiness and complexity of the meth underworld.

But enough about the side characters! Back in the lab, the waiting was over. Gus, czar of chicken and meth, finally arrived. Without speaking, he changed out of his business suit into what is best described as his slaughtering suit, as Walt attempted one last life-preserving rant. Gus circled Walt and Jesse, box cutters in hand, leaving me to ask myself the now-familiar question, “how the hell is Walt getting out of this one?”

He didn’t have to. Gus instead offed his sidekick Victor (presumably for allowing his face to be seen at the scene of Gale’s murder), in what was hands-down one of the most gruesome deaths ever shown on television (it was revolting enough to cause Bryan Cranston’s daughter to faint). The series doesn’t use violence often, but when it does, you should probably stop eating. For the rest of the night.

This was our first time seeing Gus engage in violence (previously, he delegated it to others over the phone or through decrees in the Meetin’ Shack), and the barbarity of the kill made it even more jarring. In 10 minutes, he went from shrewd kingpin to terrifying, merciless ruler of his domain. All without uttering a word. Only a series at its peak could create so much tension and storytelling with so little dialogue.

Of course, it wouldn’t be “Breaking Bad” without some grim comedy, and the penultimate scene gave us Walt and Jesse at Denny’s, having traded their blood-spattered clothes for matching white pants and Kenny Rogers t-shirts (reminiscent of a similar scene in “Pulp Fiction”). I really wanted Walt to thank Jesse profusely for saving his life. I wanted their partnership to be solidified over a couple stacks of pancakes and slabs of bacon, so that there would be no more waffling (pun intended) between them. But, then, that’s not “Breaking Bad.”

So Walt and Jesse are back to cooking for Gus, and next week Walt dons the pork pie hat. I’m excited for the return of Heisenberg, how about you?

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Filed under: television • TV recaps

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Angel Appleton

    Hands down, the BEST show on TV EVER!!!! I'm SO OBSESSED with Jesse and this show, I just can't wait every week.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:54 am | Report abuse |
  2. Roger

    Forget Emmys. Breaking Bad deserves Oscars. It is far better directed, written and acted than anything on the big screen, let along small screen. Absolutely Brilliant!

    July 22, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  3. debbie

    i knew who had to die that night.and why,you just can,t get seen by anyone.

    July 20, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. debbie

    jessy is forever a changed man.i love him.gus has always been cold as ice.now jesse knows he has to be also.good luck gus.you will need it.

    July 20, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. debbie

    greg,anytime you get made in the business,you are colateral damage.you get seen ,you get dead.vic get,s made,linked to gus.not a chance a man like gus can take.that bullet went right through his head,out the back,into the tea pot.never ever leave anyone alive who can be traced to you.

    July 20, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Daniel

    That was Hands down one of the coldest and uncaring ways to off somebody, Giancarlo Esposito (GUS) was as Cold as Ice, he made sure that they watched every bit of his punishment that he delivered, Season 4 is off to a Great Start, Lets just pass out the Awards now, Because this is a sure winner.

    July 19, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Greg

    Why do people keep thinking Gus killed Victor for being seen? How would Gus have even known that? Victor barely mentioned it to Mike, and Gus woundn't kill him with such little information. Gus killed Victor because Gale died on his watch. That's why Victor started cooking- he thought if he could replace Walt, his failure to keep Gale alive would be forgotten. It didn't work.

    July 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brojam

      Hey Greg, Gus did know. Right after Victor told Mike that he was just another "look-e-loo", Mike went over to the phone and said "Better get this over with", then called Gus (presumably).

      July 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Leslie Palma

    Jesse might not have used words, but his body language spoke volumes. Slumped in the chair awaiting his fate, he was vacant. mute, disengaged. But then watching Gus kill Victor, he sat up and watched with such interest that we knew some kind of epiphany was happening. He explained it later, that now they are on the same page with Gus. They are all cold-blooded killers. And whereas Walt says that's a page no one wants to be on, I think Jesse is very happy to have arrived at this particular chapter. Remember last season he had decided to embrace his inner gangsta? That was small potatoes compared to this.

    July 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rose

    The man who plays Gus should get an Emmy. He has created one of the most chilling characters I have ever seen. I loved the part after he has killed Victor and has tided up, that before he leaves, he gives one of his benevolent smiles and tells them to get to work. Wow!

    July 19, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mike

    Great show as always. I did'n t get into the series until last season but it's a incredible show and I can't believe I overlooked it. Shows like this set the bar high and makes me wonder what the local networks (fox, nbc etc.) are thinking since they don't seem to be putting out quality stuff like Breaking Bad. You rock AMC!

    July 19, 2011 at 12:25 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dave

    Yup. Only weak part was that it was too obvious who Gus was going to kill. The only thing that surprised me was Mike's reaction – it looked like he was about to shoot Gus. He clearly knew this was coming as soon as he asked Victor whether he had been seen, don't understand why he would be so surprised.

    July 18, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Liz

    Loved this, very intesnse episode! I felt so bad for Jesse, and wonder what is next for him, he is so messed up on so many fronts, but still has that humanity and want of justice about him. Walt should have thanked him and fussed over him more, he is the only father figure Jesse really has. I am happy this show is back, and hope it goes on for 2 or 3 more seasons!!!

    July 18, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  13. gregk

    BB is STUNNING TV (both adjective and verb). The only minor problem with the otherwise nail-biting box-cutter scene is that I (and surely many viewers) could see it coming. One of the well worn cliches, to kill the "unexpected" guy, was a bit of a downer. We all knew that Victor was a dead man, c'mon Vince G., I know you must think better of us. Maybe a subtle trick of yours to give us what we actually expected this time around?

    July 18, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Egan

    Definitely worth the wait! Everyone in this episode did a fantastic job! The rest of the season is going to be sooo good, can't wait!

    July 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. be quiet

    Best drama series in the history of television!

    Aaron Paul is outstanding as Jesse Pinkman. He may have not spoken until the last 5 minutes, but he didn't need to...we still knew every bit of what he was going through. I predict another Emmy for him and Cranston in 2012.

    July 18, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Jeff

    I did enjoy the season premier of Breaking Bad. However, while I do understand trying to maximize revenue on a top notch series, there were way too many commercial breaks during the hour and I found the fact that AMC placed 9 commercials in a single break to be extremely distasteful and interrupting of the pace of the episode.

    July 18, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Trish

    I can't believe I have to wait a whole week for the next episode! But than again they kept me waiting for a year!

    July 18, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
  18. alecia

    CJ that was probably the grossest thing Ive ever seen on tv but I dont think Ive ever laughed so hard @ a scene on tv before or since! This show rocks!

    July 18, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  19. cj

    LOVED the tongue-in-cheek Season 1 reference to disposing of a body with acid :-)

    July 18, 2011 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Sofía

    I totally agree. Bryan Cranston shows his acting chops in this one!

    July 18, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Evel Knievel

    Hands down best show on TV. Probably second only to "The Wire" as being best show ever on TV.

    July 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |

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