You have six days to buy your ticket to one of the most significant rides in years.  On August 11th, at 9/8 central, Breaking Bad returns for the last half of it’s fifth and final season.  I could not recommend this show more, but I also could not recommend just jumping in less.  Breaking Bad is a symphony that creator and show-runner Vince Gilligan directs to perfection.  I could go on and on about the production of the show (which is amazing, some of the best on tv) the acting (which is amazing, some of the best on tv) or the direction (you guessed it…. Amazing and some of the best on tv) but I won’t.  I’ll just say Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul have put together a dramatic Laurel and Hardy and that each episode is so well thought out, that they look like they are movies.  What I really want to talk about is Gilligan’s well publicized idea for the show.

“Television is historically good at keeping its characters in a self-imposed stasis so that shows can go on for years or even decades.  When I realized this, the logical next step was to think, how can I do a show in which the fundamental drive is toward change?”  Vince Gilligan


From Mr. Chips to Scarface

That quote sums up the series rather nicely.  The line Gilligan used to pitch the show is he wanted to “take the main character from Mr. Chips to Scarface.”  What we’ve watched for the past 5 years is just that.  We’ve seen Bryan Cranston’s Walter White on a speeding train of hubris.  The plot summary of Breaking Bad is as follows.

Breaking Bad is the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a struggling high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the beginning of the series. He turns to a life of crime, producing and selling methamphetamine with a former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). White’s primary goal, when he begins manufacturing the methamphetamine, is securing his family’s financial future before he dies.

I love talking with my friends about this show because we can have conversations that we never have about any other show.  Many of my friends are now absolutely rooting against Walt at this point in his meth career.  I don’t know what this says about me, but I still want Walt to win.  Though Vince has given plenty of clues that no one is destined for a happy ending, I hold out hope that Walt can rule New Mexico from his methy throne with Aaron Paul as his first lieutenant.  Whatever happens, I know it will be amazing.  You can look at the pile of emmy’s that this show has won and know that we are in good hands.  What we end up with will be a masterpiece, and something totally original.  If you want to take part in something unique, check out netflix and catch up.  Or, if you want to cheat yourselves of five years of awesome, check these ideas out.

A really cool recap comic book.

Thirty recap webisodes.

A written recap.

A truly awesome recap video.


Bonus 1 – Make sure and watch this – August 12th, the day after the premire of season 5b, Mythbusters.  “Breaking Bad” is about to end its acclaimed run on AMC, but two guys from another cable outlet are scrambling to pay their respects. Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage of the Discovery Channel series “Mythbusters” are dedicating their Aug. 12 episode to the meth and crime series.  But don’t go in execpting Hyneman and Savage to try to re-create Walter White’s supposedly top-notch blue crystal meth. They’ve got other aspects of the series they want to test. Namely, Walt’s use of mercury fulminate as an impact explosive and the ability of a tub full of hydrofluoric acid to eat through a tub and the floor below it. Both memorable, iconic scenes in the history of “Breaking Bad,” both called into question for the accuracy of the science on display

Bonus 2 – I heard this theory on a Grantland podcast, and they apparently heard about it from Emily Nussbaum in The New Yorker.  What if Vince Gilligan’s game isn’t just one of expectations, but also of structure? What if there’s a shadow version of Breaking Bad that we’re just not following, a more traditional narrative in which Hank is the hero? So much of the show, at least until recently, emanates from Walter’s POV. So we’ve mostly seen newly appointed A.S.A.C. Schrader the way his bitter brother-in-law does, harping on the traits he disparages (Hank’s coarseness, his lack of children) and aggravated by attributes that, in other contexts, would be admirable (his tenacity and watchfulness).

Bonus 3 – One of the most amazing performances of villainy, Gus Fring.