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‘Breaking Bad’: No rest for wicked Walter


Jesse (Aaron Paul), Walter (Bryan Cranston) and Mike (Jonathan Banks), back for more in season five. (Ursula Coyote/AMC)

Many of us “Breaking Bad” devotees stupidly shared Walter White’s newly discovered hubris. After Gus Fring’s explosive, um, “half-off event” at the end of last season, I too believed that the show, which returned Sunday night on AMC for its penultimate eight episodes, would afford Walter (Bryan Cranston) at least a partial victory lap.

But this is “Breaking Bad,” where nothing ever goes right and viewers are meant to suffer repeat anxiety attacks — which we willingly sign up for. It’s becoming clear that the show’s master plan is to turn Walter into someone we no longer root for. By the time it ends next summer, perhaps Walter will have become the guy we actively root against. He may feel secure in his decision to become a meth cartel king in Gus’s absence, but nobody else ever will — not Jesse, certainly not Skyler — and least of all “Breaking Bad” fans. We’ve come to expect a good sweat each week; many of us make the mistake of watching the show just before bedtime and then lay awake fretting it all over. Now I just root for Hank to crack the case.

And yes, I realize “Gus’s absence” is a spoiler for those of you still doing remedial work in past seasons. But just how long are the rest of us supposed to wait for you to catch up to the best TV show on the planet? You had a year. (You’ve had four.)

This is why I decided not to write a full review of the new season for the print edition of the paper: What specifics could I have possibly discussed, having seen the first two new episodes? The super-magnet scheme? The flashback/forward angle? The German food conglomerate? [Name redacted’s] recovery from his panicked slip-and-fall?

On Sunday night’s episode, minutes after cleaning up the pesky little details left in the wake of his successful plan to get rid of Gus, Walter sat on his bed and had about a nanosecond of rest until he remembered still another, potentially disastrous loose end. He was up and out and back at it. Fans couldn’t be happier, or more alarmed. And that’s all I wish to write about it, until the show’s bitter and beautiful end.

Readers, perhaps you wish to write something more about the return of “Breaking Bad”? Feel free to so by starting a conversation in the comments section.

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