Season 4 Review
So, let’s get right into it: How was Breaking Bad’s fourth season? In short, phenomenal. This was a tricky season because the show continues to do well ratings-wise and critically. The renewals keep coming, yet the show is growing increasingly-complex. Season 4 could have easily run the risk of stagnating because the writers couldn’t change things too much without knowing how long the show would run. In effect, Season 4 is a bit reserved and doesn’t change the scope of the show drastically. These 13 episodes were about one thing: a daunting game of chess between Walt and Gus.
I had a few qualms about the start of Season 4 (for example, check out the review of “Cornered”) revolving around the tense and stressful atmosphere. With almost no slowdown, it felt like an immediate continuation of the excellent Season 3. For better or worse, there was a never-ending sense of tension that didn’t let up until the final moments of “Face Off.” At times, however, things seemed a bit too heavy plot-wise and the showing wasn’t exactly changing. It was just continuing the tried and true.
These plot-heavy story lines may have divided some Breaking Bad fans over the past two seasons. The character drama slowly shifted from domestic problems to full-on drug wars involving Gus and the Cartel. Though I don’t mind the plot-heavy drug culture evident throughout Seasons 3 and 4, I do miss some of those intimate moments seen in the First and Second Seasons. What felt worse: the realization that Walt’s marriage was falling apart because of his choices; or Gus holding a gun to Walt’s head? I’d argue the former, and some of that’s been absent these past two years.
Yet, that’s what makes Season 4 so great. It resolves nearly all of the drug and Cartel problems and works to reset the show a bit. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still tons of stuff that needs answering (is Ted alive or dead?! I think we’re supposed to think dead, but who knows?), and it’ll be interesting to see how that’s addressed next season. And fortunately, Season 5 (the final season) will begin with a breather, and that’s exactly what the show needs. It needs a little time to find its footing before going out with a bang.
So, with that macro-level stuff out of the way, let’s get into some of the highlights. Season 4 was filled with wonderful moments, from Gus’ box cutter, to Jesse’s speech in “Problem Dog,” to the insane fight in “Bug,” to Walt’s “I am the one who knocks!” speech, and to Gus’ mass-murder in “Salud” - these are only naming a few. I have to say, though, the standout of the entire year for me had to be the concluding moments of “Crawl Space.” It was just the perfect cacophony of sounds, as all the horrible pieces came to a head. Well-acted, well-directed, well-written: an all around great moment of television. Check it out below.
So, yes, it’s going to be another long wait for Season 5. At this point, Season 5 is scheduled for the Summer of 2012, which really isn’t so bad, considering how long we had to wait for Season 4. And the wait won’t be so painful because we weren’t given a huge cliff-hanger as we were at the end of Season 3.
The writers have a lot to live up to in the final season, but no matter how the show ends, it won’t change how much I’ve enjoyed these first four seasons. Here’s hoping the show stays as honest and effective as it’s been thus far.
If you’ve been following my Breaking Bad reviews, thanks for reading; I really appreciate you taking the time. If you have any thoughts on this season (or on the show’s future) let me know in the comments below. And feel free to check out any of the in-depth reviews right here. I’ll see you Breaking Bad fans in the summer.