It’s been hard to even process this current season of Breaking Bad, let alone attempt to write about it, because a) holy shit and b) holy. shit. If you haven’t caught up you should definitely avoid this post and head straight to your television.
But for the rest of you: How are you feeling? Really, how are you holding up after these last few weeks? Are you okay? Did you refill your Xanax prescription in the week between Todd’s quick trigger and the Meticulous Destruction of the Dirt Bike? Did you rush to Wikipedia to refresh your knowledge of Jesse James? Have you even come to terms with the fact that there are only two episodes left in this half season? The tension in the last few episodes have been murder, sometimes literally, as the show’s been heading toward a heart attack finale that will most likely feature a classic showdown between Walt and whoever dares to go against him. Mike? Skyler? Hank? Jesse?
Breaking Bad has always had moments of over the top horror and devastation — an overdosing girlfriend, plane crashes, ATM splats, a half-faced villain in his finest suit — but it’s somehow even more chilling when it focuses on the smaller things. This season almost makes me long for the simpler times when all we had to fear was a poorly placed rug, the “ding, ding, ding” of a bell, or even the unhinged and maniacal laughter of a desperate man in a crawl space. Now there are new levels of terror to worry about: a tarantula in a jar, the ticking of an expensive birthday gift, a pristine pool, easily forgotten ricin hidden in a wall, and the silence at a dinner table. This season has also brought Skyler to the foreground and she’s been perhaps the most debated character of the series. Skyler is a hostage but she’s also rightfully cold-as-fucking-ice and it’s simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying to watch her battle Walter. There is no way that either will come out in one piece. Walter has had plenty of people point plenty of guns at his head within the last year but it’s nothing compared to how unsettling it is to watch Skyler take drags of her cancerous cigarettes, ashing them into her husband’s mug as she waits for the end.
And then there’s Jesse! Our poor lost little lamb Jesse who has spent most of the season stuck smack in the middle of Mr. White and Mike Ehrmantraut, both in his loyalty and obvious seating choices. Jesse seems to be on an endless search for approval from his elders, for a father figure, and for someone to ride to go-karts with him. Or, you know, maybe he really just wants people to stop murdering children. He wants to wipe his hands clean, take his millions, and spend it entirely on cigarettes and video games.
Is there anyone better on television than Aaron Paul right now? A million Emmys just for drinking water! Emmys for gesturing with a fork and shoving food into his mouth and those hilariously awkward facial expressions and the way his eyes dart between a woman who loathes him and a man who manipulates him while he witnesses the biggest trainwreck of a marriage careen off the rails.
Also for your consideration: Best delivery of one-liners from Mike! Best fucked up MacGyvering from Walt! Best use of breakfast in a television show! Outstanding guest actress in a drama for Skyler’s comically large wine glass! Most chilling cold open ever!