Just when you think that Vince Gilligan, Bryan Cranston and the team can’t blow your mind once again, they pull it off with gusto. I mean, you’d have thought that after the spectacular end of S04 that they couldn’t top it – well, I think that they have set the bar even higher once again.How do you get away with a train robbery in a TV series in 2012? How do you bug an FBI phone and laptop? How do you kill 9 people in 2 minutes in 3 different places? And how to you move your meth overseas in complete secrecy pocketing uncountable millions? This series is so over-the-top good that it defies description sometimes. The transformation of quiet Walter White into evil Heisenberg is finally complete. The larvae has become a moth before our eyes.
Where to even start describing some of the excellence in Season 5? The camera work as always is superb as is the framing of images. The boy on the bike in the train robbery episode was classic, but also in E08, the copy of Leaves of Grass that we see in the bathroom as Walt hides the ricin is key to the closing frame. The story over all five seasons is so coherent as there were several references in this last episode all the way back to S01-S03 (the reminiscing of Jesse and Walt back to the RV, the reference to Gale, etc). [NOTE: It is actually hard to remember those seasons because of the enormous psychological distance that they have carried us so far.] Another majestic part of the last episode was starting with Hank’s quote “Tagging trees is a lot better than chasing monsters” with Walt bowing and raising his head ready for a cook with the song “Crystal Blue Persuasion” playing…so many clever camera moves and angles in the next 3 minute sequence…you just have to see it I think, but it was simply amazing. Referring to the larvae/moth image I used earlier, it was particularly interesting that we see loads of bugs up close in this episode – particularly the opening scene as Walt zones out staring at a fly and then disposes of Mike’s body and as we see the bugs around the pool in the closing scene.
The transformation of Walt that we have anticipated is fully realized here. He kills in cold blood for the first time. He asserts his power and authority in “Say My Name” (Episode 7). There is something that still wants us to cheer for him though. As if we want to forgive him because of the wall of despair that he was facing before diving into this evil place. His terrorism of Skyler throughout, his blank rejection of Jesse, just so many details that all show us his soul decaying and yet leave us guessing like his CAT scan for which we don’t see the results. The meeting in Episode 8 with Todd’s uncle and gang was chilling – these were characters straight out of Justified or Sons of Anarchy that he would have been terrified of back in Season 1 and here he intimidated them and got them to do his evil bidding. Terrifying. But we still are rooting for him to pull his family back together. The tension in the last three minutes of this last episode was paramount – we know things will all go very pear-shaped before the episode ends and we have no idea until the last frame exactly how it will.
I cannot think of any other TV show that has continually kept me on edge and surprised me at every turn like Breaking Bad has over the last five years. It will be torture to wait another year to see how they wrap up some of the best TV ever – although I read rumors of full-length movies should they not kill off Jesse and Walt in September 2013.