There have probably been at least five episodes of this show that left me thinking, “Well, now Walt’s really evil.” Just when you think our antihero has crossed every line he could possibly cross, he goes just a little bit further.
Or, in the case of this week, he goes a lot further.
One of the established tricks of screenwriting is, when stuck, put two characters who haven’t had any scenes together in a room and see what they say. I’ve never knowingly had to resort to this, because I never run short on material, and I doubt the writers of Breaking Bad were exactly “stuck,” either — surely the aftermath of last week’s devastating murder was rife with possibilities for where to take “Buyout.”
Still, this episode does something unexpected — it puts the two most important people in Walt’s life in a room together. And the truly surprising thing isn’t that it happens, but that it only highlights how strange it is that Skyler and Jesse have seen so little of each other throughout the series when we’ve seen so much of the two of them.
As I’ve stated before, I grade Breaking Bad on a curve. Even a “bad” episode of Breaking Bad is a million times better than any episode of Two And A Half Men, or 99% of other shows on TV. There is no “bad” episode of Breaking Bad, anyway. There are only episodes ranging from “good” to “holy fucking shit, that was incredible.”
Even after last week’s season premiere, it was unclear what path Breaking Bad would take in its fifth and final season. “Live Free Or Die” was all about cleaning up Season Four’s messes, and “Madrigal” does a little of that before heading in an entirely new and surprising direction.
After a rollicking Season Four in which Breaking Bad became, quite deservedly, one of the buzziest shows on TV, the Season Five premiere had a lot to live up to. While a few threads were left unresolved in “Face Off,” in many ways, things were tied off much more neatly than we’re used to from this show. All the most menacing villains were offed in one fell swoop, meaning that vice grip of tension Vince Gilligan held us in over the last season or so was finally relaxed. Now, we can breathe.