Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Breaking Bad (Season 5)

Breaking Bad; crime-drama series, USA, 2012-2013; D: Vince Gilligan, Michael Slovis, Adam Bernstein, Rian Johnson, Thomas Schnauz, S: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte

The "cook" is back in business: in order to hide all the evidence of his involvement in Gus' meth organization, Walter White uses Jesse, Mike and the others to destroy Gus' laptop found by the DEA. In order to continue "cooking" meth, Walt robs a train filled with methylamine, but has to team up with shady criminals led by Todd's uncle Jack in order to achieve his goals. However, Hank finally figures that Walt is Heisenberg, and teams up with Jesse in order to get evidence by luring Walt into the desert location where he buried his tens of millions of $ in barrels. Jack's gang shows up in order to protect Walt, and - disobeying his orders - kills Hank and enslaves Jesse as their new cook. When Skyler and Walt Jr. disown him from the family, Walt flees to Nebraska all by himself. He returns to give the money to his family, kill Jack's gang and save Jesse.

The final season of "Breaking Bad" gave a rather worthy conclusion to the saga, and pretty much even managed to be even more clever than the previous seasons. Some elements do not lead anywhere even in this last season (the Ted subplot; Marie's kleptomaniac urges), but there are practically no more 'filler' episodes, and smart ideas abound: in the very first episode, 5.1, for instance, Walt, Jesse and Mike are faced with a huge problem because the incriminating evidence against them are all on Gus' laptop, which is stored in a police file basement. But instead of simply breaking in the police headquarters, Walt has a genius idea of simply parking a truck in front of it, and destroying the laptop hardware with a giant magnet that simply destroys every technical device in the range. Another brilliant example of inspired writing is the equally unorthodox train robbery in episode 5.5, where Walt stops the train by feigning a broken truck on the railroad, while the last waggon stops conveniently under a bridge, where Walt's team has thus ample time to suck out the methylamine from it, before the train starts again. Several episodes are also masterfully crafted, such as the last episode featuring Mike - his last line ("Just shut up and let me die in peace!") is unforgettable, and the setting and the locations are beautiful, almost as if the nature is crying for his last act.

Another great addition is the inclusion of small crumbs of delicious humor: it would be a shame to spoil it, but Walt's "confession" video in episode 5.11 is just quietly, howlingly funny. Everything works fine, and the story sets up the unavoidable confrontation between Walt and his brother-in-law, DEA agent Hank, in episodes that announce and hint at ultra-suspense. However, this announcement disappoints in episode 5.14, "Ozyamndias", which is like an anticlimax: even though that episode has an incredible rating of 9.9/10 on IMDb, in reality it deserves at least 2.5 points less. Compared to the electrifying, inspired "Face Off" in the previous season, the good, but overhyped "Ozymandias" feels almost lazy, as if instead of giving the viewers another ingeniously inspired finale, they just decided to give up and simply end, in a very conventional way. Luckily, the very last episode, 5.16, written and directed by the series' author Vince Gilligan himself, gives a worthy conclusion, a one which is both thrilling, and then deeply touching and emotional. The story about a decent, terminally-ill man who suddenly turns to crime to earn enough money for his family after his passing, has already been used in previous films, like in Wenders' excellent crime-drama "The American Friend", yet "Breaking Bad" manages to seem unique and genuine on its own, by giving a twist that the hero actually starts enjoying his new path in life, thereby turning into a villain. The characters are so well written that it is difficult to hate many of them - the viewers are constantly torn between rooting for Hank or Walt - even though Walt is theoretically a criminal by the end, who is responsible for a lot of suffering. This is why the last episodes, where he goes into such a sudden path of redemption and regret, back to his good self, by trying to correct his mistakes, is so effective and powerful, and gives the story an aura of humanity.

Grade;+++

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