Breaking Bad Season 4: Final Thoughts

Breaking Bad wrapped up its fourth season last night. The season was everything that fans of the show could conceivably have wanted. Before putting the show away for awhile, now is the perfect time to do a synapse dump of final thoughts on the recently completed season. Spoilers follow.

-Vince Gilligan and the various people that work on the show are nothing short of amazing. The special effects people, the people who work on sound, the writers, the directors, the producers, and the actors put together a symphony of perfection for 13 straight weeks, and for four years now. If you’re a fan of the show, you owe it to yourself to listen to the weekly podcast. It gives tremendous insight into just how much fun they have making the show and how much thought goes into it.

-The final three episodes played out like an extraordinarily well-made horror film. There was constant tension. The soundtrack matched the horror motif- think of the eerie reverberating sound in the background as Walt cackled away at the end of episode 11, Crawl Space. Think of the low angle, Walt’s eye view of Skyler in the same scene as she teared up at Walt’s insanity as he was buried in the crawl space. The phone ringing added an extra layer of tension, as did the frantic call from Marie, naturally silhouetted in a darkened room. The shot of Gus in the season finale is going to haunt viewers and is one of the grisliest things that’s ever been on TV. Then there was Gus’ viciousness. The man literally threatened to murder a baby.

-Gilligan has always said that the show is all about the descent into depravity of a seemingly ordinary man. Viewers received an extra dose of that this year. At times, it felt like Walt had cracked, desperate for his normal life, like in the scene in which he sobs to Walter, Jr. He was woefully inept in his attempts to be a hardass early in the season. But with the chips on the line, Walter turned ugly. He turned into a badass. The sequence of events in the final episode alone illustrates Walt’s descent. At various times, Walt blew up a nursing home; busted out a .38 to murder Gus’ henchmen, the same .38 he’d been woefully incapable of using earlier in the year; imperiled his elderly neighbor to test out whether or not he was going to get shot upon re-entering his own home; and we find out that he poisoned an eight year old. It’s worth noting that harming kids is precisely what Gus did at the end of season 3. Walter has become Gus-like, if only in the level of danger.

-There was considerably less dark humor this season compared to years past. I missed it since it’s one of my very favorite parts of the show, but the swap enabled Gilligan and his crew to spackle in a ton of tension and action elements. I was on the edge of my seat countless times this season, probably more often than during the first three seasons combined. It was tense. It was pulse-pounding. Every week’s episode left you drained, while alternately begging for the next episode.

-One moment mid-season really illustrated for me precisely why Gilligan’s show is the best on TV, without a doubt. It was in episode 7, Problem Dog. Skyler insisted that Walt return the Challenger that he’d bought for Walter, Jr. Walt’s anger was palpable. He was being pushed around and stressed out by Gus, Mike, and Tyrus at work, and now he was being bullied by his own wife. Instead of returning it, he drove it to an empty parking lot, squealed some rubber, and then blew up the car. In any other show, that would be the end of it. You’d never hear another thing about it. But on Vince Gilligan’s Island, the next scene showed Walt sitting in Saul Goodman’s office. Saul was laying out every single detail of damage that Walt had done, and every single fee he would have to pay for his temper tantrum. It’s attention to detail like that which makes the show the very best.

-The one element that will never get old to me is the dumb stuff that Jesse says. Perfect example:

Hank: “What TV shows do you watch?”
Jesse: “Ice Road Truckers.”
Walt: “What happens in that one?”
Jesse: “Trucks drive on ice.”

And that’s it. Now we begin the long, horrible wait for the next season. It’ll be 16 episodes long and will be the final season. There is a decent chance, depending on how that season goes, that I’ll be calling it my favorite (and perhaps the best) show that I’ve ever seen. The first four seasons certainly qualify.


10 Comments

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10 responses to “Breaking Bad Season 4: Final Thoughts

  1. Absolutely stunning, unreal, awesome ending to a fantastic season. My only little beef was how there was basically no tension leading into next season. I’m definitely not a fan of huge cliffhanger but a little to chew while waiting for next summer. Now, I’ll get to catch up (this is my first season ah!)

  2. Phil

    I completely agree. It’s the best show ever made. I think the final 16 episodes are going to be done over 2 years. The theory is they had a budget cut because of the Mad Men salaries, so the compromise was to shorten the seasons.

    I’m very impressed with your iPad friendly site. I haven’t seen anything else like it.

  3. I can’t read this post until this evening…..SOrry. I really want to talk about it but I haven’t seen the finale yet!!

  4. OH MY GAWD!!!

    What an ending! The slow zoom towards the plant in Walt’s garden made me literally SHOUT at the tv!!

    And Gus’ demise…. was ‘HUH? What the? Oh….Shit….WOW!!’ I loved that he just walked out, straightened his tie and collapsed…Calm and collected to the end.

    I can’t wait to see where this leads next season. Will Walt ever be back to the bumbling softee? NOPE

    Love it.

    • Heh… you were labeled as spam, Scott. But I rescued it.

      My “shout” moment was when Walt shot those two guys, walked in and said “Gus is dead. We have work to do”. I literally pumped my fist.

  5. I think I preferred last seasons finale to this one, but it was very well done. My favorite episode was the showdown in Mexico.

    • If I made a list of best episodes on the show, it would definitely include lots of episodes from each season. And that says a lot about how great the show has been. I used to think that Breaking Bad Season 3 was my favorite season of any TV show ever made… until season 4 wrapped up. They were both incredible.

  6. Hell yes! This was an incredible season, with lots of great moments/episodes. Breaking Bad is one of those rare shows that seemingly gets better with age. Freakin’ awesome.

    It will be interesting to see what direction they take it next season. I wonder what’s going to happen with Mike… I don’t think we have seen the last of him.

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