Breaking Bad, Season 5 (tv review)

“Say my name.”

I’ve finally caught up to the rest of the universe and finished all five seasons of Breaking Bad. It was a fascinating journey and I think most agree that it’s easily in the top five of best dramas ever on television. The last season, however, was the most unique of the series, and I’m going to dive into it a bit deeper.

It’s all spoilers, all the time from here on!

Like season 2, season 5 begins with a flash forward. It certainly was a striking way to start; the images of the house deserted and damaged were a stark contrast to the end of season 4.

We went from this ending of season 4 right into season five’s opening, where we see Walter, who is far different from the last time we saw him. It’s a flash forward, so he even looks different, with a full beard and a full head of hair. Then we see the house, with the spray painted “Heisenberg” on the living room wall… yeah, stark contrast! This certainly set the tone for what was to come – Walter’s descent into the worst situation he could ever be in and his succumbing to his own worst instincts. In Season Four, Walt was fighting for his life and his family’s security, but in Season Five, he’s covering his ass at any cost and being just plain wacky.

The Big Moments from Season 5:

Robbing the Train and The Dirt Bike Rider’s death

Until this moment, Season 5 kinda feels like just another season in the Breaking Bad universe (episode one’s flash forward aside). Once Todd shot that kid, a line was crossed and the show is never the same again, even if the characters don’t realize it at the time.

Mike’s Death

Mike’s death is, to me, the signal to the audience that, if you don’t already get it, Walter is crazy now. He killed Mike because he was mad at him – there was nothing gained by Mike’s death. Once you start shooting people because you’re in a rage – well, there’s no way to walk that back.

The Coordinated Hit on the Prisoners

Sure, when Walter poisoned Brock, you might have thought, “This guy will do anything to get what he wants,” which was, at that point, protecting his family from Gus. Even if you didn’t care for his means, you could understand Walter’s end game: with Gus dead, they were safe. Killing the prisoners was just an action that would keep Walter out of jail… with six months to live, Walter decided he’d just end eight lives because he cared more about getting caught than anything else.

Hank realizes Walter is Heisenberg
I guess that if you’re a DEA agent and it takes you five seasons to discover your brother-in-law is a meth cook, you deserve the indignity of figuring that out while sitting on a toilet. I was surprised that Hank took a hard stance and never considered not pursuing the case because of what it would do to the family, not to mention his own future.

Jesse realizes Walter poisoned Brock/The Almost Arson
I feel that this thread of the story is the weakest of all. I think what happened was back in season 4, Saul’s bodyguard stole the ricin cigarette from Jesse to make him think that Gus was onto their plan to poison him. Then, in season 5, when Saul’s bodyguard stole Jesse’s weed… he somehow made the connection. The exposition isn’t important – the point of all that was for Jesse to be mad at Walt and to have good reason for being so, but the way it played out wasn’t exactly amazing.

Ordering a hit on Jesse

Once Jesse proves less than cooperative, Walt orders a hit on Jesse. This is, to me, like Walter ordering a hit on a family member. He’s gone completely over the edge.

Hank’s Death
All of this, everything that happened in season 5, is really just rising action building toward Hank’s death. I feel that this is the pivotal moment of the series. Bad things have happened before, but nothing like this. This leads to…

The Destruction of the Family
Everything Walter has done has always been about not bankrupting his family with his illness and leaving them with money so they’re taken care of after he’s gone. Now, it’s all been for nothing – his wife and son hate him and his baby daughter will never remember him. (Of course, we later learn that he may have gotten into this with good intentions, but he really did it for himself, in part, or maybe entirely because of his experience with Grey Matter.)

Walter Leaves Town
This is Walter at his lowest: dying of cancer, alone in a cabin in the woods, so lonely that he’s paying the vacuum repair guy to play cards with him. It’s not a strategic retreat; it’s his only option. That is, until he thinks of something better.

Forcing Elliott and Gretchen to give the family the money
I really liked this scene and the hilarious payoff at the end. The two most dangerous assassins the west of the Mississippi turn out to just be those two idiot friends of Jesse’s – that is awesome.

Poisoning Lydia, Killing Jack and his gang, saving Jesse, Walter’s death
With nothing to lose, Walter comes up with a plan to poison Lydia (awesome, by the way – I HATE Lydia!), kill Jack and his gang (including Todd, who, around my house, is known as Rolf from The Sound of Music – well, I guess Jesse actually did that) and saving Jesse in the process. It’ all wrapped up nicely, but, I can’t help but wish Jack and the gang had been built up more – Walter never had much of a rivalry with them, so there wasn’t as much tension. After the first episode (when I saw the gun) and then later, when we met Jack and the gang, I figured we were marching toward a conclusion featuring Walter killing everybody in the gang, but I imagined they’d have Skylar captive in an effort to force him to cook meth for them. I wasn’t far off, but since Walter didn’t know Jesse was there till the last episode… I dunno, I just wanted more external conflict between Jack and Walter. I guess killing Hank should have been enough conflict for me… but it kinda wasn’t.

I wasn’t dissatisfied with the ending of Breaking Bad, but I suppose I was more satisfied with the ending of the fourth season even though I liked season five better overall. In any case, Breaking Bad is certainly a show for the ages and I look forward to watching the entire series all over again in the future.


About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on November 10, 2014, in tv review and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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