Breaking Bad (season 5)
"You asked me if I was in the meth business or the money business. Neither. I'm in the empire business." - Walt
release year: 2012
viewing setting: home DVD, 4/19-20/14
synopsis: Having eliminated the primary source of his problems, Walt begins cleaning house and expanding his business, but finds that you can never get rid of all the loose ends.
impressions: Season five was actually broken into two parts, and the DVD packaging is misleading. If you buy "The Fifth Season" you get this first 8-episode half, whose material was from 2012. The second half of this season was aired in 2013, and those 8 episodes were released as "The Final Season." Anyway. Walt finally stops doing something stupid in almost every single episode, instead turning his thoughts to expansion. Without giving too much away, in the first half of this season, he gets back into business, is directly or indirectly responsible for a number of murders, and seems singleminded in his pursuit of...well, that's just it. Several times, he's confronted with the fact that he's far exceeded his original stated goal, and that he now has more than enough money to cover his family's needs. Yet he still wants to stay in business. Finally, he decides to stop...and then a simple loose end that's entirely his fault and was entirely preventable gives us a great cliffhanger to end this half-season on. I'd say this is the best span of episodes so far.
acting: Bryan Cranston is Walt, the regular guy who's changed and perhaps lost track of his original motivations. Anna Gunn is Walt's wife Skyler, who reverts to her normal stupid, argumentative, selfish self this season. RJ Mitte is their handicapped son, who thinks all of the problems revolve around his parents' arguments. Aaron Paul is Walt's former student and now partner in crime, who's now more involved and competent and also wants to get out of the business. Betsy Brandt is Skyler's self-absorbed sister. Dean Norris is her husband, a DEA agent who's got his second wind and isn't going to stop chasing the elusive drug kingpin he knows is out there. Bob Odenkirk is the lawyer involved with most of the criminal activity, yet who manages to keep his hands clean. Jonathan Banks is the super-competent henchman who remains involved with Walt's business despite his better judgment.
final word: Ongoing saga of a regular, boring guy who gets a taste of success (albeit as a criminal) and then can't give it up.
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