Breaking Bad—Season 4

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9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 9/10

Walter vs Jesse vs Gus

Tone of the series continues to change

 
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It’s going to get real…

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is have a disagreement with his new boss Gus (Giancarlo Esposito).  While Gus is cranking out the Blue product and expanding the market, Walt is finding the investigation of his brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) is forcing Gus and his muscle Mike (Jonathan Banks) into a corner…and Walt is libel to be trapped with him!  As Jesse (Aaron Paul) spirals out of control due to the shooting of Gale (David Costabile), Walt has to think fast…and with the help of his lawyer Saul (Bob Odenkirk) and new aid from his wife Skyler (Anna Gunn), Walter must break free from Gus…but is Gus’s grasp too strong?

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He’s the one with cancer…why do I have to be put through the emotional ringer every season?

Breaking Bad—Season 4 aired form July 17, 2011 to October 9, 2011 on AMC.  The series continued to garner critical acclaim and Aaron Paul won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series with nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Bryan Cranston), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Anna Gunn), Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Giancarlo Esposito), Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (Mark Margolis), Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series (“Face Off”), Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (“Face Off”), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series (“End Times”), Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series (“Face Off”), Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series (“Face Off”), Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or One-Hour Drama Series (“Face Off”), Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role (“Face Off”), and Outstanding Drama Series.

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…this isn’t going to go as you hoped Skyler

Breaking Bad is an odd show.  It has a very comic tone especially early in the series.  That tone grabbed viewers and brought them into a series about a kind of goofy (dying) science teacher who becomes a meth maker with a former druggie student.  That insertion of “dying” is what kept the show more in the drama than in the comedy.  As the series progresses, Breaking Bad gets darker and darker.  There is still a wink-wink comedy tone, but it isn’t quite the same show that it was first season.

For me, that is a good thing.  It was pretty evident early on, the series is about corruption and how a “nice guy” can turn into a thug.  This follows movies like The Godfather which had a similar tonal change throughout the three film series.  Here Walter is on a path to his ultimate darkness.  Through the course of the season he gets worse and worse until he stoops to his lowest level yet…and becomes sniveling which isn’t an admirable or funny trait whatsoever…Walter White is the real villain here.

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Get ready for a surprise!

Bryan Cranston plays him perfectly in that he sucked you in during the earlier season so you don’t want him to be the bad guy, and you keep hoping he will take the moral high ground.  Here, he is plotting and calculating and continuously using Aaron Paul (who is the real anti-hero of the series and shines this season) and will do anything to defend himself without regards to the people around him.  Anna Gunn grows a bit on me in the season in that she is being corrupted by the evil and unlike Jesse who seems to rebel, she’s getting colder and colder (as seen by her dealings with Ted).  I particularly like the more rounded Giancarlo Esposito as Gus…though I don’t think he’ll be returning anytime soon.

Breaking Bad is a series that can be debated because it changes so much from the onset.  The arc of the series is what sells me, but I can also see how it could turn off some viewers who don’t like the slow burn tonal shift as Walter White falls deeper and deeper into his pit.  It raises great morality questions and questions if Walter White was always corrupt or if he learned corruption through his dealings and faces with death.  With one extended length season left, saving Walter White doesn’t seem an option…it just becomes how dirty he’ll get.

Breaking Bad—Season 4 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Box Cutter”

4.1       Box Cutter Airdate:  07/17/11

Walter (Bryan Cranston) has been captured, and Jesse (Aaron Paul) has been forced to kill to protect both of them from Gus (Giancarlo Esposito).  With Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui) and Mike (Jonathan Banks) holding Walter and Jesse hostage, appealing to Gus’s business sense might be Walter and Jesse’s only chance.  Marie (Betsy Brandt) finds Hank (Dean Norris) still struggling with is condition and questions what can snap him out of his self-pity.  Skyler (Anna Gunn) finds Walt missing and realizes she must get inventive to plan for his disappearance.  Even with Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) out of the picture, Gale could still cause problem for Walt and Jesse and the future of their drug dealing.

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“Thirty-Eight Snub”

4.2       Thirty-Eight Snub Airdate:  07/24/11

Walter finds his position with Gus dangerous and sets out to solve it…but discovers surprising help. Jesse deals with his murder of Gale by going on a party-bender with his friends Badger (Matt L. Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) but finds the party sometimes has to end.  Marie and Hank’s relationship continues to crumble as Skyler hits a snag in her attempt to acquire the carwash.

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“Open House”

4.3       Open House Airdate:  07/31/11

Hank’s behavior pushes Marie back into old habits, but a visit from one of Hank’s coworkers could mean a change in Hank’s view.  Skyler takes aggressive action to get the carwash but has her own warning for Walt.  Jesse continues to spiral out of control as his behavior gets more erratic.

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“Bullet Points”

4.4       Bullet Points Airdate:  08/07/11

Walt and Skylar have to take their scripted plans public to Hank, Marie, and Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte), but Hank has a bigger surprise for Walt.  Jesse’s continuing troubles frustrate Walt but put Gus and Mike in a no-win situation.

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“Shotgun”

4.5       Shotgun Airdate:  08/14/11

Jesse finds himself making rounds with Mike and questioning what Gus’s plan for him is.  Walter deals with Jesse’s disappearance and tries to begin a work stoppage.  Skylar and Walter move forward with the carwash and a point of reconnection…but a reminder to Walt of their break-up could have Walt’s ego getting the best of him.

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“Cornered”

4.6       Cornered Airdate:  08/21/11

As attacks on the shipments increase, Jesse continues to work with Mike on his rounds, and Walt is convinced it is an attempt by Gus to separate them.  Skylar and Walt debate his moving in as Skylar questions the danger in Walt’s job.  Walt’s attempt to outsmart Gus backfires.

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“Problem Dog”

4.7       Problem Dog Airdate:  08/28/11

Skyler order Walt to return Walt Jr’s Dodge Challenger, but Walter has other plans for it.  Hank takes his suspicions about Gus to the DEA…with surprising proof.  Skyler realizes laundering drug money could be harder than she thought.  With fears that he can never reach Gus, Walt turns to Jesse for help, but Jesse starts to question his relationship with Walt.

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“Hermanos”

4.8       Hermanos Airdate:  08/28/11

Gus is called in by the DEA about his connection to Gail but finds Hank doesn’t seem satisfied by his answers.  Skyler tries to find a way to hide all the money that Hank is bringing in.  Hank decides to take tracking Gus into his own hands and enlists Walter to help him.  Mike worries that Hank’s search could compromise the dealings with the Mexican cartel and the deal could provide Hank with more information.  Walter pressures Jesse to make his move on Gus as Gus recalls what initially sent him into combat with Hector (Mark Margolis).

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“Bug”

4.9       Bug Airdate:  09/11/11

Hank increases his search and learns about the packaging plant.  Walter continues to pressure Jesse to make a move on Gus and questions if Jesse is really trying.  Skyler finds Ted (Christopher Cousins) is back in her life when he is facing an audit, and his finances could threaten to destroy the carwash if he’s investigated.  An attack by the cartel puts Jesse in harm’s way and Jesse learns that Gus has plans for him.

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“Salud”

4.10     Salud Airdate:  09/18/11

Skyler tries to settle the problem with Ted through Saul (Bob Odenkirk), but finds her plan might have backfired.  Jesse heads to Mexico with Gus and Mike but gets a bad surprise.  Walter’s fight with Jesse leaves him battered, and Walt Jr. finds he has to help his father.  When Gus confronts his old nemesis Don Eladio (Steven Bauer), he has his own surprise.

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“Crawl Space”

4.11     Crawl Space Airdate:  10/02/11

Walter finds Hank’s attempts to investigate Gus are getting dangerously close when he discovers the laundromat and takes drastic action to stop it.  Jesse and Gus return to America ahead of Mike, and Jesse contemplates cooking on his own for Gus.  Skyler’s attempt to get Ted to pay the IRS takes a bad turn when she gets Saul involved.  Walt gets an ultimatum which might finally force his hand.

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“End Times”

4.12     End Times Airdate:  10/02/11

With Gus threatening to kill his family, Walter’s making a move.  With anonymous tip to the DEA from Saul, the troops are gathering around Hank for fear of a Mexican cartel retaliation, but Mike suspects a frame-up.  A sudden unidentifiable illness in the son of Andrea Cantillo (Emily Rios) raises suspicions with Jesse and could force him to finally do the unthinkable.

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“Face Off”

4.13     Face Off Airdate:  10/09/11

Attempts to assassinate Gus have failed, and Jesse and Walt must find a way to corner Gus as Jesse deals with a new problem due to his concerns about ricin.  With his family in protective custody, Andrea’s child in danger, and the production threatened, Jesse and Walt are up against the wall, and Gus holds all the cards…or does he?

Related Links:

Breaking Bad—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Breaking Bad—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Breaking Bad—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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