Plot

Continuing to cook top-quality crystal meth, terminally-ill chemistry teacher Walter White (Cranston) and former student Jesse Pinkman (Paul) are in over their heads. Joining forces with crooked lawyer Saul Goodman (Odenkirk), they begin to rise through the local drug trade and are on the verge of big money after an introduction to smart, high-level distributor Gus Fring (Esposito). But while Walter’s original plan was merely to secure his family’s financial future, he’s unable to let go of his new wealth and power…

Review

Picking up where the truncated first season left off, season two is another brilliantly unpredictable mix of compelling character drama, genuinely shocking moments (ATM machine, anyone?) and gripping, slow-burn crime thrills. As well as expanding the world creator Vince Gilligan introduced us to last time, the core of the season – symbolised by the discovery of rot – is the moral decay of Walter’s soul. Though he started out as a good man trying to provide for his family, here he takes definitive steps towards becoming a feared drug lord, (giving Jesse a gun to ‘handle’ problems, warning off a rival outside a hardware store), with Bryan Cranston convincingly morphing him into a ruthless badass. As his house of cards starts to fall apart under the strain of all the lies, Gilligan and co milk every ounce of tension from a number of terrific dilemmas, such as Walt having to choose between the birth of his daughter or a game-changing, one-chance-only drug deal. Again, Cranston is absolutely magnificent (the scene in the penultimate episode where he lets something awful happen is an acting masterclass), but the whole cast is utterly fantastic. Elsewhere, both Giancarlo Espositio’s unflappable meth distributor and Bob Odenkirk’s amusingly shady lawyer are welcome additions, while that ending – yes, that ending – is nothing short of jaw-dropping.

Verdict

Picking up where the truncated first season left off, season two is another brilliantly unpredictable mix of compelling character drama, genuinely shocking moments and gripping, slow-burn crime thrills.