Plot

With the murder of lab stooge Gale ensuring that Walter (Cranston) and Jesse (Paul) are once again the only ones who can produce their peerless brand of crystal meth, New Mexico drug kingpin Gus Fring (Esposito) decides to keep them alive for now. Reasoning that it’s only a matter of time before this changes, Walter scrambles for a way to get to him first, while Jesse struggles with the guilt of murdering an innocent man. Meanwhile, Hank (Norris) finds evidence that re-opens his Heisenberg investigation, and Gus seeks to settle old scores with the cartel…

Review

More of a steady climb than previous seasons, the opening episodes of season four are unhurried even by Breaking Bad’s measured standards. To begin with, there’s frustratingly little of Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring, as he and Walter attempt to outmanoeuvre each other from afar, while Vince Gilligan and his writers take their time shifting all the new pieces into place. But eventually it all builds into a momentous final run of episodes, with Gilligan and co unleashing a truly riveting second half that is packed with unpredictable developments and tension-soaked drama. Though some fans voiced concerns that Walt isn’t quite the central focus he used to be, the magnificent Aaron Paul proves that he’s equally deserving of Emmy-worthy praise, while Jonathan Banks’ world-weary hitman is happily more prominent than ever. All that said, season four undoubtedly belongs to Esposito, as Gilligan shifts his attentions to Fring’s long-running conflict with Mexican cartel boss Don Eladio (Scarface‘s Steven Bauer – perfectly cast), while the climactic shot of Gus is among the most memorable images you’re likely see on the small screen. It is, quite literally, jaw-dropping stuff.

Verdict

More of a steady climb than previous seasons, the opening episodes of season four are unhurried even by Breaking Bad’s measured standards, but it builds into a momentous run of compelling instalments.