*The following contains Breaking Bad spoilers in general and a major spoiler for the season four finale in particular.
The Breaking Bad bandwagon is one that I avoided getting on for a long time. After watching seasons one through three in a summer marathon, I found a lot to enjoy in the show, but there certainly wasn’t any drinking of the Kool-Aid being done. And while there still isn’t, I’ll be damned if the ending of season four didn’t at least tempt me to take a sip or two.
This season started off rather lackluster compared to the high of the previous season. Sure, Gus slitting Victor’s throat and the cartel shoot-out were among some of the greatest moments of the show’s history, but they were scattered in a field with the likes of Hank’s self-loathing and distractingly annoying advertisements for Denny’s. But the final two episodes of this season made up for the majority of all that lackluster crap.
What made the Breaking Bad season four finale special is that the immediate storyline involved is played out over two episodes instead of one. “End Times” is mostly set up for what we saw in “Face Off,” and that’s why “Face Off” is so fucking good. Imagine if the spinning gun scene in “End Times” had instead aired in the same episode as the final shot of the season. It wouldn’t have worked, simply because the final shot was one what required a moment of processing by the audience. Had everything been in “Face Off,” that moment of realization from the audience would’ve happened much faster, and thus, been much less effective.
This was one of those few instances where, if this season finale had been the series finale (due to failed network negotiations0, it would’ve completely worked. It could easily be interpreted that Walt finally “broke bad” and Jesse became the family man Walt was when all of this started. But since we know this isn’t the series finale, and there are still sixteen episodes to go, that leaves us wondering, where the fuck can we go from here?
I’ll leave that up to you, mainly because I want to get to the death of Gus, which is by far one of the best send-offs for any character in the history of ever.
Gus has been living on borrowed time for the majority of the fourth season. Mike said it himself: “you can handle the cartel or you can handle the DEA, but not both” (paraphrasing, of course). There’s no way Gus was going to make it out of this season alive, but not a single person could have predicted the absolutely crazy and hilariously out of place death that he received.
Gus has always been painted as a very real and down-to-earth character. The reason Gus has been so feared is because he has never done anything that has been out of the realm of possibility, so when he walked out after the bomb went off and fixed his tie, I was with it, assuming that my predictions were wrong and Gus survived the blast. But then the camera whips around to reveal that half of his face is gone (an effects shot courtesy of the folks over at The Walking Dead). Was it a brilliantly executed moment? Fuck yes. But does it fit in with the rest of Breaking Bad? Not one bit. And that may or may not be a good thing. It’s something that needs to be judged on a person by person basis within the audience.
Overall, season four of Breaking Bad is by far the show’s best one to date. With sixteen more episodes to go in the series, it will be crazy to see where the hell creator Vince Gilligan intends to take us next.
To listen to the latest episode of Merrill’s TV Podcast, The Idiot Boxers with Kevin Carr, head over to Fat Guys at the Movies.