Breaking Back: A season-by-season retrospective (Page 2 of 5)
Season 2 Review
Season 2 picks up immediately after the previous season. Having seen the violent and unpredictable nature of Tuco, Walt and Jesse decide to take action first. Of course, as most things happen in Breaking Bad, nothing goes as planned. Tuco is killed in a violent gun battle witnessed by Walt's DEA brother-in-law, Hank. However, Hank doesn't see Walt or Jesse.
Without Tuco to distribute their product, Walt and Jesse decide to become the kingpins and move the product themselves. Jesse recruits three of his friends to do so.
The blue meth grows in popularity, Walt and Jesse bond and pull apart in many ways; Hank deals with the consequences of the Tuco shootout; Jesse finds a girlfriend and the relationship threatens everything he and Walt are working toward; Walter and Skyler have another child, a baby girl; Skyler becomes more suspicious of the long hours Walt spends away from home; Walt's cancer treatment has a turn for the better; the sudden income Walt has comes under question; and a few new characters are introduced.
The first season was incredibly good, but once season two turns and Walt interacts with Saul, Gus and Mike, Breaking Bad becomes simply incredible.
Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), a very crooked lawyer, provides the gateway for Walt and Jesse to become more than just pawns in the world of mass drug manufacturing. First, there's Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Gus is a mild-manner owner of a fast food chain; however, he is also the lord of a large drug empire. He appears to be pulling Walt into the fold of his operations. This a wonderful role for Esposito. He plays the role of Gus Fring with a villainous calm, all the while hinting at the explosive capabilities of a man of this nature. Then, there's Mike Ehrmantraut (played by the underrated Jonathan Banks). Mike is a heavy and a fixer. He is introduced in this season, but his true affiliations remain a mystery.
Season 1 found Walt on his way to breaking bad, but by the end of season 2, Walt breaks bad. In the second to last episode, Walt watches Jane (Krysten Ritter), Jesse's girlfriend, choke to death on her own vomit during a drug induced blackout. Walt knowingly chooses this path in an effort to reclaim Jesse. This is a monumental moment for Walt. He crosses the threshold, fully losing sight of who he was and why he started the endeavor. It is a moment that remains private for Walt, but its outcome has an immense impact on many lives.
By the season finale we understand the consequences of this decision and the path Walter White has chosen.
By the time season 2 ends, Cranston has taken hold of Walter White and crafted a truly powerful, human, flawed, and memorable character.
If season 1 was very good showing flashes of greatness, then season 2 is great, showing flashes of brilliance.
Review by Gordon Shelly, special to Influx Magazine