Breaking Back: A season-by-season retrospective (Page 3 of 5)

Season 3 Review

Breaking Bad Season 3 is, simply, brilliant.

Having discovered how Walt is building his legacy, Skyler prepares to divorce him and Walt moves out. This leaves Walter Jr. confused and rebellious.  Yes, even a drug lord has family problems.

Season 3 piles on the drama. Walt is at a crossroads. He attempts to distance himself from the meth business to win Skyler back, but trouble ensues; two hitmen pursue the men who killed Tuco; Hank, the DEA agent chases Walt’s mysterious alter ego, Heisenberg; Jesse deals with the consequences of Jane’s death;and Skyler has an affair.

Ultimately, Walt finds himself under the increasing pressure of Gus Fring’s thumb. Gus provides Walt with a state-of-the-art meth lab and an assistant and friend to help manufacture the meth. The newbie to Walt’s World is Gale Boetticher (David Costabile). Gale and Walt are kindred spirits, both relatively cultured men of science and both new to the criminal world of the meth business.

And, oh, the world turns. Walt discovers that Gale is on hand to emulate Walt’s recipe should Walt no longer be needed by Gus; Jesse and Walt look to rekindle their partnership; Hank is nearly killed in a revenge attack for Tuco’s death; Walt discovers that Walt works for Gus, not Saul as he originally assumed; and Skyler becomes involved with the business, choosing to help Walt.

Walt begins to show what evil he is truly capable of as well — he kills two of Gus’ men and commands the death of another. Eventually, because of Walt’s digressions, Walt concludes that Gus is planning to kill him and the only way out of the situation is with the help of Jesse. Through his scheming and plotting, Walt still stumbles, but somehow manages way through the criminal underworld and proves himself a survivor.  And for Walt to survive, it is Gale who must pay the ultimate price.

As Walt rises to new heights, he brings down those around him, but fails to realize they are crumbling because of his actions. Skyler is pulled into the meth business because of him. Jesse commits murder to save Walt. Hank is nearly killed and partially paralyzed because of Walt. Even those assisting him in his criminal endeavors (Gus, Mike and Saul) must pay the consequences so Walt can survive and continue down his path of pure destruction.

Season 3 presents Walt with a path toward redemption, but he chooses otherwise. Season 1 could be titled “Breaking Bad” — meaning Walter White was crossing the boundaries of a law abiding citizen and entering the illegal world of drug manufacturing. Season 2 would be “Becoming Bad” — Walt has chosen his path and begins to show confidence in his new world. Season 3 could just be “Bad” — Walter White is now a bad man.

But still, somehow or another, we root for him. In one way or another we want Walt to succeed. Chalk this up to Bryan Cranston, for it his brilliance as an actor that makes Breaking Bad so compelling.

Grade: A+

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Review by Gordon Shelly, special to Influx Magazine