By Curt Heinrichs – Staff Writer
Before Breaking Bad returns to AMC at 9pm this Sunday night, catch up on the back story and what’s happening before these final episodes air
August 11th will be the beginning of the end for AMC’s Breaking Bad, a show that kicked off in 2008 to little or no fanfare. Despite its lack of acclaim in the beginning, the journey of Walt and Jesse began to reel in more and more viewers as they moved up the ladder from a two-bit meth operation to international drug kingpins and now Breaking Bad is one of the most highly-lauded one hour dramas in recent memory.
For those unfortunate few reading this that haven’t followed the story from the early days, allow me to catch you up to speed. Breaking Bad follows Walter White, a mild-mannered high school chemistry teacher, who seems to be unenthusiastic about the hand he’s been dealt. He’s got a nagging wife and a brooding teenage son who both seem to ignore him until they need something from him. He moonlights at a car wash after school, and finds out he’s got inoperable cancer, which he keeps from his family. Walt devises a plan to provide for Skylar and Walter Jr. after he’s gone.
With his expertise in organic chemistry, Walt decides that he has the knowhow to begin manufacturing methamphetamine, but he doesn’t know where to begin on the distribution front. Enter: Jesse Pinkman, a former student of Walt’s who spends his time alternating between smoking meth and selling it.
A strange partnership develops between Walt and Jesse and they gain a foothold in the local meth scene. Over the course of 4 ½ seasons, Walt and Jesse claw their way up in the world of methamphetamine, becoming known for their high quality blue product, all while avoiding Walt’s brother-in-law Hank, who is a DEA agent.
In addition to evading the fed in the family, Walt has had to learn the finer points of the game while managing to convince several different drug lords not to off him in the process.
Season 5 of Breaking Bad started out just as frenetically as the rest of the series, with Walt and Jesse severing all ties to Gus Freng and his meth empire. With Gus out of the picture, Walt, Jesse, and Mike (Gus’ hired muscle) must alter their cooking and distribution methods.
Saul puts them in touch with a pest control service so Walt can cook in homes under the guise of the homes being fumigated. In possibly the best train heist since Jesse James, the Heisenberg Crew manages to acquire a tanker worth of methylamine to continue cooking, but a young boy witnesses the heist and is shot by Todd, a new addition to the team.
The boy’s death brings more heat from the DEA upon the crew and Jesse and Mike decide that they want out of the game. A buyer for the methylamine is found, but Walt blocks the sale, which was worth $5 million to each Mike, Jesse, and Walt. In an attempt to tie up loose ends, Walt asks Mike for the names of men on Gus’ payroll who may implicate them.
When Mike refuses, Walt inexplicably shoots him, leaving Walt and Jesse without a person with serious experience in the meth game. Walt gets his hands on the list that Mike wouldn’t give him and has them killed in one of the more intense montages in recent memory.
To be honest, I haven’t seen that much shanking since the Florida State-Miami series in the 90’s.
Walt finds an overseas distributor for the product, making himself a nice little nest egg on his way out the door. Walt repays Jesse the $5 million and all seems good in Albuquerque as Walt decides to hang up his Heisenberg hat. Months later, Hank visits Walt’s home and notices a collection by Walt Whitman from Gale (remember him?) to WW.
Hank connects the dots and makes it seem like he knows that Walt is Heisenberg. “Woodrow Wilson? Willy Wonka? Walter White?”This sets the table for a head-to-head battle of wits between Hank and the DEA against Walt and his network.
Though it seems like Hank is wise to the real identity of Heisenberg, I’m not entirely sold on the idea as Walt brushed the accusation off with little acknowledgement. To this point, Breaking Bad has been one of the most smartly-written television shows that I’ve ever seen.
Rarely does a show have so many twists and turns without becoming redundant or a mockery. The internet is full of theories as to how the series will conclude, but I have a feeling that the writers of Breaking Bad will completely blow our collective mind when the series wraps this fall.