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Breaking Bad: Season 2 - Review

Breaking Bad: Season 2

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

SPECIAL FEATURES: Cast and Crew Commentaries; Deleted Scenes; Inside Breaking Bad – 13 Featurettes About The Making of Each Episode; Season 1 Recap; Walt’s Warning Featurette; “Negro y Azul” Music Video; “Better Call Saul” Commercial; 11 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes; Cop Talk with Dean Norris; Gag Reel; 6 Breaking Bad Original Webisodes; Season 3 Sneak Peek; Vince Gilligan’s Photo Gallery.

BREAKING Bad is one of TV’s best kept secrets. Like The Wire and The Shield before it, the show looks destined to become one of those that people have to catch up with after the event.

For those in the know, however, it’s an exhilarating experience: powerful, moving, often traumatic but never less than gripping. What’s more, it features two remarkable performances in lead duo Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.

Breaking Bad essentially follows science teacher Walt (Cranston) as he is diagnosed with terminal cancer and turns to drug production and trafficking with the help of former student Jesse (Paul) in order to try to leave his wife, son and newborn baby a nest egg.

As season two gets underway, Walt and Jesse find their early success threatened by a viciously unhinged drug lord named Tuco. As it progresses, Walt also struggles to keep his lies from his long-suffering wife Skyler (Anna Norris), while Jesse finds himself homeless.

By the close of the season, Jesse will embark on an ill-fated relationship with a new next door neighbour, while Walt reaches new heights in the drug market by reaching out to an even more powerful, and potentially dangerous, player.

Though thematically similar to Weeds, Breaking Bad is very much its own beast. Written by Vince Gilligan, it’s a darkly comic tale that never glamorises the world of drugs that it inhabits, even though its central characters are worth rooting for and sympathising with.

Rather, everything has a repercussion. Walt’s financial gains come at personal cost, via estrangement from his wife, while Jesse is always one step away from personal disaster. Both men are as amiable and accident prone as they, are times, flawed and capable of selfish or stupid acts.

The character progressions throughout this second season, as they gradually realise how much they’ve come to depend on each other, make for riveting and often inspired viewing.

Breaking Bad: Season 2

The supporting cast, meanwhile, is similarly flawless, with Norris standing out as his perplexed and emotionally drained wife, and Dean Norris excellent as a bullish brother-in-law and drugs enforcement officer.

Of the episodes themselves, not a single one feels wasted, whether placing emphasis on character or predicament.

The second episode of the series, Grilled, was a brilliant exercise in sustained tension as Walt and Jesse were held hostage by a deranged Tuco (brilliantly played by Raymond Cruz), while Breakage allows the spotlight to fall a little more on Hank (Norris) as he struggles to cope with the fallout from his experience with Tuco.

Negro Y Azul contains one of the most inventive deaths ever committed to film (featuring a guest turn from Danny Trejo), Peekaboo is a fantastically taut episode that finds Jesse attempting to gain revenge on a drug addicted couple who held up one of his crew, and 4 Days Out a memorable two-hander as Walt and Jesse spend four days in the desert cooking more supply, only to find the merchandise (and themselves) jeopardised by Jesse’s stupidity.

The final episodes, meanwhile, are as gripping as they are grim – every good moment in either of their lives juxtaposed by a tragedy in waiting. Jesse’s relationship with neighbour Jane (again, superbly played by Krysten Ritter) builds to a shocking conclusion and Walt must stare death in the face once again, while having to become an unlikely father figure to Jesse during the emotional final moments.

We could go on raving about Breaking Bad but that might ruin any of the many surprises this show has in store. It really is must-see television, to be placed under the same bracket as The Wire, Mad Men and Dexter as boundary pushing, thought-provoking and emotionally engaging TV. And with at least two more seasons on the way, we’d urge you to catch up now!

Certificate: 15
No of discs: 4
UK Release Date: July 26, 2010