Breaking Bad: Box Cutter Season 4 Premiere Review

28 Jul

Vince Gilligan is on top of his game, again, writing some of the best TV out there.  It’s hard to believe I ever shied away from this show worried that because the main character was dying of cancer that I would find it too depressing.  Instead, what I found (thanks to a friend convincing me to watch the series), was one of the most compelling character dramas I’ve ever watched on TV.  I don’t say that lightly as I am one of the most critical individuals you will ever meet (just ask friends, family, former students, former exes…).  It takes a lot to impress me and even more to make me a rabid fan of any show, but Vince Gilligan has managed this with his brilliantly crafted show, Breaking Bad.

Spoiler Alert from this point forward… If you aren’t familiar with the show, I suggest you go to iTunes and start downloading.  You won’t be sorry.  We follow the tale of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher, stricken with cancer who needs to find a way to provide for his family when he’s gone.  He discovers that cooking crystal meth with his chemical knowledge, allows him to make such a high grade of the drug it becomes the most popular type in New Mexico, earning Walter a new job title.  Or at least part-time job title.  He teams up with a former student, who uses, deals, and essentially desperately needs to get his act together, Jesse Pinkman.  The drama ensues as these two pursue their new career trajectory.

By the time we reach Season 4, Walter and Jesse have been tested in more ways than is imaginable.  And why is Walter still alive?  He went into remission after going through chemotherapy.  So, Walter and Jesse are alive, but they’re constantly having their lives threatened.  I suppose this is completely realistic if one is a meth cooker/dealer on the rise in any place.  We begin in a disoriented state because, Gale, the cook/chemist that Jesse had to kill in order to save their lives at the end of Season 3, is alive.  And we are back in time, on Gale’s first day working for Gus, setting up the specialized cook lab.  Gale’s as excited as any kid on their first day of school (for kids who actually liked school and that sure wasn’t me).  Then suddenly we flash forward to the present and we see Gale dead, and the aftermath of the shooting.  Victor shows up, trying to do some damage control for Gus but it’s too late, the neighbors are there and he can’t do anything so he leaves.

In the meantime, Walter and Jesse are being held at the lab by Mike, the hitman/fixer for Gus.  Once Victor arrives and confirms the death of Gale, arrangements are made and Gus makes arrangements to visit the lab – the event everyone is waiting for.  Victor, cocky and highly self-assured is forced to admit to Mike that the neighbors saw him enter the apartment but they assumed he was just a curious by-stander.  Yeah right.  Victor doesn’t seem to understand the consequences of his actions so he proceeds to show Walter and Jesse they are both still expendable because he knows their recipe.  He starts cooking a batch of meth.  Gus shows up.

Now, we obviously know at least Walter, if not both he and Jesse, have to survive to keep the show going.  What we don’t know, however, is how Gus is going to deal with the situation.  Things don’t look like they’re on the upswing when Gus doesn’t speak.  And here is a bold, effective writing choice from Vince Gilligan.  Gus’ silence is far more effective in this scene than any words that could come from him.  It’s the old saying:  actions speak louder than words.  So we get to watch as Gus silently changes into a cook/hazmat protection suit, grabs a box cutter, moves past Walter and Jesse, then Mike to finally arrive at his victim:  Victor.  We all know what’s coming, and boy does it come… Gus slits Victor’s neck with the box cutter and all of us, characters and audience alike, are forced to watch Victor bleed out until he’s dead.  Then Gus tells them to get to work.  And clean up the mess.  Luckily for Walt and Jesse, there are plastic barrel and gallons of hydrofloric acid.  We won’t be seeing Victor again.

What’s so compelling about this episode happens at the end.  Walt and Jesse must decide how they will proceed.  It’s clear they are expendable.  It’s clear Gus wants them dead.  It’s only a matter of time until he acts again.  How are they going to react?  They ponder this over a Denny’s breakfast.  At least they know where to find some of the best comfort food in Albuquerque.

This season, these two will be pushed to their limits as characters.  I have a feeling Denny’s will get a lot of repeat business.

Watch my Vlog Review on YouTube.

Breaking Bad Season 4 Premiere Trailer:

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