There has already been some great coverage here at TV Geek Army about Breaking Bad's glorious return to television, and rightfully so. However, a show this dense, nuanced, and well executed can certainly stand the test of additionall analysis. As such, here are some more ruminations on the Season Rour opener, "Box Cutter."
The cold open of this season was in stark contrast to the opening moments of the first three seasons. Instead of some grim, mysterious images out of the gate, we got to spend some more time with the now deceased Gale (although this was just before his death was truly made official in the show's canon). For once, we knew much more than the characters did, bringing a dark cloud over Gale's sunny proceedings. I'll miss Gale, a tragic figure figure if ever there ever was one.
We already knew Gus was ruthless in his business, but this is the first time we've seen him get his hand's dirty. His one scene couldn't have been executed better, and Giancarlo Esposito's performance, which included almost no dialog, was still extremely powerful. With Gus presumably poised to be a major factor this season, I could see an Emmy nomination for coming his way next year. I certainly would like to see him get one.
While it was fairly obvious Gus wouldn't kill Walt or Jesse, I still feel the images from this season I saw kind of put a minor damper on the overall flavor of the episode. Not that it wasn't tense, but it could have been even more engaging. That being said, it wasn't until Gus was standing near Victor with the box cutter that I figured out what he was going to do. The warning graphic about intense violence kind of tipped the show's hand unfortunately, at least to a degree. My first thought was that Victor would screw something up with making the meth and blow himself up or what have you. The way things actually went is better.
Now that Skyler knows what Walt is up to, I expect her to have more to do this season other than just be angry at Walt. I look forward to watching how the show handles her this season. The same goes for Saul Goodman, who provided some brief levity from this particularly bleak and intense episode, which is saying something for a show like Breaking Bad.
Hank and Marie
Speaking of bleak, things are not going well for Hank and Marie right now. Also, a thought occurred to me: with the show likely lasting a few more seasons including this one, unless there is a jump forward in time at some point I don't think Hank will be able to be back working with the DEA before the series ends. At best, he'll have a desk job. Hank deserves better than that, but it certainly would be in line with the show's aesthetic.
Gale's lab notes are going to make things very interesting for Gus, Walt, and company. Breaking Bad may be setting up Gus versus Walt this season, but knowing Vince Gilligan I wouldn't be surprised of the authorities get to one of them first, and my guess is it would be Gus. Plus, the cartel is always waiting around the corner.
Welcome back, Breaking Bad. You remain the best drama on television.