‘Breaking Bad’: Freaking great

In the moral universe of AMC’s Breaking Bad, terrible choices cascade into worse consequences, and Sunday’s cliffhanger conclusion of Season 3  dialed that theme up a notch. Maybe three.

To summarize: Walt orders Jesse to murder Gale, saving Walt’s hide but also possibly (certainly?) ensuring Jesse’s death at the hands of Gus Fring’s drug gang. So both of Walt’s rivals for Meth Cooker-in-Chief could be out of the picture by early next season. Walt’s ruthlessness will have paid off again — but at what cost to those around him? Based on the past, it’s probably too appalling to contemplate.

Walter’s character arc — from naive chemistry teacher, to desperate cancer patient, to unpolished drug dealer,  to cold-blooded murderer and manipulator — has been fascinating to follow for the past three years. But this season, it’s been equally fascinating to discover more about the elegant, hypercautious drug lord Gus (a great Giancarlo Esposito), the gruff, inhumanly efficient fix-it man Mike (Jonathan Banks) and the comical yet nimble lawyer Saul (Bob Odenkirk).

While Sunday’s show was a satisfying wrap-up to the season, it wasn’t nearly as suspenseful as an earlier episode, “One Minute,” in which Walter’s DEA agent brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) took down the terrifying Cousins in a parking-lot shootout that ranks as one of the most gripping sequences in recent TV history. (And once again, we see the consequences of Walt’s actions exacting a devastating toll on those close to him.)

You know in your gut that this story is not going to end well for all involved, but you can’t wait to see what grim surprises await.

That’s great television.


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