I hated “Breaking Bad.”
I remember when it started, I was knee-deep in “Lost” mythology and fandom, and snarled at anyone who said that “Breaking Bad” was on the same level as the island adventure drama.
But a year ago, on a lame Saturday night, I cruised Netflix and dove right into the drug-life and drama of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) on a whim.
I watched the first four seasons within a two-month period and I loved every minute of it.
The fifth season, billed as the final season of the show which began in 2008, started in July and it was the first season I got a chance to watch live.
This past Sunday, I caught the final episode of the first half of the fifth season, which is slated to return next July to show the conclusion of the story.
And Sunday’s episode ended with one of the biggest cliffhangers to date: Mr. White’s brother-in-law, Hank Schrader, a decorated Drug Enforcement Agency agent, came to realize that the once-Mr.Chips, now-Scarface Mr. White had been cooking methamphetamine right under his nose.
For those who’ve watched the show, you’ll understand how great this scene was. We finally saw Hank discover Walt’s dirty little secret. He did it on the toilet no less; a fantastic move by creator Vince Gilligan and the rest of the staff. In the moment of such simplicity, Hank found the answer to his most troubling puzzle.
So now, we get a year to let that settle in. We get a year to ponder what’s going to happen next.
It’s no question that “Breaking Bad” will change significantly when it returns. The show has always been about Mr. White, who sometimes calls himself Heisenberg to hide his identity, and his crazy adventures in the meth industry.
Mr. White, who was diagnosed with cancer and knew he had to leave behind both a legacy and money for his family, has cooked meth in The Crystal Ship, a recreational vehicle, with Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul). He’s moved up and worked with a businessman in Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Recently, he headed his own business with Pinkman and one of Fring’s guys, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks).
But as Mr. White declared in the final minutes of the season five finale “Gliding Over All,” he’s out of the meth business.
He did all this while hiding it from his family, too. He hid it from his wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), at first, but she found out.
He still tried to keep it under wraps from Hank, but, as was shown in those closing seconds, now he knows.
It’s going to change the show. I don’t think we’ll be seeing Walter looking to kick-start the meth business again. Instead, it’s going to be a chase between Hank and Walt. We’ve been watching, waiting, craving for this to happen. And now, that final battle, that final piece of the story, is upon us.
It’s cool that “Breaking Bad” can do this. They’ve set up this final storyline from the pilot, when Hank told Mr. White just how profitable the meth business is.
This is the fight we want.
And we have already seen, sort of, where it leads. The season five premiere, “Live Free or Die,” opens with the normally-bald Mr. White entering into a diner with a full head of hair and beard. He’s dressed in an overly large coat, and is buying a ridiculously destructive machine gun from a shady dealer.
So, somehow, we get from the toilet scene to the machine gun scene. It’s anybody’s guess how we’ll get there, but it’s going to be a wild ride until we do.
It’s no surprise that “Breaking Bad” titled its most recent episode “Gliding Over All.” Not only does the title have a direct connection to Walt Whitman, whose poetry and name make several appearances in the show, but also because it reveals the truth about this syndicated drama.
“Breaking Bad” is surely a television show gliding over all.
Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @MDC_Scribner.