“Breaking Bad” reaches critical mass

The final season of Breaking Bad has been a rollercoaster ride for fans and has tantalized and tortured them to the last episode. Walter White’s increasingly bad decisions have caught up with him now, just when he thought he was done with the meth business.

Bryan Cranston, who has also had acclaimed roles in Malcolm in the Middle and Argo, does a chillingly good job playing Walter White. His transformation from a kindhearted, everyman chemistry teacher into the ruthlessly evil drug lord, Heisenberg, is one of the greatest character arcs in television history.

But Walter White isn’t the only compelling character in the show. His DEA-agent brother in law, Hank Schrader, has been hunting Heisenberg for months. Hank, played by Dean Norris, believed Walt’s old boss, Gus Fring, was Heisenberg and that his search was over with Fring’s explosive death at the end of Season Four. New evidence forces Hank to open the case this season and he may not like what he finds.

Walt’s former apprentice and partner Jesse Pinkman also undergoes large changes this season. Incredibly disillusioned with life after the death of a young boy in a robbery gone wrong, Jesse leaves the meth business. Jesse’s guilt and the amount of blood money he has drives him to do drastic things in an attempt to right the wrongs that he and Walter did. Jesse stumbles upon a secret that Walt would rather he never found, and actor Aaron Paul does a fantastic job of portraying the hurt and betrayal Jesse has felt.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, the show’s creator, Vince Gilligan, stated, “You need to really settle down on the couch and pay close attention because it’s going to come at you fast and furious in the final eight episodes.”

So far, Gilligan’s statement has proved true; fans have been glued to their screens for the final episodes. The film director Rian Johnson, who is best known for Looper and Brick, directed the season’s aptly named third-to-last episode, “Ozymandias”. The title of the episode references a poem of the same name. The poem describes how all empires, no matter how powerful, eventually fall. Walter White once stated, “I’m in the empire business,” but now, it’s doubtful whether he and his empire will survive the end of the series.