Sep 06 2011

Breaking Bad Review: “Hermanos”

Published by at 12:00 pm under Reviews,Television

Way back when I first started reviewing Breaking Bad on a weekly basis, I made the rather prodding statement that I might have less to go on with this show, as “not that much happens” in it, as compared to say, Dexter or Game of Thrones.

That was widely derided by fans as a bad thing to say, as I was dismissing the amount of detail that is poured into each episode, and how well developed the characters are and all that. I conceded that was true, and have tried to review the show since with that in mind.

But even though I might be poking the same hornet’s nest now, I have to say that I’ve been pretty disappointed with this season of Breaking Bad, as eight episodes in, it barely seems like the plot has moved forward in a meaningful way.

I understand a show taking a while to spool up, but there just hasn’t been a real point to this season, and we’re finally only now getting a glimpse at a real overarching storyline, which is Gus dealing with Hank’s investigation, and the Cartel being on his ass.

Gus is practically the show’s main character at this point, as his predicament is far more interesting than Walt’s.

But really, what else has happened? Walter has spent literally the entire season either freaking out about Gus (which isn’t much different from last season), and elsewhere his time has been spent buying conspicuous things in an effort not to look conspicuous (ie the car wash). Even that didn’t solve his cash problems, as he STILL makes way too much money to ever be seen in the light of day, as evidenced by the fact that it’s still being buried under his house the way it was ages ago, so that entire plotline has been a wash (pun intended).

Jesse spent about five full episodes being a depressed basket case about Gale, but then a switch got magically flipped and he’s become marginally more interesting as a new muscleman for Gus, but still, he’s far less engaging than past seasons. It’s good to see his relationship with Andrea is somewhat functioning, but we’ve seen her what, twice?

Hank was in a similar spot, spending the entire season recovering from his injuries and like Jesse, is just now starting to get interesting again, perhaps more interesting than Walt himself who simply has nothing to do this season. As for Marie, Skyler and Walter Jr? Name one relevant thing any of them have done all season. They’ve each had stupid subplots (shoplifiting, the car wash, the new car), but have been thoroughly useless.

Congrats, you’ve graduated from nagging wife to bumbling sidekick.

It’s just hard to name any truly memorable moments from this season, which is strange for a show that’s usually full of them. The box cutter stands as the only one that comes to mind, but other than that, it really seems like the show has barely moved an inch forward in eight episodes. And for a series that prides itself on character progression, it seems to be moving backwards in a lot of ways. Walt and Jesse in particular are far less likable than they used to be, with Walt alternating between being paranoid, nervous or overly snappy, and Jesse just not caring at all about anything, with a death wish for the first half of the season, and now a with newfound blasé as he’s in the “inner circle,” as he seems tired of Walt’s plans.

Thankfully this week we saw the most interesting scene we’ve seen in quite some time as we learn how Gus got started in the meth game, and why he has such a beef with the cartel. It also reveals why he’s so protective of his chemists (Gale and Walt) as they’re stand-ins for his surrogate brother who was murdered by Hector. It was a great scene, though one a bit anticlimactic as the flashes of blood in the water made it pretty clear what was about to happen. What’s still a mystery is who Gus was in Chile that commands such respect, and hopefully Hank somehow gets his hands on that information before season’s end.

Calm, rational vengeance shall be his!

So finally, at episode eight, we’ve gotten somewhere. There is a slight amount of pressure on Gus due to Hank’s investigation, and the Cartel is still pissed at him, as they always have been. Why it took so long to get to this point, I have no idea, and a big chunk of this season feels like a waste to me.

I love this show enough to call it out when it’s having a rough year, and compared to the gripping previous seasons, this is far, far from that sort of caliber. Maybe other fans don’t agree, but I have to call it like I see it.

 





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8 responses so far

  • Bad Acid

    I like your reviews, and I even thought about what you’d think as I watched this week. I’m fairly hopeful they have something up their sleeve for a sweeping redemption for Walt, and this whole season of making him look like a dumbass will give it all the greater an impact.

    –Possible spoiler ALERT–
    One of the things was, at least to me, is that he lied to his family about the cancer scan. I’m fairly certain it’s returning but he’s not telling anyone. He’s too far on his “I’m the boss” streak to let anyone see weakness in him.

    I kinda hope they draw out the Gus vengeance story, but I’m not going to hold my breath. It seems like it’ll just be a “he’s finally at peace” finish at the end of the season. Maybe that’s a mistake on the writers’ parts of having the ending in mind before they wrote out the whole season, thus making them have to stretch it out. I found the end of the second season with the plane crash kinda anticlimactic (as anticlimactic as a mid-air collision can be), since they spent the whole season alluding to some explosion or fire at the White residence, just to have it be something almost wholly unrelated to the main characters, so having another disappointing finale wouldn’t be unexpected.

    We’ll see. Thanks for the reviews (and the site in general)

  • Morono

    I thought it was one the best episodes this season, very gripping and tense.

  • shiner_man

    I thought this was a fantastic episode. Gus calmly explaining his involvement with Gale and mentally torturing Hector were great scenes. Also, we got a sort of Scarface type reunion with Mark Margolis and Steven Bauer sharing a scene together.

    What exactly was Gus referring to when he asked Hector if “Today was the day?” Is he talking about simply killing him or is there something else he has up his sleeve?

  • Fabian

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Breaking Bad is good for building tense moments, but there has been no pay off to any of them this year. The box cutter I never saw coming. Why can’t they just kill Skyler’s fugly ass, I hate looking at her. It would be interesting to see how Walt would handle being a single dad, you know hank and his kleptowife would try to help out and be pushy. It would create tension. They should turn this season into part 1 of the final season, have Skyler get killed, Hank puts it together that W.W. is not Walt Whitman. The cartel shows up ready for war with Gus, Jessie becomes a hitman and the whole show ends with a crazy bloody bang, everybody dead except Walk Jr, who limps away as the screen fades to black, end of show.

  • John Chimpo

    I’d have to say, it was a better episode than the previous few. Now if the writers could just find Walt something constructive to do, we’d be okay. Also, nice to see Saul Goodman make an appearance for once. Its still very possible that Hank finally pins everything on Gus this season,possibly at the end. Hank is way to determined to stop now. And if/when Gus gets pinched, will he roll over on “Heisenburg”?

  • James

    I thought the end scene delving into Gus’ past was fantastic. Really tense. Though I am not sure they were surrogate brothers, Hectors alluded that they were possibly gay, so I think that may have been true.

  • SickP

    I see around the internet a lot about how people do it “Like a Boss”. In this episode we get to see Gus both dodge the DEA “Like a Boss”, and get his ass handed to him by the cartel.

    I have been much more interested in him this season, since he seems to have a rich history that made him as careful as he is.

    Gus must have had more going on further in the past as well. Since it would be hard to make so many parts of his company in Europe manufacturing goods and shipping products in such as small amount of time. With a small section for Fast Food in America.

    I have wondered about the decisions of the other characters in the show, but I do think Aaron Paul has had some great scenes this season. Will he get the emmy this year and Bryan Cranston be denied?

  • Nope

    You should know that when writing a review for an episode, it’s much more effective if you actually review the episode rather than a review of your opinion of the series. You’re review sounds like a whole lot of nothing; your opinion of the series peppered with obvious elements of the episode. Get with the showgram.

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