Breaking Bad Review: “Hermanos”

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.