Last week I reviewed the second season DVD of Breaking Bad and promised I would follow it up with a review of Sunday’s Season Three premier assuming people cared enough about the initial review to warrant a follow-up.
Well, they didn’t, but I’m gonna review it anyway.
I will assume anyone reading this is familiar with what has transpired in previous episodes so I won’t go into too great of detail with a series recap. It is, however, quite apparent with this episode that the show clearly seems to be headed in a new direction. While I have openly stated my skepticism that such a shift would work while simultaneously maintaining true with the series’ original premise, I must say Sunday’s episode was very effective in getting me excited to see what Bad will pull off next.
For the most part, the episode, entitled “No Mas,” was very quiet, focusing on the personal issues of its core characters (Walt and Skyler’s separation, Jesse’s rehab, etc.) and for the most part did a solid job of continuing those respective stories. I particularly liked the work of RJ Mitte as Walter Jr. Playing the role of the kid having trouble dealing with his parent’s separation. This could have gone wrong in a million ways, so I give Mitte a lot of credit for handling the situation very well and not making his performance overly bratty.
The episode also featured a moment that has been inevitable since the show’s inception; Walt’s confession to Skyler about all his wrong doings. This was another scene that could have been sappy and stupid, but was handled brilliantly. Episode writer Vince Gilligan wisely didn’t have Walt bring out all there was to know in one fail swoop, because as he stated, there are a million different angles to view the situation from.
And despite all his claims of being finished with the meth trade, there’s really no question as to if Walt will return, but rather what will provoke him to do so. The safe bet seems to be blackmail, most specifically from the quietly creepy “Gus” who was able to obtain the knowledge that Walt’s brother-in-law Hank is with the DEA. Ever since he was introduced at the end of last season, I’ve felt there were great sinister layers to “Gus” and I’m eager to see how they come out.
But after all the quiet, the episode ended, both figuratively and literally, with an explosion, as two Mexican thugs crossed the border after blowing up the truck that brought them there. No backstory was given to these characters, who were shown in a series of ominous shots before the big finale.
While not knowing who these characters are prevents me from giving a proper critique of them, the way Gilligan and episode director Bryan Cranston (already doing brilliant work as the shows protagonist) brought them about was sensational. Without knowing who they are and what they are planning to do, these new villains made an effectively chilling entrance and I cannot wait to see where the show goes with them.
Breaking Bad is clearly in transition mode, and after evaluating the changes, I’m still not 100% sure the show will be able to maintain it’s original entertainment value without becoming an over-the-top shell of its former self. But seeing as how I’ve found nearly every second of its short run brilliant thus far, I am more than willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
There are still a lot of unresolved issues to play out this season, both large and small, and after viewing “No Mas” I am as eager as ever to see where they are going. While it’s quickly becoming a different and far more expansive show that when it premiered two years ago, if Sunday’s chilling premier is any indication, that change may actually prove to be a good thing.
Final Score: 9/10