As I mentioned before, I'm serious about rating episodes of television. 10's only go to episodes that reach the closest to perfection. That being said, I've only given 10's to three different episodes of three different shows, but I have to add this to the list. The episode before the finale set everything here up, and while I expected the season to go in one direction after the first few episodes, I never would've expected it to go here. Walt faces the consequences of murdering the two men who killed Combo while Jesse is forced to go on the run to avoid being blamed and found by Gus.
First, before I say anything else, I have to say something that I rarely mention in my reviews, even though it's something that should come first and foremost: the cinematography of this show is superb, probably the best on television right now and better than a majority of Hollywood films. There's something about the way Gilligan and his directors move the cameras around and place shots that makes it better than anything I've seen in awhile. That opening scene where Walt, Gus and Mike meet up was incredible and gave me a wild west feeling, the kind of shot that really tells you how powerful these two men are without actually saying it.
From here on out, we get a slow build towards a haunting and powerful ending, an example of perfect storytelling. Jesse is hiding, having relapsed and finding his life in complete shambles. Everything is falling down around Walt: Gus seems ready to get rid of Walt, seeing him as a liability, and with his wife involved in the meth business now and Saul disagreeing with just about everything that Walt is saying and doing nowadays, Walt has dug himself into a pretty big hole. As a result, does it really come to a surprise the way the season ends?
We had a couple of scenes with characters who aren't necessarily the biggest or most important. For instance, Mike, a character who has remained to the side for much of the season and only popping up when physical violence or threats need to be delivered, gets his own little scene where he kills some men who are breaking into some of Gus' associates warehouse. It's sort of an example of dark humor, and if we didn't know by now how good Mike is at his job, we know for sure. I'm not sure it really did anything for the plot, but it was certainly an eyeopener and hopefully an indication of how much we'll be seeing Mike next season. And then we have Gus, who has gone from Walt's boss to a cool, calm and collected druglord who is able to get what he wants no matter what. I've mentioned before that Gus represents Walt's only possible hindrance, a man who is just as intelligent if not smarter than Walt. Seeing him meet up with Gale, that irritating guy who is clearly smart but is a bit of a loser, something Walt was never able to deal with, really informs us of how cold Gus is; he's willing to kill off Walt and pass over everything to Gale.
Boy, we see over time just how good Walt is though. Gus may be smart, but I have a feeling Walt will always be one step ahead. First of all, the relationship between Walt and Jesse has grown over time; they have one of the most love/hate relationships I've ever seen on television, but it's clear that Jesse is like a son to Walt and Walt will do whatever he can to protect him. However, Walt uses the deaths of the killers of Combo to his advantage: he uses Jesse in order to get a step up on Gus. The season ends with Walt about to be killed, Mike with the gun nearly to his head when Walt attempts to bargain for his life. As it turns out, Walt has set up a plan: seeing as Walt and Gale are the only two men who know about how to cook the blue meth, Walt plans on killing Gale in order to be the only one who knows. Jesse is the man who will pull the trigger. The season began with Walt suffering from guilt, knowing that he was responsible for the plane crash last season, and ending with him inviting himself into a new world of guilt: the death of Gale. Some people have argued that the final scene makes it hard to figure out what exactly happened.. did Jesse shoot Gale or not? It's obvious he did, so people should understand that.
Each season of Breaking Bad gets better and better, and part of me is inclined to think that this finale and season is a peak for the show.. is there anywhere higher to go for the show? Or is this it? Either way, I found this season to be one of the best I've seen in awhile. Let Season 4 come!