Breaking Bad (Season 3) (2010)
TVMA / AMC
Crime / Drama / Thriller
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn
Creator: Vince Gilligan
Breaking Bad has come a long way since its inaugural season. It has been a roller coaster ride of tension, chaos, and emotion. Up to this point, Walt’s (Bryan Cranston) cancer has come and gone as a threat and he and Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) have successfully built themselves some street cred among the drug trade. The unlikely duo have created a product so top notch that it literally drives people insane. The road has not been all rosy and clean however, with many crazy potholes along the way. The funny part is, with the final episode of season three it only seems like craziness just begun.
Season three begins with the fallout of the airplane disaster that was teased heavily in the previous season. Things have gone south with Walt and Skylar’s (Anna Gunn) relationship as he is forced to move out on his own. This is a sad moment for Walt, who ended up getting farther away from his family instead of getting closer to them, but it also opens up the opportunity for increased meth production.
After watching the show’s second season, I started to believe that Walt and Jesse’s production had reached a new high. They were making tons of product that was netting them a fair share of money. Their little side project had finally taken off. Season three makes the duo’s little operation seem like child’s play. The two now have their own professional-grade lab hidden away in some laundry facility, provided to them by the stoic kingpin Gus (Giancarlo Esposito), who happens to be one of the best actors on the show. He kills it with every episode that he is featured in. (On a side note: Jonathan Banks, who plays the beat cop turned hitman and PI Mike, gets a lot of love this season, especially in the final episode. He’s a bad-ass and quickly became another one of my favorite characters from the series.)
The season has a lot of highs and lows for both Walt and Jesse, but more specifically Jesse. Jesse is going through the twelve step program for rehab, which means a ton of improvement from his drug junkie days from previous seasons. His relationship with Walt still manages to be all over the place and his character dips a little bit towards the end of the season. The lasting image that the season gives us of Jesse in the final episode is not only special and really moving, but also a good summation of Jesse’s character in general. We find out that he might just be the thorn in Walt’s side after all, after all this time.
Another thing that we see is the effect that Walt has on his family and friends. This has been true of previous seasons, but he is only getting himself deeper and deeper into a mess that will be hard for him to dig his way out of. Walt’s relationship gets a little better with Sklyar as communication between the two deepens. (This might sound vague but I am trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible) Hank (Dean Norris) also gets caught in Walt’s mess when the cartel decides to attempt to take him out of the picture. This situation leads to a fantastic seventh episode which gives us a satisfying jolt to a season that takes some time to ramp up in intensity, which is one of the few complaints I have with the season as a whole.
Things only get crazier as the episodes start to become much more intense towards the end of the season. “Fly,” season three’s tenth episode polarizes a lot of people in terms of its place among the other episodes in the season. It manages to give us a look at the dynamic relationship of Walt and Jesse, while managing to take the story nowhere. It’s a fun bottle episode that at times felt like a filler episode. I liked it, but many question its place in the show.
Finally the last two episodes, “Half Measure” and “Full Measure,” are by far the strongest episodes of season three. Some consider “Half Measure” the real season finale, with “Full Measure” providing the set up for season four, which is an interesting and valid point to make. Things wrap up and come to a satisfying close in the twelfth episode, capping off another hell of season. “Full Measure,” the season finale, gives us a peek at how insane things are going to get with Walt and Gus, as well as the future of their drug business. The episode had a metric-ton of great moments, including the tense final thirty seconds of the season. I mean, who did not do a quiet fist bump to themselves whenever Walt took one step ahead of everybody else by rattling off the address of his assistant Gale to a dumbstruck Mike and Victor. It was an amazing moment, among many others.
I feel like I am going to end this review like my previous two reviews of the previous seasons by saying, “well, things are only going to get crazier.” The truth behind this statement is real. This is one of the few series that only gets better with time. Some of the slower episodes in the beginning and in the middle of the season put the third season below the first two in my opinion, but that does not make it any less amazing. The final couple of episodes, as well as the intensity of the seventh episode, make this season a truly memorable one. Now, I am just going to sit back and see where the next two seasons take me. Breaking Bad…what a show.