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'Breaking Bad' Season 5 DVD: Crystal Blue Occasion
June 29, 2013  | By Eric Gould  | 2 comments

Yeah, even though it's only half the final Season Five, the latest Breaking Bad DVD offers complete immersion into the show for hard-core fans...like us...

AMC and the Breaking Bad team can be applauded for extending the final season, of what's looking to be one of the most memorable shows ever, into 16 shows. And they, perhaps, can be forgiven for splitting it in half and dragging it out over two seasons. Creator Vince Gilligan and the cable channel have caught lightning in a bottle, and they can hardly be blamed for wringing it a little to get the most profit possible out of it.

Because of audience fragmentation in the cable and satellite TV era, the series finale of Breaking Bad this fall will not reach the record-setting tens of millions of viewers that The Fugitive did in the Sixties or M*A*S*H did in the early Eighties, but it certainly looms with that same level of anticipation for fans. And it may indeed be spoken of in that same echelon once all is written in TV history.

The wait has been anything but intolerable, though. Since summer 2012, there has been lots to talk about, and miles of speculation to read about the ultimate ending, for both the series and lead character Walter White (Bryan Cranston).

We will have more on that as the premiere of the second half of Season 5 approaches (including our own predictions about the finale, plus a special Breaking Bad treat produced exclusively by TVWW.)

But for this month, we're happy to revisit last summer's gripping half-season DVD – a mini-series of eight episodes, really. Those compact, dark shows took us further down Walt's descent into crime as he fully bloomed into the crystal meth kingpin after facing off in Season 4 with overlord Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) and, well, literally taking Gus' face off.

We saw Walt lose the faith of his protege, Jesse (Aaron Paul), and dispense with possible threats around him in a Godfather-style vendetta. His ego and rage had driven him to amass a storage locker full of cash that was, essentially, useless to him. He could never spend it all.

It's also a chance to revisit some of the best and most ambitious Breaking Bad interludes, from the great train robbery in Episode 5, "Dead Freight," and the inventive "Crystal Blue Persuasion" sequence (to the soundtrack song of the same name by Tommy James & The Shondells) in Episode 8, "Gliding Over All." (Gililgan comments they had been planning for years to find the right time to use the song.)

The Breaking Bad Season Five DVD has extended scenes and director commentary tracks with Vince Gilligan. At times, it also has often raucous contributions thrown in by Cranston, Paul and everyone's favorite hit-man/cleaner, Mike Ehrmantraut, played by veteran tough-guy character actor Jonathan Banks.

In the pivotal moment in Episode 7, "Say My Name", as Walt faces off with Mike, Cranston quips on the comment track, in character, "You know why I'm doing this, Mike. There's just too many bald-headed guys on the show..."

These behind-the-scenes comments and "making-of" reels have the dual effect of a sober unmasking of the show, and, at the same time, the opportunity for a deeper appreciation for its achievements. There is plenty of illuminating actor commentary on the character motivations during critical scenes, and these give great understanding into the complexity of difficult moral choices they, like we, sometimes face.

They also shine more light into the psychological life of an everyman like Walt, who, after a terminal cancer diagnosis, "breaks bad," goes criminal out of financial desperation, and then unleashes his wrath on the world around him.

As a special treat for devotees of the show, there is an extra six-minute scene shot especially for the DVD called "Chicks and Guns." It has Jesse (Paul) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) getting a private strip show at Jesse's house, when crook-lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) calls unexpectedly, and two minor plot threads in Episode 8, "Gliding Over All," are joined together and answered.

There is also time spent by Gilligan and Director of Photography Michael Slovis on Episode 8's homage to Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather, not only with the vendetta montage, but with the interior of Walt's house (above, right) as he takes the phone call and learns that it has been done. The house is virtually black inside, despite streaks of daylight raking across the room, similar to the Corleone home in that film (above, left).

Best of all are Gilligan's remarks about the five-year arc of Walt's descent in an extra segment. He muses on the richness and complexity of Walt's character study, and then about the half-season finale when his DEA agent brother-in-law Hank (Dean Norris) connects the dots of Walt's secret, criminal identity while reading an inscription in a book in Walt's bathroom.

"I guess the best way to put it," Gilligan says about the brilliant anti-climax, a grin spreading on his face, "it's literally an 'Oh shit!' moment."
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HFM - You made me a correction I couldn't refuse. –EG
Jun 29, 2013   |  Reply
H F Mudd
The Godfather was Francie Ford Coppola, not Scorcese
Jun 29, 2013   |  Reply
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