Judge Roy Hrab is hoping to catch a good break, or some good brakes, for under $40 a pound.
Our reviews of Breaking Bad: The Complete First Season (published February 16th, 2009), Breaking Bad: The Complete First Season (Blu-Ray) (published March 17th, 2010), Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season (published March 24th, 2010), Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season (Blu-Ray) (published March 8th, 2010), Breaking Bad: The Complete Fourth Season (Blu-ray) (published June 5th, 2012), Breaking Bad: The Complete Fifth Season (published June 19th, 2013), and Breaking Bad: The Final Season (Blu-ray) (published December 19th, 2013) are also available.
"A man provides for his family…when you have children you always have family. They will always be your priority, your responsibility. And a man…a man provides. And he does it when he's not appreciated…or respected…or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it…because he's a man."
When we last left Walter White he was no longer a family man nor a teacher. He was no longer doing the wrong thing for the right reason. No, Walt had changed. He was a criminal; a man who lost his way under the misguided notion that he was providing for his family through the proceeds of crime.
In the final episode of the second season, two planes collided in mid-air, killing 167 people and raining fire and debris over Walt's home. Unbeknownst to him at the time, Walt was indirectly responsible for the catastrophe. Meanwhile, his partner, Jesse (Aaron Paul, Big Love), was mourning the death of his girlfriend. Walt had a hand in this tragedy too, although Jesse does not know it. Further, the death of the girlfriend and the collision are related, driving home one of the series' recurring themes that actions have unforeseeable consequences. Actions do not occur in a vacuum, they can lead to unpredictable ramifications of an enormous magnitude. By entering the drug business Walt triggered an out of control chemistry experiment, filled with unstable, unpredictable and violent chain reactions. The irony is that Walt is a very intelligent man who failed to realize that life is not like a (meth) lab. He started down the path of crime without thinking it through. Now many people, including innocents and unknowns as well as people he cares about, are paying for his crimes, lies, and deceit.
The 13-episodes of Breaking Bad's third season continues to follow Walt's increasingly tragic moral descent, and the collateral damage his choices inflict upon those close (and not so close) to him. The damage this time around centers on Walt's wife Skyler (Anna Gunn, Deadwood) and his DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank (Dean Norris, Without Limits). The damage manifests itself in very different ways for these two characters. In the case of Skyler, it is first infidelity and asking for a divorce, but then she decides to become an active and willing participant in laundering Walt's drug income. For Hank, a man committed to upholding the law, the consequences are more dire. Hank sees his career as well as mental and physical health compromised to the extreme because of Walt.
Interestingly, as Walt is confronted more and more with the direct and indirect consequences of his choices he becomes more and more adept at rationalizing his actions: he's providing for his family, there are many worse plane disasters than the one he caused (and poor government regulation is to blame, not him), and he's manufacturing meth in the name of the purity and magic of chemistry. Once in a while, the guilt comes bubbling to the surface, but Walt is developing a knack for beating such feelings back down. Will they stop altogether before long? Perhaps, for he's also becoming more calculating in his actions the more he becomes involved with the enigmatic, ambitious, and meticulously systematic drug lord Gus (Giancarlo Esposito, The Box) and Gus's "cleaner," Mike (Jonathan Banks, Reign Over Me). The stakes are getting higher and Walt is giving in to temptation.
At the same time, Jesse, while initially appearing to clean up his act, finds himself less and less able to deal with the fallout of his own actions, culminating in his discovery of the killer of his friend Combo (from Season Two). Jesse attempts to set things right, setting off additional complications for Walt…and, unfortunately for the both of them, Gus.
As a result, the storytelling and viewing experience Season Three of Breaking Bad is better than Season One and surpasses even the excellence of Season Two. The ability of creator Vince Gilligan and his stable of writers to weave all the actions and reactions of Walt's (and other's) choices into a coherent, logical, and compelling narrative arc is nothing short of masterful. By the time the end credits roll on the final episode, "Full Measures," the action has escalated to such a point that you'll be chomping at the bit for Season Four to begin (it starts on July 17 on AMC).
The performances continue to be superb and all continue to shine. In particular, this season gives Norris and Gunn greater opportunities to display their skills as both their characters are allowed to grow.
The anamorphic transfer is solid with nothing to complain about. The 5.1 surround audio is similarly without flaws.
As with Season Two, there is of quality extras spread across this four disc set: commentaries for most of the episodes, deleted scenes, featurettes galore, a gag reel, mini video podcasts, and some "Better Call Saul" commercials.
Breaking Bad is heading into darker and darker territory with each passing episode. Walt has gone far beyond anything he thought possible when he started making meth in an RV. Gus has lost patience with him and Jesse. The Mexican cartel is involved. It can't help but end badly and sadly for many people. Will any of them have the foresight to realize what's happened and what's coming? When will everything come crashing down? Who will be the next to break?
I can't wait to see how things unfold.
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