Breaking Bad: The Complete Fourth Season finds Bryan Cranston’s Walter White spiraling even further out of control, but the season belongs to Giancarlo Esposito's criminal and chicken fast food mastermind Gustavo 'Gus' Fring.
Easily one of the best series on television, Breaking Bad is only getting better and considerably darker as the show goes on. The fourth season arrives on Blu-ray looking incredible and featuring more than 15 hours of bonus material. It also features five uncensored episodes and an extended version of the season’s explosive finale.
Created by Vince Gilligan (The X-Files and Hancock), the series stars Cranston, Esposito, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, and Jonathan Banks.
While trying to stay as spoiler free as possible in the review, the fourth season really puts all the characters through the ringer. Walt and Jesse (Paul) go to work for Gus with a deal that will see them making more money than they could ever dream of, but quickly becomes a deadly nightmare for both men.
The season keeps the tension between Walt and Jesse very taut as Jesse deals with the death of his girlfriend, spirals out of control with his own drug abuse, and is finally taken under the wing of Gus’ bodyguard/hitman Mike Ehrmantraut (Banks). He starts to feel a sense of worth as Mike and Gus expose him to more of their criminal operation, and their hope for his place in it. Still, Jesse knows he can’t trust Gus and death can come at any moment.
Season four sees Walt continuing to try and keep his various worlds under control. He seems to be under the constant threat of death from someone and you have to laugh as he attempts to balance running his drug lab with the day-to-day issues of his wife Skyler (Gunn) and son Walt Jr. (Mite).
Walt also seems to be growing more comfortable with his darker criminal side as he makes some pretty dark decisions this season to keep his drug business going and protect his family from the threat of Gus. His character remains one of the most intriguing on television.
Walt is a man that started his criminal enterprise with the best intentions (to make enough money for his family to survive his death), but each season finds him sliding further away from the bumbling chemistry teacher and deeper into a man who is extremely hard to like.
Cranston plays the part to the max and keeps you hooked on Walt – no matter how much you start to hate his panicked whining and bullying/selfish nature. Now in the fourth season, Cranston keeps the part fresh and interesting. With each despicable act he commits, Walt becomes a little harder to root for, but Cranston’s underdog way of playing the role makes it impossible to not want to see him win.
Although the fourth season’s main focus continued to be Walt and Jesse, the season had several breakout performances from its supporting cast – most notably Esposito's performance as Gus and Gunn’s Skyler.
Walt has always tried to keep his criminal side secret from Skyler, but this season finds her taking a larger role in his bad side and proving to be a better criminal than her husband. She makes several mistakes as a criminal (she helps Walt figure out a way to “wash” his drug money), but she seems to have a better head for the business side of things. Gunn also provides some laughs when she confronts her former boss – who attempts to quasi blackmail her.
With Gustavo 'Gus' Fring, Esposito has created one of the best villains every seen on the screen, and some of his most chilling moments involved him simply staring directly into the camera. The talented actor let Gus threaten through very deliberate movements (such as quietly changing out of his suit before slitting someone’s throat), and vague threats that seem to carry a great amount of weight (he makes it clear to Walt that he will not only kill Walt but his entire family).
On Blu-ray, the series looks incredible with all the production details (such as the lighting and color schemes) popping on the screen. It comes loaded with special features that will make fans of the series very happy. Bonus material includes commentary, behind the scenes features, a special look into the finale, extended and alternate scenes and podcasts. The bonus material also provides some great laughs with a gag reel, “Better Call Saul” commercials and Gale’s Karaoke Video.
While most television series start to show their age by season four, Breaking Bad is just getting better and many ways feels like it is just getting started. The Complete Fourth Season captures every great episode on Blu-ray and comes with enough bonus material to make it well-worth the purchase price.
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