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The best show on television's penultimate season is a jagged, exhilarating nightmare....
Sony / 375 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: June 4, 2013
Breaking Bad is a fascinating treatise on the fastidiousness of human nature, about a man's wherewithal that presents itself at the moment he knows he's painted himself into a violently dangerous corner. What started as a bit of a rouse for Walter (Bryan Cranston) in the show's first season for him to make a little extra money on the side by selling meth has turned - on this dark-as-night Complete Fifth Season set - into a vast, impossibly complicated web of dark alleys and hidden motivations, of loyalties constantly getting tested and the realities of the dissolve of Walter's person constantly exacerbating what was supposed to be just a part time gig.
In fact, it's the comment I hear most often about the Breaking Bad universe that makes this new collection of episodes so compellingly wild: folks wonder whether everything in the show isn't too dire. The show has been available as a Netflix streaming option for a while now, and for every person I know who has fallen victim to the series' moody, deviant charms, there's another who simply had to turn it off because there was too much terror around every corner of the show. For some audience members, if there were occasional bright spots in Breaking Bad’s darkness, they weren't relief enough to make the show worth its emotional turmoil.
But every writer worth his salts knows that you have to make things difficult for your characters in order to make them empathetic and dramatically successful, and in this regard, Breaking Bad is bluntly accomplished. ThisComplete Fifth Season TV-on-DVD setisn't easy television, nor is it all that reliably predictable: it's not a show to pop on before bedtime and just relax through. This series (and especially its latest season) delivers a strongly constructed, disturbingly realistic inferno of a dramatic universe, one in which we root for our protagonist to find a path to happiness somehow, but know implicitly that it's going to be nearly impossible for the guy to pull it off. It's fantastically entertaining across the board, but there's no denying that it's a blistering travelogue through one man's hell.