My name is Curt, and I am an addict.
I'm addicted to chemistry teacher-turned-meth-maker Walter White’s (Bryan Cranston) determined walk down his treacherous path in “Breaking Bad” (9 p.m. Sunday, AMC; **** stars out of 4). I'm addicted to hoping that Jesse (Aaron Paul), Walt’s meth-making partner, finds his lost innocence. I'm addicted to creator/executive producer Vince Gilligan’s ability to get the very best work out of his entire cast and crew.
I couldn’t wait to crack open the screeners for Season 4, and in the early going the show is as addictive as ever. It picks up minutes after last season’s cliffhanger. Gus (Giancarlo Esposito), Walt’s drug-lord boss, was ready to kill our anti-hero. Walt had come up with a plan that would neutralize lab assistant Gale (Dave Costabile) and, in turn, force Gus to keep Walt and Jesse around to run the meth lab.
Be careful what you wish for, Walt. As the new season begins, Walt and Jesse face the consequences of their actions. And as things play out, we realize just how different Walt and Jesse—and Walt’s wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn)—have become since we first met them in Season 1.
Once a beaten down shell of a man, Walt is now a full-on, cold-blooded killer. Jesse, the cocky addict who talked a big game way back when, is now broken, empty and without feeling. And Skyler, who couldn’t stomach the idea of Walt’s criminal activity, is aiding and abetting.
Things got so tense in the premiere, I think I broke a sweat just watching.
Part of that visceral reaction can be attributed to the show’s great sense of pace and timing, along with the cinematography, something that usually doesn’t register so powerfully for me. A Roomba vacuum creeping randomly around Jesse’s house, for example, serves as a metaphor for his cynical indifference. Eventually the vacuum becomes the camera, adding impact to an already disturbing post-party scene.
The visual style pours as much emotional juice into the boiling, moody brew that Gilligan cooks up as his actors’ searing performances do.
All I can say is: I want more.
WATCH FOR IT
AMC will show a sneak peek for Season 2 of “The Walking Dead” during Sunday’s “Breaking Bad” premiere.