What can one say about the beginning of the fifth season of "Breaking Bad"? Or, more to the point, what kinds of praise does it not deserve. For all that, we have only seen two episodes. Here are some of the things that deserve the most praise from what we have seen so far.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Mike is definitely one of the strongest characters this show has ever produced. This is especially evident in both of the episodes we have seen so far, and how could you not be blown away by the scene in which he asks his former man if he is ready yet before he shoots him? If that doesn't earn Jonathan Banks an Emmy nomination, then there is clearly something very wrong with the nomination process. We can expect to see some very important and interesting things happen with Mike this season, so be on the lookout.
The creep factor
Up until now, there has been at least something about Walter that we can identify with, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. Between the first episode, in which he creepily tells Skyler that he forgives her and the absolutely terrifying last few moments of the second episode, where he insistently strokes an obviously terrified Skyler, this is a side of Walter White, the true dark side, that is at last becoming known. Indeed, the first two episodes suggest that the new Walter is going to be a more terrifying creature than Gus Fring ever thought about being and that, I think, will be the series' most lasting legacy.
In both of these first two episodes, we get to see a side of Skyler that really gives her a lot of depth. I've said before that Skyler has developed more as a character than anyone else, and this is still true. We have at last begun to see just how much she is, indeed, afraid of what Walter has become. Although she has appeared only sporadically so far this season, she absolutely rules the scenes where she does appear, so hopefully we'll be seeing a lot more of her in the coming episodes.
"Breaking Bad" is definitely setting out to make its final season its last and, if these first two episodes are anything to go by, it is most definitely going to succeed in that effort.