The following post contains explosive spoilers for Breaking Bad’s fourth season.
With each season, Walter White’s foray into the underworld of methamphetamine production creates new threats against him and his family. He’s cheated death—by outplaying first the cartel, and then Gus Fring—and evaded detection by the DEA. To overcome these dangers, he’s had to become a different man, assume a new identity far removed from the impotent high school chemistry teacher in season one.
We’ve watched Walter become more comfortable in his Heisenberg skin as a man with a cold instinct for self-preservation, more than willing to sacrifice others to protect himself and his family. He watched a woman die to bring his partner back from the brink. He ordered the same partner to murder a man who could have replaced him. And, at the end of season four, all signs indicate that he poisons a child to bring the same conflicted partner back to his side.
Each action compromises whatever lines of morality he has left, and I think the premiere of season five this Sunday will see Walter lurch even further down his dark path. As his hubris grows (and in the last shot of the trailer above, you can tell he’s riding high after bringing down Gus) and he devotes himself fully to the business, I think we’ll see a man unwilling to accept anything less than exactly what he wants. At the start, he only needed quick cash to support his family, expecting his cancer treatments to wipe out what little they had.
What does Walter White want now? I don’t know, but I know I can’t wait to find out.
I think, more than anything, I’m looking forward to Mike’s return and his reaction to Gus’s death. His relationship with Walter has been strained while he’s taken Jesse under his wing. When we see the two of them clash again, Mike might be enough on his own to tip the balance of power.
If you need a refresher before season five starts this Sunday, check out The A.V. Club’s four-part interview with Vince Gilligan, the show’s creator, in which he talks about each episode. Part one is here.