With the fifth season off to a fantastic start, episode 2 gives us another ominous opening sequence that involves a German taste-tester who commits suicide in the most inventive way I’ve ever seen. On his way to the bathroom where he meets his maker, a Los Pollos Hermanos sign is shown being removed from a food court in the taste-testing building.
The main theme plays and the rest of the episode is actually focused on Mike, the hit-man who worked for Gus before his untimely demise. He is offered a job by Walt and Jesse to start cooking with them and declines at first. The remainder of the episode details Mike as his various business associates attempt to kill him in the wake of Gus’ death. Nobody can trust anybody, and it’s every man for himself. Hired by the Madrigal, the 12 direct employees that worked for Gus are now in a Smokin’ Aces kind of predicament that makes for some brutally great TV.
While not as amazing as the season premiere, this episode of Breaking Bad is one of the most emotionally resonant and gut wrenching of the entire series. Specifically, a scene involving an emotional breakdown with Jesse and a final sequence that involves Mike sparing a life for the sake of his business. Those two scenes really highlight was Breaking Bad does best; create tension as well as pure desperation and depravity.
Another thing this episode does well is portray violence in the most non-glamorous way possible. Unlike most other similar shows (Weeds, The Sopranos, etc.), violence on Breaking Bad is rarely fun to watch (except if it includes Mike’s awesome hit man skills). Here, his hit man skills are put to the test but in a way previously unseen on Breaking Bad. Instead of making me smile a guilty smile, I almost found myself looking away. The violence here is real. Concerned more with emotion than blood, it was almost too much.
By introducing a plethora of new characters in the first half of the episode, I admittedly felt a little overwhelmed, but the show always has a way of making sure everything is understood without necessarily spoon-feeding it to the audience. I feel like a lot of other cable shows tend to cater to a less intelligent audience, but Breaking Bad assumes that their viewers are focused and ready to listen, which I respect immensely. It gives the show a surreal and utterly entertaining mood that isn’t recreated on any other show.