DVD Extra: Catch up on 'Breaking Bad' before return

05:00 AM, Jul 13, 2013

'Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season' - 2012, Sony Pictures, not rated, $56; Blu-ray, $66 Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/


Written By by Steve Jones, USA TODAY

Walter White’s long, inevitable descent into darkness draws toward its conclusion when Breaking Bad returns to AMC Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. ET for the final eight episodes of the series. The fifth season of the critically acclaimed drama starring Bryan Cranston as a terminally ill high school chemistry teacher turned ruthless methamphetamine dealer in Albuquerque was split in two, with the first eight episodes airing last year.

Those episodes, which set up what promises to be an explosive finale, are available on Breaking Bad: The Fifth Season (2012, Sony Pictures, not rated, $56; Blu-ray, $66). The set has been out for a few weeks, but there’s still plenty of time to get up to speed on what has been one of TV’s most compelling shows since it premiered in 2008. It’s also one of cable’s most highly watched programs, with two episodes last year attracting nearly 3 million viewers.

The show has received 35 industry awards, including seven Emmys. Cranston has won three for best actor in a drama series (2008-2010), while Aaron Paul has gotten two for best supporting actor (2010, 2012). There have also been three nominations for outstanding drama series. Cranston has also won a Screen Actors Guild Award for best actor and has been nominated four times. He also has three Golden Globe Award nominations.

As the fifth season begins, Walt sets about cleaning up anything that can connect him to his successful plot to kill drug kingpin Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). He also intends to take advantage of the situation to rebuild his own meth distribution empire and forms a new partnership with longtime associate Jesse Pinkman (Paul) and former Fring hit man Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks). Business is great, but trouble still gnaws at Walt. Both of his partners want out of the drug game and his marriage is falling apart. Wife Skylar White (Anna Gunn) fears for her life and those of their children because of the danger Walt’s business brings.

Meanwhile, his DEA agent brother-in-law (Dean Norris) is dogged in his pursuit of the drug dealer “Heisenberg,” unaware that is a pseudonym used by Walt. But Walt is just as determined to protect himself and keep his secrets safe. He takes drastic steps to cover his trail, and it doesn’t seem to matter to him how many people have to die.

Breaking Bad was created by Vince Gilligan, a longtime writer for The X-Files. It was his idea that the Walter White character, who started out as a man diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer, turn to drug dealing as a way to pay his medical bills and secure his family’s future. But as the seasons have passed, Walt has become more and more unsympathetic. Gilligan’s goal was for him to go from being a protagonist to an antagonist, a transformation that is now nearly complete.

All that’s left to do now is tune in to see just how Walt ends up. The poster for the final eight episodes is certainly ominous enough. An intimidating Walt stands with balled fists at his sides, and three words in bold letters bids viewers to “REMEMBER MY NAME.”