‘Breaking Bad’: 5 out of 5 stars

After keeping viewers at the edges of their seats for four straight seasons, the fifth and final season of "Breaking Bad" is under way. One episode remains in the first half of this season, and the continuing saga of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) does not let up.

After the fall of Gustavo “Gus” Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), Walt and partner Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) try to erase any evidence connecting them to Fring. They also begin their comeback by once again making and distributing their own supply of methamphetamine, which even involved a train robbery. On top of this, Walt is still trying to stay one step ahead of his brother-in-law, Hank Schrader (Dean Norris), and the Drug Enforcement Administration as well as deal with problems at home with Skyler White (Anna Gunn) as she continues to unravel the true nature of her husband and his line of work.

Plans that are supposed to end well go awry, and once again, White is at the center of it and tries his best to fix the issues, all while keeping his stream of revenue alive. White's transformation from an awkward and nervous chemistry teacher to a confident and cold meth cook is a well-written evolution by the writing team. Cranston has performed nothing short of excellent throughout the series. At the beginning, viewers always thought of him as Hal, Malcolm’s father in "Malcolm in the Middle," but five great seasons is more than enough evidence to show this will be Cranston’s most memorable work.

Of course, it is not possible to mention White without Pinkman. Paul has risen to fame by playing the role of the experienced meth dealer who bites off more than he can chew. When White crawls into his criminal skin, it seems Pinkman is shedding his own, but something always brings him back into the fray. Like Cranston, Paul’s work is great and the chemistry between the two characters on-screen is a perfect match. His character’s experiences throughout the series have continuously tested his willingness to stay involved with Walt and cooking meth.

As a whole, this season is nothing short of excellent. The removal of Fring’s meth empire sets the stage for a very interesting aftermath. Keep in mind we are only watching one-half of the fifth season (the second part will premiere next summer), but despite the decision to split it into two parts, Vince Gilligan has managed to create a world and story that has captivated us since the pilot. There has never been a show like "Breaking Bad," and it is unlikely we will ever see something like this again on television.

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