Your BREAKING BAD Season Two Primer

We're going to start TV Talking BREAKING BAD next month. Leading up to it, Meredith will give you weekly primers on the first four seasons.

People of Badass Digest, your cries have been heard! Devin, Henri and I are going to TV Talk the crap out of Breaking Bad Season Five this summer. It premieres July 15 on AMC, and you can catch up with the first three seasons on Netflix Instant Watch. Each Friday I'll give you a refresher on the first four seasons, leading up to the Season Five premiere. You can read the Season One Primer here

So Season Two:

Season Two opens right where Season One left us - Tuco having just beat the motherloving shit out of his left-hand man for exactly no reason at all. Walt and Jesse grow understandably wary of dealing with Tuco and decide to poison him, but Tuco kidnaps them first. After a couple of days, Hank tracks down Tuco and shoots him without ever seeing Walt or Jesse. They make their way back into town and Walt sheds his clothes and stands naked in a supermarket, claiming to have spent the past few days in a fugue state. This ridiculous lie works for a couple of minutes, which is a couple of minutes longer than it should, but Skyler pretty quickly ascertains that Walt is full of shit.

Skyler's suspicions grow and her relationship with Walt is on the brink. This isn't helped by some weird tension between Walt and his ex-partner Gretchen. Skyler still believes Gretchen and her husband Elliot are paying for Walt's treatment, but of course that isn't true. Meanwhile, Jesse has the worst succession of days that any human being has ever suffered. He's almost arrested, loses all of his money to Hank, loses his house to his parents, loses his bike to a thief, breaks into the impound lot where his RV is, falls through a Porta-Potty...some other stuff happens. Eventually he gets an apartment and a girlfriend named Jane, a cute recovering addict played by the lovely Krysten Ritter. He and Walt spend four days cooking a ridiculous amount of meth so Walt, who believes he is dying faster than usual, can provide for his family. Walt pretends he's visiting his mother during these four days, and he and Jesse soon end up with 38 pounds of crystal meth. They almost die a couple of times during the process, but they make it out okay.

During this time, Hank is suffering PTSD from his shoot-out with Tuco, and he's sent to the border as part of a promotion. An informant (played by Danny Trejo) is killed in the awesomest way possible. 

Immediately after this picture was taken, that head explodes and maims or murders every nearby agent, which doesn't include Hank who was off vomiting behind the van. This does not help with his PTSD, and he's sent back to Albuquerque to continue the search for Heisenberg. Walt and Jesse are trying to become their own distributors after the death of Tuco, but they're terrible at it. Their dealers are Badger (yay!), who gets arrested, Skinny Pete, who gets robbed, and Combo, who gets murdered. Fortunately, they're smart enough to hire criminal attorney (not just criminal attorney) Saul Goodman, played by a kick-ass, combovered Bob Odenkirk. He gets them set up with Gus, the incredible Giancarlo Esposito, who is a smooth motherfucker and will distribute their 38 pounds of crystal with much more caution and wisdom than is typically used by Walt and Jesse. He offers Walt $1.5 million for the bulk, and Walt misses the birth of his daughter during the trade-off. But it's okay, because Skyler is escorted to the hospital by her extremely handsome boss who happens to be in love with her.

Skyler has slowly grown to start trusting Walt again, and after the news that his tumor has receded 80%, everything looks good for the White family. Walt decides he's done cooking meth, except that decision puts him in a really bad mood because Walt actually loves being a drug kingpin. Jesse and Jane are getting more serious, but after the death of Combo, Jesse starts smoking crystal to deal and Jane slides out of recovery. They spend a few days high on heroin and Walt maintains that he's not giving Jesse his half of the Gus payout, which is $480,000 (and unless I'm wrong, he short-changes Jesse some, no?), unless Jesse sobers up. Jane blackmails Walt into turning over Jesse's half, and Walt in turn ALLOWS THE LOVE OF JESSE'S LIFE TO CHOKE ON HER OWN VOMIT AND DIE BECAUSE HE IS A MONSTER. I mean, because he has Jesse's best interests at heart. At least Jesse ends up in rehab and Walt goes 48 hours without yelling at him or calling him an idiot, so there's that.

Saul launders Walt's money through Walter Jr.'s Flynn's PayPal website that he established to ask for donations for Walt's treatment. Walt prepares for surgery to remove the remainder of his tumor, and he wakes up to find himself goateed and single. Skyler has discovered that he has a second cell phone, that he never received money from Gretchen and Elliot, that he never visited his mother and that he paid for his treatment himself through surely lawless means. She's leaving, and when he offers to tell her the truth once and for all, she doesn't want to know.

The season ends with a scene that has been teased through multiple cold opens throughout the season. Jane's father, grieving since the death of his daughter, is understandably distracted at his job as an air traffic controller, and he causes a mid-air collision that rains debris down on Walt's backyard and neighborhood.

It's a brilliantly crafted season, one that escalates and recedes at unexpected times, creating a sense of unpredictable pacing and tone. People spend a lot of time calling Breaking Bad bleak, but the show has a beautifully bizarre sense of humor that sneaks up at the most unlikely times. Aaron Paul killed it this season. Jesse has the most monotonous, moronic dialogue and Paul makes it sing. He's a tremendously subtle and effective performer. Bryan Cranston strikes the most eerie balance between guilt and grief and love and pure sinister steel. Skyler had a great arc in Season Two - she works hard to overcome her suspicion of Walt only to be devastated by the irrefutable proof that he is hiding something huge from her. And while we've only seen Gus a few times, he's a fascinating character that holds a lot of promise. 

So let's dig into Season Three, shall we? As you can see below, S2 is only $20 on Blu right now. Meet you here next Friday for the Season Three Primer.