Your BREAKING BAD Season Three Primer
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 and the Season Two Primer here.
So Season Three:
The third season opens with the aftermath of the airplane collision caused by Jane's dad. Walt and Jesse are dealing with their respective guilt; Walt by barbecuing his fat stacks of cash for half a second before coming to his senses, Jesse by sobering up in rehab and growing into a generally tormented young man.
We meet Tuco's two bald cousins, who are ridiculous. They crawl toward idols and wear pointy skull boots and shiny suits and they silently menace a lot. They are so silly. Tuco's Tio gives them Walt's name, and the Bald Cousins make leisurely plans for vengeance. But not if Gus has anything to say about it - and Gus always has something to say about it. He needs Walt's blue meth, so Walt's gonna live.
Skyler's living at Hank and Marie's with Flynn and Holly. She's also divorcing Walt and fucking Ted. Walt deals with this information terribly, sassing a cop and getting himself pepper sprayed, trying to make out with Vice Principal Carmen and getting himself suspended, throwing perfectly good pizzas on roofs, throwing perfectly good plants through Ted Beneke's office and throwing punches at Saul Goodman's perfectly good combover. Meanwhile, Flynn is pissed at Skyler and being kind of a dick. Walt buys a furnished model apartment and lives in it for a week and a half before breaking back into his house and deciding he's staying there. First Skyler is furious, then conflicted, then eventually fine with it. Gus is trying to woo Walt back by offering him $3 million for three months of meth-cooking, but Walt turns him down so he can win his family back through his charming, pizza-throwing wiles.
Jesse gets out of rehab and coolly dismisses his parents while buying his aunt's house back in a very satisfying storyline. He and Walt get along for a few minutes before he decides that, while staying clean, he wants to go back to cooking meth because it's the only thing he's good at. (His words, not mine. I think Jesse's probably good at plenty of stuff.) He cooks a batch that's totally Heisenberg-quality, and he gets Skinny P and Badger on board to sell it, but Walt turns all assy again and threatens him to stop it. Gus manipulates the situation like a boss, as he does, and he uses a combination of money, Mike the Fixer, Jesse and the World's Fanciest Meth Lab to convince Walt to cook for him again. Walt's new lab assistant is a really sweet nerd named Gale, and it looks like they're hitting it off at first. As happens with everyone who hits it off with Walt, Gale's world is about to turn to shit.
Hank's still dealing with a fuck-ton of Post Traumatic Stress, picking bar fights and turning down promotions to go back to El Paso but throwing a fit when his partner takes the promotion instead. After the blue meth starts popping up again, he's back on Heisenberg's trail, and he tracks down the RV, and then Jesse, through some seriously savvy detective work. Walt and Jesse are trapped within the RV and it looks like they're about to be screwed when Walt arranges a fake call to Hank saying that Marie has been in a car crash. Hank splits and Walt, Jesse and Mr. Heckles crush the old RV in a glorious, triumphant slo-mo sequence. Once Hank realizes he's been had, he beats the everloving shit out of Jesse. Hank's suspended and Jesse is livid, offering one of two monologues that won Aaron Paul his well-deserved Emmy in 2010.
Jesse's rage convinces Walt that he needs him back on his side, so he qualms-free dismisses sweet, nerdy Gale and Walt and Jesse are reunited at last, working shit out in the World's Fanciest Meth Lab. They grow closer as Jesse guides Walt through his fly-related breakdown in a bottle episode directed by Rian Fucking Johnson because this show is amazing.
Gus gives Bald Cousins Hank's name to get them off Walt's back, and then he gives Hank an anonymous warning call saying he will be killed in one minute. Hank does exactly nothing for that one minute, but he still manages to get the best out of Bald Cousins, delegging one of them and shooting the FUCK out of the other's skull. Hank is awesome. This show is so unbelievably gross; I love it.
Legless Bald Cousin doesn't die immediately, but then Gus has Mike the Fixer kill him in his hospital bed, and next Gus arranges a raid on the Mexican drug compound so he can officially be Meth King above and below the border. Gus is a cold motherfucker. Hank's near death and near paralyzation bring the family close together, even though Skyler knows that Walt is somehow involved. She invents a marvelously elaborate and flawless alibi (card counting) for all of Walt's ill-gotten gains, and arranges for Walt to pay Hank's medical bills. After Skyler gets a taste of the criminal life, she takes to it like a bird to sky, and she becomes the drug moll that Saul always wished for Walt. She convinces Walt to buy the old car wash to launder his money, against Saul's best advice, and she offers to manage it. Neatly, she's never actually divorced Walt, so she can't testify against him if he's ever suspected of anything.
Meanwhile, Jesse starts skimming from Gus because he is pretty but very, very stupid. No actually, shattered New Jesse is merely reckless. He wants freedom from Gus' strict rules and contract, and so he, Badger and Skinny P start tempting Jesse's Narcotics Anonymous group with immaculate blue meth in a fairly evil scheme. Jesse grows close to one of the women in his group named Andrea. He first tries to sell her meth and then tries to not sell her meth when he realizes she's a mother. He also learns that she has a little brother named Tomas, who turns out to be the kid who was ordered to kill Combo last season. Jesse wants to assassinate the pricks that forced Tomas to kill Combo, but they work for Gus. Gus and Walt talk him out of it, until the pricks kill Tomas. Jesse, clean until this point, turns back to meth out of his overwhelming guilt. He makes haste to kill the pricks, but he hesitates. Walt arrives just in time to save Jesse, and he kills both pricks with pretty much no hesitation. It's incredible.
Gus is now fed up with Walt and Jesse's bullshit antics, and he plans to have Mike the Fixer kill them. But he needs that blue meth! What's a purveyor of fried chicken and blue meth to do? He reassigns sweet, nerdy Gale as Walt's assistant with the plan of killing Walt once Gale has learned the blue meth trade. Walt figures it out and forces Jesse to kill Gale so Mike can't kill Walt. Jesse - poor, beautiful, gentle, conflicted, guilt-ridden Jesse - kills a man begging for his life in the final moments of the season.
Jeezy chreezy, this show. It's so devastating, so brilliant, so absolutely unpredictable. Breaking Bad gives not one single fuck, and I love it for that.
Tune back in next Friday for the Season 4 primer, followed only a few short days later by our TV Talk of the Season 5 premiere!