Breaking Bad: the beginning of the end – review round-up

A spoiler-free look at what critics are saying about the first of the final eight episodes of the acclaimed US crime drama

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All bad things must come to an end, and Breaking Bad is heading into the last leg of Walter White’s journey with the first of its final eight episodes airing in the US beginning 11 August (and hitting Netflix in the UK the day after).

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The first episode, entitled Blood Money, offers a deliberately vague description that reads, “As Walt and Jesse adjust to life out of the business, Hank grapples with a troubling lead.”

Beginning with a flash-forward that continues the segment we saw at the top of the season, we pick up from where we last left off in Walt’s attempted return to normalcy.

Jesse can’t enjoy his riches knowing the blood on his hands for acquiring them. Skylar is trying to buy time. Hank is on the cusp of a new revelation, one that could change his career, and his family, forever.

Those lucky enough to score an advanced screening have already gotten a taste of what the crystal meth kingpin is cooking up in the first of the final episodes. Here’s what they had to say.

Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

“Who knows if the final eight episodes will be one heavyweight champion fight after another for Walt and Hank, but we all knew it was coming and when there’s no longer a point for either man to deny the obvious, look the hell out.”

“Hitting the ground running is precisely what Gilligan had to do in this last eight-episode stretch of Breaking Bad episodes. He’s told the press that he believes viewers will be satisfied with what transpires, ultimately, and he’s never given us any previous reason to doubt him.”

“With Walt’s secret revealed, the coiled-intensity of both the final discovery and the pressure that’s been inside both men, is an incredibly volatile explosion in the making. Let’s sit back and enjoy how Breaking Bad sets it off.”

David Hinckley, New York Daily News

“The biggest plot development, which we won’t reveal here, won’t surprise viewers. Its speed and ferocity might.”

“If this first episode foreshadows the other seven, much of the drama will be psychological. While Bryan Cranston’s Walter White tries to ignore the toll of his chosen course on those around him, the wreckage has begun piling up.”

“The final episodes don’t start with another uber-bad guy like Gus Fring. They zoom right in on the core characters, the ones we’ve followed on Walt’s march toward purgatory.”

“Who will get what they deserve, and what exactly is that?”

Brian Stitt, Inside Jersey

“The real question remains: should Walt be allowed to get out clean? Does he even want to? Can he really stay out of the criminal life for long? He seemed to so embrace the Heisenberg persona, I can’t imagine him living out the rest of his life (however long that will be with his ever-looming lung cancer) deciding where to showcase the pine-scented air fresheners at his car wash.”

“The return of Breaking Bad is something to be celebrated by all those who crave crafty, intelligent and beautifully shot television.” 

Tim Molloy, Yahoo! Movies:

“We won’t know whether the series is the best ever made until it ends. But I do know, that personally, I’ve never felt as engaged by anything on TV.”

“Is this what meth is like? Is meth this good? Breaking Bad is better than meth. Meth has diminishing returns. It’s never as good as the first time, people say. Breaking Bad gets better the more you do it. It rewards you for being obsessive.” 

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“It’s as good as it’s ever been. As good as any TV show has ever been.”