Breaking Bad (season 4)

Last updated
Breaking Bad
Season 4
Breaking Bad season four DVD.jpg
Season 4 DVD cover
Starring
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes13
Release
Original network AMC
Original releaseJuly 17 (2011-07-17) 
October 9, 2011 (2011-10-09)
Season chronology
 Previous
Season 3
Next 
Season 5
List of episodes

The fourth season of the American television drama series Breaking Bad premiered on July 17, 2011 and concluded on October 9, 2011. It consists of 13 episodes, each running approximately 47 minutes in length. AMC broadcast the fourth season on Sundays at 10:00 pm ET in the United States. The complete fourth season was released on Region 1 DVD and Region A Blu-ray on June 5, 2012. [1]

Contents

Cast

Main

Recurring

Episodes

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
(millions)
341"Box Cutter" Adam Bernstein Vince Gilligan July 17, 2011 (2011-07-17)2.58 [2]
Walt and Jesse are held in the lab by Victor and Mike, anxiously awaiting Gus' reaction to the murder of Gale. Skyler fears the worst when she can't get hold of Walt. Saul is paranoid about bugs, wiretaps, and surveillance and hires a personal bodyguard. Hank struggles with life at home after his injury, snapping at Marie and becoming more preoccupied with collecting and cataloging minerals. Gus arrives, sees Victor cooking, changes into a lab suit, slits Victor's throat with a box cutter, then changes back to his work clothes and tells Walt and Jesse to get back to work.
352"Thirty-Eight Snub" Michelle MacLaren George Mastras July 24, 2011 (2011-07-24)1.97 [3]
Walt illegally buys and begins carrying a snubnosed revolver, but Mike tells Walt he'll never see Gus again. Jesse, in an attempt to distract himself from having murdered Gale, buys an elaborate stereo system and throws an ongoing party with Badger and Skinny Pete. Hank continues to push Marie away, becoming increasingly obsessed with mineral collecting. Skyler attempts to buy the car wash that used to employ Walt, but the owner angrily refuses. Walt follows Mike to a bar and, believing Mike to be in as precarious a situation as he and Jesse, asks Mike to get him in a room with Gus, where Walt will "do the rest". Mike, either out of fear of or loyalty to Gus, beats up Walt and leaves.
363"Open House" David Slade Sam Catlin July 31, 2011 (2011-07-31)1.71 [4]
Walt is furious about a motion-detecting surveillance camera installed in the lab. Skyler convinces Walt in a meeting with Saul to buy the car wash. After much unjust pressure, the owner sells it to her, agreeing to an even lower price than her original offer. Jesse continues to open his house up for 24-hour, drug-fueled parties, deliberately throwing piles of money in the midst of the chaos. Frustrated with Hank's coldness at home, Marie renews her kleptomania. Hank obtains a copy of the lab notebook found in Gale's apartment from an interested colleague.
374"Bullet Points" Colin Bucksey Moira Walley-Beckett August 7, 2011 (2011-08-07)1.83 [5]
Walt and Skyler plan to tell Hank and Walter, Jr. that they paid for the car wash with Walt's illicit gambling winnings; Skyler makes Walt meticulously rehearse their "spontaneous" admission of his problem. Hank tells Walt that he believes Gale was the cook of the high-grade blue meth, and that Gale was Heisenberg. Jesse's increasing complacency leads to over seventy thousand dollars in cash being stolen from his house. Mike reports to Gus that Jesse has become "incautious", and something needs to be done about him. The episode ends with Mike driving an expressionless Jesse to an unknown location.
385"Shotgun"Michelle MacLaren Thomas Schnauz August 14, 2011 (2011-08-14)1.75 [6]
Mike takes Jesse on collections and assures Walt that he is safe. During the last collection, a man appears with a shotgun, and Jesse thwarts the robbery attempt; later, Gus and Mike discuss the day and it is revealed that the "robbery" was set up by Gus. Walt and Skyler purchase the car wash, after which Skyler asks Walt to move back into the house. When Hank suggests at a family dinner that Gale was a genius, an intoxicated Walt lets his ego get the better of him, and he tells Hank that he believes Gale most likely copied someone else's work and that Hank's "genius" is still at large. The next day, Hank dives back into the case with renewed vigor and discovers a Pollos Hermanos napkin amongst Gale's possessions.
396"Cornered" Michael Slovis Gennifer Hutchison August 21, 2011 (2011-08-21)1.67 [7]
During an argument over Walt's behavior at dinner the night before, Skyler again pushes Walt to turn himself in; when he angrily lashes out and tells her that he is the one who is a danger to others, she leaves with Holly. Walt tells Jesse that Gus is attempting to drive a wedge between him and Jesse, correctly suspecting that the robbery that Jesse thwarted was a set-up. That afternoon, Jesse is again taken from the lab to run a job with Mike; Walt pays three workers at the laundry facility to clean the lab, but when Gus finds out, he has them deported. Later, Walt buys a flashy new car for Walt Jr., but when Skyler comes back she demands Walt return it, lest he blows their cover story. Jesse proves himself useful to Mike, and Gus tells Jesse that he "sees something" in him.
407"Problem Dog" Peter Gould Peter GouldAugust 28, 2011 (2011-08-28)1.91 [8]
Rather than return Walter Jr.'s car, Walt takes it on a joyride, crashes it, and blows it up. Skyler, taken aback by the amount of money Walt makes, is unsure how she'll launder all of it through the car wash successfully. Walt asks Jesse to kill Gus and concocts a ricin poison in the lab which Jesse hides in one of his cigarettes. At a meeting, the cartel offers Gus an ultimatum, which he rejects; Jesse has an opportunity to kill Gus but does not. He returns to his 12-step group, where he is kicked out after admitting to using the group to sell meth. Hank visits Gus' restaurant with Walt Jr. and obtains Gus' fingerprints from a cup; later, he informs his former partner and boss at the DEA of his investigation, having found a match for Gus' fingerprint at Gale's apartment.
418"Hermanos" Johan Renck Sam Catlin & George MastrasSeptember 4, 2011 (2011-09-04)1.98 [9]
In flashback, Gus visits Hector (a.k.a. Tio, Tuco's uncle) in a nursing home and informs him of the death of his nephews after their attempt to kill Hank. In the present, Gus is questioned by Hank, the DEA, and the APD, but convinces everyone except Hank that he is innocent. Still believing Gus is a drug kingpin, Hank enlists Walt to plant an illegal tracking device on Gus' car; Walt sees Mike is present and shows Gus the device, but Gus calmly tells him to plant it. Walt tells Jesse to poison Gus as soon as possible. Gus visits Hector again, and in another flashback, Gus and his business partner Max meet Hector in 1989 when they approach drug kingpin Don Eladio. Gus and Max offer to produce high-quality meth for Don Eladio, with Max as the cook and Gus as the businessman. At Don Eladio's instruction, Hector shoots and kills Max as a warning to Gus. In the present, Gus hints to Hector that he (Gus) will one day exact his revenge.
429"Bug" Terry McDonough Moira Walley-Beckett & Thomas SchnauzSeptember 11, 2011 (2011-09-11)1.89 [10]
Ted tells Skyler that the IRS is auditing him. Skyler worries that, as Ted's bookkeeper, she too, and by association Walt, could be investigated. Hank's research uncovers Gus' depot, so Jesse is brought in to help clean and move all the product out of it. Gus calls the cartel, giving in to their demands and asks Jesse if he can cook Walt's formula. Walt and Jesse get into a major fight over their trust issues.
4310"Salud"Michelle MacLarenPeter Gould & Gennifer HutchisonSeptember 18, 2011 (2011-09-18)1.80 [11]
Skyler has Saul concoct a story about an inheritance to give Ted enough money to pay off his back taxes. Ted promptly leases a Mercedes and refuses to pay his back taxes, telling Skyler he wants to get his business back up and running first and hire a tax lawyer to try and negotiate a "better deal" with the IRS; Skyler reveals that she was the source of his windfall. Walter Jr. finds Walt at his apartment, bloodied and incoherent after his fight with Jesse, and stays to take care of him; the next morning, Walt shares a rare moment of vulnerability with his son. Jesse, Mike, and Gus fly to the cartel's meth lab in Mexico. After a successful cook, Jesse is informed that he now belongs to the cartel. When they go to Don Eladio's estate to celebrate their alliance, Gus poisons Don Eladio and kills all of his men, but he himself is poisoned as well, and Mike is shot while they escape.
4411"Crawl Space" Scott Winant George Mastras & Sam CatlinSeptember 25, 2011 (2011-09-25)1.55 [12]
Gus survives the poison, and Mike must stay in Mexico for a week to recover. Gus tells Jesse he can run the lab now, but Jesse tells him not to kill Walt. Ted still refuses to pay the IRS with the money from Skyler, until Saul's henchmen intimidate him. Hoping to stop Hank's investigations into Gus, Walt deliberately gets Hank into a car accident, but Hank is undeterred. Walt realizes Jesse has been cooking without him, but Jesse is unmoved when Walt confronts him and begs him to stop. Gus takes Walt to the desert and fires him, informing him that Hank will be killed and that Walt's entire family will be murdered if he interferes. Walt desperately prepares to have the family "disappear" but suffers a breakdown when he realizes he does not have enough money because Skyler gave it to Ted. Marie calls Skyler to tell her that the DEA has received an anonymous tip (from Saul) that Hank is a target again, and he is put under protection.
4512"End Times"Vince GilliganThomas Schnauz & Moira Walley-BeckettOctober 2, 2011 (2011-10-02)1.73 [13]
Skyler, Walt Jr., and Holly go under DEA protection at Hank and Marie's home. Andrea calls Jesse to the hospital because her son, Brock, is in critical condition with a mysterious flu-like illness. Jesse finds the ricin vial missing and confronts Walt at the latter's barricaded home, suspecting he poisoned Brock. Walt convinces Jesse that Gus is behind the poisoning, as the final manipulation to turn Jesse fully against Gus, and the two agree Gus must be killed. Gus comes to the hospital and demands Jesse return to cook, but Jesse refuses. Walt attempts to kill Gus with a car bomb, but Gus, sensing danger, abandons the vehicle in the hospital parking garage.
4613"Face Off"Vince GilliganVince GilliganOctober 9, 2011 (2011-10-09)1.90 [14]
Detectives question Jesse about Brock, but Saul intervenes. Afterward, Walt, Jesse, and Saul realize that Gus may be vulnerable via his visits to Hector at the nursing home. Walt visits Hector, who readily agrees to his plan; Walt installs the bomb on Hector's wheelchair, so he can get revenge on Gus. Jesse is kidnapped from the hospital and held at gunpoint in the lab, forced to cook. When Gus visits to kill Hector, Hector detonates the bomb, killing Gus, Tyrus, and himself. Once Gus' death is confirmed, Walt rescues Jesse, and together they destroy the lab. Back at the hospital, Jesse tells Walt that Brock is recovering and that his illness was not caused by ricin, but rather toxic berries from a lily of the valley plant. Still, the two agree that Gus needed to be killed. Skyler calls Walt after seeing news about the nursing home explosion, and he declares to Skyler that he "won". The season ends with a shot of a potted lily of the valley plant in Walt's backyard, revealing that Walt had indeed poisoned Brock.

Production

On June 14, 2010, AMC announced that Breaking Bad was renewed for a fourth, 13-episode season. [15] The writers began brainstorming and writing for the season in early July 2010. [16] At the 2011 Television Critics Association press tour, it was announced production on the season would begin January 13, 2011. [17] Filming ended in mid-June of that year. [18] Although the writing staff knew the fourth season would focus primarily on the ongoing feud between Walter White and Gus Fring, they did not specifically plan out the entire season before production began, but rather developed the story as the episodes progressed. This followed a pattern similar to that of the third season and differed distinctly from the second season, where the entire storyline of the season was planned out in advance. Gilligan compared the fourth season to a "13-episode chess game" between Gus and Walt. [19]

Originally, mini episodes of four minutes in length were to be produced before the premiere of the fourth season, [20] but these did not come to fruition. [21] Actor Bryan Cranston commented that the season would debut in July 2011 in an interview with New York Magazine, he also said, regarding the premiere date, that "It was a decision from AMC that they wanted to position us in July... They want to attract as many eyeballs as possible, away from the heavy competition of the September, November [or] January start." [22]

Reception

Reviews

The fourth season of Breaking Bad received universal acclaim from critics, garnering a 96 out of 100 on Metacritic. [23] On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the fourth season has an approval rating of 100% based on 34 reviews, with an average rating of 9.56/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "Breaking Bad's fourth season continues to evolve and subvert expectations, and it's never been more riveting to watch." [24] The Boston Globe referred to the show as a "taut exercise in withheld disaster" and declared the show "riveting". [25] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette labelled the series "smart and thought provoking that elevates the artistic achievements of the medium". [26] Season four was listed by many critics as one of the best seasons of television in 2011. [27] Time listed Walter White's "I am the one who knocks" line as one of the best television lines of 2011. [28] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette listed it as the best series of 2011 while noting that, "Breaking Bad is that rare TV series that has never made a seriously damaging storytelling misstep." [29] The A.V. Club's review of the finale summed it up as a "fantastically fitting end for a season that ran in slow motion, starting and continuing with so many crises begging for resolution week after week. Now the decks are cleared, but that doesn't mean anybody is home free. Nothing's ever easy on Breaking Bad." The reviewer continued to exalt the season, and proclaimed, "What a season of television — truly something none of us could ever have expected, or claimed we deserved." [30] Best-selling author Noah Charney called it "the best show on television" and compared it to great works of literature for its three-dimensional characters and combination of action, drama, and dark comedy. [31]

Awards and nominations

The fourth season received numerous awards and nominations, including 13 Primetime Emmy Award nominations. Aaron Paul won the only award for the series, winning for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Its nominations included Outstanding Drama Series, Bryan Cranston for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, Giancarlo Esposito for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, Anna Gunn for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, Mark Margolis for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series, Vince Gilligan for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series ("Face Off"), Michael Slovis for Outstanding Cinematography for a One Hour Series ("Face Off"), and Kelley Dixon and Skip Macdonald each for Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series ("End Times" and "Face Off"). "Face Off" was also nominated for Outstanding Sound Editing, Outstanding Sound Mixing, and Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role. [32]

Bryan Cranston received his second consecutive Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Drama Series. [33] Cranston was also nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series for the Screen Actors Guild Award, with the series nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. [34]

Vince Gilligan received his first nomination for a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Drama Series for "Face Off". [35] The series earned three nominations for the Writers Guild of America Awards, winning two; Best Drama Series and Best Episodic Drama ("Box Cutter"). [36] [37]

At the 28th TCA Awards, the series was nominated for three awards, including Program of the Year, Outstanding Achievement in Drama, and Individual Achievement in Drama (Cranston). [38] [39] It went on to win Outstanding Achievement in Drama. [40] [41]

For the 2nd Critics' Choice Television Awards, the series received five nominations for Best Drama Series, Best Actor in a Drama Series (Cranston), Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Giancarlo Esposito and Aaron Paul), and Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Anna Gunn), winning two; Best Actor in a Drama Series (Cranston) and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Esposito). [42] [43]

The series also received two Satellite Award nominations for Best Drama Series and Best Actor in a Drama Series (Cranston), [44] along with six Saturn Award nominations, including Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series, Best Actor on Television (Cranston), Best Supporting Actor on Television (Esposito and Paul), and Best Guest Performer on Television (Steven Bauer and Mark Margolis), winning three; Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series, Best Actor on Television (Cranston), and Best Supporting Actor on Television (Paul). [45] [46]

Kelley Dixon and Skip Macdonald were each nominated for an Eddie Award for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television. Dixon was nominated for "End Times" and MacDonald was nominated for "Face Off". MacDonald went on to win the award. [47]

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Further reading