Walt, Jessie, Gus, and Mike (above).

Scratch our recent criticisms.  Hey, we’ve admitted to being wrong before, if only on so seldom an occasion.  But with Breaking Bad’s season 4 premiere, “Boxcutter”, we have perhaps never been more happy at our own folly.  With a minimum of dialogue, Breaking Bad has seemed to restore what was to us a lost and past damaged working relationship between Gus, Walt, and Jessie.  And it was the murder of Gail (David Costabile), perpetrated by Jessie, now a full fledged and dirty handed cold blooded killer, that set the whole thing in motion and restored Breaking Bad’s universe to order, even if the “calm” turns out to be brief.

What we liked best about the plot turns we saw Sunday, in the first new episode of Breaking Bad in over a year, was that to us they were plausible for a show in the realism genre, and specifically, for this show, which had almost defeated its own intentions by setting the bar so maddeningly high for itself.  How lucky we also were to catch Aaron Paul, who plays Jessie Pinkman, in a very candid interview this afternoon about Breaking Bad, Big Love, Mad Men and more with John Hein on a new program on Howard101 called “What’s Worth Watching.”  Paul described the surreal nature of filming Big Love in Los Angeles and Breaking Bad in Albuquerque simultaneously, and going from the shirt and tie wearing boyfriend of Amanda Seyfried to Pinkman, our favorite meth head, how the Pinkman character was originally slated to be killed off in season 1, episode 5, and how Vince Gilligan completely switched up the story arc due to Cranston’s and Paul’s um, chemistry.

Paul told great stories about some of the actors he worked with on Big Love, such as Bill Paxton and Harry Dean Stanton, and then offered the highest praise for Breaking Bad actors Bryan Cranston, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, and Giancarlo Esposito.  The two then had a very interesting discussion about whether Walter White, Jessie Pinkman, and Don Draper–AMC’s 3 best leading men–were good or bad people, or whether they just do bad things.  On White, Paul said Pinkman’s former chemistry teacher started out as a desperate man caught up in some really bad decisions, but at this point, he really was a very bad guy.  On his own character, Paul said that Pinkman spent a lot of season 3 trying to live up to a bad person because of the guilt he associated with his girlfriend Jane’s (Kristen Ritter) death, but by the time he finds himself at Gail’s door in season 3’s finale, gun in hand, that the odyssey was complete.  On Draper, Paul was quick to label the Mad Men lead a terrible guy, and not surprisingly professed his love for both shows, for AMC’s original content and their foray into original programming, and for his own show for which he won an Emmy award most of all.

As you may know, we were very concerned here in this space that Pinkman’s character would go soft and that Gail would somehow escape with his life.  That he did not made all the difference for Walt and Jessie, who could have found themselves stewing in waste drums full of acid by the end of Sunday’s episode like Victor (Jeremy Bitsui), but instead, were casually chatting in a fast food joint while Jessie munched on fries and sipped at a large cup of Coke.  But with a minimum of words, Gilligan had orchestrated the demise of Gus’s boy Victor instead, which culminated in the bloody boxcutter scene and Gus’s mandate of “get back to work” because Victor was dispatched to Gail’s apartment, and he, and not Jessie was seen there and could have been placed there by witnesses.

Sunday we saw the incomparable Saul Goodman sweeping his office for listening devices, pretending not to hear Skyler on his office line when she refers to her husband’s job at a meth lab, at which point he calls Skyler a “Chatty Cathy”–all in his first scene–and then, when he calls Skyler back from a pay phone.  No doubt foreshadowing as to the changing landscape for Albuquerque’s leading criminal attorney.  The show’s opening scene, in which Gail tells Gus that he can “only” achieve 96% purity, and a subsequent one in which he tells Gus that the difference between the blue crystal’s 99% and his 96% really was a “wide gulf” were also telling clues that the dynamic duo would indeed be getting back to work.  In retrospect, Gilligan did much to foreshadow one aspect of the choice of saving Walt and Jessie over Victor when he had us watch an uncomfortable dinner date between Walt and Gus last season, when Gus proved handy with a knife in the kitchen.

While Walt seemed very uneasy in the aftermath of recent events in the lab, Jessie, who had murdered in cold blood less than 24 hours before, was well at ease.  Walt, the academic, couldn’t make sense of those events as well as the street wise Jessie, who explained to Walt that at least now they all had “an understanding.”  We also thought that Mike had a better understanding of the duo after watching them dispassionately disintegrate Victor’s body in acid.  While questions persist about Walt’s and Jessie’s longevity with Gus and about Gail’s cell phone and notes being recovered by the authorities, we are more comfortable with Breaking Bad’s direction right now than we have been in over half a season spanning some 15 months.

A lesson perhaps to have faith in your favorite things, or maybe, drug of choice?  Not really ironic considering the page, except when not in reference to a drug but rather, a television show (about a drug).

Crack (https://crackbillionair.wordpress.com, http://www.crackbillionair.com)