Bad breaks the bubble with gripping drama, action

remains one of the most gripping dramas on television and its eclectic mix of humor and action keep it above the mediocre fray.

It’s rare that one finds a show that captures all the essential elements of good drama: suspense, dry humor and entertaining characters. The AMC drama, Breaking Bad, is the latest example of this; a show that comes during a time of the year when networks end their gold and dump their trash. A rare jewel amongst the sea of garbage, the latest season of the show continues to pump out high-levels of suspense and surprise.

To those unfamiliar with the show, here’s a bare-bones summary. Walter White, a Cal-Tech graduate and overqualified high school teacher, discovers that he has been dealt with lung cancer despite having never smoked. After spending a lifetime of living passively and watching his best opportunities taken away from him, he resorts to cooking crystal meth as a means of paying bills.

The plot may border on the absurd, but the show’s characters give it a sense of believability. The characters’ realistic day-to-day decisions macroscopically build in to the more absurd events and thus still maintain the air of realism.

The story continues on with Walt suffering from the repercussions of his actions. While season one was about the birth of his life of crime and season two the development that followed, season three appears to be about death or the possibility of it.

On Walter White’s side is a motley crew of criminal insiders, such as recovering drug-addict Jesse Pinkman, sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman and mysterious crime-lord Gus. Opposing him from both sides are the DEA, led by his unknowing brother-in-law, and the revenge-seeking Mexican Mafia. At the beginning of the series, Walter was forced to kill the Mexican Mafia’s local dealer, thus setting off an underlying chain of events that has finally surfaced. The interconnections of friends and enemies on this show are what make for suspenseful television, creating an atmosphere in which no one is safe and anything can happen.

The show’s past two seasons delivered one shocking twist after another and this season doesn’t seem to let up. The world grows smaller as more characters become drawn into the criminal web and none show any signs of escaping. With the addition of two new characters, both of them Mafia assassins, the show takes a much more violent, physical turn.

Despite all the style, violence and humor, it’s Walter’s personal struggle that lies at the heart of this show. An honest man who tries to provide for his family, he is slowly entranced by the power that comes with running a criminal empire.

He may not have started out as a villain, but the person he is by season three is very different from the one at the start of the show. He even changes physically, shaving his head and growing a beard to gain a slightly more menacing look.

By season three, it seems that he finally realizes what he becomes and attempts to reform himself. However, the damage has already been done and the magnetic forces of the underworld are already attempting to draw him back in. The constant struggle between good and evil, as well as the gray zone that lies between is what makes this show one of the most realistic on television, even if the literal situations aren’t.

If you like dark humor, action and the tragicomic elements of Greek drama, then this is the show to see. Since the next few months are, for the most part, empty of good television, this show is a good option.