Breaking Bad (season 4)

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Breaking Bad (season 4)
Breaking Bad season four DVD.jpg
Season 4 DVD cover
Country of origin United States
No. of episodes 13
Original network AMC
Original release July 17 – October 9, 2011 (2011-10-09)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 3
Next →
Season 5
List of Breaking Bad 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]


Following Walter White's order to Jesse Pinkman to murder Gale Boetticher, the chemist whom their boss, methamphetamine distributor Gus Fring, had planned on using to replace Walt, Gus responds by killing one of his own men and taking steps to secure the lab. He installs cameras to monitor Walt and Jesse's movements in the lab at all times. Upon searching Gale's apartment, the police find two clues: refuse linking the vegan Gale to Gus's fast food chicken restaurants, and a lab notebook with detailed steps for cooking meth with an inscription "To W.W." The police give recovering and off-duty DEA supervisor Hank Schrader copies of this evidence. Hank starts to suspect that Gus is a major player in the meth operation and tries to investigate on his own, eliciting his brother-in-law Walt's assistance. Hank believes Gus's background as a Chilean national is sketchy at best, and his suspicions lead him to eventually connect Gus to the industrial laundry service that fronts the meth laboratory. Meanwhile, Skyler tries to convince her husband Walt to avoid excess spending in order to reduce the risk of exposing their money laundering scheme: their new car wash business at which Walt was formerly employed. When Walt splurges on a new car for Walt Jr. against her warnings, Skyler tries to leave but ends up returning to help her family. As the season unfolds, Skyler learns that her former boss Ted Beneke had concealed business revenue in earlier tax returns, and would face an IRS investigation that would likely reveal Skyler and Walt's illicit wealth. Skyler convinces Walt's attorney Saul Goodman to fake an estate inheritance from a fictitious aunt, which she uses to divert more than $600,000 to Ted to pay Ted's IRS fine to end that investigation.

Jesse cleans up his act and is surprised when Mike Ehrmantraut, Gus' "cleaner", takes him as protection for picking up several dead-drops. One attack is staged (unknown to Jesse) and Jesse is able to thwart it, giving him confidence in supporting Mike and Gus. They learn that the Mexican cartel has been attacking Gus's trucks as a message, and after they attempt to attack Gus directly, Gus agrees to meet with them. Walt, in the meantime, gives Jesse a capsule of ricin, a deadly poison, to use to kill Gus. Jesse hesitates and doesn't follow through, infuriating Walt. Jesse is invited by Gus to join him and Mike in traveling to Mexico, where they have Jesse teach the cartel scientists how to cook the blue meth. A flashback reveals that Gus has a long-standing feud with the head of the Cartel, Don Eladio Vuente, as he had ordered Hector Salamanca to kill his partner, Max, while they were trying to arrange an amicable meth trade. Gus is able to poison Don Eladio and the heads of the cartel, while Jesse helps him and Mike to escape the few guards that survived. On Jesse's return, Walt finds himself again being rendered useless, and later is tasered by Tyrus and taken to the outskirts of town where Gus tells him that he is fired, and that he will take care of Hank. He tells Walt that if he tries to interfere, he will kill Walt's wife and children. Walt has Saul anonymously tip off the DEA to an imminent attack on Hank while trying to arrange to get his family relocated, but finds without the $600,000 that Skyler gave to Ted, he cannot pay the fee.

Hank and his family, as well as Skyler and Walt Jr., are placed in DEA protective custody; Walt refuses, trying to deal with the situation himself, realizing that Jesse is the key piece. Sometime later, Jesse learns that his girlfriend Andrea's son has suddenly fallen ill; he discovers the cigarette containing the ricin capsule missing and immediately assumes the boy had been purposely poisoned. Jesse confronts Walt, ready to kill him for it, but Walt insists he couldn't have done it and that it was likely Gus's fault. Jesse believes Walt and returns to the hospital, refusing to return to work. Gus comes to the hospital to learn of this from Jesse, but agrees to allow Jesse to remain and come back to work in the week. This meeting has given time for Walt to plant a bomb on Gus's car, but as Gus returns, he appears uneasy, and simply walks away from the car. Walt learns from Jesse that the only place where Gus is vulnerable is when he is visiting the wheelchair-bound Hector at a local nursing home. Walt visits Hector and (implicitly) proposes a plot to allow Hector revenge (against Gus). Hector asks to be taken to the DEA, but reveals nothing, simply insulting Hank. Gus learns of Hectors's visit and, thinking he has "ratted" to the DEA, decides to kill him. Hector is ready to be sacrificed and he detonates the bomb, installed by Walt, resulting in the death of Gus, Tyrus and Hector himself. Walt returns to the lab, kills Jesse's guards, and informs Jesse that Gus is dead. Knowing Hank is closing in, they torch the lab and walk away. Walt calls Skyler, letting her know that he "won." The final scene suggests that Walt used berries from the Lily of the Valley at his home to poison Andrea's son Brock, and thus goad Jesse into action.


Main cast[edit]

Recurring cast[edit]


No. in
Title  Directed by  Written by  Original air date  U.S. viewers
34 1 "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, 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.
35 2 "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 soon 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. Skyler attempts to buy the car wash that employed Walt earlier (in season 1) but the owner angrily refuses. Walt follows Mike to a bar, tells Mike that he might be in danger as well, then asks Mike to get him in a room with Gus and Walt will "do the rest", but Mike out of either fear or loyalty to Gus, beats up Walt and walks away.
36 3 "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. The owner promptly sells to her, agreeing to an even lower price than her original offer. Jesse continues to open his house up for all-night drug fueled parties, deliberately throwing piles of money in the midst of the chaos. Marie renews her kleptomania. Hank obtains the notebook found in Gale's apartment.
37 4 "Bullet Points" Colin Bucksey Moira Walley-Beckett August 7, 2011 (2011-08-07) 1.83[5]
Walt and Skyler plan to tell Hank that they paid for the car wash with illicit gambling winnings. Hank reveals to Walt that Gale was the cook of the high-grade blue meth. Jesse's detached complacence 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.
38 5 "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. Walt and Skyler purchase the car wash, after which Skyler asks Walt to move back into the house. When Hank suggests to an intoxicated Walt that Gale was a genius, Walt tells Hank that he believes Gale more likely copied another's work. Because of that Hank's pursuit of the case is renewed, and he finds a Los Pollos Hermanos napkin in Gale's belongings.
39 6 "Cornered" Michael Slovis Gennifer Hutchison August 21, 2011 (2011-08-21) 1.67[7]
After arguing over Walt's behavior at dinner the night before, Skyler walks out. Walt buys a flashy new car for Walt Jr. Skyler reappears and asks Walt to return the car, lest he blow their cover story. Walt tells Jesse that he suspects Gus is driving a wedge between him and Jesse, while Jesse proves himself useful to Mike.
40 7 "Problem Dog" Peter Gould Peter Gould August 28, 2011 (2011-08-28) 1.91[8]
Skyler is unsure how she'll launder Walt's meth-lab earnings through the car wash successfully. Walt convinces Jesse to kill Gus and concocts a ricin poison in the lab that Jesse then hides in one of his cigarettes. Jesse hesitates and doesn't poison Gus. The cartel offers Gus an ultimatum, which he rejects. Jesse returns to the 12-step group. Hank visits Gus' restaurant with Walt Jr. and obtains Gus' fingerprints from a cup.
41 8 "Hermanos" Johan Renck Sam Catlin & George Mastras September 4, 2011 (2011-09-04) 1.98[9]
In a 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 and the DEA. Hank gets Walt to plant a tracking device on Gus' car. Walt tells Jesse to poison Gus as soon as possible. Gus visits Hector again. 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.
42 9 "Bug" Terry McDonough Moira Walley-Beckett & Thomas Schnauz September 11, 2011 (2011-09-11) 1.89[10]
Ted tells Skyler that the IRS is auditing him. 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.
43 10 "Salud" Michelle MacLaren Peter Gould & Gennifer Hutchison September 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 initially refuses to pay the IRS with the money. Jesse, Mike and Gus fly to the cartel's meth lab in Mexico. After a cook, Jesse is informed that he now belongs to the cartel. When Jesse, Mike, and Gus go to Don Eladio's estate to celebrate their alliance, Gus poisons Don Eladio.
44 11 "Crawl Space" Scott Winant George Mastras & Sam Catlin September 25, 2011 (2011-09-25) 1.55[12]
Gus recovers from imbibing the poison. Gus tells Jesse he can run the lab now, but Jesse tells him not to kill Walt. Ted refuses to pay the IRS with the money from Skyler, until Saul's henchmen intimidate him. Walt drives Hank to the industrial laundry, but causes an "accident" on the way. A desperate Walt 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). Skyler takes a call from Marie about sudden police-protection of Hank after a tip that the cartel's gunning for him.
45 12 "End Times" Vince Gilligan Thomas Schnauz & Moira Walley-Beckett October 2, 2011 (2011-10-02) 1.73[13]
Skyler, Walt Jr., and Holly go into DEA protection at Hank and Marie's insistence. 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. Walt tells Jesse that Gus must be behind the poisoning. Walt attempts to kill Gus with a car bomb, but Gus is able to get away from his vehicle.
46 13 "Face Off" Vince Gilligan Vince Gilligan October 9, 2011 (2011-10-09) 1.90[14]
Detectives question Jesse about Brock. Walt, Jesse and Saul realize that Gus may be vulnerable if he visits Hector at the nursing home. Walt visits Hector and offers him a chance for revenge against Fring. When Gus visits, Hector detonates a bomb, mortally injuring Gus and also killing himself in the process. Walt and Jesse destroy the lab.


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 from 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]



The fourth season of Breaking Bad received universal acclaim from critics, garnering a 96 out of 100 on Metacritic.[23] The Boston Globe referred to the show as a "taut exercise in withheld disaster" and declared the show "riveting".[24] The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette labelled the series "smart and thought provoking that elevates the artistic achievements of the medium".[25] Season four was listed by many critics as one of the best seasons of television in 2011.[26] Time listed Walter White's "I am the one who knocks" line as one of the best television lines of 2011.[27] 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."[28] 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."[29] 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.[30]

Awards and nominations[edit]

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.[31]

Bryan Cranston received his second consecutive Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Drama Series.[32] 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.[33]

Vince Gilligan received his first nomination for a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Drama Series for "Face Off".[34] The series earned three nominations for the Writers Guild of America Awards, winning two; Best Drama Series and Best Episodic Drama ("Box Cutter").[35][36]

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).[37][38] It went on to win Outstanding Achievement in Drama.[39][40]

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).[41][42]

The series also received two Satellite Award nominations for Best Drama Series and Best Actor in a Drama Series (Cranston),[43] 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).[44][45]

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.[46]


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]