EDITOR'S NOTE: The following contains spoilers for Breaking Bad season 4, episode 9. Read at your own risk.
By Matt Zoller Seitz
Press Play Contributor
If there were any doubt that Breaking Bad was an amazingly confident series, the first sequence of tonight's episode sealed it. Clocking in at 37 seconds, and boasting just seven shots, I'm pretty sure it's the shortest of the AMC drama's stylish teaser openings. It was brilliant not just for the anticipatory questions it provokes — Did Walt get beaten up? Did he murder someone? Where is he? — but for its economy.
The rest of the episode was written, directed and acted in the same spirit. It was terse but never felt rushed. Not a scene, line or frame was wasted. And throughout, there were little stylistic flourishes that linked the episode's main story to the teaser, particularly the shots with foreground elements in focus and the background blurry (the cactus framing Walt's vehicle as he and Hank drove; the flower in Skyler's office at the car wash). The script, by Moira Walley-Beckett and Thomas Schnauz, was a model of classical structure. A leads to B leads inevitably to C, yet always leaves room (in next week's episode, or in the season finale, or perhaps in the fifth and last season) for some presumably horrendous final reckoning.
You can read the rest of Matt's recap here at Salon.com.
A critic, journalist and filmmaker, Matt Zoller Seitz is the staff TV columnist for Salon.com and the founder of Press Play.