Breaking Bad Season 4 (2011)

Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) in the first episode of Breaking Bad's fourth season

The fourth season of 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 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.

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. The other 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.

Bryan Cranston received his second consecutive Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor in a Drama Series and 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. Vince Gilligan received his first nomination for a Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing – Drama Series for “Face Off”. The series earned three nominations for the Writers Guild of America Awards, winning two: Best Drama Series and Best Episodic Drama (“Box Cutter”).

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). It went on to win Outstanding Achievement in Drama. 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 with Cranston and Esposito.

The fourth season of Breaking Bad also received two Satellite Award nominations for Best Drama Series and Best Actor in a Drama Series (Cranston), 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 with Cranston, Paul and as Best Syndicated/Cable Television Series. 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, who went on to win the award, for “Face Off”.

Plot (spoiler)

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’s “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, learning of this meeting, 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 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 out about the $600,000 that Skyler gave to Ted, so 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 talks to Hector and then Hector asks to be taken to the DEA.

Gus decides to kill Hector for ratting out to the DEA, but Hector is ready to sacrifice himself. He detonates Walt’s bomb, killing himself and Gus. 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 reveals that Walt used berries from the Lily of the Valley at his home to poison Andrea’s son, and thus goad Jesse into action.

Episodes (spoiler)

Episode 1: Box Cutter
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.

Episode 2: Thirty-Eight Snub
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, 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 loyalty to Gus, beats up Walt and walks away.

Episode 3: Open House
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 is then tricked into selling it 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 and Hank obtains the notebook found in Gale’s apartment.

Episode 4: Bullet Points
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.

Episode 5: Shotgun
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.

Episode 6: Cornered
Walt buys a flashy new car for Walt Jr. against Skyler’s wishes to protect their cover story. Walt tells Jesse that he suspects Gus is driving a wedge between them.

Episode 7: Problem Dog
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.

Episode 8: Hermanos
In a flashback, Gus visits Hector, Tuco’s uncle, 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. In another flashback, Gus and his business partner Max meet Hector when they approach drug kingpin Don Eladio, requesting to go into meth production with him. At Don Eladio’s instruction, Hector shoots and kills Max as a warning to Gus.

Episode 9: Bug
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.

Episode 10: Salud
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 killing him.

Episode 11: Crawl Space
Gus recovers from imbibing the poison and tells Jesse he can run the lab now, but Jesse tells him not to kill Walt. Ted still refuses to pay the IRS with Skyler’s money, until Saul’s henchmen intimidate him. Walt drives Hank to the industrial laundry, but causes a car accident on purpose 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 is after him.

Episode 12: End Times
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 and become convinced that the child was poisoned with it. Walt tells Jesse that Gus must be behind the poisoning and attempts to kill Gus with a car bomb in the hospital parking lot, but Gus gets away from his vehicle.

Episode 13: Face Off
Detectives question Jesse about Brock. Walt, Jesse and Saul realize that Gus may be vulnerable if he visits Hector at the nursing home. Then Walt visits Hector and offers him a chance for revenge against Fring. When Gus visits, Hector detonates a bomb, mortally injuring Gus. Walt and Jesse destroy the meth-lab at the industrial laundry.

Cast and characters

  • Bryan Cranston as Walter White (13 episodes)
  • Anna Gunn as Skyler White (13 episodes)
  • Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman (13 episodes)
  • Dean Norris as Hank Schrader (11 episodes)
  • Betsy Brandt as Marie Schrader (11 episodes)
  • RJ Mitte as Walter White, Jr. (11 episodes)
  • Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman (10 episodes)
  • Giancarlo Esposito as Gustavo “Gus” Fring (11 episodes)
  • Jonathan Banks as Mike Ehrmantraut (10 episodes)
  • Ray Campbell as Tyrus Kitt (10 episodes)
  • Lavell Crawford as Huell (5 episodes)
  • Maurice Compte as Gaff (4 episodes)
  • Steven Michael Quezada as Steven Gomez (4 episodes)
  • Emily Rios as Andrea Cantillo (4 episodes)
  • David Costabile as Gale Boetticher (3 episodes)
  • Christopher Cousins as Ted Beneke (3 episodes)
  • Nigel Gibbs as APD Detective Tim Roberts (3 episodes)
  • Mark Margolis as Hector Salamanca aka “Tio” (3 episodes)
  • Marius Stan as Bogdan (3 episodes)
  • Michael Shamus Wiles as ASAC George Merkert (3 episodes)
  • Steven Bauer as Don Eladio (2 episodes)
  • Bill Burr as Kuby (2 episodes)
  • Charles Baker as Skinny Pete (1 episode)
  • Jim Beaver as Lawson (1 episode)
  • Jeremiah Bitsui as Victor (1 episode)
  • Jere Burns as Group Leader (1 episode)
  • Javier Grajeda as Juan Bolsa (1 episode)
  • Matt L. Jones as Badger (1 episode)


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