AMC's critically acclaimed drama Breaking Bad returns to screens for its season 5 premiere Sunday at 10 p.m. EDT. In case you've missed any crucial points from season 4, or you just want clues about what lies ahead, here's a handy guide to the coming season.
Obviously, spoilers for the show follow.
Last season was the darkest yet for the show. At the end of season 3, meth kingpin Gus Fring had decided that Walt and Jesse were a threat to his operation and ordered them both killed. In order to save their hides, Jesse killed Gus's backup meth cook, Gale Boetticher, thus ensuring that Gus had no choice but to work with Walt and Jesse.
Gus, realizing he now relied on the duo to produce a steady stream of methamphetamine, reluctantly kept the two on after murdering his head henchman right in front of the pair. Jesse found himself having a hard time coping with his actions, spending every night throwing wild, drug-fueled parties in an attempt to never be alone. Gus used this grief to drive a wedge between Walt and Jesse, and took the former drug addict under his wing. Eventually, Jesse had learned to cook just as well as Walt.
Walt, feeling increasingly isolated from the enterprise, began constructing elaborate ways to kill Fring and take over the operation. Once Gus had fully groomed Jesse, he kicked Walt out for good, driving a wedge between the former partners. Gus then began striking back at the Mexican cartel, leading Jesse in a mission to kill his longtime rival and enemy Don Eladio. Jesse seemed to be completely under Gus's thumb at this point.
Meanwhile, former DEA agent (and brother-in-law to Walt) Hank Schraeder spent the early portion of the season recovering from his brush with death at the hands of the Mexican cartel. After spending much of his time obsessed with mineral collecting, he began to re-open the Heisenberg case, with all signs pointing to Gustavo Fring. Hank began pulling at the strings of Gus's operation, leading to a hit being up out on Hank.
Walt realized that his family was in danger and began his most morally dubious plan yet. Jesse had been seeing a woman and bonded with her son Brock. When Brock turned up poisoned, Walt blamed the act on Gus. With Jesse back on his side, the two launched an unsuccessful plan to kill Gus. When that failed, Walt enlisted the help of the mute, wheelchair-bound former cartel member Hector Salamanca. Hector, now Gus's only enemy from the cartel, threatened to tell the DEA all about Gus's operation.
This ruse led to a private meeting between the two bitter rivals. In the meeting, Hector began furiously ringing his trademark bell, revealing that Walt had rigged a bomb to Hector's chair. The explosion killed both Gus and Hector, solidifying Walt as the only drug lord in town.
In the final twist of the season, we see that Walt had poisoned Brock, setting the events in motion. It was a chilling scene that revealed Walt would stop at nothing to protect himself and his family, leaving fans waiting impatiently for the next season to air.
The show's final 16 episodes will be split up between two half seasons. Whether you call them separate seasons or two halves of the same whole, the show is still racing headlong into its conclusion. The first eight episode arc premiers Sunday night, though fans will have to wait until early 2013 for the series to conclude.
While AMC has been careful not to let crucial details leak, a couple plot points about the new season are widely known. Now that Gus Fring is out of the way, Walt is going to attempt to become the next meth kingpin of the Southwest. Some reports have also suggested that the new season will involve a trip to Germany in some way.
At this year's Comic-Con, the show's cast and crew, including series creator Vince Gilligan, discussed the impending darkness of the season. With Walt attempting to become kingpin, he has to make some hard compromises. He does something this season that, as the first viewer of the show, I myself would probably say, 'I lose all sympathy,' Gilligan said.
Later on in the panel, the cast revealed a three-minute trailer for the new season. Appearing below, the trailer begins with a confrontation between Gustavo Fring's former henchman Mike and Walter White. Jesse stands in their way, saying, If you kill him, you're gonna have to kill me. It's a tense moment, but things only get crazier from there.
Watch the full trailer below and get a sneak peak at the new season.