WARNING: This article contains spoilers regarding Season 4 of AMC's Breaking Bad.
All Hail The King.
Four simple words pack a powerful punch in the new Breaking Bad Season 5 poster, released Monday. The photo features antihero Walter White, played by actor Bryan Cranston, seated on a lawn chair in a vacant warehouse, surrounding by stacks of money and containers of infamous blue methamphetamine.
The Season 5 poster might only offer one cursory phrase, All Hail The King, but the overall message is much more significant.
In the official posters for Season 1 through Season 4, the imagery is much less commanding. The Season 1 poster featured Walter White standing pantsless in the desert, gun in hand, with the caption Change the Equation. Posters for Seasons 2 and 3 featured Walter White and fellow cook Jesse Pinkman dressed in hazmat gear in the desert. And the Season 4 poster featured an up-close shot of White alongside the cautionary label Warning: Extremely Volatile.
The Breaking Bad Season 5 poster is both formidable and intense. It is the first time the actual drug is pictured and White's position is asserted; it paints a powerful portrait of what is to come in the final season.
Breaking Bad left off with a riveting Season 4.
A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks, Walter White uttered to wife Skyler in the beginning of the season. And Walter displayed this dominance come the finale.
Season 4 ended last October with Episode 13, Face Off. Walt and Jesse are determined to topple the reign of Gus, although the two men had been at odds for a majority of the season. Hank and the DEA are getting closer to blowing the lid off Gus' entire operation, which would, in turn, bring down both Walt and Jesse.
Jesse is preoccupied with the health of Andrea's son, Brock, who was rushed to the hospital. Jesse fears that his ricin-filled cigarette is to blame; but Walt convinces his partner that Gus has never shied away from using children as pawns in his power-plays.
After a failed attempt at killing Gus with a car bomb, Walt looks to former foe Hector Salamanca for help.
I know you despise me, Walt says. And I know how badly you want to see me dead. But I'm willing to bet I know a man that you hate even more.
Hector sacrifices himself to kill Gus with a planted bomb. Although half his face is blown off, the met kingpin maintains his composure until the very end, reaching for his lapel and straightening his tie like the dignified gentleman he always tried to be.
After Gus' death, Walter and Jesse go to destroy the super-lab and any evidence of their involvement in the meth production. The two finish their job and Jesse returns to see Brock. Atop the hospital parking lot, Jesse tells Walt that the boy will live. He reveals that it was not ricin that he ingested, but sweet red berries from Lily of the Valley, a poisonous woodland flowering plant. Kids accidently eat such wild vegetation all the time; Gus was not behind it.
This realization forces Jesse to grapple with the bombing. He needed to die, right? he asks.
The final shot of the finale episode of Breaking Bad Season 4 shows Walt sitting in his backyard. The camera zooms in on a plant next to him. The label reads Lily of the Valley.
The history of 'Breaking Bad' is a series of ethical lines crossed; there's a reason the show is called what it is, wrote TIME Magazine's James Poniewozik. Walt began as a meek, resigned-if resentful-chemistry teacher. Then he started cooking meth. Then he killed, in self-defense. He let a young woman die. He indirectly, through his callousness, caused an air disaster. He killed again. He indirectly got his brother-in-law shot, and excused Gus for allowing it. He had another meth cooker, who did nothing to him, murdered so he could live. Always with the rationalization that he was a decent man, that he would not harm the truly innocent, that he would never willingly endanger a child...Then he willingly endangered a child.
Season 5 of the AMC hit series begins Sunday, July 15, at 10 p.m. Breaking Bad is one of AMC's most popular series. The Vince Gilligan-produced drama premiered in 2008, starring Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. AMC announced in August that the fifth season of Breaking Bad will be its last. The fifth season will consist of 16 episodes, split into two parts of eight episodes each, airing in 2012 and 2013.