It would be pretty hard to catch up on the first three seasons of Breaking Bad before season four premieres Sunday on AMC. We tried, actually, but there's just something about knowing there were 33 episodes to get through that made the whole thing feel like the start of a long, hard basic cable slog. But don't let that deter you: the show's plenty accessible once you brush up on the basics. Here's the guide we've put together for you and, frankly, for us as well.
The basic premise of Breaking Bad: a high school chemistry teacher, dying of cancer, starts up a meth ring with one of his old students. Bryan Cranston (the dad from Malcolm in the Middle) plays Walter, the teacher, and Aaron Paul plays Jesse, the dropout. We know this because we loudly and angrily exclaimed "Who is Aaron Paul?" when he won best supporting actor in a Drama at last year's Emmy awards. Here are the other things you should know, courtesy of the Internet:
- It is set in Albuquerque.
- Walt is married and the couple has two young children, one of whom is disabled, which is one of the reasons he goes into the meth trade after being diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer.
- Walt contributed to Nobel Prize winning research as a graduate student at Cal Tech. He also founded--and then abandoned, for reasons that are still unclear--a pharmaceuticals firm with his ex-girlfriend and college lab partner, who subsequently got married and made boatloads of money off Walter's research.
- Walter's brother-in-law Hank is a DEA agent. He's leading the investigation a new meth kingpin known as "Heisenberg," who is actually Walter.
- AMC cut together a montage of Walt and Aaron's "best moments," the majority of which involve some combination of yelling, cooking drugs, and hanging around the house. It's a perfect way to get familiar with the show's rhythm and pacing.
A brief history