Did you guys have summer reading assignments in high school? I did. They were the worst. Every year between 8th and 11th grade, I would have to go pick up six or seven classic works of literature on the last day of school, and then I’d have to write up little reports on each of them that were supposed to be turned in on the first day of school that fall. The process always played out exactly the same: I’d get the books in June and think “I have plenty of time. I’ll start these later,” and I’d toss them all in a closet or on a shelf. I wouldn’t think about them again until about mid-July, at which point I’d glance at them and think, “Pfft. I can read a book a week. Easy. I’ll start next Monday.” That Monday would come and go, as would the next, and the next, and at some point at the end of August I’d say something like “How long is this book? 300 pages? If I can read a page every minute I can knock that out in five hours. Hell, I can do two books a day. No problem.” Then I’d open the first book three days before school started, have a total panic attack, go buy the Cliff’s Notes, and work like 15 hours a day for the last few days of summer to get the reports done.
I bring this up because we are officially at that point with Breaking Bad. If you’ve been telling yourself you’ll get caught up before the season but you’ve been putting it off and haven’t started yet, you really don’t have much of a shot to pull it off. You’d have to watch all 46 episodes in a little over 50 hours. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely or healthy? Not at all. It’s Cliff’s Notes time.
Luckily, Slate has put together this ten minute video that will get you mostly caught up for the fifth season premiere. Like Cliff’s Notes, it’s far from perfect. It’ll give you the basic outline and bullet points of the action, but you’re still missing all the shading and detail that makes Breaking Bad one of the best shows on TV. It’s better than nothing, though, and it means you won’t look like a big ol’ rube when people you know try to talk to you about it. In a way, that’s kind of like the real life version of getting an F on those book reports.