Dan Snierson
March 09, 2009 AT 03:09 PM EDT

The answer: Yes. The question: Was it worth the yearlong wait? (MINOR SPOILER ALERT) Vince Gilligan’s stellar drama Breaking Bad returned to AMC last night for season 2, and right from the intriguing black-and-white opening sequence — the eyeball floating in the pool while sirens wailed; the pink, half-burnt, one-eyed teddy bear suspended underwater — I was hooked all over again. And the fix lasted through the strung-out junkyard scene with frighteningly unhinged drug lord Tuco, through the awkward burst of passion in the kitchen, right up until that drive of doom. Godspeed, boys.

Clearly, chemistry teacher/meth cooker Walt (the marvelous Bryan Cranston, who also directed this episode) is barreling deeper into danger, and it’s squirmy fun watching him trying to cover up his double life and adapt his book smarts to street-smarts situations. There’s an subtle and unlikely paternal bond forming between Walt and his former student, wasteoid Jesse (Aaron Paul), with whom he’s entered this precarious drug partnership.  (Enjoyed the whole ricin/rice-and-beans exchange.) And the show’s secondary characters are popping too: Walt’s macho-yet-compassionate brother-in-law, DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris) serves as nifty comic counterpoint without turning into a caricature, even when he’s telling a co-worker to take a cell-phone picture of him grinning with the corpses at a crime scene.

I could go on and on, but you should read Ken Tucker’s terrific review of the new season here. In related news, Mr. Stephen King gets down with his Bad self here. (By the way, I took a peek at the next episode and… it’s even better. You’ll never look at—or hear—one of those ring-for-service bells quite the same way again.) All right, enough about other people’s opinions: What was your take on the season premiere, PopWatchers? 

addCredit(“Ben Leuner/AMC”)

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