Breaking Bad‘s midseason finale Sunday night managed to deliver big gains on last year.

The cliffhanger delivered 2.8 million viewers, up 47 percent from season four’s explosive closer. Overall, the AMC series has averaged 56 percent more viewers for this summer’s eight episodes than the first half of last year’s (longer) season. The final eight episodes will air in summer, 2013.

To followers of Breaking Bad‘s ratings, this growth should come as no surprise. The series — partly because it started so modestly, but mostly because of its awesomeness — has managed the highly unusual feat of growing an audience for a heavily serialized show every year for five seasons.

“Congratulations to everyone involved in Sunday’s great success and for delivering episode after episode of television that is nothing short of remarkable,” said Charlie Collier, AMC’s president. “That Breaking Bad continues to deliver at such a remarkable level creatively, now over 50 episodes later, is a rare accomplishment … We can’t wait to share the final eight episodes with our audience.”

Episode Recaps

Breaking Bad

Walter White descends into the criminal underworld.

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