Breaking Bad's fifth season just keeps getting better. "Live Free or Die," the first episode of the season, was astoundingly brilliant, from its time-jumping opening scene to its vaguely threatening Walt-Skylar interactions at the end. That episode was the show's most viewed outing yet, and rightfully so. 2.93 million viewers would probably agree that the episode was stellar.
But what's less explainable is the massive drop in ratings the second episode, "Madrigal," took. In my opinion, "Madrigal" was an outing that managed even to top the season premiere in quality (but then again, it's hard not to love a Mike-centric episode). But in viewership, there was a very distinct drop. The episode, which aired on Sunday, dropped to 2.3 million viewers, losing 21% of the first episode's audience. As Bill O'Reilly might say, you can't explain that.
Sure, there are a few reasons why the drop might have taken place, including the obvious fact that viewership usually drops off after the first episode of a season. But as Entertainment Weekly so correctly put it, "it’s just tough to imagine anybody seeing that hour and then thinking, 'Yeah, I’m done with this show.'"
In any case, 2.3 million is by no means a bad number for the series. "Madrigal" was the third most-watched episode, after "Live Free Or Die" and season 4 premiere "Box Cutter." And really, ratings shouldn't matter too much to Breaking Bad anyway. With a concrete end in sight, the series is in no danger of cancellation.
The season's third episode, "Hazard Pay," airs Sunday night at 10/9c on AMC. I've seen it, and it's my favorite of the season so far. It's audacious, funny, and classic Breaking Bad. If you're one of the .63 million viewers who dropped off after the season 5 premiere, catch up just so you can tune in to this episode. You won't be disappointed.