Walter White may have washed his hands of the meth trade (for now), but AMC is happy to remain in the Breaking Bad business for seven more weeks: Last night’s midseason première drew an estimated 5.9 million viewers, the largest audience in the show’s history. That’s a 102 percent increase over last year’s season première, the kind of positive percentage that would keep Lydia Rodarte-Quayle from angrily stomping into the car washes of Albuquerque. Or maybe it wouldn’t, since scenes like that more than doubled Breaking Bad’s viewership—with help from Badger’s Star Trek spec script and the most explosive throwdown in an attached garage since that time your dad asked for a 3/8 wrench and you brought him the 7/8. (It probably didn’t hurt that Netflix added the first eight episodes of season five just in time for late-in-the-game bingers to catch up in time for “Blood Money.”) Those numbers suggest the show has finally become a big earner for AMC, placing Breaking Bad—whose ratings grew through most of season 5a (with a Labor Day weekend dip for “Gliding All Over”)—alongside ratings juggernauts like that show about zombies and that other show about Chris Hardwick talking about zombies.
Viewers are less likely to stick around to hear Vince Gilligan tease Hardwick with details about upcoming episodes of Breaking Bad, however—Talking Bad debuted to 1.2 million viewers, more than half of which were in the advertiser-preferred 18 to 49 demographic. AMC’s other new addition, Low Winter Sun, fared slightly better, with 2.5 million viewers. But we’ll have to wait for Nielsen to develop its “Ugh! Finally! Breaking Bad preview!” meter to determine how many people checked out after Low Winter Sun’s first, delayed commercial break.