Watch: The trailer for the fourth season of Breaking Bad

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Season three of Breaking Bad wound tighter and tighter and ended in a stomach-churning cliffhanger so desperate and horrifying that it's not really clear where the show could go. It's not clear from this trailer, either; mostly we see last season's events, with a few new shots. But the implication seems to be that Walter White, former high-school chemistry teacher, is continuing his descent into total ruthlessness. Show creator Vince Gilligan once called his plan for the series "Mr. Chips becomes Scarface;" we're now pretty far into Scarface territory. (One of the real pleasures of the show is how gradual that shift has been.)

Breaking Bad is one of the funniest and most exciting shows on TV, and I watched most of season three with bitten nails. But I'm not sure it's quite on the level of Mad Men or The Wire for seriousness of purpose. Sometimes the characterizations seem shallow or erratic, and I'm not sure it's really grappling with the nature of evil the way it seems to think it is. Either way, for suspense value alone — and maybe just a hint of eat-your-vegetables moral weight, fine! — season four is an exciting prospect. If you haven't watched it yet, start now, and I promise your next few weeks will be entertaining ones.