The second half of Season 5 has been better, but also too rushed. Yeah, I get that lots of development is happening, but that doesn't mean that the writers couldn't have made more time to include scenes of the characters we've watched from the start actually reflecting upon the non-stop action they're in (like they did in Seasons 1 - 3).
As much as I admire Gilligan's desire to end on a high note and not try and milk this past it's prime, I think he would have been much better served to extend a lot of what we've seen in Season 5 over two whole seasons.
I've always been drawn to the show because Walt has chanced into living a very warped version of the American dream. He started as a bit of a nobody and after his diagnosis lead him to believe he had little to lose, he found a lot of inner strength and a special talent that earned him a lot of success and respect for his skill. Looking at the show's progress this way, Seasons 1 & 2 showed him devoting all his energy to breaking into a new career. Season 3 shows his talent recognized by "the man" but also the toll that success took on his family. Season 4 shows the inevitable struggle a driven man has with the constraints imposed by the "system" and his desire to break away so that he doesn't have to take orders. Ideally then, the "first half" of Season 5 should have showed Walt as the equivalent of Steve Jobs founding his own Apple meth business after breaking away from Fring's Microsoft.
I would have thought going into Season 5 therefore that Walt would have been upbeat and eager to learn the ins and outs of the business. I would have expected that hardwork on his part would have lead to success and that success would go to his head and ultimately bring him down. Given the abbreviated time available, however, we never saw any of that. Walt had to be an arrogant, hateful know-it-all from the getgo to fit in all the season's conflicts even though nothing had happened between the end of Season 4 and start of Season 5 to warrant his becoming that way. I didn't really even recognize the Walt of those episodes as the Walt of earlier seasons.
I've been enjoying the "second half" of Season 5 a lot more, but now I'm finding that the lack of time available to wrap things up is forcing the Jesse character to become unrecognizable. As pointed out above, his even being alive at this point has stretched credulity to the breaking point. Now we see him one day and he's happy to be out of the business. The next day, he's so racked with guilt and filled with hate against Walt that he's working to put him in jail. And it's even more annoying that to get there they had to regurgitate that #*%(&% nonsense with Brock getting poisoned. Last year Walt's arrogance was used as the excuse to drive the plot forward, now the character of Jesse himself is that excuse. I just hope the end when it comes doesn't require me to be heavily invested in Jesse's fate now that's he more of a plot point than an actual character.