Ben Luener, AMC
Bryan Cranston, left, and Aaron Paul in AMC's "Breaking Bad," which airs Sunday.

PASADENA, Calif. — Fans of "Breaking Bad" aren't the only ones who are regularly shocked by what happens.

"Just like you watching it, we are reading it — and the feeling has the same impact, as much surprise as you have," said Bryan Cranston, who stars as mild-mannered teacher-turned-meth dealer Walter White. "And we often comment to each other, 'Did you read it yet? Did you read it? ... Oh, my goodness. You are not going to believe it.'

"You have that kind of anxiety and anticipation of what's about to happen. So it's never boring and always a surprise."

The second season ended with a mid-air plane crash that killed dozens of people and rained horror down on the White household (and the rest of the town). The sixth season opens (Sunday, 8, 9 and 11 p.m., AMC) with the aftermath of that tragedy.

"Breaking Bad" is still the show it started out to be two seasons ago. It's still about a nice guy whose mediocre life took a huge turn for the worse when he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

Worried about his wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), his teenager son, Walter Jr. (R.J. Mitte), and his unborn child, Walter did a horrible thing for the right reasons. He teamed up with one of his former students, Jesse (Aaron Paul), and started cooking meth so he could make a ton of money before he died.

And, despite all his moral misgivings, Walter has been drawn deeper and deeper into this world. He's continued on the path creator/executive producer Vince Gilligan outlined when the show began — "We take Mr. Chips and we turn him into Scarface ... and then he drops dead of cancer."

"It hasn't been done on television before unless someone can cite an occasion where you actually see a person completely change who he is by the end of the series or near the end of the series," Cranston said. "I will be a completely different person from the milquetoast person you saw in the pilot."

As Season 3 begins, Walter's cancer treatments have given him a more positive outlook. But not exactly a bright future.

"We have not forgotten the impetus that got Walt going on his journey into being a criminal," Gilligan said. "And we are going to keep it as real as possible with the cancer because cancer is, in a lot of ways, the villain of the piece."

Walter's improved health is the only positive thing he has going for him. Skyler is figuring things out, and Walter's personal life collapses.

And there are some really bad guys coming after him.

And I'll stop there for fear of giving too much away.

Suffice it to say that "Breaking Bad" is an enthralling narrative, for all that it remains tough to watch. It's violent, shocking and unsettling.

We are, after all, sympathizing with a guy who cooks crystal meth.

And Gilligan promises that this season will be filled with "unintended consequences."

"I see Walt this season a little bit like Dr. Frankenstein in the sense that Dr. Frankenstein, with good intentions, creates a monster," he said.