By: Jamie Samuelsen
Two weeks ago, ‘Breaking Bad’ delivered the greatest hour of television that most of us had ever seen. The show ended with the shootout in the desert and most of our mouths agape. Then a week later, it got even better.
Was there any possible way that Sunday night’s penultimate episode would trump the previous two? Could Vince Gilligan possibly create an hour (or in this case 75 minutes) that would top the two that came before it?
The answer is no. But it’s not as simple as that.
Sunday’s episode (titled ‘Granite State’ – the state motto of New Hampshire!) was slow and deliberate even though it ended with a flourish. It was an appetizer before next week’s main course. Everything that happened on Sunday, from Todd’s coffee shop meeting with Lydia to Walt watching Charlie Rose at the bar – was clearly just a scene-setter to what’s coming next Sunday in the series finale.
So what is coming in next week’s show? Honestly, I’m thinking of retiring from this prediction game. The conventional wisdom last week was that Walt would return to Albuquerque with his assault rifle and his reclaimed ricin and go save Jesse. Walt had hit rock bottom last week with Hank’s death and Holly’s kidnapping. The final two episodes were going to be the redemption of Walter White. That’s what I wrote last week. And that’s what most of my friends thought was going to happen. Walt was going to try to do a little bit of good after spending the entire series literally breaking bad.
Well, much like trying to predict the Lions, we were wrong again. Walt may try to save Jesse. He clearly is looking to take out Jack, Todd and the neo-Nazi family. And of course, he’ll try to do all this while protecting his family.
But Walt is doing none of this for altruistic reasons. Any thought that Gilligan was going to give Walt a dose of honor on his way out seemed to vanish in that scene at the bar. Walt was at his lowest point after Walter Jr. rejected his advances over the phone. His next call was to the DEA and he left the phone off the hook so that the call could be traced. This was his last stand. This was Walt actually taking Saul’s advice (for once) and turning himself in. He sat at the bar, ordered a whiskey and waited for the cavalry to arrive.
But as the bartender was flipping the channels around on the TV (apparently they DO get cable in that one horse town), they flipped past Charlie Rose interviewing Elliott and Gretchen. How’s that for a flashback! When you wondered what characters from the first few seasons would play a role in how this show wrapped up, you never figured that Huell, Eliott and Gretchen would be front and center. But their mention that Walter White played a bit role in the formation of the company tapped right into Walt’s long held insecurities and angst. It almost took him back to the very first episode where he was taking orders from an imperialistic car wash owner. He clenched his fist, he left his drink and he disappeared.
Where he reappears? Well it’s safe to guess that he stops at a diner for birthday breakfast and then heads back to Albuquerque. What’s his motive? I have to think it’s not all that good. Instead of slinking out of town and living out his days in a tiny cabin in New Hampshire, the final episode of ‘Breaking Bad’ will give us the full Heisenberg, in all his glory. But give full marks to Gilligan (as if the Emmy wasn’t enough), every time we think we have this show figured out, he sends us in a totally different direction. I thought loyalty and family would bring Walt out of hiding. Instead it seems to be anger and resentment. Combine those emotions with assault weapons, ricin, neo-Nazis and the DEA and you have a rather toxic blend. It may not be blue, but I’m willing to bet that it’s 96% pure.
Some other random thoughts from the show –
– It doesn’t make sense to me logically why Todd would let Skyler live. I understand that viewers of the show might not enjoy it all that much (yes, I’ve flipped on Skyler), but from a plot standpoint, having her alive does nothing to help Todd and his family. Unless perhaps Skyler’s murder would alert authorities that there are other people involved than just Walt. Although Andrea’s murder might accomplish that as well. Am I missing something here? (And by the way, would any human being walk out of their house to peer at a dark van when a strange person knocks on their door late at night?)
– It kills me that amidst the chaos in last week’s episode as Walt was trying to pack up his house, that he took the time to put the hat in his suitcase. Of all the things that his family might need for life on the run, the Heisenberg hat has to be way down on the list.
– I’ll need a little help from a lawyer on this one – but what is Saul running from? I know that attorneys can’t just flagrantly break the law. But doesn’t attorney-client privilege protect Saul from testifying against Walt in front of the DEA. There have to be a million skeletons in Saul’s closet so perhaps he’s running from those as well, but I was surprised as anyone to see him walk into the ‘vacuum cleaner’ store. Another great surprise by Gilligan.
– Is that the end of Marie’s role in the show, or will she be allowed one final face-off with Walt? After really disliking both of the female leads for most of the show, I feel ridiculous sympathy for both in these final few episodes. What can I say? I’ve got a big heart.
Okay – time for your final prediction? Who lives? Who dies? Let me know what you think – firstname.lastname@example.org