Friday, August 09, 2013

I'm Not Ready for Breaking Bad's Return

On Sunday night, Breaking Bad begins its final run, and I just don't want it to happen. I feel like a little kid who's spent the whole day at the zoo and now it's closing time and I'm kicking and screaming because I don't want to go home.

Yeah, I'm psyched to watch new episodes again just like everybody else. But there are only eight left, and so with each one we see, we're that much closer to never seeing any new installments again. And that makes me so, so depressed.

If you never read this post I wrote nearly a year ago about how I finally caved and started watching the series, you should check it out, because it was written before last fall's mid-season finale and contains several of my predictions for what will happen to each character by the end.

I just re-read it myself, and I wouldn't really change anything I thought back then. But I will, however, call out my absolute astonishment that the mid-season finale ended exactly as I thought it would:

"I always thought that the mid-season finale HAD to close with the audience seeing that the light bulb has finally gone off in Hank's mind. I envisioned this "Holy. Shit." look coming over his face... and then the end credits rolling."

And then this ended up happening (though I never would've guessed it all would've gone down with Hank on the toilet!):

The dump where he realizes he's been duped
Holy Shit, indeed.

I didn't have time to do any sort of series re-watch, but I did make it a point to catch "Gliding Over All" (the mid-season finale/a.k.a the last new episode) again. My stream-of-consciousness thoughts are in bullet point format below for your reading pleasure, followed by a few updated predictions for how the series might draw to a close.
Let's both not think AT ALL about how much danger we put our children in on a daily basis, m'kay?
I heard you're in the empire business?
  • Walt had Todd get rid of Mike's car? Oh god now they're going to dissolve Mike's body in a bucket. He deserves so much better than that. (And I still choose to believe that his granddaughter somehow ended up with all the money he'd saved for her. . . despite the fact that even the show's writers said that's not what would've happened.)
  • By the way, I hate Todd.
  • Lydia is a freakin' NERVOUS NELLIE as she waits for Walt/Heisenberg to show up at the café. And I guess she had a right to be, since we later saw that he had the ricin ready to use on her. 
  • I gotta say Walt looks pretty ridiculous with the Heisenberg hat and shades on walking into the café — doesn't seem natural there like it did out in the desert in the "say my name" scene.
  • So Lydia knows that Walt killed Mike. If things went south, would SHE tell Jesse this news? Because right now Jesse thinks Mike busted out of the country in the nick of time.
  • Can I just say that I think the actress who plays Lydia is the worst — I know she's supposed to be all mega-fidgety, but she doesn't come off as realistic. She's always been too stilted. "All of it … right at my fingertips … a laptop click away." Who says that? Anyway, Walt only saw dollar signs during her speech so he's in. The Czech Republic meth-heads won't know what hit 'em.
  • So Walt decides not to kill Lydia, agrees to the new business scheme, gets the names of Mike's guys, and arranges a meeting with Todd's uncle to figure out how to "take care of the problem."
  • Todd's uncle/that whole crew = WTF.
  • I can't even with that jailhouse massacre scene.
  • By the way, THERE IS NOT ENOUGH JESSE IN THIS EPISODE!?! But I won't let that happen with this post, so here:
He's talking to Vince Gilligan on the phone
Yo, why am I not in this episode more, bitch?
  • Now Hank gets home after the jailhouse massacre and Walt's there visiting Baby Holly and dammit Hank needs a drink. He goes on to tell Walt about an old summer job that was easy and simple and how he misses those days. "Tagging trees is a lot better than chasing monsters." Walt's face = unreadable. Oooohhhh, Hank is gonna feel SO STUPID after finally figuring out that that Walt = W.W. = Heisenberg! I can't bear it.
  • Now there's the montage of all the money rolling in. Business is booming. Everything is going smoothly, it seems. 
  • Next we see Skyler visiting Baby Holly. Ha, Marie always has purple on — and now Baby Holly had purple pants on. So. Much. Purple.
    THE PURPLE is The Danger.
    All that's missing is a framed Purple Rain album cover.
  •  Marie is like "Um... we've kinda had your kids for, like, way too long now." And Skyler is like . . . well, she doesn't say anything. Because she can't say, "But if we take them back they may be in great danger because of the meth operation my husband's been running right under your husband's nose."
  • Skyler decides she's had enough and that THEY have enough. Enough money, that is. She takes Walt to see it all. It's a Scrooge-McDuck-worthy pile.
Make it rain!
Mo' money, mo' problems.
  • Surely you know that a bunch of nerds figured out how much money was there, right?
  • Skyler requests her life and her kids back, thankyouverymuchyoumaniacalbastard.
  • Now they show Walt going in for a scan at the hospital. This confirms my suspicion that his cancer has returned. Why else would they have that scene? Especially since afterward in the bathroom he sees the same hand-drying station he punched before when he learned he was in remission, with the dent still there for proof.  
  • YES... Jesse is finally in the episode again. Walt goes to Jesse's house and knocks on the door and Jesse is like, "Uh-oh." After stating that he has no intention of returning to the biz and Walt saying he wasn't there for that, the two ex-cooking partners have a totally awkward conversation about the good ol' days, and then Jesse is like, "Um, even though it's obvious that I have no plans and nothing to do, I'm going to tell you I do so that you'll leave because you are weirding me out." So Walt leaves, but not before he tells Jesse that he's left something for him.
  • It would've been funny if it was a bunch of magnets.
    What is it what is it what is it what IS IT?
  • Was anyone else scared for Jesse when he opened the bags on the porch? I mean, 90% of me was thinking it had to be a huge stash of cash, but the other 10% was worried it would be something awful like Mike's head. That is what this show does to me.
  • After he drags the duffel bags back inside, we see that Jesse had grabbed a gun . . . just in case.
  • Walt gets home and tells Skyler "I'm out." I was confused about this, because it seems like it would've been a BIG part of the story to show HOW Walt got out of the business. Granted, that creepy Todd guy had been taking notes on how to make the meth and I'm sure everyone involved would just want to make MORE money if Walt's cut could now be split amongst them, but it just doesn't seem like it could possibly be that easy for Walt to simply disengage. Wouldn't Todd or Lydia now consider Walt to be a "loose end" that they would want to "take care of" like so many others before?
  • Then it shows some fast-forwarded scenes of sunsets and nature and stuff, and I was assuming that a few more months had passed. But then I read a recap where it said "Later that weekend..." and I was like, "What?!?" I had assumed the final final scene with the gang hanging out around the pool was at least several weeks after Walt told Skyler he was out. Did anyone else have that impression? After all, things seemed so normal, and Skyler and Walt even exchanged a nice little smile with each other. Could they have made amends THAT quickly after everything that's happened?

Marie is not wearing purple = ominous sign.
All I knew was that odds were ANOTHER plane was not going to fall from the sky over their house.
  • Either way, at this point in the episode there was like five minutes left and I remember the first time I watched it I was FREAKING OUT because I figured something huge still had to happen. Since both Walt Jr. and Baby Holly were in the scene, I was positive something bad was going to happen to them. I watched the TV through my hands.
  • And then Hank walked into the bathroom. As soon as that happened, I knew what was going to go down, since they'd made a point of showing that book in the bathroom before. But still, wow, what an incredible ending.


I really hope that we get to see the rest of that scene with Hank play out and that they don't fast-forward through to some other point in time so that we never get to watch how Hank acts when he first walks back outside to join the group. If they show that, my guess would be that he starts mumbling about being sick and excuses himself and Marie in a hurry. I do not think he'll spill anything to Marie right away, though.

I have more questions than I do theories about what else might happen in the final eight episodes. Here are a few of them:
  • Aside from the "W.W" connection Hank has discovered, linking Walt to Heisenberg through Gale's old journal, did Walt cover the rest of his tracks well enough? If he's truly out of the business now, will Hank be able to pin anything on him? Or if the other still-active meth-peeps get word that the DEA has figured out who Heisenberg is, will THEY want to kill Walt immediately so that he doesn't name any of them if he's caught?
  • Dammit now I'm hungry for Denny's.
    How are the Moons Over My Hammy?
    Is Walt dying anyway? I re-watched the opening scene of Season 5 — the one with the flash-forward to Walt's 52nd birthday. He has a full head of hair but is coughing and popping pills and his voice sounded hoarse. I feel like maybe he just decided to not go through any treatments again and is figuring he'll just die or be killed soon and then his family will have all of the money he made, just like he always wanted. 
  • But if that's what Walt really wanted, then I don't think he's going to get it. That would be too easy and it would pretty much be a "happy ending" for him. I think there's a possibility that something really dark could happen — like the rest of the family is killed and Walt survives (and then may or may not spend the rest of his life rotting behind bars), or that he'll still die but he'll see awful things transpire (that are his fault) before he goes. For example, I always worried that Walt Jr. was going to get into a car wreck with the Dodge Challenger (the second one) that Walt bought him.
  • How will Jesse play into the next eight episodes if he's been out of the business for quite some time now? Will he find out what really happened to Mike? Will he ever find out that it was Walt who poisoned little Brock? Will Skyer and Jesse have a reason to team up against Walt . . . OR to save Walt from Hank?
  • And why does Walt need that huge-ass machine gun he bought in the Season 5 premiere? To me it seems like that would only be needed if he was planning to go up against the entire DEA team OR if he he just knew he was going to be totally on his own against whomever and needs something ridiculous like that.
Is a manual REALLY going to help?

Here's an exchange between me and my friend JZ (yes, it's the REAL Jay Z, shh, don't tell anyone) about some theories:

JZ: MY prediction.. I'm not sure if it's stupid or not... They keep showing Walt hiding the ricin. The fact that they keep showing it and hiding it over and over leads me to believe it's going to be important. I think Walt is going to kill himself with the ricin. After he does some major damage of course. It shows in the flash-forward that he's coughing. I believe that the cancer is back. The gun he bought... I think that might be meant for Todd or whoever Todd and his gang may be working with now. My dad even said, "Walt better watch out! I think that kid is playing stupid." I think Walt will end up redeeming himself in someway by taking everyone out and then himself. I keep imagining Hank rolling up and sirens blaring just as the ricin kicks in and Walt dies in front of him.

I know so much about shady ways to kill people because of this show.
I will use you. Oh yes, I WILL use you.
e: I never thought about Walt using the ricin on HIMSELF and dying right before Hank can get him. Wow, that would actually be a classic ending — with Hank remaining always one small step behind Walt — and I swear I will now probably be disappointed if that's not what happens. Either way, you've gotta be right that the ricin will come into play or else why keep showing it?

I also thought the cancer was back because they showed him doing another CT scan in the finale and then it was like he did this 180 about wanting to get out of the business. I thought that was fishy. Why show the CT scan if it didn't mean something? I totally forgot in the flash-forward that he was coughing, so that's more evidence for sure.

I keep wondering if Jesse will ever find out that Walt was the one who poisoned Brock, but probably not at this point. At Comic-Con or somewhere someone asked how Walt did it and they said he smashed it up and put it in a drink box or something random like that.

It seemed like in the finale that several months had passed since he'd been out of the business, which is why it was kind of ironic that that's when Hank finally got a clue. So that's why I kept having a hard time picturing who the "final bad guy" would be if Walt seemingly was able to get out of the biz with no backlash already. But clearly he's getting ready to fight someone (I thought there were TONS of guns in the trunk, not just one?) and Todd is definitely a good guess. I said the same thing your dad said. Not only was that kid NOT stupid, but he was clearly ruthless AND he was writing down every damn thing. He wasn't going to need Walt anymore...

Todd = The. Worst.
One of the most awful scenes ever.
JZ: It wasn't a bunch of guns in the trunk, it was one HUGE-ass gun that needs to be assembled, which leads me to believe that it's meant for something huge. Also the ricin. It was made for Gus, then he tried to give it to what's-her-face but didn't. He then goes to the trouble of hiding it again. The fact that they KEEP showing it and it's so well hidden and hasn't been broken or lost yet leads me to believe that it is meant for something huge as well. It's about a year ahead in the flash-forward I think? What ep did he have his last bday in? It shows him making that bday bacon again in the flash-forward. 

[Walt's 51st birthday was in the fourth episode of Season 5, entitled, as it were, "Fifty-One."]

Continuing with the stream-of-consciousness-ness of this this post, my brother saw me tweet about how I hoped we'd get to see what happened as soon as Hank left the bathroom. Here's what he thought:

My brother: "I saw your re-tweet about what is going to happen after Hank walks out of the bathroom.  I think the simple answer is "nothing." While Hank finally realizes that Walt is Heisenberg, Walt has no idea that Hank is on to him. This is a reversal of the prevailing dynamic where Walt has been able to stay ahead of Hank for years by being his confidant. I think the ultimate resolution is that Hank somehow redeems himself as a decent person/husband/whatever, and other people, unfortunately, will die.

Now this is what I call bathroom reading!
My reply: "In the last line do you mean that WALT will redeem himself? Because I didn't get the impression Hank needed to redeem himself for anything, really. Except maybe at work."

My brother: "He's definitely been a jerk at times in the series, but I think in the end he'll be the "hero," which will include protecting Walt's family somehow and taking on Walt Jr. as an adopted son or whatever. Walt can only really redeem himself by taking the fall for Jesse. He's probably beyond redemption, though, considering the poisoning of the kid, etc."

Oh yes, I think it's fair to say that Walt is waaay beyond redemption already. My bigger concern is whether everyone else will survive to the end. I really hope they all do, but that's probably wishful thinking, huh? 

As I mentioned before, the rest of my predictions about the series' final run are here

OK, I gotta wrap this up because Sunday is almost upon us!

If you'd like to read some much more well-thought-out and in-depth articles about Breaking Bad, here are the three best I've come across recently. (And yes, I've seen the middle-school musical thing, but that just kind of creeped me out.)

"And Then We Came to the End" - GREAT (but long) Grantland piece about TV finales in general, and then specifically about how Breaking Bad (in the author's mind) will most certainly end with Walt dying, but the bigger question is "why" and "how."

"The Big Secret of Breaking Bad: Walter White Was Always a Bad Guy" - Atlantic article (written before the mid-season-5 finale) whose title speaks for itself.

 "Death and Walter White" - From NPR's Money See blog, about how deaths actually mean something on the show.

I'm much more likely to tweet my thoughts about the remaining episodes than I am to write another recap or analysis (until after the VERY end, at least), so if you're on Twitter, you can find me here.

Enjoy the show this weekend! It's the beginning of the end. Sob.

- e


Nick said...

Great stuff. One minor correction: I think the last episode of the first half of the final season was "Gliding Over All" as opposed to "Gliding All Over." What does that mean? No idea!

I just love the Crystal Blue Persuasion montage.

Erika (aka "e") said...

You are correct -- I'll edit the post shortly. Here's where the title comes from:

The episode is titled after poem 271 of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, a book which is featured prominently in the series.

Garry UK said...

Hello e,

I cannot believe I haven't been following your BB blog.
I am a very late comer to BB, my friend (Who doesn't like LOST)recommended it to me which put me off.
After convincing me that I will love it, I bought the first DVD box set and I fell in love with this show.
SO I am used to being able to watch two or three sometimes even four episodes in a row and eventually caught up.
In the UK we get the new shows on NetFlix every Monday.
After watching episode 9 I wanted to watch episode 10. For the first time I have to wait an entire week, A WEEK, before the next episode!!
Anyway, it's great being able to read your blogs again, so many good memories of LOST.
Hopefully we can ride out these last few episodes together on el cabello sin nombre :-)
I hope little Desmondo is doing well.
Oh by the way this is Garry Brotha Miller.

Liz Kozek said...

Loved reading your predictions (couldn't believe how you called it -- that Hank would "play sick" after discovering the copy of Leaves of Grass).

Something that I think is so great about BB is its patience, it's willingness to "plant" an object, idea, action, etc. and let it sit (or fester, even) for several episodes or seasons. The show never talks down to its audience, so I have a great deal of faith about how they will wrap up the series.

Using chemistry as a metaphor, the idea that EVERYTHING is interconnected, like through covalent bonds or fusion, and through these processes there are by products -- some intentional and some unintentional. So I keep thinking about how Walt's original catalyst for getting into the meth business was his cancer and his need to leave "a little something behind" for his wife and kids. All of that was laid out in the first couple of episodes of the series, but coming back to the issue of interconnectedness and details set aside for a future episode, I keep wondering if Gray Matter will play any role in these final few episodes. Walt's intellectual property rights to that company were bought out for a few thousand dollars and it seems like a lot of what he's done across these five seasons has been to prove something about who is the better/more gifted chemist. But it isn't enough to merely prove it to himself, he must be sure that his Gray Matter "friends" know it, too. I guess I just wonder if Gray Matter and his old girlfriend will have a role here at the end since they were sort of significant at the very beginning of the series and haven't been mentioned in some time.

Walter White was never meant to be a hero, the under-dog that the audience should be rooting for. If people don't see that he's a ruthless anti-hero driven by greed and hubris then the show's morality tale has been lost in translation. Although I hope Jesse makes it through alive, I suspect that Skyler will not (and I'm OK with that, she has been complicit in too many crimes and has put her children at risk; I have no compassion for her). As for Walt, his end needs to highlight the futility of his existence and efforts -- by leaving nothing behind for his family, or for no family to leave it behind to. But then, I am also a HUGE fan of The Sopranos series finale. I'm not sure what that says about my analytical skills OR my not-so-mainstream opinions and tastes.

GARRY UK said...

Has anyone seen episode 11 of season five yet?
I cried when Walt hugged Jesse.

Unknown said...


I can't stop thinking about BB. Although I still believe, in keeping with the Chekov's gun theory, that Grey Matter will have to be addressed before this is all over, I came up with some new ideas about/possibilities for BB's ending.

I began thinking about the Godfather movies -- how Don Corleone ends up alone (essentially)in the end, which essentially seems like the only way it COULD end. If we know that Walt's original reason for cooking meth was because he had a terminal cancer diagnosis and he wanted to leave his family with enough money to get by after his death -- to take care of them the only small way he could after he could no longer be physically present -- then the show can essentially only end one way: with Walt ending up alone, isolated, and NOT dying from the cancer.

Why is this irony the "only way"? Because as the purveyor of psychological abuse, he has found ways to effectively isolate each of his victims, thereby allowing him to control them. So what might it look like if that control, that power he holds over them, collapsed and back-fired on him?

I was asking myself about this as I watched Jesse hose down Walt's living room with gasoline. Since we know from the flash-forward scenes that the house does not burn down, then Jesse's attempt at retaliation, in this form, is unsuccessful. My mind ran wild, thinking about how unintended consequences keep plaguing Jesse (and others) throughout the series. At first I pictured Jesse going nuts and mowing down Skyler and the kids (because I really think they aren't going to make it out alive; part of my irony theory), but Jesse doesn't seem THAT cold blooded. But, what if his irrational actions cause the deaths of Walt's wife and kids? We know how much Jesse cares about kids, he wouldn't be able to live with himself. If Jesse then took his own life, he would also prevent Walt from getting his revenge, he would render Walt impotent, powerless in the wake of circumstances he couldn't control from the monster (Jesse) of his own making. I don't know if Jesse can become a martyr out of such an act, but it's one of the few things I could think of that might lead Walt to think HE (Walt) killed Skyler (and support the theory about Walt taking on habits of those he's killed: Mike's neat whiskey, Gus' towel under the knees when vomiting, the bacon arrangement on his Denny's breakfast in the flash-forward).

I think of this as kind of a Hamlet-meets-King Lear theory, but if I step back to ask myself if I could be satisfied with this as at least a partial fate for Walt, I find that I could.


It doesn't solve ALL the loose ends, but it offers a partial resolution.

GARRY UK said...

I love everything about BB, however, it's the writing that I like the best.
In the episode where they are stealing the meth from the train tanker is genius.
They are actually committing a crime so they can make meth, so they can sell it to drug addicts (I know it's a show).
But I found my self punching the air with Jesse when they pull it off, actually cheering out loud, then Todd shoots the kid. I'm still sat there with my fist in the air, then suddenly my jaw hits the ground. Amazing TV.
As for prediction, I'm not good at those ha ha

I must agree though, with Liz, I'm pretty sure his family get killed somehow and he is going to get revenge possibly.

There are so many possibilities and so little time left.

Like I said before we don't get the latest episode until Monday, so I have to disconnect all social media from Sunday night onwards :-).

Terry said...

This is cool!