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