The penultimate episode of ‘Breaking Bad’ reminded me of what it feels like to ride Splash Mountain. No one ever waits in line for the animatronic Song of the South retrospective. We’re just looking for those giant drops. The ride can’t all be tremendous falls so we allow for those slow moments of outdated songs knowing the next scream is around the corner. Breaking Bad had just finished throwing some of its scariest drops in the show’s history, and now was time to take in the destruction. There was nothing remotely cute or sing along in ‘Granite State’, but the pace of the episode felt like the necessary song before the inevitable crash of the finale.
The episode kicked off with what felt like a goodbye scene for Saul Goodman. Saul, like Walt, has pulled the escape level and enlists the work of his own extractor portrayed brilliantly by Robert Forster. Saul then ends up in the basement of the vacuum shop talking to Walt for one last time. His advice for Walt is to turn himself in. That is the only way for Skyler and his family to be truly free of the federal government.
Walt though has unfinished business in the form of Uncle Jack and Todd. They took his money, and killed Hank. Walt’s anger appears first to be about the money and only second about Hank’s murder. Saul now leaves the picture, and heads towards somewhere in Nebraska. He’ll be the best middle school social studies teacher ever.
Meanwhile Todd might be a horrible monster, but he has fallen in love with Lydia. Todd’s obsession for Lydia keeps Jessie alive after Uncle Jack and his crew steal the taped confession Hank made of Jessie earlier in the season. In the video he freely implicates Todd for the murder of the presumed lost teenager during the train heist. Todd has every reason to kill him, but that means no more coffee meetings about meth with Lydia.
Jessie is still locked up in an underground hole, but a paperclip in his possession seems like his salvation. He uses it to successfully unlock his cuffs, and makes a break for it. There wasn’t a moment of this escape that I really thought he would get away with it. Just didn’t seem to be that easy for Jessie to get out of this situation. In the end he’s caught by the gang, which leads to the darkest moment of the episode.
We don’t see Jessie at first after his escape is foiled. Jessie only returns to our thoughts when Todd rings the doorbell at Andrea’s house. Andrea, Jessie’s off and on again girlfriend, was in trouble as soon as Todd appeared on her front door. I guessed they were going to kidnap her and use her as leverage for Jessie. My assumptions seemed correct as Todd cased the house behind her as she looked towards a car Todd said held Jessie inside. Sadly I was proven wrong as Todd stepped behind her and shot her dead. Only then do we see Jessie in the car bound and gagged being forced to watch the whole thing. The leverage Todd has is not killing Brock. Andrea was the penalty for the escape. Jessie’s life is now as empty as Walt’s.
Walt spends his time in a remote cabin deep in the woods of New Hampshire. It takes some humbling for him to realize he isn’t in control anymore of his life, but he eventually bunkers down in the woods. There is a town eight miles away, but Walt is warned about the danger of revealing himself to anyone as he’s the most famous fugitive in the nation. We flashed ahead to a meeting between the two in the cabin when Robert Forster let’s Walt in about Skyler’s life without him. She’s working as a Taxi dispatcher, and the government has seized most of her money. It is this revelation that drives Walt from the cabin and into town.
He shoves money into a box and heads towards a bar. The plan is simple. Walt will send the box of money to a friend of Walter Junior and then the money can be funneled to Skyler. Walt gets a bar fly to play the role of a concerned parent in order to get Junior alone with him on the phone. He reveals himself and the money plan to his son, but the reaction he gets surprises him. The once loyal son in Junior still can’t get over the fact that his father is responsible for the death of his uncle. He slams the phone on Walt, but not before telling him to just die.
Walt is at the end of his rope, and draws the police towards him at the bar with a call to the DEA. He then sits down for a last drink before a simple talk show changes everything. On the bar TV is an episode of Charlie Rose with Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz the people Walt founded Grey Matter Technologies with. The couple is questioned by Rose about the role the notorious fugitive Walter White had with the company. It helps that the show is Charlie Rose because he is interview of record for the business community. They both deny any sort of connection to Walt, and treat him like a ghost.
Walt can’t let his legacy be wiped away like this, and it is that motivation that pushes him from the bar before the cops arrive. We know he is headed back to Mexico with ricin and a machine gun, but the questions have always been around the intended targets for his weapons. My feeling is still that the gun is destined to wind up down Todd and Uncle Jack’s mouth, but I see Walt taking the ricin in the very end. After Walt kills all of Uncle Jack’s crew he will turn himself in to save his family, but not before ingesting a lethal dose of ricin. The DEA will finally arrest him, but two days later he will be gone for good.
Who knows if that will really happen? The good news is we don’t have to wait much longer to find out just where the extended White family will end up. The last episode of “Breaking Bad”, titled “Felina” airs Sunday at 9pm on AMC.