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Breaking Bad Watch: Here Comes the Cavalry

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Ursula Coyote/AMC

“Baby, you OK?” 
“I’m much better now.”

You’ve seen it a million times before: the superhero, the secret agent, the detective, the wizard has been captured by his nemesis. The villain disarms our protagonist, ties him up, prepares for the coup de grace. And then: he can’t resist. He starts talking. (“Monologuing,” they called it in The Incredibles.) Taunting. Savoring the chance to tell his vanquished foes exactly how everything went according to his plan. Relishing his triumph a few seconds too long, until–hey, what’s that sound…?

Breaking Bad delights in upending our expectations, and the heart-pounding “To’hajiilee” (named, I believe, for the Navajo reservation on whose ground the climax must have played out) did it in at least two ways. First, by putting the nominal good guy– the lawman, Hank Schrader–in the time-honored position of the conquering criminal who Can’t. Stop. Talking. And then, by denying–or maybe not, maybe merely postponing–his seemingly well-telegraphed doom.

(MORE: Breaking Bad Watch: You Gotta Keep the Devil Way Down in the Hole)

It was somewhere right around when Walt pulled up to the desert meetup spot, having thoroughly been scammed by Jesse and Hank into confessing murder and revealing his stash spot, that I knew, or thought I did, how it all was going to go down. Walt would get caught by Hank, Jesse, and Gomez; they in turn would get caught by Uncle Jack. Jack, badly wanting Walt to cook for him, would decide to ignore Walt and make him honor his end of the deal. Hank would get the triumph he dreamed of, would finally outsmart Walt, would get to slap the cuffs on, and then–curtains. After which Jack would inform a shaken Walt that the deal was still on, and he owed him a cook–if not more.

(I say, by the way, this neither as a boast nor as a criticism. I rarely see surprise plot twists coming, and therefore if I saw Uncle Jack’s return coming, I assume Vince Gilligan and company fully intended us to see it coming.)

Instead, we got a bananas, guns-blazing climax and then–you bastards!–a cut to black. What should have tipped me off that we were not going to see Hank die–not before the end of this hour anyway–was how bleeding obvious Breaking Bad, and director Michelle McLaren, made it seem that we were going to see Hank die. When long-running dramas kill off major characters, played by stars who have been with the show for years, they tend to telegraph it by showering said character with moments and catharses and closure.

And holy hell, “To’hajiilee” did everything but roll out a goodbye cake for Dean Norris and play “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” on the soundtrack. Hank got his victory, which solves the problem of killing off Hank–a cop, after all, if an increasingly flawed guy–yet not letting him appear to have died in vain. He had a tearful talk by cellphone (great reception in the desert!) with Marie, and got to hear her say that he had put her mind at ease. The episode all but packed his suitcases for the afterlife. (I’d thought Jesse might be marked too, but precisely because Norris got such attention–and especially once Hank shuffled him and Gomez to another car–it suggested that the Grim Reaper’s spotlight was on Hank alone.)

You might think that such (apparent) telegraphing would take the suspense out of the episode’s second half. On the contrary–maybe on Hitchcock’s theory that “knowing” a terrible thing will happen is worse than not knowing–it was torture, from the moment Walt took the phone call from Jesse and barreled out on the blacktop to the existential showdown in the desert. There are points at which my notes on this episode are almost entirely me screaming at the episode in all-caps (JESUS WHO IS IN THE CAR??? &c.)

(MORE: Breaking Bad Watch: Confessions of a Middle-Aged Drug Kingpin)

More important, the false ending gave us a chance to see how Walt would react to his luck finally, for all appearances, running out. The episode hardly redeemed him; after all his agonizing, it turned out he did make the call to have rabid-dog Jesse put down. (Quickly and painlessly, he asked, so, you know, Humanitarian of the Year.) But as always, Breaking Bad complicated things, giving us Walt facing a last temptation, like Christ in the desert: one word on the phone, and he could get rid of Hank and his troubles. Maybe his code supersedes his pride, maybe he simply can’t live with killing his children’s uncle.

Every time Walt has escaped doom, it’s been by crossing a new moral line, from Emilio and Krazy 8 to Gale to Brock. (The last of whom he is able to see again–as part of a plan to lure Jesse to his death–without any apparent pangs.) For once here, he steps up to the line and refuses: “It’s off. Do not come.” And then he prepares for the end.

If we didn’t know there were three episodes left, this could have been a way to end the series. Another series might have ended just this way: with Walt, if not exactly redeemed, at least having found his moral limit, finding his bearings and reconciling himself to paying a price before the cancer claims him. There would be justice, there would be retribution, and yet there would be the message that even the most benighted among us can see light before the end.

But not Walt. Not yet anyway; Breaking Bad will not let him morally re-virginize himself so easily. As it turns out, he’s not Christ in the desert; the devil he’s dealing with is not ready to call off the bargain and get behind him. His decisions have had consequences, and they can’t be undone with a phone call.

I write this review in blissful ignorance of what’s coming next; I haven’t seen further episodes or even the previews of next week’s episode. Maybe Hank is already dead, maybe someone else is, maybe not. But whatever comes after that cut to black, Breaking Bad is going to make Walter White live with it.

Now for the hail of bullets:

* In the history of awkward Breaking Bad moments, has there ever been one as awkward as Saul meeting the White family?

* Thanks to Walter White and his van, we now have an answer to the eternal question (repeated earlier this season by Skyler): Who washes a rental?

* God love Jesse Plemons; it’s amazing how Todd’s politeness and placidity can be a frightening as other characters’ belligerence.

* Again, I am privy to no foreknowledge, but am guessing that Jesse Pinkman survives this attack, if only because I’d expect a more massive clearing of the air between him and Walt before this is over. Of course, I know the danger of expecting anything with this show.

* “How angry we talking about? Hulk angry?” That may be an underestimate.

* Finally: AMC is not screening the last three episodes in advance, so I (or in the case of Emmy night, possibly someone else) will be reviewing these last episodes later than usual. Strap your seat belts on.

MORE: ‘Breaking’ Record: What Boosted Walter White’s Ratings?

SEE ALSO:  The Big Surprise of Martin Luther King’s Speech

100 comments
eponte
eponte

Was anyone else chilled by hearing Jesse call Mr White "Walt" in their phone "conversation." More than anything, that said to me, "Things are about to get REAL, bitch."

NathanBurks
NathanBurks

Id say Walt and Jesse survive..That's why Walt went back to his old house and got the ricin in episode 1 of this season

EdLucas
EdLucas

I think in the end everyone will be dead except for Walt. the only thing he will have left, if he chooses, is the life of "heisenberg". I think in the end he will become heisenberg once again and offer his services to the big corporation behind the european drug ring. This will enable the walt/heisenberg character to begin a new adventure in a major motion picture

PaulPatrick
PaulPatrick

Ozymandias is the name of the next episode, also is a crazy poem about falling empires being left and ruin, Its gonna be intense.  I think Todd is dead, probably the first to go in the shootout.  Hank and Gomez are gone too. Which forces the Gang to snatch up either Walt or Jesse for a cook. I'm thinking Jesse cuz they find out Walts dead anyways cuz of the cancer

No way is Walt using Saul's guy without getting his hands on that money, if you remember Saul gave it all to Jesse, which Hank and Jesse used in that pic to fool Walt to going into the desert.

Thing that bugs me is the guy Walt gets the M60 from looks like one of the Nazi gang members, I mean they had some firepower already, who else could get that for Walt?

nlim
nlim

who did -- or didn't -- do the copyediting for this article?

vrcplou
vrcplou

I have to LOL at the people that are already unhappy with the ending before it's even aired!  I "trust the chemistry" of Vince Gilligan and everyone involved in this show.  I may not be happy with the ending, ultimately, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to see it coming.  But I'm no genius, so there's that.

I love how Hank and Marie think that once they get their bad guy that everything will be better in a "couple of weeks".  Sure, no family rift, Skylar and Walt Jr. will see that you were right and it's A-OK to lock up their husband/father in his dying days.  IF they could even get a conviction, which I'm not sure of.  Although if the cancer is really back, Walt would likely die awaiting trial.   

I have no idea how this show is going to end but I honestly feel it's going to come down to Walt v. Jesse; those two have sparred the entire series and although Walt has done very bad things, he has been loyal to Jesse and does consider him family.  I think knowing Jesse is working with Hank to bring him down crosses a line for Walt.  Jesse is no longer a loyal dog; all bets are off.

And speaking of Jesse, I'm not liking him!!!  This moral superiority he's got now, wth?  He's been in the game, knowing from the beginning that innocent people get hurt.  He's every bit as culpable as Walt.  Calling Walt "greedy" really ticked me off.  Really?  Walt isn't the one wasting his money on meth, meth parties, flat screens or literally throwing it away.  While Walt's ego has put him in bad places, his motivation has never been greed.  He only wanted the money for his family.  He got drunk on the power.


GrahamGooch
GrahamGooch

No one is going to die,  Gomez maybe.   There are many cards to be played.

1. Hank/Gomez threaten to blow Walt up.   They need a cook so it's moot.


2.  Remember Jesse can cook,  (BTW, he's in a car and has a chance of driving off).


3. Jesse can drive his car into the bad guys, killing mowing down many.


4. Walt does not want to see Hank die, why,  coz he needs him to take care of his son.  So he put's a gun to his own head, and threatens to kill himself, unless Hank/Gomez are sent off free.




ShaunMacNeil
ShaunMacNeil

My guess... Hank and Gomez are killed in the desert and buried there. When he fails to show up, Marie tells the DEA bosses that Hank was in the process of bringing Heisenberg/Walt into custody but something must have gone wrong.   She hands over Jesse's taped confession.  The DEA is unaware of Hank's rogue investigation but bring Walt in for questioning.  But the DEA is presented with Jesse refuting his confession, saying he was forced to do it by Hank and Gomez  (a deal Jesse made in the desert in exchange his life.) Since there is no valid confession, no proof he is Heisenberg or involved in the disappearance of their agents, Saul gets Walt  out. Marie is crazed with rage, and eventually assumes Hank is dead and that Walt is responsible. My theory is that, Marie snaps and breaks into Walt's house, wrecks it, and sprays "Heisenberg" everywhere out of spite for all the world to see.

Bad2theBone
Bad2theBone

N 34° 59' 20", W 106° 36' 52"

Coordinates to the Albuquerque Studios where the show is filmed.

These guys are good.

LILITHFAIR33
LILITHFAIR33

My theory is (which could be way off base with this show) is that both Hank and his partner will die. Jesse could still be spared as in this last episode he doesn't seem to be in the crossfire. I think that once the gang realizes Hank and his partner are DEA, in order to cover up what happened, Walt will blow up his own home faking his death, then leaving the "fake" DVD confession for the DEA to find pinning everything on Hank so that Skylar, Walt Jr. and his daughter are spared.

Bad2theBone
Bad2theBone

In this show, as well as the real world, the cooking will continue. If 10 people are involved in shootout and only 3 can cook, who survives?

Jesse has only one thing working for him in this scenario, he can cook the Blue, but nobody in this crowd likes a rat, nobody. The Aryians, not. Hank was willing to get him killed for the taped evidence. Walt put out the contract on him even before he found out he was a rat. Now that Walt knows Jesse is a rat, he won't be so concerned that his murder is so painless. I don't see Jesse coming out of this one.

Walt can cook blue as well, and we know he survives. Todd can't cook the blue, but hopes to learn. And wouldn't it be interesting if he was the first casualty of the shootout?

I think Jesse, Hank, and Gomez  are toast. I hope Todd is as well.

Who will be the first to mention the money and what will it buy? Freedom for Walt's family?His own escape?

Walt buys freedom for his family, fakes his own death, returns to cook for Uncle Jack but mixes the ricin in the Blue. Once the Blue has shipped and he has the confidence of Uncle Jack he mows the gang down with the M60.  He has killed both the manufacturers and the users in one fell swoop. Blue be gone.

He recovers the money and flies back to New England to rejoin his family. Walt wins again.

abtx79
abtx79

Please don't read this if you don't want a spoiler.....


           The "gang" does not kill Hank or Gomez, but upon finding out they are really DEA, are in a krap position. So they are left with 2 choices, kill all of them, or take them hostage. Instead they take Jesse as a ploy to force Walter's hand to cook for them. Without Jesse, Hank has no card to play against Walter. They take Jesse and Hank & Walt are now forced to work together to either save Jesse or let him die. At this point neither Hank or Walter really care about Jesse, but Hanks needs him to follow through on his case against Walter. Todd tell's this to Lydia, and Lydia figures Walter has no more motivation to cook for the gang and the Eurpeon connection, as Todd is unable to cook Walter's Meth. This is where the series begins it's final ark. Jr goes home and Skylar goes back to the house to get him out. It's where they meet an accidental untimely end at the hands of Todd, who is trying to earn the respect and effection of Lydia, by kidnapping Walt's family. He got the idea from Jesse while he is being held hostage. Upon hearing from Todd that Walt's family is accidently killed, he realises it's time for him to go also. He sets up a cook with the gang there, and blows himself and the gang up with a major explosion. Gomez has had enough of Hank trying to get Walter and goes to the DEA. The DEA is now full-frontal after Walter, while Hank is locked up for his role and hiding evidence. Walter is hiding and grieving for his family. Saul is able to place Walter with the "cleaning" guy and he leaves New Mexico. Flash Forward: Hank is locked up in federal prison, Marie now has Walter's daughter. Lydia & the Eurpeon connection are still out there and get information out of Saul. But Saul also realises  he has had enough, refused to give them information about Walter's daughter. Saul is killed after refusing to tell them where Walter's daughter is. Walter calls Hank in prison, and Hank tells him the only thing he has left is to come and save his daughter. That's what Walter is doing buying the machine gun and goes to his home. Excuse the Spelling. 

JessieGrey
JessieGrey

Both hank and Steve will not die.  My guess is that one of them survives.

I just don't understand why Walt didn't tell Uncle jack that it was a setup and to break off.  "Do. Not. Come." is not enough!  Also, why would he hide the money in one spot?

ExtryDextry
ExtryDextry

Best show ever, for me surpassing both Mad Men and Homeland, so Breaking Bad gets a pass for the plausibility problems that, as in nearly all genre fiction, pepper the final act. Walt's digging and filling the enormous ditch all by himself, the hail of bullets that misses -- at least for several long seconds -- Hank and Gomez even when they're largely exposed, some other moments. 

But for me the most pronounced "Yeah, right" came when the hyper-cautious Walt volunteered a detailed confession to Jesse via obviously tapped cellphone and, worse still, when he parked and got out of his car at the money site even though not a vehicle or soul was there -- much less any plume of smoke from the burning money Jesse had described. Why were Walt's highly sensitive antennae not up to detect a setup, especially all he knows about Hank, his GPS tactics and the only hard evidence being the money? Come on.

tlewis186
tlewis186

Why is no one mentioning the clear fact that the Aryans are shooting at Walt and not Hank or Jesse? It's Walt who is in the rear floor board ducking bullets, and Jesse is just sitting there with his usual dumb azz look on his face..Meanwhile Hank is guns a blazing, and doesn't seem to be taking fire.....

fervaldom
fervaldom

The only thing I am certain is that Walt himself painted the Heisenberg graffiti and that he pretended to be dead. When the neighbor saw him she was scared not because she knew something about his criminal activities but because she thought he was dead. 

BB_Fan
BB_Fan

IMO - I think that Hank & Gomez both die in the shootout. Jessie will be spared by Walt.  Walt will dig up the money along with Todd's gang and both Hank's & Gomez's bodies will be buried where the money was located. Todd's uncle will get a portion of Walt's money and Walt will take the remainder. Walt will hold up his end of the deal to assist them through the cooking process,  Jesse eventually becomes the full time cook for Todd's gang, and Walt's job, in the last two or three episodes is to save Jesse from them.  I think Walt will have a non-combative relationship with Todd's gang as Walt realizes that he is in over his head trying to fight them on his own, at least initially, which is why he gets the MK-60 for the final conflict.

I don't think it is possible to develop the entire Marie/DEA story as there are too many other questions that need to be answered and too many other issues that need to be addressed. I do not think that the DEA storyline will continue with Hank being gone. I feel as though Marie will go to Skylar and tell her about Walt being captured by Hank and now that Hank is missing, Skyler will become very worried, forcing her to take the children and leave town as she now comes to the realization that Walt is in some way responsible for Hank's disappearance.  Skyler will then feel that Walt will stop at nothing to get what he wants, even kill a member of his family, therefore making Skyler feel as though she is now at risk as well. Skyler will be pissed at Walt Sr., and as s result will tell Walt Jr. everything, which may lead to an ultimate conflict between he and his father, although I am not sure that is what I would like to see ultimately, as I was hoping for something more grandiose. 

I think that the ricin is for Lydia, as he was contemplating poisoning her once before, this time he will finish the job as she has nothing more to offer him and can only be a threat to him as she knows everything.  I do not feel as though Walt will use it on himself.

I am confused as to what happened to their house.  In the timeline we are really not sure what point we are at, how far away are we from Walt's 52nd birthday.  Perhaps everyone in the family is now assumed to be dead and the house is now simply a target for locals to desecrate, someone obviously knows that he is Heisenberg, as per the writing on the wall in the scene we saw earlier.  That alone may result in the house being ransacked.

ShaunMacNeil
ShaunMacNeil

I just don't see any plausible way that Hank and Gomez can walk away from this.  Even if they survive the initial shootout, and even if Walt pleads for their lives, Uncle Jack cannot feasibly allow these NARCs to live.  Not if he's starting his own meth lab.  With Hank and Gomez gone there would be no real reason to kill Jesse anymore, plus the guy can cook.  Moreover, Uncle Jack might just help himself to Walt's stash of money.  Why wouldn't he?  He can just grab the money, force them to cook under pain of death.

HOMEGROWNCHICKS
HOMEGROWNCHICKS

Four AR's unloading on you in the wide open, from less than 100 yards and you don't even get grazed! The show turned into a horrible work of fiction last night!

ShaunMacNeil
ShaunMacNeil

My mind keeps returning to the flash-ahead scene where Walt meets the arms dealer in the mens' washroom and buys that bigass gun.  Vince Gilligan has repeatedly described the series as "From Mr. Chips, to Scarface".  Gilligan was pretty true to the "Mr. Chips" side of Walt at the start to the show... and I think most of us here are familiar with the final scene from Scarface which descended into one final spectacular of bullets and explosions.  "Let me introduce you to my little friend !!"  Hope I'm wrong, I would hope for something a little more subtle from Breaking Bad than an over-the-top shootout.

joevogel83
joevogel83

My predictions:  Hank and Gomez are dead,  Hank has survived one shootout and the final call to Marie to me; emphasizes he's gone.  After the smoke clears, a pissed Walt is telling them not to kill Jesse anymore, now that he is essentially captured and can't rat.  Walt somehow escapes and uses his money to disappear with Sauls guy.  The gang meanwhile takes Jesse, as they know he is the next best thing to Walt cooking-wise, and because Walt actual cares about him; thinking they can lure Walt back for a last cook.  This doesn't work and they go after Walt's family and kill/kidnap them. (Just as Walt was doing to Jesse with Brock, the gang is also responsible for the "Heisenberg" spray paint in Walt's house)  Walt knowing his death is imminent anyways, comes out of hiding with the M60, preparing for a final standoff with the gang, he gets the ricin pill because he is a control freak and will only go out on his own terms, not cancer's or the gangs.  He has his final blaze of glory, pops his pill and dies.  Marie left behind, Hank-less and still trying to convince the DEA what has been happening is screwed over by Walt's tape, and her confession to her shrink that she has thought of untraceable poisons to kill Walt.  She is the only one left, and ironically goes to prison after dodging it so many times after being a chronic liar and kleptomaniac.  As for who lives and dies, who knows although I really think Walt pops the ricin.

Elegy56
Elegy56

Am I the only one who hopes Hank and Gomez get killed? I'm starting to like the bikers and that psychopath Todd, I want to see Heisenberg retrieve the money he worked for.

john_rambo
john_rambo

@abtx79 Space aliens beam down and abduct Walt while the Nazi Low Riders run out of bullets and surrender to Hank and Gomez. Jesse realizes how his betrayal has hurt Walt's feelings and picks up a gun and shoots himself in the head. The space aliens cure Walt's cancer in exchange for a sample of ricin to bring back home to kill their leader.

ShaunMacNeil
ShaunMacNeil

@jcase8297  I didn't mind Hank at all.  But, I think he is destined for a shallow, unmarked grave in the desert.

fervaldom
fervaldom

@tlewis186 After your comment I'm starting to think that Jesse made a pact with the gang, give them the formula plus all of Walt's money, and I don't think that Jesse wants to go to jail, so getting rid of Hank wouldn't be such a bad idea for him. Maybe the final confrontation won't be between Hank and Walt but between Walt and Jesse. 

Bad2theBone
Bad2theBone

@tlewis186 Hank and Steve are on the other side of the SUV. They aren't shooting at him but through him.  The Cops are a bigger danger than Walt.

fervaldom
fervaldom

@tlewis186 mmm.... Good one, I really didn't think of that until you mentioned it.

JohnB.Carpenter
JohnB.Carpenter

@BB_Fan I think both sides will run out of ammunition and Jesse, running away, will pick up Walt's gun and be in charge.

B_Phelps
B_Phelps

@ShaunMacNeil  Uncle Jack and his guys don't know about the money's location or that there even is hidden money. Only Jesse knows it is in the area, (assuming Hank & Gomez are dead)

JohnB.Carpenter
JohnB.Carpenter

@ShaunMacNeil Either both sides run out of ammunition and Jesse stumbles across Walt's gun and is in charge, or, you're right, and the gangsters win, maybe with Jesse running away into the desert. 

JimAkin
JimAkin

I think (or at least hope) that was poetic license -- stretching milliseconds into minutes and milking the cliffhanger for suspense. I'll bet bodies are strewn everywhere next week.

JakeJoplin
JakeJoplin

@joevogel83  I totally agree with you on the ricin thing where Walt takes it and dies (at the end). Walts fife will then find a tape hidden (or he will tell her before he dies) where all the money is at.

clive
clive

@joevogel83 Walt wouldn't go into hiding without his family. More likely his family goes into hiding and Walt stays behind to fight the aryan gang.

JohnB.Carpenter
JohnB.Carpenter

@Elegy56 I hope you're the only one like that and I hope you get some counselling -- or some religion.

fervaldom
fervaldom

@JohnB.Carpenter  Well I really don't know the feeling of being certain and wrong at the same time. You advised religion to someone below, so I would assume you are a religious person, otherwise why advise something you have no idea about. So you should know better about being certain and wrong at the same time. How does it feel?

ShaunMacNeil
ShaunMacNeil

@B_Phelps @ShaunMacNeil  I understand....  I can't see the writers just walking away from that scene without the money coming into the drama.  Jesse is still plenty mad at Walt, who he just spat in the face.  And Jesse may need a bargaining chip to get out of this alive.  There is no option of running away into the desert.  He knows he would certainly die out there.  He'll be looking down the barrell of uncle Jack's gun.....  or Todd's... and he'll spill the beans. 

jolinegkg
jolinegkg

@JimAkin I agree with Jim, totally disagree with Homegrownchicks. In much the same way as we have seen cliffhangers revisited and a new perspective added the second go-round, I suspect that when the dust clears there will be blood.

JohnB.Carpenter
JohnB.Carpenter

@JimAkin Yes, and let's not mistake the angle of the camera with the angle of the shooters to each other, with Hank and Gomez getting behind the engine of their truck for cover.

joevogel83
joevogel83

@clive @joevogel83 And notice he is using Skylar's maiden name as his new identity, possibly in honor of her plus he does the whole bacon thing that she did for him. 

joevogel83
joevogel83

@clive @joevogel83 Then his family is dead before he goes.  He is in hiding in the flash forward when he is buying the M60.  They might kill his family because he refuses to cook after they kill Hank?  I don't know.

clive
clive

@joevogel83 This would explain that dead end scene with Walt talking with Jesse's ex about his whereabouts.

clive
clive

@joevogel83 @clive How bout this scenario, Walt and his family go into hiding. The gang kidnap Jesse, his ex girlfriend, and kid. They force Jesse to cook. Walt gets wind of these events, and comes out of hiding to fight the gang. 

clive
clive

@joevogel83  It doesn't make sense to kill his family because he refuses to cook, because he will never cook if his family is dead.