This is the episode it finally happened; the moment we’ve finally been building towards for five seasons.
Holly has finally turned against her father.
Her final betrayal of Walt was tragic, as she looked deep into his eyes and delivered that poignant word over and over again: “Mama…. mama.”
It was brought to the surface with such deep pain and hurt, with the trademark stoic delivery we’ve come to expect from this actress. Pay attention, Emmies.
Oh, and Hank died aswell.
In typical BB fashion, we start slow. This week, we went right back to Day One. Following on from Jessie’s geographical observation last week, we’re treated to a flashback of the former Odd Couple/current Mortal Enemies’ first ever cook together. It’s a brief reflective interlude as we wait for the results of last week’s shit-fan-hitting and it reminds us once more just how much everyone has changed. Walt, as we know, has physically transformed; Day One, he had more hair, more moustache and less pants. He was also optimistic, hopeful and passionate about chemistry – when was the last time we actually heard him talk about his work, or be excited about anything? Jessie, while looking much the same physically, has transformed as much. Present Day Jessie is a far cry from this immature, impetuous, arrogant kid, doing air-karate moves in the middle of the desert. Now, there is no joy left in his life either. We also meet Skyler, on the receiving end of Walter’s first ever meth-related lie – “I’ll be late tonight.” She’s more trusting, calm and content, thinking of baby names and getting pizza for dinner.
One slightly cheesy fade-out effect later and we’re back to Right Now, where “shit” is about to reach the apex of “fucked” (so to speak) for Walter White and everyone he has dragged into this horrific spiral with him. This is undeniably the bleakest, most miserable episode of Breaking Bad yet and it was delivered beautifully by director Rian Johnson.
As the guns quieten, we see that Gomez is gone, Hank is wounded and Jessie has disappeared. The battle has ended exactly as it logically would have and all that’s left to do is for Walt to plea for Hank’s life. Hank, ever the hero, refuses to beg and is strong right up until the moment his life is ended mid-sentence. The pain on Walt’s face is heartbreaking as the full consequences of the “reaction” he started at this spot so long ago is fully realised. He is ultimately responsible for Hank’s death, but still his anger is directed towards Jessie, whose hiding place he reveals to Uncle Jack and Friends. Walt’s parting revelation to Jessie is the final twist of the knife – he watched Jane die, and did nothing. Driving away with one eighth of his fortune that was graciously left to him by Captain Nazi Neck, Walt looks back in his rear-view mirror to the spot where his fortune was buried, now poetically replaced by the body of his brother-in-law.
By the next scene, Walt’s out of even more luck as his car sputters to a halt. The zoom out reminds us how small and insignificant his life and actions are; a bald, dying man rolling a barrel of cash through kilometres of desert. I don’t know what that song was playing over this scene, but the lyrics were incredibly on the nose, considering how the episode ends – “Times are getting hard… money’s getting scarce. Gonna leave this place. Say goodbye to everyone. Had a job a year ago, had a loving home. Now I’ve got no place to go, guess I’ll have to roam.”
Back at the car wash, Skyler’s A1 day is about to be ruined, as Marie tells her that Hank has captured Walt and it’s all over. What’s more, she has to finally tell Walt Jr the truth. A massive round of applause to Anna Gunn, who was outstanding throughout this episode, disproving her legions of loyal internet haters.
Our last scene with Jessie is absolutely horrific. Chained and nastily beaten, he is dragged from a caged pit by the ever calm Todd and introduced to his true prison; a meth lab with a well-placed picture of Brock and his mom. This is Jessie’s worst nightmare, chained up and forced to perform the task that ruined his life, over and over again. Is this who Walt is heading towards in the flash forward? Has he discovered this fate worse than death and is coming to rescue him? That’s where my money is.
As Jessie wakes up in his own personal nightmare, Walt Jr is discovering the one that he’s been unknowingly living in for over a year. It’s fascinating how quickly this poor kid’s world has dropped out from under him. One minute, he’s learning the family business and staring incredulously at Saul Goodman; the next he discovers both his parents are liars, his Dad’s a druglord and his uncle is dead. Before he knows it, he’s watching his parents wrestle on their living room floor for a knife and he has to man up and tackle his own father. In the end, it’s Walt Jr, the most innocent of all the characters and the one most removed from Heisenberg’s web of lies, that does the simplest and most obvious thing that no other character has. He calls the police. It’s in this simple response to right and wrong that “Flynn” has finally revealed Heisenberg to the world. Walt’s panicked grabbing of Holly was a strange reaction, a last-ditch attempt to grab the only family that hadn’t turned against him – until her first words of betrayal came out.
Realising he has nothing and no-one left, Walt makes a phone call home. At first, I thought that with nothing to live for, Walt had finally snapped and had fully transformed into the monster Heisenberg. But on second viewing, it’s clear that both he and Skyler know this isn’t directed at her, he’s talking to the police; admonishing Skyler of all guilt and twisting events to make him look like the sole bad guy. He even takes the blame for Hank’s death, tears in his eyes. This is Walt’s final lie and it’s the only one that’s ever served someone other than himself. He’s finally done the right thing by his family and has taken responsibility for his actions, taking them away from the danger, who, as we all know, is him.
The final shot of Walt’s reflection in the side mirror as he disappears to a new life is beautiful and sorrowful. It seems like a certainty that this is the point where we will flash forward to the flash forward next week and the final resolution of what has been one of the greatest pieces of entertainment on any medium.
LAST WORDS, FIRST WORDS AND NO WORDS
Hank’s Last Words: “You’re the smartest guy I ever met. And you’re too stupid to see… he made his mind up ten minutes ago.”
Holly’s First Words: “My father is Heisenberg? That’s not true! That’s impossible!”
ONE TERRIBLE QUESTION, FRANTICALLY REPEATED
“Where is Hank?”
WHAT’S HIS NAME?
Walt: “It’s Hank. His name is Hank.”
Hank: “My name is ASAC Schrader. And you can go fuck yourself.”
THOSE NAZIS AIN’T ALL BAD – HAVE A BARREL FOR YOURSELF
“Jesus, what’s with all the greed here? It’s unattractive.”
“SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS”
Todd – always with the formalities.
NO SAUL THIS WEEK
But on the upside, we’ll be getting plenty more of him in his confirmed spinoff.
80 MILLION DOLLARS
Correct me if I’m wrong, but is this the first time we’ve heard the amount of money that was down there?