Did anyone consider taking a prophylactic medication from the benzodiazepine family before watching tonight's Breaking Bad? I'm not saying that would have been an advisable decision, I'm saying that it would have been understandable. Sadly for me the strongest thing in my household is a sticky years-old bottle of generic Nyquil, so I had to make do with sitting on the edge of the couch and anxiously grinding every speck of enamel off my teeth.
By the end of last week's episode, a major character was dead and Walt's life had taken a dramatic turn, to say the least. Here's what went down in tonight's episode, titled "Granite State."
We start with Saul joining Walt in the vacuum store/new-identity-making location, where he learns that 1) he's destined for a future in Nebraska ("Probably managing a Cinnabon"), and 2) Walt wants to take out Jack and the Nazis in order to steal back his cash. Walt tries to strong-arm Saul into joining him in this effort, but before he can deliver his intimidating speech about things not being over until he says so, he collapses into a lung-rattling fit of coughing. "It's over," says Saul sadly, and walks away.
Jack's gang tears apart the Schrader's home and finds Jesse's taped confession, which they watch with great enjoyment. Skyler faces the authorities and acknowledges she's aware of just how deep of a pile of shit she's in, then goes home to smoke moodily until she's interrupted by a fussing Holly, who turns out to be fussing on account of the masked men lurking in her bedroom waiting to scare me half to death. I'm 99% positive Todd's going to kill someone in this scene, but he's satisfied with terrifying Skyler into promising she'll never talk to the cops about Lydia.
Todd -- dressed up like a kid on a date -- meets Lydia for one of her signature Awkward Top Secret Cafe Conversations, where he tells her his meth quality is super-awesome again thanks to Jesse. He gazes lovingly at the back of her head and gently plucks a bit of lint off her shirt, and if he's nearly likable in this moment, he's even more strangely compelling later, when he bring Jesse ice cream (lowered via "It puts the lotion on its skin" bucket) and lingers as if reluctant to leave Jesse's company. "Have a good night, Jesse," Todd says warmly, as if he's, you know, not talking to someone he's personally bludgeoned to the point of deformity and imprisoned in a concrete pen.
Saul's make-a-new-life guy drives Walt out to a remote snow-covered cabin in New Hampshire. He warns Walt not to leave the cabin, and leaves with the plans to return in a month. Walt immediately grabs some cash and attempts to head into town, but stops at the gate and coughs weakly. "Tomorrow," Walt promises himself. "Tomorrow."
Jesse makes an impressive attempt to escape, but just as he's scaling the fence he's caught. He screams for them to go ahead and kill him, because there's no way in hell he's going to cook any more. Next thing you know, Todd shows up at Andrea's house, oozing charm and saying he's a friend of Jesse's, and entices her to step out on the porch. As she peers around confusedly, we see Jesse inside a vehicle, bound and screaming behind a gag. “Just so you know, this isn’t anything personal,” Todd says, then shoots her in the back of the head.
Jesse, who's now suffered so much I don't even really know if I want him to survive the finale, because jesus how much can one man take, completely freaks out. Jack tells him to simmer down. "Remember, there's still the kid," he says, evilly.
Back at Walt's cabin, time has passed. He's got a beard, he's gaunt, his interaction with Saul's guy makes it clear a few months have gone by. Despite it all, I can't help but feel sorry for him: he's wasting away, so lonely he's willing to pay Saul's guy $10K to stay one hour.
We learn that Skyler's using her maiden name, and when Walt's wedding ring falls from his bony finger he seems to collect himself for a risky endeavor: he packs up some money and makes his way into town where he gets Walt Jr. on the phone. I lose my sympathy for him as he unspools the same old excuses about why he did what he did, but I gain it back when Flynn finally snaps, shouting that he doesn't want Walt's money, that Walt should just leave them alone, and why hasn't he died yet? Just DIE.
Shattered, Walt dials the DEA and leaves the phone hanging so it can be traced. He sits at the bar and catches sight of the television, where Charlie Rose is interviewing his former friends Elliot and Gretchen from Grey Matter. They neatly dissociate themselves from Walt, claiming that the only thing he ever contributed to the company was the name. Gretchen pours salt on Walt's myriad wounds by saying, "Walt's gone. The sweet, kind man that we used to know is gone.”
Walt burns. The police show up and storm the bar (atmospheric points for the masterfully extended theme song here), but all that's left is his unfinished drink. We know Walt goes on to buy an M60 and a car from an arms dealer, and we know he eventually makes his way back to his own house and to that hidden ricin … but as for everything else, we've got exactly one more episode to tie up Breaking Bad's various loose ends.
What did you think of tonight's episode? After last week's "Ozymandias," this one wasn't quite such a jaw-dropper for me, but god, it was so relentlessly devastating. I cannot wait to see where this story goes next Sunday.
Image via AMC