'Breaking Bad' Recap: A Nerve-Shreddingly Tense Shootout in the Desert

Breaking BadHere's what we knew ahead of time about tonight's Breaking Bad: it's titled "To'hajiilee," which happens to be the New Mexico location of a couple pivotal moments from previous episodes. The synopsis was "Things heat up for Walt in unexpected ways.” Last week we were left with the impression that things were going to escalate between Jesse and Walt. And the promo video included Walt saying to an unknown person, "Remember … no fear."

In other words: DUDE, SO MUCH TO LOOK FORWARD TO. Let's skip the preamble and get straight to the business of recapping tonight's holy-crap-no-WAY episode, okay? Here's your surely-getting-tiresome reminder that there are SPOILERS AHEAD, so stop reading if you didn't watch tonight's Breaking Bad.


I'm not going to do an exact play-by-play this time, because I'm so eager to get to the last twenty or so mind-blowing minutes in tonight's show. Real quick-like: we see Lydia complaining about the sub-par color of Todd's meth, there's a creepily desirous scene where Todd rubs his finger over the lipstick print she left on a mug before taking a swig from her exact mouth-location, we learn Todd's ringtone for Walt is "She Blinded Me With Science" (snerk), and we get confirmation that Walt is asking Todd's uncle to kill Jesse.

As for that line: "Remember … no fear": it turns out that came from his instructions to make Jesse's murder painless and unexpected, with no suffering or terror.

Hank gets an idea for duping Saul's bodyguard, the weirdly-noggin'd Huell, by photographing Jesse next to a disgusting pile of bloody cow brains. Terrified of being next on the skull-splattering hit list, Huell confesses what he knows about Walt's money, and even though they can't track a GPS from the rental van used to transport Walt's cash to the desert, Hank cooks up another genius idea. Meanwhile, Walt pays a visit to Andrea and Brock (Brock, by the way, unlike Walt Jr., has a very clear idea that Walt isn't what he seems), but Hank intercepts Andrea's voicemail which was intended to lure out Jesse. (Nice Hello Kitty cellphone, BTW.)

Also, there's a hilariously awkward scene of Walt Jr. (who suddenly looks, like, WAY too old to be in high school) attempting to wish people an A-1 day before becoming star-struck by poor face-bludgeoned Saul.

Anyway, back to the action leading to the HOLY SHIT stuff. Jesse texts Walt a photo of what appears to be one of his barrels full o'money, and he really lays it on with the bitch talk, to the relief of every viewer who's been worried about Jesse's increasingly catatonic state this season. In a dead panic, Walt drives like hell to To'hajiilee, where his money is buried, fully believing Jesse's entire story of how he discovered the cash and was planning to destroy it, $10K at a time, until Walt showed up. Faced with the all-consuming fear of losing his precious meth earnings, he confesses -- via cell phone -- to, like, EVERYTHING. He blabs about poisoning Brock, committing murder, burying Jimmy Hoffa, hiding the remains of Amelia Earheart. It's like one of those Bond movies where the villain reveals his entire evil plan without considering the repercussions of doing so.

Remember last week's episode, when Jesse said, "Next time I'm going to get you where you really live." So: Walt's money. Remember how To' Hajiilee is interpreted as "Bringing up water from a natural well"? Walt's damning words burble forth without prompting, such is his distraction by losing what he's amassed as Heisenberg.

When Walt arrives at the reservation, he sees he's alone. It finally dawns on him that he's been deceived, and he calls Todd's uncle to bring in reinforcements to take out Jesse as a vehicle pulls near. Once he sees Hank emerge, though, Walt is filled with horror. "Do not come," he hisses to Jack, calling off the murder mission.

Ha, did I say I'd go over these events "real quick-like"? As Hank would say, Nice try, asshole. ANYWAY, we're finally at the moment where I scooted to the edge of the couch and let my lower jaw just sort of dangle towards the floor, because jesus CHRIST the tension was off the CHARTS. Hank calls Walt out. Walt's face is an Emmy-worthy study of … god, there's just a lot of emotion going on there, I don't even know where to get started. Exhaustion. Despair. Resignation. Walt emerges, puts his hands on his head, gets handcuffed. Hank and Gomez bro it out over having finally bagged Heisenberg. Walt calls Jesse a coward and Jesse hawks an impressive loogie in Walt's face. Hank calls Marie and says he finally got his man, Marie is teary with relief, Hank says he loves her.

Tellingly, he adds, "It may be awhile before I make it home.”

And all the while, I am waiting for a sniper bullet to shriek out of nowhere and blow someone's face all to FUCK. I mean, weren't you? It was unbearable, waiting for what we knew was going to happen: Todd, his uncle, and the swastika gang are going to show up -- not out of loyalty to Walt, but to protect their blue-meth investment.

Sure enough, they finally do, and Walt screams "NO!" from the backseat of Hank's car. There's a lot of yelling back and forth, and Jesse's eyes turn into dinner plates as he slowly fumbles for the car door handle. Then the firefight breaks out. Walt hits the deck in the backseat of the car. Gomez and Hank shoot like crazy. Todd's face is devoid of all emotion as he calmly pumps out bullets. Chaos reigns -- and then we fade to black.

I don't know about you, but I'm still recovering from those final scenes. What a nailbiter, and what a CLIFFHANGER. My sad feeling is that Hank and Gomez are goners. I suspect Jesse lives, although for the life of me I can't figure out how (he'll run and hide behind … a rock?). Walt will of course be spared because he's the cook Todd and company need. But what next? How do we get from here to the part of the story where Walt's buying a machine gun and reclaiming his ricin? Is he on the run (and his house boarded up) because his confessions via that phone call were discovered by the DEA? Is he about to wage war against Lydia, Madrigal, and/or Todd? Or against Todd and his uncle for 1) forcing him back into cooking, or 2) stealing his buried cash? And who's that ricin for, dammit? We've learned that it's a slow-acting (3-5 days) poison that leaves little or no trace, so it wouldn't be used for an instantaneous kill, and it seems like its purpose would be to hide the true cause of death. Does Walt maybe want to hurry his own inevitable cancer passing, after he does whatever the hell he's going to do with that M-60?

Here's all we can truly know for sure: there are only three more episodes to go.

What did you think of tonight's Breaking Bad? Who do you think survived the gunfight at the end?

Image via AMC

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