I’m still in shock over the abrupt and violent end of last night’s BREAKING BAD; part of me felt like I should be cowering on the floor like Walt, but most of me was just staring at my TV, shouting, “Is it next week yet?”
Hank finally got his man. He finally slapped the cuffs on the mysterious Heisenberg. His brother-in-law was on his knees, helpless and being read his rights. Hank even called his wife to tell her Walt’s reign of terror was over. Hank won. And then it all went wrong in a hail of bullets in the middle of the desert.
In a new lab, Todd (Jesse Plemmons) cooks a batch of meth that tests 76 percent pure, pleasing Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) and Lydia (Laura Fraser) — who still frets about the color of the crystal. When Walt (Bryan Cranston) asks Uncle Jack to execute Jesse (Aaron Paul), Uncle Jack bargains with Walt to do one more cook with Todd, so he can get the final details right. Walt drops in on Andrea (Emily Rios) and Brock (Ian Posada) and convinces her to contact Jesse. But Hank (Dean Norris) realizes the meet is a trap. Too bad Huell (Lavell Crawford), however, isn’t so quick to sniff out a ruse. Hank and Agent Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) fake Jesse’s death and convince Huell that Walt is tying up loose ends. Huell swallows it and spills about loading Walt’s cash into black barrels in a rental van and Walt returning it all dirty like he’d been digging in the desert. Hank helps Jesse photograph a fake barrel and tell Walt that the rental van had GPS and Jesse found the cash and he’s going to burn it all.
Walt flips out and races into the desert, but when he gets to the site, Jesse is nowhere to be seen. Only then does Walt realize that he was tricked into leading Jesse to the money. Walt calls in the coordinates to Uncle Jack for the hit — but when Walt sees that Hank is with Jesse he tries to call it off, but neo-Nazis would have none of that. Hank arrests Walt, but before he can be transported, Uncle Jack arrives and his crew faces off against Hank and Gomez. And then the shooting starts!
It seems clear to me that persnickety Lydia is being groomed by the show to step into Walt’s shoes when the series ends. Whatever Heisenberg’s ultimate fate, I can see Lydia’s designer heels stomping up the ladder to the top of the meth empire. I know she’s nominally running things now, but I’m referring to her growing into a Lady Heisenberg the way that Walt morphed from chemistry teacher to drug kingpin. Her insistence on the meth being blue betrays her business training — it’s more important that her product look like the stuff her clients expect than being as pure as they might expect. The blue color is the marketing hook. Business is business.
And money is money. After bailing on last week’s meet with Walt, Jesse came up with a plan to strike at Walt where it will really hurt: his money. The money that is supposed to provide for his family when he’s gone. The sole reason that Walt got into the meth business to start with. The reason he comprised himself and crossed so many lines. The only thing that matters. The money.
The money definitely is Walt’s Achilles’ heel, and threatening it made him take total leave of his senses. There was no way Jesse could have been at the money site — everyone knows rental vehicles aren’t allowed to have GPS — but Walt was so crazed that he didn’t consider he was being scammed. The whole time I was groaning at my TV that Walt was making a big mistake, and, sure enough, he led Hank right to the buried millions. Jesse’s ultimately got Walt arrested, meaning that Jesse beat Walt by outthinking him. The wild look of fascination and pleasure in Jesse’s eyes as he watched Hank cuff Walt told the story: The pupil had become the master. Sloppy, Heisenberg, very sloppy.
And, in the course of making that mistake, he made an even bigger, sloppier mistake: confessing to killing the gang-bangers and all sorts of other mayhem. If that was being recorded by Hank — and it probably was, since Jesse’s end of the conversation went dead immediately after Walt ’fessed up — then Walt is a dead man. How could he have been so stupid?
Speaking of stupid, based on the seeming ease with which Uncle Jack and his crew took out Declan and his boys for Lydia, I would have expected two DEA agents to last about 11 seconds in a firefight, but it appears they all forgot how to aim their weapons. I mean, Hank and Gomez didn’t even have any cover; they were standing in the open until they moved up to take cover. It does not look good for the boys in law-enforcement — I fully expect Gomez to buy it, and Hank to be at least seriously wounded. It would be amazing to watch Hank die in Walter’s arms.
BREAKING BAD has always used (literally) explosive violence to make storytelling points, this situation was no different. Almost any other TV show would have ended with a standoff between the armed groups — but not BB. This show unleashed the violence. I thought the sudden cut to black gave the sequence a random feel that was pretty realistic; violence when you least expect it — and have no control over it. Wow, a gun battle just broke out and… wait, the show’s over? What just happened? The show can’t be over, there’s a firefight…. What will happen? WHAT’S HAPPENING NOW????
What’s happening is that once again, there are unintended consequences to actions. Walt wanted Jack to take out Jesse, but now Hank was in the crosshairs, even though he’s family and Walt has repeatedly ruled out whacking his brother-in-law. And BB was showing us how the mighty have fallen: Walt was locked in Hank’s vehicle, screaming impotently for Uncle Jack to call off the hit on Jesse.
Why didn’t Hank and Gomez pull out their badges? Why weren’t they wearing badges around their necks as usual for DEA operations? Hank knew he was racing into the desert to apprehend Heisenberg. This is official business, isn’t it? Or is it? Two DEA agents stash a material witness in an unauthorized location then set up an unauthorized sting operation to get a suspect to reveal his cash stash. Seems legit. But then again, was Hank worried that someone from the hit team would file a complaint about improper behavior by federal agents?
Nice poetic touch, by the way, with the show returning to one of its original places, the site where Walt and Jesse cooked their first batch of meth. (Cranston said the production filmed at the very same location as season one.) I was wondering if Walt had chosen the place he buried his cash at random or whether he knew the place. Obviously, he knew where he was going. And with the show drawing to a close, going back to the beginning has a special resonance. The place where Heisenberg’s meth empire began was the place the feds brought it all down.
Now, like I said, IS IT NEXT WEEK YET?!?!?!?!