by Billie Doux
This was a bridge episode, intended to take us from the utter devastation of 'Ozymandias' to the flashforward at the beginning of the season. And it most certainly did its job.
There was a theme -- being stuck (like granite -- the title of the episode is a pun) in a specific place with no choices because of your previous decisions, and it pretty much applied to everyone in the cast. Walt's choices in life have completely isolated him from everyone and everything: his family and friends, his former jobs, and now society itself.
At first, I didn't think Walt would be able to lay low because he's too much of a control freak. But I forgot how smart he is. He stayed low, even though he was so desperately lonely that he paid the fixer 10K to play cards with him. And hey, give him do-it-yourself chemo. As Chris Hardwick said in the Talking Bad episode that followed, do-it-yourself chemo is hard core. Necessary, though, since at the beginning of the episode, Walt couldn't even threaten Saul without coughing his lungs out.
Then, when it looked like everything Walt had done was for nothing since he would never, ever be able to get all that money to his family, just when Walt was ready to take Saul's advice and give himself up, voila. With probably the worst timing ever, Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz appeared on Charlie Rose in what had to be an attempt at damage control for Gray Matter, and they chose to say that Walt had had nothing to do with the company's success, that his only contribution was half of the name "Gray", and Gretchen topped it off by referring to Walt as "sweet and kind". There was probably nothing they could have said that would have enraged Walt more.
So Heisenberg is back. Walt is returning to Albuquerque with a whole bunch 'a guns. As we already knew. Except now we know why: to take down the Aryans, and/or Elliot and Gretchen, and somehow find a way to get all that money to his family. Will he succeed? I'm starting to think he won't.
During this episode, I started thinking (probably a whole lot later than the rest of the world that watches this show) that Uncle Jack and his Aryan crime family are like a juggernaut representing all of the mindless, violent death and destruction that Walt set in motion when he started cooking meth. Even 70 million bucks wasn't enough to stop them from continuing to cook and sell drugs, from killing innocent people and laying waste to everything around them. There seems to be no way to stop them or make them go away; it's like they're not human. They were watching Jesse's video confession and laughing, including the part about Todd murdering that little boy. Todd even appeared to be proud of what he'd done. Who could possibly be proud of killing a child?
Which brings me to Todd. He just murdered poor Andrea, who has been the very personification of an innocent bystander whose life has been unfairly ruined by drugs. At least Todd wasn't ready to kill Skyler on Lydia's say so. Is Todd really into Lydia? Really? It just seems so weird. I did enjoy the little Todd/Lydia scene in the coffee shop, if only because of the contrast with the previous meetings with Mike and Walt. Todd did everything Lydia wanted, even though it made him look ridiculous. He was even drinking tea.
And… Todd gave ice cream to Jesse. Ice cream? He also told Jesse that the latest cook was 96% pure. It was like Todd was giving a little reward and some incentive to a problem employee.
Like Walt, Jesse was also trapped in a box. They're still giving us Walt and Jesse in parallel just as they have throughout the entire series, even though they're not partners or friends any more. I knew Jesse just might figure out how to get away, and he nearly did by paperclipping the shackles and American Ninja-ing himself out of his cage. (Yeah, bitch. Paperclips.) But did Jesse just forget in the frenzy of the moment what was attached to that paper clip? Poor Andrea. Poor Brock. Geez, poor Jesse! How much more grief can he take?
And poor Skyler. Walt didn't save her with his amazing phone call, after all. Also trapped by her choices, Skyler needs ammo for the feds that can be used against Walt, or she's in serious trouble. Didn't Todd just accidentally give her a line on someone important, as in Lydia? Would Skyler have even remembered the woman at the car wash if Todd and his family hadn't dropped by wearing black ski masks to threaten her in front of baby Holly?
At least Junior seems to have his priority ducks in a row. He was thrown by the phone call from Walt, and for a moment, I thought he would do what Walt wanted. But no. Walt just doesn't get why anyone would turn down all of his money, because for him, it's everything. For Junior, it was all about his Uncle Hank. Good for Junior. Okay, Flynn. He's probably never going to call himself "Walter Junior" again.
So Walt is going to kill Jack and company and get his money to his children, and that will be it. Even though I stopped rooting for Walt a long time ago, I sort of hope he succeeds. But as I said earlier, I'm starting to think he won't. I don't think that's how they're going to end this story. Walt will not succeed; the bad guy will not win. Frankly, I'd be happy if Jesse were freed, and if Walt managed to get Skyler off the hook with the feds. And couldn't he tell them where Hank and Gomez are before he dies? I hate that they're buried in the middle of nowhere and no one knows where they are. Especially Marie. That's one loose end that I hope gets tied up.
-- Walt was transported to New Hampshire in an empty propane tank.
-- Skyler has moved out of the house, has custody of the kids and a part time job, and is using her maiden name. Interestingly, Walt is also using Skyler's maiden name. It feels related to the scene where Walt's wedding ring fell off his finger, and he tied it around his neck with string. He's still attached to Skyler.
-- One of the two ice creams that Todd gave Jesse was "Americone Dream". No, not subtle with the symbolism at all.
-- We finally met the fixer who operates out of the vacuum cleaner place, played by veteran actor Robert Forster. He was practically channeling Mike Ehrmantraut. I miss Mike.
-- Is Saul really off for Nebraska? I wonder if we'll see him at all in the series finale next week. Actually, I hope not. I don't want to see him mowed down by a hail of bullets.
-- There was yet another faction staked out outside the White's house. Everybody has done it by now.
-- There was only a brief scene with Marie. That was probably done so that the phone call from "Aunt Marie" wouldn't seem like it was out of the blue.
-- I liked that the fixer didn't promise Walt to give Walt's money to his family. What sort of mercenary would do that? That might have been part of what made Walt finally summon the strength to go on.
-- Congratulations to Anna Gunn and to Breaking Bad, who won well-deserved Emmys last night.
Jack: "The heart wants what the heart wants. Right?"
Fixer: "Everything good?"
Saul: "Define 'good'."
Saul: "I'm not your lawyer any more! I'm nobody's lawyer. The fun's over. From here on out, I'm Mister Low Profile, just another douchebag with a job and three pairs of Dockers. If I'm lucky, a month from now, best case scenario, I'm managing a Cinnabon in Omaha."
How wonderfully descriptive. I do love Saul. I'm not sure he can carry a series, though. We shall see.
Next week: as the ad says, all bad things must come to an end. It just might be epic. This season certainly has been.
Four out of four empty propane tanks,
Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.