Breaking Bad: End Times

Walt: "Those consequences. They're coming. No more prolonging the inevitable."

This episode is exceptional. But it's even better after you've seen the finale that comes directly after it.

When I first saw it, I was confused. So many questions! The biggest was, why on earth would Gus agree not to kill Walt, but turn around and poison little Brock? Yes, Gus has victimized children before — especially if he actually gave the order to gun down Andrea's little brother Tomas, which has never been confirmed. And of course, Gus is a drug dealer, a profession that constantly causes the suffering of children. And yes, he told Walt, "I will kill your wife. I will kill your son. I will kill your infant daughter." But if Gus wanted to keep Jesse's loyalty, wanted to keep him busily producing in the superlab, and Gus certainly knew how Jesse felt about victimizing innocent children, why Brock?

The second big question was, what happened to the poison cigarette? If Jesse had the cigarette in his possession after he left Andrea and Brock, it was impossible for Brock to be poisoned by accident. It seemed obvious to me that the most logical time for the cigarette to disappear was either in the lab (Jesse had his cigarettes when he went to the lab, didn't he?) which would have meant it was Tyrus doing Gus's bidding. Or, of course, when Huell the bodyguard searched Jesse at Saul's office. But why would Huell take it? Did Saul poison Brock? Why on earth would Saul poison Brock?

And that's as much speculation as I'm going to do, because that's what I remember thinking when I saw this episode the first time. I'll leave the rest for my review of the finale.

The key scene in this episode was Jesse coming to Walt's house, where Walt was hiding and cowering with the blinds drawn (much like a previous scene in "Sunset" with them cowering in the RV). That scene between the two of them was just electric; Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul knocked it out of the park. It felt exactly like Walt was actually ready to die, ready for Jesse to kill him. Maybe he was. But instead, Walt did it again. He managed to get Jesse back on his side, back in his camp, and plotting against Gus.

I absolutely loved when Jesse finally lowered the gun he had pressed to Walt's forehead, and it left the outline of a perfect circle. I also absolutely loved the early scene where Walt was sitting in front of his pool thinking, which is something we've seen him do more than once during the course of the series. He set the gun on the glass table beside him, and spun it three times. The first two times, it was pointed at directly at Walt when it came to a stop. (The third time, it was pointing away.)

And then there was even more awesomeness in the final scene, where Gus was in the parking garage walking toward the car with the bomb in it, and then, inexplicably, he stopped. He turned, walked to the edge, and looked out over the nearby buildings, one of which was hiding Walt with a detonator. He thought for awhile. And then he walked away without getting into his car. Gus knew. How did Gus know? Did he just sense that something was off? Did he see Walt, somehow?

In other news, the entire White/Schrader menage, minus Walt, spent the episode hunkered down amongst the purple Schrader decor with armed guards everywhere. I actually thought it was quite selfless of Walt not to go with them, because he was absolutely correct that his presence would have endangered them more. The way Walt kissed baby Holly goodbye was quite touching; it just felt as if he knew he might never see her again. But he couldn't quite kiss Skyler goodbye. As they were driving off, Skyler never looked back at Walt. She looked directly at baby Holly. Interesting.

And I enjoyed Gomez and his tricky maneuver at the laundry, his story about the politician's son. Even though they found nothing. We all know that Hank is right about everything, though: the superlab, Gus as kingpin, Los Pollos Hermanos, the whole, dare I say it, enchilada. Hank was scanning the photos Gomez took, looking for clues. Will he notice something incriminating?

Bits:

-- The Schrader house is soooooo purple. Marie has been purple since the start of the series. Her character never really changes.

-- Walt's perch on the roof was behind a string of Christmas lights. According to the episode commentary I just listened to, that wasn't intentional on their part; it was completely random.

-- When I first saw this episode, I thought they must have filmed that spinning gun scene a zillion times before they got it to point directly at Walt. But no. Again, according to the commentary, it was a special effect.

-- Loved the bubbling cauldron o' black, oozing doom that Walt had on his stove when he was making the car bomb. Gotta respect the chemistry.

And pieces:

-- Junior was furious that Skyler didn't insist that Walt join them. Skyler was silent, and didn't defend herself. Again, very unfair to Skyler. What would Junior do if he knew how corrupt his father has become?

-- Jesse now parks his car out in the middle of nowhere, and a laundry truck picks him up and drops him off.

-- Gus is on the board of directors of the hospital Brock was in. It was the same one that Jesse, Hank and Walt have all been in, isn't it? Which would have given him easy access to Walt's medical records.

-- Saul called his assistant "HT" for "Honey tits." Geez, he's so politically correct.

Quotes:

Skyler: "There's got to be another way!"
Walt: "There isn't. There was, but now there isn't."

Hank: "Somebody doesn't like the way I've been spending my free time."
Junior: "Minerals?"

Jesse: "If something final happens to Mr. White, we are going to have a problem. So what are you gonna do?"
Gus: "There will be an appropriate response."
I love that Jesse still calls Walt "Mr. White."

Walt: (to Jesse) "I have been waiting all day, waiting for Gus to send one of his men to kill me. And it's you."

Four out of four bubbling cauldrons,

Billie
---
Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

1 comment:

Jess Lynde said...

My initial reaction to this episode was fairly unsatisfied, largely due to all the questions you posed. I remember when it ended, I kept thinking "what the hell?" It made no damn sense to me that Gus would poison Brock. As you say, if Jesse won't cook if something happens to Mr. White, he certainly isn't going to cook if something happens to a kid he cares about. And why would Gus even expect him to be at work if he had poisoned the kid? But the alternative that Jesse posed was unthinkable to me. I thought, "That's nuts! Walt's becoming an evil SOB, but he's not that evil."

But in the week leading up to the finale, I became absolutely convinced that Walt had done exactly what Jesse suggested. I just kept thinking back to Walt spinning that gun by the pool, and it finally pointing to the plant, and then him looking thoughtful. In that moment, Walt was a man with a plan. Not a man who was going to sit around all day and wait for Gus's men to kill him. In that moment, he seemed to switch into proactive mode. And as horrifying as it was to realize he'd possibly come much farther than I initially thought on the road from Mr. Chips to Scarface, I was sold. With that possibility in mind, I suddenly found this episode a hell of a lot more satisfying, and it made me even more eager for the finale.