"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley
It's gotten to the point where Walter White has lied so many times on Breaking Bad, that's it's almost impossible to recognize when he's telling the truth.
And it's definitely gotten to the point where I don't even know what to think anymore. This show has been forty-seven steps ahead of everyone from the beginning. Each week, millions of people tweet and comment and converse about the show; and each week every last one of us, to a man, is wrong. I didn't see anyone predict that Walt would kidnap Holly or that Skyler would tell Junior about his father's other job. I didn't guess that Landry would "save" Jesse's life and force him to cook, which really was a pretty genius move for Landry, who is not known for his genius moves.
What happens in this episode is really the continued devolution of Heisenberg. He begins the episode in handcuffs, in Hank's SUV, a spectator to a massive gun fight where everyone is a worse shot than you'd expect them to be. Steve is dead. Jesse is hiding under the car, like the craven Walt now knows him to be. Hank is propped up agains the tire of his vehicle, leg wounded, contemplating how to grab Steve's weapon that is just out of reach.
Uncle Jack, who's also smarter than he looks, stops Hank from grabbing the gun and is about to kill Hank when Walt stops him. He tells Jack that Hank is FAMILY, and FAMILY is what life is all about for Walter White. FAMILY. He uses that word a lot. Hank knows he's fighting a losing battle and he accepts his fate, getting off a nice "go fuck yourself" before one of Jack's bullets finds his skull.
Walt falls to the ground, crying, crying for his brother-in-law, for his FAMILY. But I think it's something even more than that. Walt, for all of their many pissing contests over the years, respected Hank. Hank played the game. Hank was all about his job. Hank lived by a code and, most of all, Hank respected Walt as a worthy adversary. Hank, and maybe Hank alone, in Walt's entire FAMILY knew exactly what Walt was about. He knew how dangerous Walt was. He appreciated what a mastermind he was as Heisenberg, what kind of great product Walt was able to put on the market. I said in my review last week that without Jesse there is no Walt, but I'm changing my mind. Jesse has been a pawn in Walt's game this whole time. Hank was the one Walt needed to impress. Without Hank, there's no one left to fully appreciate his handiwork.
And, to add insult to injury, there's no more money. Uncle Jack, who proved that his head is not just a neo-Nazi hatrack this week, realized that the very specific location Walt gave him must have a very special meaning. He and his cronies go right to the exact spot and start digging. They had shovels in the car because murderous hordes always have shovels on hand. They dig up the seven barrels and load six of them up in their pickup truck, leaving one lone barrel for Walt.
As a last ditch effort to keep control, Walt reminds Jack that they haven't killed Jesse yet. And then Walt gives him up. He points to Steve's car, under which Jesse has been hiding this whole time. Jack's buddies pull Jesse out and are about to kill him, he sees birds flying over head and Walt confesses that he watched Jane die of a drug overdose. Things feel final, but then Landry steps in with the last minute stay of execution.
The horde drives off with Jesse and Walt is left with his car and a barrel of money. He gets in the car, starts it, and pushes his rear view mirror so that he can no longer see his face. He doesn't know who he is anymore. He's lost his adversary. He's lost his student. He's lost his precious money.
His car dies on the way back into town (a bullet hole in the gas tank will do that). And Walt takes off through the desert, rolling his money like an excessively heavy tumbleweed to the song "Money's Getting Hard, Boys," which includes the lyric "money's getting scarce." Very on the nose. But I thought an even more telling lyric was "Take my true love by the hand/Lead her through the town," which is kind of what he's doing with his barrel of money, his truest of his true loves.
When Walt gets back home, he goes into survival mode. He packs up his things and Holly's things and, presumably, Junior and Skyler's things, though we don't really see that. Skyler and the kids show up just as Walt is running frantically around the house. He tries to appear like he's still in charge and still knows what he's doing, but he's flailing. And Skyler's not buying it. She knows he's supposed to be in custody. She knows that the fact that he's in their house means something happened to Hank. Walt tries to persuade her and Junior to get in the car, but Skyler pulls a knife on Walt and tells him they won't go. A terrifying fight ensues and, finally, oh my goodness finally, Walt Jr. takes his mother's side and calls the police for help. Walt grabs Holly, the only FAMILY he has left, the only one who doesn't see him as a monster, and he drives away, leaving Skyler crying in the street.
Walt changes Holly's diaper and promises to get her a new car seat, but still the baby cries for "Mama." And then after that, Walt calls home. He gets the answering machine and asks Skyler to pick up. She's there, listening, surrounded by Marie and Junior and a bunch of police. She picks up and Walt asks her if she's alone. He has to know she's not alone. He's not an idiot. So why did he call? What was his motive for calling?
A few theories:
- He just doesn't fucking care anymore. He's almost out of money (not really, but he's no longer rolling in the green, Heisenberg style). His family no longer respects him. Skyler hates him. Junior called the cops on him. Holly wants her mom. Why not call the mother of his children and threaten her and tell her how much he doesn't respect her?
- This is his way of protecting his FAMILY, a last ditch effort to make sure they're OK. By distancing himself from them, by burning those bridges, he can assure himself that Skyler and Junior will not come looking for him once he's disappeared for good.
- Is he taking all the blame?
- A combination of the three? (John and I had a conversation about this last night. I definitely think there was some truth in what he was saying. He wants Skyler to know how she has disappointed him. I think he sees her the same way he sees Jesse -- as a dog, who is supposed to obey him. As much as he once cared for Skyler and as much as he wants her to be around to take care of his children, he has a lot of contempt for her.)
- He really does have the brain tumor I suspected last season. Hahaha. Probably not.
- During the opening scene, the flashback to Walt's first cook with Jesse, Aaron Paul tweeted that this was the lie that started all the lies. Does the phone call to Skyler mean that he's done with lies? Was the lie that he killed Hank his final lie?
- Aaron Paul also tweeted that Jesse in the kitchen with Landry was like a dog on a leash. At the very end of the episode we saw a dog OFF LEASH run across the street. What does it all mean?
- Watching that first scene really made me wish I had bothered to binge watch the first 4.5 seasons before this show came back in August.
- I think it's rude that Landry didn't even bother to offer Jesse tea.
- Landry line of the night: "Sorry for your loss."
- The muzak playing in the car wash while Junior learned the truth about his dad was a thing of beauty.
- So was the duct tape Walt used to bandage his knife wound.
- Junior and Holly both choosing Skyler in this episode was the biggest insult to Walt's ego in this episode. He's like the patriarch of a family who works all the time and is never home and just expects the kids to love and respect him for everything he's done for the family, even though he hasn't been around for them. During his entire career as Heisenberg, he believed that he was working to give his children what they really needed (i.e. money), when really what they needed was a father. The fact they both sided with their mother when times got tough just proved that everything he's been doing since that first time he cooked meth in the desert has been wrong. It's all been for nothing.
- At the beginning of the episode when Walt got in his car, he couldn't look at himself in the mirror. At the end of the episode, when he gets in Saul's guy's van to disappear himself, he can look at himself in the mirror. He feels back in control. (And/or he's doing the right thing by his family. But I refuse to believe that the megalomania is completely out of his system.)
- OK, so. Where does the show go from here? We're all going to be wrong anyway, so we might as well speculate for the next seven days.
What did you think of the episode? Awful, right? Total disappointment? You were so disgusted in the quality that you're never watching this show again even though there are only two episodes left?
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