With only three more episodes left, Breaking Bad turns up the heat in the final act of this week’s offering. Being so close to the end, will some of the lead characters become part of the series’ body count?
Let’s bitch it out.
Echoing cinephilactic’s sentiments about last week’s episode, up until the epic showdown in the desert, I was primarily underwhelmed by this week’s episode. Much of ‘To’hajiilee’ is about seeing how Hank (Dean Norris) Jesse (Aaron Paul) and Walt (Bryan Cranston) are trying to one-up one another in the game of out-smarting. But this time, we’re exposed to all of the nuances and steps that each of these characters take – we’re privy to their thought processes as they happen, and in my opinion, it’s far less interesting than what we’ve seen in the past.
We follow Hank and Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) as they very easily manipulate Huell (Lavell Crawford) into ratting out everything he knows, and we watch Walt (Bryan Cranston) work his magic on an unsuspecting Andrea (Emily Rios). Although the latter sequence gives us some dramatic tension as we wonder if little Brock (Ian Posada) knows if Walt had poisoned him a few months back, ultimately, these scenes feel so paint-by-numbers that it’s borderline tedious.
I couldn’t help but think of how satisfying it was to witness the end result of all of the calculating moves that take place off screen and the excitement of piecing it together after the fact. Think back to how sensational Gus’ (Giancarlo Esposito) death was, as we were shockingly caught off guard just as he was. Or even more recently, the brilliant way Walt’s blackmailing of Hank was played out as we discovered Walt’s plan right when Hank did, as he watched the fake confession DVD mouth agape. Witnessing the steps in-between is akin to knowing the magician’s secrets or reading spoilers months beforehand – all the fun is stripped away.
But just as I was ready to write this episode off as the season’s weakest, true to Breaking Bad form, it all seems to have some higher purpose. The explosive tension of the episode’s final act wouldn’t nearly have been so effective without the slower, more predictable pace of events that transpired earlier.
Much of the episode follows Hank’s plight to catch Walt precisely because it’s very obviously not going to work out in Hank’s favour. It was brilliant to have it all unfold so slowly at that very symbolic site in To’hajiilee, as Hank relished every moment as Walt slowly approached from behind that rock. Although the call to Marie (Betsy Brandt) was just a bit too over the top, I felt the sequence plays out as an ending that other, less sophisticated series, would probably present as their series ender.
Ultimately, the Breaking Bad producers are giving us what we think we want – only to show us that indeed, this isn’t what we want at all. As much as we want to see Walt pay for his dastardly deeds, having everything tied up in a neat little bow (aka Hank winning) is incredibly unsatisfying.
So of course, we’re promptly served with another amazing Breaking Bad action sequence just as Hank and Gomez are seconds away from a freeze frame high-five. There’s a moment where it doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen as Todd (Jesse Plemons), Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) and the rest of the Neo-Nazis ask to see police badges before giving each other the “go” wink. (Note to assassins: Probably not a good idea to shoot at the car in which your coveted cook is sitting in the backseat handcuffed). Although we’ve seen gunfire showdowns on countless other shows, the buildup to this moment blows all others out of the water. It’s a nail-biter if I ever did see one.
The episode cuts off mid-fight, but I mean, it really doesn’t look very promising for Gomez and Hank especially (The ‘I love you Marie’ couldn’t be a louder nail in the coffin). I would be incredibly surprised (and disappointed) if either of them makes it through the gunfire. We know Walt will survive as Flashforward Walt (FFW) is constantly in the back of our minds, and Jesse simply has too many loose plot threads to die in the crossfire. But it would be a fitting end for Hank, as it would open up further character growth for Walt to be responsible for the death of his brother-in-law (as if Walt didn’t have enough).
As he screams to the Neo-Nazis to cease fire, despite wanting to get away with it all, it’s clear that Walt doesn’t want Hank to die at the cost of his freedom (even though that’s totally what’s going to happen). Jesse is “like family” but Hank really IS family, so it’ll be very interesting to see how Hank’s death will affect Walt in these final few episodes. Remember, we still don’t know who FFW is intending to take down with that huge M4A1 machine gun, or how the ricin vile is going to be used. There’s plenty of unfinished business to take care of in these final episodes and I’m delighted that I once again, have no idea how it’s all going to resolve itself.
As much as I appreciated how the relatively slow-paced events that comprised most of ‘To’hajiilee’ worked to further augment the tension-filled final act, I do hope the final hours of Breaking Bad manage to disperse the tension a bit more evenly. I just don’t want to feel as though dangling plot threads are being rushed through or forgotten about altogether once we get to what I’m sure will be an amazing conclusion.
- How good is Jesse Plemons at playing incredibly creepy? The unassuming way he stroked Lydia’s (Laura Fraser) lipstick stained mug and subsequently sipped from the same spot was brilliant.
- Once again, I can’t believe I continue to feel for Walt, but the moment where he realizes Jesse went to Hank as the camera lingers on a close-up of his face is just heartbreaking. At that moment it doesn’t matter that mere minutes before he was ordering a hit on Jesse.
- So I take it the distracted driving law hasn’t been passed in Albuquerque?
What did you think viewers? Do you think Hank and/or Gomez will survive the gunfight? How will Walt manage to get out of this? Do you think we’ll have to wait for a Walt/Jesse showdown or will it happen once the gun smoke has cleared? If Hank doesn’t make it, what will Marie do (I’m betting she’s the one who eventually trashes the White residence…)? Will Junior (RJ Mitte) ever clue into what’s going on around him? Sound off in the comments section below.
Breaking Bad airs at 9pm EST, Sundays on AMC.