This penultimate episode is called “Granite State”, which is the nickname of New Hampshire. Know what New Hampshire’s motto is? “Live free or die”, which is also the name of the first episode from this season. Vince, you master crafter, you. In other news, “Live free or die” is Walt and Jesse’s new motto as well. CRINGE.
Walt isn’t the only Albuquerque resident trying to disappear this week – Saul has had plenty enough of having Heisenberg as a client. He’s using the same vacuum repairman/professional disappearer as Walt to relocate to parts unknown (ie: Nebraska) to start a much quieter life, perhaps in Cinnibon management. With all the joie de vivre of a longtime Sears Portrait Studio employee, the fixer prepares a new passport for Saul, the better to erase everything he was before. As his new life is being prepared, Saul discovers he has to bunk for the time being with a most unfortunate roommate: Walt. How’s Walt taking being bested by a red neck Neo Nazi who ruined his life and empire? Short answer: rather poorly.
A car full of DEA agents is taking the zombified Marie home for the first time since she learned of Hank’s death, swearing justice as DEA agents tend to do, but the ride home is cut short when they discover Hank and Marie’s home has been broken into and turned upside down. It was Uncle Jack, of course, who is now back home in the compound watching Jesse’s confession tape and sneering at Jesse’s tears as he describes killing Gale. Empathy is for pussies, don’tcha know. The sneer turns to rage when Jesse names Todd (the Opie dead-eyed piece of shit) as Drew Sharp’s killer, whereas Todd’s reaction is a happy little grin as he reminisces over shooting the kid whilst eating apple pie. Jack wants to kill Jesse the rat on the spot, but Todd talks him out of it. Not because he has a gram of feelings for Jesse, but because of his creeper crush on Lydia. If Lydia wants them to keep making high quality meth, then can’t they keep Jesse alive to make her happy? Please? Please please please? Jack can’t say no to his favourite nephew, so alive Jesse stays, if you can call it that.
Poor Walt still thinks he can overcome this bump in the road, scheming away in his underground lair (under the vacuum shop, not quite as dapper as Batman) as to how he can wreak terrible revenge on Uncle Jack and his band of unkempt crazies. Off with their heads! seems to be Walt’s Plan A. As always, Saul tries to talk some sense into Walt, telling him to give himself up and take the heat off Skyler since he’s going to die from the cancer anyway, and as always Walt ignores him. Much to Saul’s dismay, Walt decides Saul shouldn’t disappear after all, he should stay with Walt as his minion. Walt punctuates this demand by threatening Saul just like the old days, by reminding him that it’s not over until Walt says it’s over…except this time the threat is cut off by a terrible bout of cancer-induced coughing. Saul looks down at him with a mixture of pity and contempt. “It’s over,” he tells Walt, and absconds for good. See you on your new show, Saul! Love you!
The DEA is none too pleased that Skyler doesn’t know where Walt is, and make it clear that if they can’t nail him to the wall, they’re going to settle with nailing her and her kids to the wall. They put a couple of agents on duty in front of her house, on the Olsen twin-slim chance Walt will saunter on in. He doesn’t of course, but a bemasked Todd does, to put the fear of God into Skyler, promising with a kind pat on her shoulder that they’ll come back and kill her and Holly if she tells the police about Lydia. God, Todd is creepy. Message received, though. I sure hope the parents of the baby who plays Holly is putting away some money for therapy, because even if she doesn’t remember being on Breaking Bad, I’m sure the trauma is being permanently imprinted on her subconscious.
The next day Todd meets with Lydia
for a date at her favourite neighbourhood coffee shop. He’s started drinking tea, just so he can be more like her and then how can she possibly not fall in love with him? He’s flummoxed that she wants to sit at the table behind him and pretend they don’t know each other, but if that’s what she wants, it’s fine by him. She’s appalled when she finds out he merely threatened Skyler instead of killing her, but as he says, she seemed like a nice lady who just wanted to look after her kids. He doesn’t seem to realize he gave Skyler the first real evidence she could use to bargain with DEA for her own skin, but why quibble? Lydia decides then and there to sever ties with the Nazi clan and stop distributing their meth for the foreseeable future. But…but…they make such a good team! They’re practically Bonnie and Clyde! Bella and Edward, when they’re both vampires! Jack and Rose! This observation doesn’t move her, but the news that the last batch he and Jesse cooked was 92 percent pure certainly does. She changes her mind, much to Todd’s relief. We leave them as Todd gently picks a piece of fuzz off her sweater and dreams of them getting married and making lots of little baby sociopaths together.
Walt’s new home turns out to be a desolate little cabin in snowy New Hampshire, where there’s nothing to do but watch Mr. Magorium’s Magic Emporium over and over while contemplating the fact that you ruined your family’s lives and murdered countless people while doing. I’m sure that will end well! The fixer promises to come back in a month’s time to make sure he’s okay. Walt’s having none of this hiding in a cabin crap – the first thing he does is unpack his pork pie hat, dented but serviceable, and puts it slowly on his head. He’s still Heisenberg, mofos! Never forget it. Of course, the next scene is him in his hat and parka, huffing through the snowdrifts like an idiot. He doesn’t even make it past the property line before he turns back, defeated by his own poor health. “Tomorrow,” he promises himself.
Despite being given ice cream in his underground prison (notice the parallels between Jesse and Walt’s abodes, yo), Jesse is determined to break out, even if it costs him his life because he’d rather live free or die. After escaping his cage in some extremely tense monkey bar moments, he desperately tries to flee the compound, only to be discovered on a security camera and caught before he can climb over the fence. He defiantly demands they kill him, because he’s not going to cook one more blue rock for them ever. Ever! It would have been sort of nice if he’d called them bitches for old time’s sake, but that Jesse is gone for good. ::weeps for the old Jesse::
They don’t kill him. That’s not a good thing, in case you were wondering. As we’re all discovering, there are way worse things than dying, aren’t there, Jesse? That’s how we end up with Jesse tied and gagged in a van, watching helplessly as Todd shoots Andrea in the head on her front porch. All in all, lucky her. The tortured anguish that Jesse goes through as he sobs and struggles against his restraints is so unbearable to watch that honestly, the only way I stand it is to remind myself over and over that Aaron Paul is the happiest he’s ever been in real life, in love, winning awards, good looking, rich. Otherwise I would have had to turn the TV off. Just to rub it in, Jack reminds Jesse they can still kill Brock if he doesn’t behave. Gah!
We see Walt hurrying down that same road toward the gate, having ditched the stupid hat for a more sensible touque. Obviously, it’s the next day and he’s fulfilling his promise to himself. Except it’s not, it’s the next month and he’s here to greet the fixer who’s arrived with supplies and New Mexico newspapers. Except it’s not, it’s many months later and Walt is slowly wasting away even with the do-it-yourself chemo the fixer has brought with him. Walt eagerly asks about Skyler, who’s reverted to her maiden name and has been reduced to part time taxi dispatch work as her free public defender screws up her case. Walt looks like hell, thin and haggard, and he’s so twitchy and desperate that he has to pay the fixer an extra ten grand to stay with him an hour more and play cards with him. It’s not until Walt’s wedding ring falls off his boney finger that he realizes he’s running out of time and so is his family. He packs an Ensure box full of money and sets off into the cold.
At school taking a class (even though RJ Mitte is, like, 55 years old now),
Walt Jr. Flynn gets sent to the office. It seems Marie is on the phone, urgently needing to speak to him. Good lord, what now? Ah, but it’s not Marie, it’s the kindly waitress at the lowly bar in New Hampshire, and she hands the phone over to Walt. Flynn is so excited to talk to his dad! Excited and grateful that Walt is going to send them money and save them! At least, that’s how Walt imagined it in his head. In actuality, Flynn lets him know how much he hates him and wishes he would just die already. Also, Walt can stick his drug money right up his butt. Walt, weak and crying, begs him to accept the money because “It can’t all be for nothing”. Well, if any of us wanted to see Walt brought low and humbled, this is the moment. Let’s just say it’s not half as satisfying as I thought it would be, as this pathetic Walt is a far cry from Heisenberg at the height of his power. If this is his bittersweet comeuppance, it’s much more bitter than sweet.
Walt, a broken man, leaves the phone off the hook so the call can be traced. He’s done. He sits at the bar and has a drink, his first in a long time by the looks of it. The bar’s TV is on, and in a coincidence so large it unceremoniously bitch slaps my suspension of disbelief, Walt just happens to catch an interview with his ex-BFF and girlfriend and Grey Matter business partners Elliot and Gretchen. As per instructions from their hastily hired publicist, they’re trying to do some damage control seeing as how a founding partner of the company turned out to be a drug kingpin. They assure
their stockholders the public that Walt did absolutely nothing of value to start the company, and Gretchen says with confidence that the sweet, kind pushover they used to know is dead. And voila – the only motivation in the world that can make Walter White get up and leave that bar before the cops arrive. By god, he’s going to go out with a bang, not a whimper, and people will fear his name one last time before he dies!
But is it too late for Walter White to find peace and redemption by saving those he loves from the flaming wreckage he’s caused??!?!
(Psst…no, it’s not.)