Breaking Bad: Granite State (S5E15)

“Whatever he became, the sweet, kind, brilliant man we once knew long ago is gone.”

Sorry Emmys, you’re going to take a backseat to this super-packed ultra depressing episode of Breaking Bad. Last week I felt like I needed a hug afterwards. This week I wanted to give every character on the show a hug because no one – and I mean no one – is in any good position right now.

We pick up exactly where we left off last week with the disappearing van making a stop to a vacuum repair shop. So it is actually a legitimate vacuum shop. But instead of Walter it’s Saul getting out of the van. Has Saul been implicated with Walter? Or is he proactively hiding from Jesse and whatever collateral damage might come his way? And what about his two men? Nonetheless I guess things are over for Saul, and this explains why Better Call Saul will be a prequel to Breaking Bad. Is Walter already gone? Nope, Walter has been waiting in his cell, punching helpless inanimate objects as his style. His is a “special case.” What, just because he’s a federally wanted criminal?

Someone has broken into Hank and Marie’s house. As expected, it was the neo-Nazis grabbing Jesse’s confession tape. And they all sit and laugh together at how pathetic Jesse appears in the video. That is until Jesse talks about Todd, the “Opie dead eye piece of shit.” He rats out Todd for killing the kid on the bicycle. Uh oh. The rest of the guys look pissed but Todd looks pleased, like his friend is giving him a compliment. Jack wants to execute Jesse right then but Todd still needs him to cook. Like I thought last week, why do they still need more money when they have $70 million? But Todd says they could always use more money. Then Jack figures Todd is sweet on Lydia. “The heart wants what the heart wants,” Jack admits, but not after he and the rest of the gang make insulting comments about what Lydia would be like in bed. Jack lets Jesse live for Todd and they all go back to watching more of “that crybaby rat.” But pan below to Jesse in his cell, who has taken the paper clip off Andrew and Brock’s photo and uses it to pick the locks of his handcuffs. Wait, when can Jesse pick locks?

Walter and Saul share the secret hidden vacuum room. Walt frantically writes and wants Saul to give him a list of hitmen, because Saul has to know a guy who knows a guy. Saul wants to know why, although to us it’s probably pretty obvious. Walt wants to hit Jack Welker for killing Hank and stealing his money. Saul makes one last plea of reason and tells Walt to turn himself in, because otherwise his family will be screwed while waiting for their trial a year and a half from now while under pressure from the Feds. But no, Walt wants Saul with him and helping him (abandonment issues, much?) He continues his threat from earlier this season, but before he can finish, the coughing fit returns and Saul tells him it’s over, picks up his suitcases and leaves. A somewhat anti-climactic, depressing end to Saul’s storyline if it is his last appearance, which I hope it’s not.

Saul: “Stay, face the music. How much time have you got left”

Walt: “What I do, I do for my family. My money goes to my children. Not just this barrel – all of it. I’m going to kill Jack and his entire crew. I’m gonna take back what is mine and give it to my children. Then and only then am I through. Do you understand? You’re still part of this whether you like it or not. Remember what I told you. It’s not over until..”

Skyler is in pretty much the state that Saul predicted – in trouble with the Feds. While they’re talking we don’t hear what they’re saying, because all Skyler hears is ringing, much like when Walt received his cancer diagnosis. This show has always used color, and here the contrast is very obvious with Skyler and her lawyer in white while the Feds on the other side of the table are in black. The Feds want Walt but Skyler doesn’t know where he is, and that puts her in trouble with them. Like a druglord who threatens his wife with death can’t go into hiding from his wife? He had 9 men executed in prison simultaneously I think he can handle hiding. The Feds tell Skyler if she can’t hand over Walt she needs to give them something.

The Feds put surveillance on her house as Saul said they would. But they are too incompetent to actually watch the entire house and Todd and Co. sneak into Holly’s room with black ski masks and threaten Skyler if she says anything about Lydia. Ah young love. He arranges a meeting with Lydia, who again refuses to sit across the table and instead they carry their very conspicuous conversation about Skyler. Not only is he clean cut but he’s drinking Lydia’s choice of beverage – a cup of tea. He’s sure he’s convinced Skyler not to talk because she seems like a nice person who wants to protect her family but Lydia seems to want her dead. Even when he’s being “nice” Todd is creepy. Lydia is still not convinced and wants to put their operation on hold until Todd mentions he’s achieved 92% purity. That changes her mind, and we get a scene where Todd intimately pulls a loose thread off Lydia’s jacket.

“We make a good team. it’s kind of mutually good.”

Walt arrives unceremoniously in New Hampshire. He’s been set up In a cabin with no means of contacting the outside world because he’s such a hot client, being the target of a nationwide manhunt that his case requires an ongoing relationship. His handler tells him if he leaves the cabin he will get caught, and there will be no more contact in that case. But as long as he behaves, he’ll get monthly supply drops. But of course Walt doesn’t listen, and as soon as the guy leaves, puts on his ghorin Heisenberg hat in dramatic fashion, and treks out. He opens the gate but at the last second stops himself. “Tomorrow,” he says. Finally Walter listens to some advice.

Jesse has managed to get out of his handcuffs and builds a makeshift stepstool to try to reach the top of the cell. But he’s cut short by Todd, who brings Jesse some Ben & Jerry’s (and a shoutout to Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream). It’s like Todd thinks he’s keeping a pet lizard that he’s caught. It’s Jesse’s reward for reward for achieving 96% in the latest cook. Todd thinks he’s having a bonding moment with Jesse, who takes advantage by asking him to leave the cover off the cage so he can see the stars. Once Todd’s gone Jesse is back at it trying to climb, and I’m reminded of the port-a-potty that Jesse fell into when he was trying to get back into his RV so many innocent episodes ago. And like that, Jesse is out. And he runs by a security camera before he runs into the fence with barbed wire, and then the gang is right behind him. No Jesse, it won’t be that easy. Todd then pays a visit to Andrea’s place, saying he’s Jesse’s friend and Jesse is waiting in the truck outside. Which he is, but tied and gagged. And while poor trustworthy Andrea is in full view of Jesse, Todd shoots her point blank in the back of the head. There have been a lot of things that have happened to Jesse – bad, very bad things. But this was brutal. But hey, don’t forget, Jack tells Jesse, there’s still the kid. That’s his punishment for trying to escape.

Walt makes another trek to the gate, but it’s not the next day, it’s a month later and it’s time for the supply drop. Once Walt takes off his hat though it’s obvious we’ve jumped forward several months as his hair has grown fully back. He gets the news that his house is a tourist attraction. Skyler’s using her maiden name. But isn’t Walt too? That would be some irony. His disappearing guy applies makeshift chemotherapy to Walt, who seems to have lost all his spirit. He basically bribes his guy to spend more time with him.

“One of these days when you come up here, I’ll be dead. What about my money in that barrel? What happens to it? What if I ask you to give to my family. Would you do it?”

“If I said yes, would you believe me?”

Later that night his wedding ring slips off and won’t stay on his finger anymore, and upon looking at his kitchen gets an idea of packing an Ensure box full of money to his family. You’d think the Feds would keep tabs on the mail but then again they haven’t been portrayed as the sharpest tools in the shed on this show. This finally convinces Walt to make the stroll down the road and break the rules. Walt calls his son after getting the bartender to pretend to be Aunt Marie. He tries to explain to Flynn about the reasons why he did it, and explains that he’s going to send the box of money to his friend Louis and how he wanted it to be much more. Flynn listens at first but then gets angry for all the things that have happened to his family and Hank.

“Things happened that I never intended. I wanted to give you so much more, but this is all I could do. Do you understand? It can’t all be for nothing.”

“Why are you still alive? Just die already. Just die.”

And that’s the final blow to Walt’s spirit. He calls the DEA and leaves the phone hanging for them to track him. He orders a drink and waits for the police to arrive. But this can’t be how it ends? No, it is not, because the bartender flips through the tv and his old Gray Matter pals the Schwarzes are on Charlie Rose, talking about their money contribution to get drugs off the street and denying that Walter White had anything useful to contribute to to Gray Matter – only the name and that’s where it stopped.  Walter White is gone, Gretchen says. Heisenberg might be out there, but whatever Walt was is long gone. Their denial of Walt’s importance to Gray Matter and their description of him as only a kind, insignificant man is enough of an insult to Walt’s ego to bring back Heisenberg one last time. And don’t tell me you don’t want to see that. When the police arrive at the bar Walt’s gone, probably off to buy his M60.

Here’s the thing with Walter White and why I still find myself “rooting” for him sometimes. As bad as he is, there are always worse people on the show. Tuco. The Mexican drug cartel. Gus Fring. And now the neo-Nazis. My predictions for the finale, which will be completely wrong, are that Walt’s gonna come gunning for Jack and Todd, unintentionally freeing Jesse in the process, who will kill Todd. I don’t know if Walt will bring himself to kill Jesse, or if Jesse will have it in himself to kill Walt, but I wouldn’t be surprised if either happened. Finally Walt will find a way to slip the ricin into Lydia’s tea, and a way to sneak money to his family years after his death, before Walt’s journey ultimately ends. I think Walt will die in the finale, not necessarily immediately but we’ll get a flashforward if it’s later. But of course I’m sure I’ll be off and something amazingly clever and unpredictable will happen. In any case, only one more week to find out.

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