Breaking Bad recap: Granite State

3

September 29, 2013 by Susan Miller

Just one more episode to go, guys.  I can’t wait to see how it all ends.  I love these characters and this world so much, but the writers have done such a great job of tearing everyone down, that I think I’ll actually feel relieved to see them fade to black.  It’s time to put them out of their misery.

It does exist!

It does exist!

Susan: Were you excited to finally meet the vacuum repairman?  I thought the casting choice was brilliant.

Steven: Oh I was excited!  I loved Robert Forster in Jackie Brown.  He has that seedy but trustworthy quality to him, where you know he isn’t going to kill anybody for their money, but if they happen to die he’s got no problem walking away with it.  I liked that there was a real vacuum store, and I liked that he kept Walt company.  For some reason that scene just made me monumentally sad for Walt.  Maybe that’s why I want him to break good, because for these past two episodes we’ve had these glimpses of Walt the person and it would be so much better for everyone if he could come on back to himself.

Susan: I loved your comment when you walked in on the first scene – “What’s the guy from Jackie Brown doing on Breaking Bad?”  I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what the casting directors were going for.

The scene where Walt paid him 10,000 dollars just to hang out with him was brutal.  I was so sad for Walt, stuck in this isolated cabin, getting chemo from a vacuum repairman who learned how to administer it from youtube.  It took me all the way back to first season Walt, when we meet him in the pilot and he’s this broken down shell of a guy on that dinky stair master, getting ignored and berated by high school students.  He was so pitiable in that first season, that you cheered when he threw down the fulminated mercury and got Tuco to give him his money.  It’s amazing to think about how much power Jesse and Hank had in that first episode, and how far we’ve come to get back to pitiable Walt in New Hampshire.  That scene broke my heart but also made me so angry.  I’m not supposed to sympathize with Walt.  Just last episode he was pure evil and here I am, not even an hour later, having my heart broken by that sad, lonely face.  They’ve got me good.

Do you think that’s the last we’ve seen of Saul?

Steven: I wouldn’t mind if we don’t see Saul again.  His arc seems to have run its course for the parameters of this show.  I’m much more interested in the end game between Walt and Jesse and Skyler, and to see what ends up happening to the neo-Nazis and the Gray Matter chemists and how it all comes together.

Susan: I liked how in this episode, both Jesse and Walt started out with some fight in them.  Even after all that happened last week, they both still tried to improve their situation.  We’ve seen what Walt did after he failed, but we didn’t see Jesse again after he witnessed Andrea’s murder.  About 4-5 months have passed while Walt was in the cabin.  What do you suppose Jesse has been doing all this time?  Better yet, will Lydia and Todd be happily engaged when we see them again?

Steven: I think Jesse has probably been given a little more freedom now that they know that he knows that they mean business (that sentence wasn’t supposed to be THAT complicated).  I think he’s still cooking and getting more depressed by the moment.  I just can’t see Jesse springing back from this one and being anything other than completely defeated by his circumstances.  This mule has been hit too long to be as stubborn as he used to be.  I think Todd and Lydia–wooed by his blue, 92% crystal–will be living in some hamlet in Connecticut picking out fabric patterns for their wedding handkerchiefs.

Susan: Ah, so you think Andrea was the final straw?  I think you’re probably right. Personally, I don’t know how I feel about them killing Andrea.  It seemed kind of excessive to me.  Jesse already knew they were dangerous and that Andrea and Brock were the collateral they had to keep him in line.  Why go through all the trouble of killing Andrea just to torture Jesse even more?  Hasn’t he seen enough?  We get it, writers.  Jesse is tragic.  It felt like overkill.

And if you’re going to have justified killing, I feel like Lydia or Todd would’ve taken out Holly and Skyler.  Though Lydia is terrible, I agree with her that just talking to Skyler is kind of a weak way to protect their criminal enterprise.  It seems to have worked, but I had a hard time buying that nervous Lydia would’ve let that fly.  Then again, she might be out of resources, so maybe she had to accept it.

As for Todd and Lydia, is it weird that I kind of want them to work things out?  I know Todd is a crazy psycho sociopath, and Lydia is pure bottom line, but maybe that makes them soulmates?  Is it possible?  It’s probably not in the best interest of Lydia’s daughter, but I don’t get the feeling that Lydia cares that much about her anyway.

Soulmates?  Star crossed lovers?  I think this show has warped my idea of love.

Soulmates? Star crossed lovers? I think this show has warped my idea of love.

Do you think Gray Matter will come back next episode?

Steven: I’m leaning more and more in that direction.  It would be odd to bring up Gray Matter right at the end like that and not at least give Elliott and Gretchen a cameo on next week’s episode.  That isn’t necessarily to say that I think they’ll play a huge role in the felina.

Susan: I know that the internet seems to think they’re making a big deal out of Lydia’s tea because Walt’s about to drop some ricin in it.  But what if the ricin is for the nazis (maybe in their ice cream?) and the gun is for Gray Matter?  Walt could bust in to his old company and open fire, killing everyone because they tried to distance themselves from his legacy and downplay his role in the enterprise.  That seems like a fitting end, and would definitely fulfill the Scarface trope.  Plus, the fact that Charlie Rose could induce mass killing sprees is exactly the kind of dark humor Breaking Bad specializes in.

Steven: Whoa, you think he’s going after Gray Matter?  This just shows how differently we have watched this show the past few years.  I felt like that clip from the Gray Matter founders, Elliott and Gretchen, was meant to have a positively transformative effect on Walt.  Gretchen says that the Walt she knew is long gone, replaced by this Heisenberg person.  I feel like–and perhaps this is terminal optimism–Walt has returned to reclaim himself through taking the meth ring down rather than fulfilling Vince’s prophesy by going after more innocents.

Susan: Whoa, what?  Seriously?  You read that scene as him leaving to become a good person?  Then why didn’t he stay to get arrested so that he could work with the police?  I read that scene as him reclaiming his anger after being beaten down by cancer and loneliness in that cabin.  He was Walter White from the moment Holly said “Mama” to the moment Gretchen said that the only thing he contributed to the company was the name.  Then he snapped, because, as we’ve known all along, it’s the business with Gray Matter that motivated this whole quest for an empire in the first place.  Case in point: Skyler.  Skyler was in a down and out situation, no money, no means to get a job, shamed and humiliated by her husband.  So did she resort to doing something criminal to reclaim her life?  Nope.  She got a gig as a taxi dispatcher and tried to keep her head down and hang on to her family.  The difference between these two is Gray Matter, and how the fall out from Gray Matter affected them.

But, y’know, I guess you’re entitled to your opinion too…

Steven: Let me rephrase my prediction: I know (tragically) that Walt is going to inflict more damage.  However, I must reserve hope until the final credits roll.  If I can’t hope for change in Walt today, then tomorrow I’m throwing my hot coffee at bums on the street!  Hopelessness is a precarious route to take.  The Gray Matter thing really is the crux of the matter (no pun intended), and this wild card makes me even more curious about whom that ginormous gun is for!

I also still contend that the ricin is for himself.  The Lydia tea thing would be good and Hamlet-esque.  But I don’t know how he’d be able to do it, logistically.  Everyone sees him as a threat at this point.  I guess he could get a job at her coffee shop and make sure he coordinates his schedule with her “covert” meets.  But we only have one episode left!

Susan: I like the idea of the ricin being for Walt, simply because we know that the ricin takes 2-3 days to kick in.  That’s a hard thing to show, cinematically, especially in a finale.  So I think it would be interesting to see him caught at the end, take the ricin, and smile to the camera.  In a way, that might actually satisfy the Team Walt viewers and the rest of us.  He gets caught (yay!) but he also gets to go out on his own terms.

If they’ll kill Andrea, is anyone safe?

Steven: No!  That’s what I’ve been telling you: no one is safe.  I saw it coming, felt it the second Todd starting looking around for Brock, and yet it still felt like getting hit in the chest with a bag of bricks.  Poor, poor Jesse.  I’m beginning to regret my desire for Jesse to survive until the end.  Without Andrea…I feel like he has just been through too much to land on his feet for real.  At least not for a good long while.  I have this need to see him doing all right, his life finally in order, and without a significant flash-forward–and we’ve already discussed the problems with that–I don’t know how I’ll be satisfied with the Jesse story line.  But then again, there’s what I want to happen, and then there’s what Vince will make happen.  What I’ve learned is that Vince has better ideas than me.  Thy will not mine, Vince.  Play on.

The battle for Jesse's soul is infinite.

The battle for Jesse’s soul is infinite.

Susan: However, Jesse seems to be the one with the incorruptible soul.  Maybe that’s the point of having this onslaught of pain heaped onto Jesse.  We’ve seen what happened to Walt when he got his cancer diagnosis – he turned into the most evil villain of all time.  Skyler proved to be somewhat evil when backed into a corner, but Jesse has always sought out truth over crime when things get really dark.  He is, after all, the only one of the three that helped Hank with his case.  I’m not sure what we’ll see from Jesse in the end.

Steven: Right now I’m worried about two people’s fates: Walt and Jesse.  If the show completely abandons all that is extraneous to those two characters, I think that will be just fine.  Skyler has obviously resigned herself to a quiet life of thankless work in order to make up for her mistakes.  I think that we can leave her where she is, really.  Saul is off to assistant manage a Cinnabon in Omaha.  Flynn will never forgive his father, not for all the drug money in the world.  And the real criminals will never change, will constantly seek their bottom line and their uncomfortable situations.  The only two wild cards for me really are Walt and Jesse.  How will they make the best/worst of their circumstances?  Will the meth world finally crush Jesse entirely?  Will Walt pursue his path to the bitter end?  Or will the final shot be Walt in a log cabin, re-imagining himself as a lumberjack?

I suppose we would have to know what Vince’s goal is.  Obviously he has shown the devastating effect that methamphetamine has on the person, the family, and the community.  Does he plan to run this all the way out (emphasizing the problem), or will he take the redemptive angle (presenting a solution)?  That is a question that I STILL don’t have an answer for!  Which is both frustrating and amazing.

Do you think we’ll pick up with the flash forward right away on Sunday, or is there more to accomplish between now and then?  It’s a 6 hour finale, right?

Susan: I think we’ll pick up pretty close to that point on Sunday, but I can’t imagine them showing those scenes again.  I’m not sure how they’ll handle that.  The thing I’m most worried about is the Jesse of it all.  I think the bulk of this episode has to be the final showdown between Jesse and Walt.  That’s where it started, that’s where it should end.  But how?  And why?  And what will finally happen?  We really need a 6 hour finale.

Steven: If there were a 6 hour finale, I would probably watch it!  Good thing they’re showing season 5 all day long.

Can you make any better sense of Badger’s prophetic Star Trek episode?

Susan: Oh dear, Badger’s prophecy.  I now think the woman was Lydia.  And Todd and Jesse and Walt were involved, not Hank.  I really can’t remember it past that.  Can you make a case for it?

Steven: I have no idea about the prophecy, but I’m also fairly certain it won’t include Hank.

I don’t even know that I can actually predict anything any longer.  There are still so many unanswered questions and, unlike Dexter, they haven’t been showing us every clip from the finale for the past three months.  I am just going to resign myself to the end, trusting that Vince will leave us heartbroken and breathless in ways we never could’ve imagined.

It’s gonna be so much fun, you guys.  When it’s over, let’s just remember that we all had the time of our lives.

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