Dear friends, mark your calendars. You’re going to want to specifically clear out any events that may have been planned for August 11, for that is when the final season of Breaking Bad begins.
Hard to remember the days when Walter White wasn’t Full Vader, right? This excellent fan video chronicles Chemistry Kid Lucifer’s descent into madness, and helps recall the days when I actually rooted *for* the guy. Feels like eons ago. Spoilers ahead, ya fucking turkeys.
“I won.” – Walt
Based on the promise of the episode’s title, lots of speculating went on concerning who would be “facing off” in the season finale. I don’t think anyone guessed that it actually meant someone’s face would be coming off. It was a huge finale, with lots of great pay-offs including an assassination scheme by Walter White that finally worked as planned. But in traditional Walt-fashion, it involved someone else doing the dirt – in this case Tio, who sacrifices himself to off Gus and Tyrus. “Face Off” showed another giant leap in the transformation we’ve been gleefully watching for four seasons: Walter White naive chemistry teacher to drug lord El Jefe of Albuquerque.
In the past, the penultimate episodes of Breaking Bad have always packed a wallop. In season 2′s “Phoenix,” Walt watched Jane choke to death and in the previous season, Walt committed vehicular homicide (“Half Measures”). Vince Gilligan and the creative team continued that tradition with “End Times,” although we were left with a defeated Walt on a rooftop instead of a car bomb. I can’t believe there’s only one more episode. It’s a testament to the creative team that it’s been 12 weeks already and they’ve managed to maintain this incredible amount of tension and depth. It seems like only yesterday Gale was killed…
Oh my. After Walt’s psychotic laughter fades away at the end of “Crawl Space,” it’s good to take a breather, wash your meth mouth, and assess where everyone on the show stands. Hank is a marked man again but Saul’s anonymous tip to the DEA at least gives him a head start. Marie’s phone call to the generous Skyler filled her in on just how lethal the situation is. Jesse’s promotion and falling out with Walt doesn’t mean he wants him offed. Mike is recovering in that pop-up ER set up by Gus in case the Mexico trip turned sour.
Wow. If there was any question about whose side Jesse is on, I think any solid answer has been thrown to the dogs. After their brutal altercation at the end of “Bug,” Jesse is looking out for number one from now on – he’s a total wild card. He seems to like Gus more every episode, and you have to respect a guy who unflinchingly walks in front a sniper’s sights, but seeing another man’s head explode may have him looking for a way out.
9 episodes into the season and miraculously a flashback doesn’t slow down the show at all. Seeing the some of the Chicken Man’s origin story added a reservoir’s worth of depth to the show – especially the point where at now. Being put into a situation where he doesn’t know what’s coming is certainly something Gus isn’t used to. He’s quick on his feet and great at improving, but he was visibly shook in the elevator. And while Gus may not be a person of interest to the DEA, but that doesn’t stop Hank from going maverick on his ass. On top of that, the Cartel isn’t budging and Jesse is still a wild card.
And finally, the answer to the twice asked “Do you know how much money I make a year?” is put out there for Skyler to gasp at. Walter, after expenses, makes $7.5 million a year. A much greater amount than Skyler was expecting and one certainly not able to be laundered in a car wash. She has no choice but to continue on with the front – once the car wash opened its doors Skyler became an accomplice. No backing out now.
Although this terrific episode ended on a grim note with Walt’s egoism forcing him to suggest to Hank that Heisenberg isn’t dead, this is the first episode in a long time where everyone seemed to get what they want. Skyler got her car wash, slept with Walt, then invites Walt to move back in. That satisfies Skyler, Walt, and Junior. Gus gets Jesse back on track through a sly promotion. And Hank’s interest in Gale’s homicide has given him back his sense of purpose and has brought about some peace in the Schrader household.
Breaking Bad continues its run of having amazing prologues with the chicken truck getting raked with bullets while Mike chills inside. Amazing and a cold, badass performance there from Jonathan Banks. The episode then puts on the brakes for a solid 20 minutes. In this time Skyler researches gambling addicts and runs through Walt’s dramatic confessional for Marie and Hank – to Walt’s dismay. “Terribly?” And just when the episode began to tread water a bit for me (which I’ve never complained about in this series) Gale appears on screen performing karaoke to “Major Tom.” It was like a punch in the gut – something it looks like Walt felt as well.