Breaking Bad Recap: Gray Matters [Updated]
So that’s how we’re going to do this, eh Breaking Bad? You’re going to reduce me to shaking sobs every. single. week.
And this time, I’m not just verklempt over what happens to Jesse and Andrea – I’m sad for Walt. Walt! The same man I’ve railed against for the better part of several seasons is now reducing me to helpless tears. What dark sorcery is afoot here, Breaking Bad?
While I try to figure out why my heart can’t tell the difference between an innocent single mother and the monster who played a not-small part in her murder, let’s review the major developments in “Granite State.”
LIFE SUCKS | The Disapearer’s minivan, which we saw pick up Walt at the end of the previous episode, pulls into a vacuum-repair shop. We assume Heisenberg is inside but when the driver (aka Ed — played by Robert Forster, Heroes) opens the side door, his passenger is a luggage-toting Saul. Apparently, a little time has passed since we last visited Albuquerque.
Ed photographs Saul for a fake Nebraska ID (love Bob Odenkirk’s hair-fixing) then informs him he’ll have to wait a few days until everything is settled. Oh, and “You’ll have a bunkmate.”
In a room somewhere in the building, Walt is furiously planning his revenge on Uncle Jack, Todd and the gang – and when Saul enters, Walt demands the name of five “hitters” who can finish off the Nazis. The lawyer won’t help him, except to drop this advice: “Stay. Face the music.” Otherwise, law enforcement is going to nail Skyler and she’ll lose everything, despite Walt’s dramatic call in the previous episode. Plus, Walter won’t be able to get his wife or kids any money without the feds intervening, Saul warns.
Walt goes full Heisenberg and begins growling at Saul and backing him against the wall, forbidding him to leave with Ed, who’s ready to relocate the shady attorney. But his threatening effect is undermined by a ghastly coughing fit that continues even as Saul, with something like pity on his face, bids his former client good-bye.
HOLLY, YOU IN DANGER, GIRL | We find Skyler in a room full of droning lawyers who really want her to cough up Walt’s location. “I understand I am in terrible trouble,” she tells them, but she has nothing to offer. Later that night, she walks into Holly’s room to find three men in ski masks hovering over the girl’s crib. The tableau is so unexpectedly scary, I gasp right alongside Mrs. White as she promises not to scream or to alert the authorities to the men’s presence. As it turns out, the men are Todd and two of his uncle’s cronies, and they’re there to make sure that Skyler doesn’t lead the police, DEA, FBI, PTA, ASPCA (and whomever else has a stake in the investigation at this point) straight to Lydia.
Todd is the only one who talks during the scene, and for the love of Landry, Jesse Plemons is terrifying and so, so great here. He calls her “ma’am.” He uses silence and a soft voice in a way that makes my insides drop to my toes. And he plants a hand on Skyler’s shoulder as he offers up the understatement of the season: “Really, you don’t want us coming back.” After they leave out the window (nice surveillance job there, officers out front!), Skyler grabs Holly and hyperventilates.
FIRST DATE | Todd dons a collared shirt and khakis for a coffee-shop rendezvous with Lydia, who’s pulled out the big sunglasses for her illicit meeting. They sit back-to-back (ha – also, doesn’t that attract more attention than two people sitting at the same table?) as he proudly reports that her “message was received loud and clear” and that Skyler isn’t a threat. (Also worth noting here: Todd’s group ransacked the Schraders’ home and now is in possession of Jesse’s recorded confession, too.)
Unconvinced that life is a bowl of crystal blue cherries, she starts to break off their business partnership but gets distracted when he says he has 50 lbs. of 92 percent-pure product ready to go. “That’s Heisenberg level,” she breathes, and he happily tells her that Jesse is supervising their cooks. A lovestruck Todd waxes eHarmonic as he tells Lydia what a good team they make, but she is lost in thought. (Did you happen to catch him picking lint off her jacket without her noticing, just before the show went to commercial? Like my husband quietly doing the dishes even though they’re nothing but the 50 spoons I used in a bite-by-bite offensive on a container of Phish Food, I see what you did there, Breaking Bad, and I love you for it.)
OH JESSIE | Some time passes, because Jesse’s face looks 10 percent less like hamburger when Todd brings him some ice cream to celebrate a batch that came out 96 percent pure. After the young psycho leaves, Jesse pulls some crazy acrobatics to boost himself out of his cage. (Somewhere, Oliver Queen scoffs and says, “Try a salmon ladder, and then we’ll talk, bitch.”) He runs, but doesn’t get far before Uncle Jack’s gang descends upon him. “Do it!” Pinkman calls out, preferring to die rather than help them produce more meth.
So the gang drives Jesse to Andrea and Brock’s house, draws her out by telling her that Jesse is in a car across the street, and then Todd shoots her in the head while Jesse watches. And howls. And tries to keep breathing as Uncle Jack reminds him that Brock is fair game, too. (Guys, I’m really worried about Aaron Paul’s psyche after shooting these last eight eps; if he hadn’t seemed so funny and fine at last night’s Emmys, I would’ve suggested that we all chip in to send him an Edible Arrangement and an inspirational kitten poster.)
THE OLD MAN ON THE MOUNTAIN | Walt – I’m sorry, Mr. Lambert — arrives in New Hampshire in the wintertime after a cross-country trip in the belly of a fuel truck. Comfy! Ed explains that the cabin that will house him has no Internet, phone, cable, etc. Walt is not to go into the nearby town; Ed will return each month with supplies. Why no link to the outside world? “You are the hottest client I have ever had, by far,” The Disappearer says. Plus, the surrounding two acres “seems to me just the spot for a man to rest up, think on things.”
Walt’s failing health keeps him trapped at the house; cut to a few months later, when the cabin’s very thin inhabitant greets Ed for the monthly supply drop. Walt’s hair has grown back, but Ed has apparently been bringing him cancer treatments with each run.
Once this month’s bag of chemo is hooked up and hung (from the mounted deer head, ha!), Ed prepares to go. “Stay a little longer,” Heisenberg begs. “Two hours. I’ll give you another $10,000. Please.” Bryan Cranston, you deserve every single statuette people want to heap at your feet (and some they don’t). Ed bargains him down to one hour for 10K (!), then they play cards as Walt tries not to cry.
You want the show in a nutshell? It’s right here in this scene. All of Walt’s money and effort, all of the lives he’s hurt and all of the people he’s killed – it all means nothing. The cash can’t buy him what he craves. As Ed relates, the family Walt has worked so hard to take care of is not doing well, at all. The Whites’ home has been repossessed and fenced off to keep out loitering teenagers. Skyler is working part-time as a taxi dispatcher. Money is tight. And Walt is dying, alone, in the Granite State.
WHERE NOBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME | Don’t worry: The ep gets even more soul-sucking as it creeps to a close. Walt piles a lot of cash into a box and lumbers down the hill into town, where he winds up at a bar and employs a ruse to get Walter Jr. on the phone at school. He cries as he tells his son he’s sending him $100,000 via one of his pals. “I wanted to give you so much more, but this is all I could do.” Flynn’s face is hard to read throughout the call… until he tells his dad to go to hell. “I don’t want anything from you! You killed Uncle Hank!” he cries, drawing the attention of school officials. “Why don’t you just die already!” Oof.
Bereft, Walt calls the Albuquerque DEA, tells them who he is and then leaves the pay phone off the hook as he has a drink at the bar. He’s just waiting for his inevitable capture, and he seems ready for it – that is, until Charlie Rose’s interview with Gray Matter’s Gretchen and Elliott comes on the TV. Their company has funded some drug rehab centers, Rose notes. Might that be because of their early association with the now-infamous Mr. Walter White? Both of the Schwartzes nearly pull a muscle as they strain to assert that Walter’s only contribution to the company was its name.
Meanwhile, in the New Hampshire bar, it’s just about time for Heisenberg, Smash! Having recaptured the spark he needs – hatred for someone he perceives as having what’s his – Walt perks up and beats it outta there. By the time law-enforcement officials arrive on the scene, he’s gone.
And now there’s just one more episode left. Based on the events in this week’s episode, log your vote about whether or not you think Walt will be alive when the closing credits roll next week, then hit the comments with your predictions for Breaking Bad‘s big finish!Follow @kimroots