Breaking Bad Recap: Gray Matters [Updated]

Breaking Bad

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!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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65 Comments
  1. OMG Robert Forster. Can’t wait to see how it all ends next Sunday. One of the best TV dramas I’ve ever seen this year.

  2. Tony says:

    Bryan Cranston is brilliant. Not that it really needed to be repeated. But that phone call with Flynn broke my heart. And I once again felt for Walt….until Heisenberg reared his ugly head, lol. Its gonna be a bittersweet next Sunday for sure.

    • Tony says:

      A crime I didn’t mention Aaron Paul’s performance and Jesse having another love die.

      And never thought I could ever see Jesse Plemons as anyone other than Landry. Boy is he a piece of work.

  3. Walt’s been a baby these last few episodes. He has to go dark . Retirement from cooking meth soften him up and neutered him. He’s not the one who knocks, he’s the one who quivers. He has it in him to make Jack’s gang pay for what they did.

  4. bratty_123 says:

    Why did Walt call the DEA from the bar in NH? I could not figure that part out.

  5. Kelly says:

    wasn’t he engaged to the Gray Matters woman once. isn’t that what incensed him again, her pity ?

    • Alex says:

      IMO, I don’t think it was her pity, or even that she was pitying (in Walt’s eyes). He was pissed because they claimed Walt had nothing to do with Gray Matters except the name, and that they are now donating millions (which they earned from the company Walt co-founded – and in Walt’s opinion, had he stayed on, some of the money he would have made) to anti-drug charities to distance themselves, and Gray Matters, from Walt’s sullied name in order to save face with their investors. I think Walt took their on-air persona to be fake for viewers (*cough* financial backers *cough*) to feel for them so that their company wouldn’t suffer financially due to Walter White being Undesirable No. 1. I personally think Walt would be likely to pull a ‘Revenge’ delio in an attempt to leak information to the media about them that could plummet Gray Matters stock and make them bankrupt, but I guess we’ll see if he lets this go…

  6. I loved the absolute end how Walt’s demeanor turned from a broken man in the bar to a hardcore criminal hell-bent on revenge on *someone*. I also loved the way the music segwayed at the same time from that dark mysterious music to the Breaking Bad theme — righteous!

  7. bw says:

    Everyone on twitter is saying how much this season sucked and that it was the worst finale ever.

    • Traverado says:

      I predict Todd (and Lydia) will be one of the very few left standing when all is said and done. Todd will then go on to take over as the new Heisenberg (assisted by Lydia).

  8. Nadie says:

    I think the ricing is for Gretchen and/or Elliott… he might kill himself with them with the ricing… who knows, they show is already disturbing anyway…. anything could happen!

  9. N says:

    I Think Walts decided to die, but before he goes out hes gonna make up for his worst sin by killing Uncle Jack and his crew, Notice he didnt tell finn what really happened to Hank because he doesnt want anyone else taking out jack but him. Walt has no clue though Jesse is there or even still alive, I think walts gonna kill the crew only for jesse to get the drop on him and I think Jesse will morally redeem himself by choosing to not kill Walt but turn him into police, think about how moving it would be if Jesse, after everything horrible thats happened to him, spared walts life provings hes better then walt. With this said, Walt will kill himself in prison with the cigarette, ironic considering he got lung cancer despite never smoking but in the end a cigarette does it.

    • justjack says:

      Actually I think he may have an idea Jesse is alive… didn’t the vacuum cleaner man tell him that the blue meth has shown up again? That can only mean that Jesse is cooking for Todd.

    • Scott Holm says:

      The capsule of ricin is not hidden in a cigarette any more and even when it was it wasn’t meant to be administered by smoking the cigarette. That was only a hiding place.

  10. JBC says:

    I would like someone to kill off Lydia in front of Todd.. that was pretty awful what he did to Andrea making Jesse watch. The phone call to Flynn was heartbreaking. I think RJ Mitte has done a great job in this too. Hard to believe the finale is next week. AMC is having a Breaking Bad marathon all week all episodes up until the finale.

  11. april says:

    This episode sucked. But so did a few episodes this season. BB is a great show overall but it had its flaws.

    • Not being as spectacular as Ozymandias doesn’t mean it sucks. Far, far from that. Was still extremely tense, tragic, sad, emotional and full of suspense. I don’t understand what there is to complain about.

  12. Cheeky says:

    Good Job for them winning best drama series this year!

  13. jakeysf says:

    WOW WOW WOW. I’m speechless. I thought last week’s episode put Jesse and Walt through hell, this week it 10x worse! I think in this episode, both Walt and Jesse has “broken bad” for good. Any chance of redemption or a decent quiet life just went out the window. They are both emotionally destroyed, irreparably damaged and PISSED. They will take out anyone and anything that gets in their way of revenge, including each other. It will be epic!

  14. GregK says:

    Aaron Paul was amazing in the escape scene when he balanced on the bucket and reached up. Not easy to do and then jump up and hang from the grate! Maybe some trick photography but looked like he mostly did this stunt on his own.

  15. Ryan says:

    It was a good episode, and there’s a lot set up in the finale, hopefully they explain small things like why he left Gretchen as well as answer all of the big questions.

    My prediction is that Walt will kill the Nazis, Jesse will get revenge on Walt. I have a feeling that he will go out the way he said his father had, but that Junior won’t remember him like that. I think there may even be a callback to the pilot when his family sees the tape of him after his first cook saying he did everything for the best.

    One small continuity error I’ve noticed is that this episode would have to take place during the summer since it is September 7 in the flashforward (when it’s his birthday, which his license says is on September 7). However, there snow on the ground the entire time he was in New Hampshire and a hockey game on TV at the bar (which would be out of season). Unless he takes a few months to get back to New Mexico, which is virtually impossible given how little time he has left, that was definitely a mistake, albeit one I didn’t notice until I saw on another site that September 7 is his birthday.

  16. Pat D. says:

    Yeah, for all the people who thought that walt was going to save Jesse as his final penance—I was never buying that. After all, he gave up Jesse’s hiding spot under the car and taunted him with that junkie girl’s death before giving him up to be tortured and killed. If he does end up saving Jesse it will be by coincidence if he decides to kill the Neo-Nazi Meth Club.

  17. N says:

    It would not surprise me at all if the finale has flashbacks to Walt at Grey Matter and how and why he lost his job there. I feel like once we see how he got screwed out of that company we will fully understand him.

  18. N says:

    Anyone want to guess who gets the 80 Million in the end. I think it will probably burn up somehow, but in a perfect world somehow Badger and Skinny Pete get it creating a great potential spinoff or the poor kid Brock, he was poisoned and mother was killed, come on. give the kid a break

  19. Tammy says:

    I think every thing Walt holds dear will be completely gone. He did all this for his family but they have turned on him. Considered Jesse a son and he hates him, might kill him. The money is mostly gone and even if he tries to give it to his family, the cops will seize it. Walt is in hell. I need to watch some of those episodes from the first season to refresh my mind about grey matter. I remember Walt going to them for money when he got diagnosed with cancer and they didn’t help.

    • KenM says:

      The Gray Matter couple tried to help Walt by offering him a job with good health insurance and later by offering him money for his treatment. He lied and said his existing insurance came through, turned down their offer, and then went back to cooking meth with Jesse.

    • Jack Siegal says:

      Actually they tried on several occasions to help. From all accounts I’ve seen on the show they seem like decent people. I’m really thinking Walt really did do nothing to deserve a stake in the company and that his story of being pushed out was a fabrication to explain his mediocrity.

  20. Captain Crunch says:

    I have to agree with what Badger said on Talking Bad – it doesn’t seem like Jesse thinks things through before acting. He knows Todd & pals know about Brock (because of the picture), yet he didn’t think about what the gang would do if he actually got away during his escape attempt.

    At same time, the kililng of Brock’s mom does seem like a bit of over-reaction to Jesse’s esacpe-it’s not like he even injured any of them. They could have simply explained that he either cooks or they die and let it remain a threat.

    • amarien says:

      “A bit of an overreaction to Jesse’s escape” – these guys are Neo-Nazi methheads. I don’t think they deal in proportional reactions.

      • Admiral Crunch says:

        They could have (probably should have based on what he’s saying now) killed Walt, but they didn’t.
        They could have (perhaps should have, if Lydia was to be pleased) killed Skyler, but they didn’t.

        It’s also doubtful they are high on meth that often, as you can’t run a business when you’re high (and we’ve seen how Jesse spirals out of control when he’s high). Presumably, these guys are/were supplying all the meth that Walt and Deklan were supplying to the southwest.

        In fact, they referred to Todd on Talking Bad as “murder Spock” for his cold ruthless logic. But where is the logic in killing Brock’s mom when the mere threat could accomplish the same?

        • Alan Dvorkis says:

          If fact, the mere threat could carry on as long as they wish. Now they only have the kid who will be in foster care and possibly not findable.

      • Jack’s gang does not use meth. Just look at them – no twitch, etc. They only sell, and then only in bulk.

    • Gilligan wants us to REALLY hate Todd.

  21. Luis Fdz says:

    Jesse can’t possibly be any more demoralized I believe him when he said he will not cook for the nazis anymore even if it means Brock’s life because by now he has found his mom dead and the police have him safely tucked away somewhere. I predict Walt is gonna kill the nazis and use the ricin on Lydia somehow. This Breaking Bad final series probably should have probably ended last week with Walt leaving with his tail tucked between his legs in that van but it wouldn’t be appropriate. Something BIG is gonna go down and I will be watching it at the same time as the rest of the world Can’t Wait!!!!

  22. Kaylea says:

    Where is the full recap?

    It was a good episode in all. Yet I am not convinced everything will be wrapped up in one episode. Will Jesse be able to escape? I hope so!!! I also felt sorry for Walt for the first time in a long time.

  23. wabz says:

    Hmm that ricin sure looks like Lydia’s stevia that they keep bringing up…

  24. So … is the point of all this that nothing good comes from all of Wal’t efforts? Don’t mess with drugs? I’m trying to think of anyone who was helped:
    * The homeless guy with the ‘fro who gets $10K
    * The Indian who sells the truck for $10K
    * LE gets Mike’s millions
    * Saul Goodman seems to have gotten away with a good chunk of cash

    Help me out here, my memory is imperfect

    And the list of people hurt/killed directly or indirectly is very long – some of them innocent, some not.

    I was right in that I knew Gretchen would be involved somehow – predicted this 4 weeks ago.

    My final predictions, for what it is worth:
    * The Ricin is for Elliot (’cause Walt still loves Gretchen)
    * The M60 is for the Nazis
    * Jesse escapes the final battle and takes care of Brock
    * Todd and Lydia are killed in the final battle – perhaps while getting it on?
    * Most of the money is confiscated by LE
    * The identity guru does something with Walt’s NH barrel
    * Marie, Skyler, Flynn & Holly live middle-class lives, no meth money for them

    Walt? No predictions. Might get shot, might get away and die of cancer – that would be ironic, because it would put him back to the original scenario, dead from cancer, but now without a family, alone, all his efforts for naught.

    • Admiral Crunch says:

      Saul seems to really have perspective on life. Have you ever seen him angry without his face getting bashed in first? In fact it appears Walt has destroyed his career, and probably for a couple of $100K, and he’s not angry at all when he meets walt in the bunk room.

  25. John says:

    Man, I’m going to miss this show. I think Walt is going to take out Todd’s uncle, his entire crew, and himself with the ricin.

  26. Jack Siegal says:

    Was wondering if anyone thinks what Gretchen and Elliot said about Walt doing nothing for the company besides naming it is actually true? Given that he is someone who has consistently lied to himself and feels entitled to having more in life, perhaps this whole time, the story about him being pushed out and them profiting off of his research is merely his way of rationalizing his lack of success.

  27. slh777 says:

    I think the scene in an earlier episode this season where Jack and his crew scoffed at wearing the hoods in the lab was significant. I think Jesse will poison them the way Walt got Crazy 8 and his cousin in the RV way back when it was all just getting started.

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