So it came to pass rather sooner than I’d expected (see previous post), however Flynn/Walt Jr’s ‘killing’ of his father turned out to be spiritual and emotional rather than merely physical. This, crucially, was also the point (rammed home by the Schwartz’s TV appearance) where Walt finally — d’oh! — recognised how far he had actually travelled and who/what it was he has become. The final episode will now hinge on whether he decides to search for some vestige of (hum it…) The Hero Inside Himself (this would be a disaster and will not happen for the simple reason that there is no Hero Inside Heisenberg…) or drive over as many bridges as he can find en route from New Hampshire to New Mexico whilst wielding a giant Acme petrol can and a Zippo in search of psycho-Todd and his Uncle Jack (pop down Ladbrokes with your fiver right now). Incidentally, Jesse Plemons as Todd is so astoundingly good at being monumentally bad that, post-Andrea, I fear slightly for his safety in real life.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I found everything about this penultimate episode compelling… in a penultimate episode kind of way. That is to say penultimate episodes — not least the penultimate episodes of shows that have run for five seasons—have a lot of work to do, and not much of that work is *fun*. In some respects they’re like first eps, busily setting stuff up for the anticipated denouement, and yet they have to clean up a lot of plot to give that last ep the space simply to breathe, to be; to show, not tell. (We are not, I think it’s fair to say, looking for a Colombo-style ending to Breaking Bad. We don’t want a control-freaky monologue—we want to have to think a little bit for ourselves. We’ll probably want a lack of dialogue rather than a surfeit—and I suspect we’ll get it. We’ll be Breathing Bad). So I loved ‘Granite State’ as a penultimate episode because the in-house clean-up-job deployed the services of ‘the vacuum cleaner salesman’ who really was a vacuum salesman. Genius! As indeed was Robert Forster; only a very confident show at the peak of its powers can bring in an entirely compelling new character, have him play a scene as shimmeringly brilliant as the 10,000-dollar-one-hour-card-game with Walt and then casually dispense with his services.
Anyway… that poor bastard, Jesse. It seemed unnecessarily cruel to ‘reward’ Jesse’s moral/ethical volte-face with the destruction of the very thing that made him realise he was capable of a moral/ethical volte-face in the first place, but there we have it: cook Meth and your darlings will be killed; cook Meth with Walter White and your darlings will be be brutally executed right in front of you. Life’s a Bitch.
In fact, Andrea’s death was the only scene I found uncomfortable. And I don’t mean for the obvious reason—Andrea being shot in the back of the head on her own front porch—but because it seemed to miss a BB-beat or two. I don’t think Andrea would have opened the door to Todd—she was sweet but she was also Street—and I don’t think she would have hovered around on the verandah squinting into the darkness. It all felt a little too Panto-From-Hell for BB; a little bit ‘Freddie Krueger’s Behind You!’ However, this is a minor quibble about an episode that was just as good as any episode following the peerless ‘Ozymandias’ could reasonably expect to be.
And now, with nothing left to lose except his life, Walter White is Wile E. Coyote gone feral. (TBC)