Last week the writers of Breaking Bad wrote themselves into a corner, it was a situation with no apparent escape or hope for a good resolution. That’s why I suspected that Lydia might show up with a gang of mercenaries, or the Tribal Police would show up and scare off the neo-nazis. That’s what happens in normal TV shows, some completely unlikely element arrives to save the day. But Breaking Bad isn’t a normal TV show. The writers of Breaking Bad are above that kind of thing, and so the situation ends exactly how it should have: with Hank dying.
I admit that many a manly tear was shed when Hank made his final stand and a shiver went down my spine with his final statement to Walt:
You’re the smartest guy I’ve ever met…and you’re too stupid to see that he made up his mind ten minutes ago.
That’s the no-bullshit Hank I came to know and love, he’s telling Walt how it is. The minute those skinheads decided to open fire on law enforcement officers they had no choice but to follow through, there’s no walking away from an action like that. The only way this scene was ending was with either Hank or the skinheads dying, and with numbers clearly on the skinhead’s side, it was time for Hank to make his final bow.
I admit when I first saw this episode I completely misinterpreted Walter’s reactions, probably because I was
sobbing into a pillow over Hank’s death doing manly push-ups and pounding my chest in rage like a gorilla. At first I thought Hank’s death finally made Walter snap, and that instead of a redemption, he was going to become a full-on maniac burning down everything around him until someone finally finished him off. In a way I still think that’s true, handing over Jesse to be tortured and enslaved by Uncle Jack and his Nazis, fighting with Skylar and stealing his little girl Holly were all the actions of someone pushed over the edge. Everything he’s spent the last five seasons building is falling apart around him and Walter is about to fall into an abyss, When I first saw the episode I thought Walter had fallen into that abyss because of his call to Skylar; that speech was filled with so much anger and hate that I think I can be forgiven for thinking it genuine. The trouble is I only heard the speech, I wasn’t really listening.
That speech he gave Skylar was his way of saving his family in the only way left to him: taking all the blame. He’s not stupid, he knew the police were listening and he told them exactly what they wanted to hear, he gave his wife plausible deniability. He was saying goodbye. Her long pause and apology was her way of saying she understood his plan as well as her own goodbye; telling him to come home when she knows he never can.
Walter has finally woken up and now he sees what he truly is: a monster. Hank is dead because of him. He was moments away from slashing his own wife’s neck open in a fit of rage. And he was about to separate a little girl from her mother.
It was Holly’s plaintive cries for her mother that finally did it in (which was apparently unscripted, making it the most awesome scene ever). He was about to take this girl from her mother and brother so that she could live with him as he runs from place to place, constantly looking over his shoulder for the police or cartels to finally succeed in hunting him down. That’s not a life for anyone, let alone a little girl with no understanding of whats going on around her. Holly and Walter Junior have done what Jesse, Skylar and even Hank failed to do: they made Walt stop. They made him see that his constant pursuit of glory and wealth was turning him into something unrecognizable, he was becoming a new Gustavo Fring. So he disappears, having left his family with a way out with the cops and at least giving Marie the cold comfort of knowing Hank is dead, allowing her to grieve rather than wonder.
So Walter White truly is dead now, as is his Heisenberg alias. There’s only three loose ends left to tie up before Walter finds his redemption. First and foremost he has to undo the mistake he made in handing Jesse over to Uncle Jack and his herd (gaggle?) of Nazi wannabes. Right now he probably believes Jesse is dead, but eventually he’s going to have to find out about Jesse’s enslavement and I have a feeling that M60 machine gun is his answer to that problem. Once Jesse is freed and the skinhead’s are dead the only loose end left will be Lydia and her suppliers, who will probably be a bit upset at the fact they’re not getting the meth they were promised and no longer making millions. The only real question is whether or not Walter will live through that final confrontation?
I guess we’ll find out in the final two episodes of Breaking Bad. Be sure to check out this Friday’s post about Hank and why he was such an amazing character.