Undoubtedly, everybody’s held off actually watching the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad so they can instead follow it on my as-it-happened, minute-by-minute, far-from-live blog. So, grab the popcorn, dim the lights, and just pretend it’s last Sunday night. SPOILER ALERT if you’re still not up to date on the show, or if you’ve never seen Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.
0:52: So the Vacuum Repair Guy (credited, according to IMDB, as Ed) is that crazy sergeant dude from Full Metal Jacket, right? Oh…apparently not. They must be twins. Oh…they’re not.
1:41: Saul’s not too crazy about Nebraska. I’m on Wikipedia now, searching for something interesting to say about the Cornhusker State. I got nothing.
4:16: Uncle Jack and co. are having family movie night in front of Jesse’s tell-all videotape for the DEA. It’s nice to know that, just like the rest of us, Nazis take that special time out to bond with loved ones. Next time maybe they can connect over giving their place a little spring clean. (And it so happens I know just the guy if they need a vacuum, too.)
Quotable #1: “Does this pussy cry through the entire thing?” – Jack on Jesse’s interview
5:50: Say all you like about Uncle Jack, but the man’s not greedy. $80 million is perfectly enough for him. Walt should really take a page from his book (“The Jack Welker Guide to Contentment”).
6:20: Quotable #2: “She’s probably got a wood-chipper for a coochie.” – Jack on Lydia
6:35: “The heart wants what the heart wants.” Another gem from the Aryan sage’s book. Is Uncle Jack the next Dr. Phil?
7:43: On the phone: “How thick is it?” Guy-who-looks-like-Full-Metal-Jacket-guy ordering deep-dish pizza? “This is mild steel?” Probably not pizza then. Or bad pizza.
8:43: Walt’s still plotting away – now planning a hit on Jack and the gang. The man’s a workaholic. Relax! People who take business on vacation are party-poopers.
11:10: “What I do, I do for my family.” There he goes again. I believe you Walt, thousands wouldn’t. (I don’t either, but I don’t want you to kill me.)
12:02: Finally found a fact about Nebraska: the state is the nation’s largest user of center pivot irrigation. And Saul would rather go there than tag along with Walt. Told you: all work and no play makes Walter a dull travel buddy.
13:06: “It’s over.” Saul stands up to Walt, as the once-indomitable power of Heisenberg is swiftly fading with each cough and splutter. Is this the last we’ll see of Saul and the comb-over? (Until the spin-off, that is.) Or will Walt still be sending him to Belize?
14:07: Hey…she just won an Emmy.
18:26: Todd all dressed up and bashful for his coffee date with Lydia. Is that gel or pomade? “Mr. and Mrs. White’s house”: so respectful, a true gent. Nazi family time really has paid off.
21:12: “I just think we work together good. We make a good team. It’s kind of…mutually good.” So, in summary, it’s good. Todd and Lydia bring romance to a whole new level. A couple that produces methamphetamine together stays together.
22:11: The hostile, Southwestern desert landscape is replaced by an equally hostile, snowy New Hampshire landscape. Does Walt never get to see New York or Miami Beach? Why can’t he be relocated to Disneyworld?
23:13: Quotable #3: “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Two copies.” “I’m not much of a movie guy.” – Walt being overly fussy over the DVD collection
23:28: He paid $50,000?! And no TV, phone, or Internet? He should have gone with Expedia. Room service and buffet breakfasts thrown in. And pay-per-view movies other than Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.
27:47: Even after donning the magic Heisenberg hat, he’s too afraid to leave the reservation. First backing down to Saul; now to the fear of getting caught. And the cancerous cough, clearly a symbol for the weakening – dying – of this alter ego. Back in the cabin, we see the black, pork pie hat finally hung up. Walter White is being de-Heis-drated.
28:59: An ice-cream treat for Jesse! Peanut Butter Cup and AmeriCone Dream?? Has Todd been reading Jack’s book again? He already gets to work for the rest of his life chained up as a slave, piss in a bucket, and sleep in the stench of his own shit! And now Ben & Jerry’s? Guyssssss, you’re spoiling him!!
32:09: GO! RUN, JESSE! GET OUTTA THERE! #TeamPinkman
34:10: Quotable #4: “Just so you know, this isn’t personal” – Todd reassures Andrea, before he shoots her in the back of the head. I’m sure felt blessed to hear that, in the nanosecond before the bullet entered her brain.
34:38: I genuinely can’t take Jesse’s life being ripped apart any longer. He’d better escape soon and kick some Nazi (and Walt) ass. Seriously, #TeamPinkman 4 lyf.
35:53: Heisenberg hat replaced with gray, striped beanie. I actually have that very same beanie. I don’t see the Nike check mark on his – must be a knock-off.
37:12: On his first glance at the newspaper, Walt just thinks he needs new glasses because he thought he just saw a photo of Hannah Montana twerking.
38:24: Vacuum Repair Guy is no one-trick pony: he can now perform chemotherapy. Courtesy of YouTube, where he surely got distracted by Miley videos, too.
39:05: Bearded, frail, shortsighted Walter White, sat by the fire begging Vacuum Repair Guy/Part-Time Oncologist to “stay a little longer”. Not brave enough to prick his own arm with the needle. No desire to even cut the cards. Loses the first round of cards to two kings. Emaciated and powerless. No trace of Heisenberg in sight.
43:21: When he finally makes it past the gate, it’s not for his original Heisenbergian purpose of going to town and taking care of business. This is pure Walter White: selflessly putting his family first by sending a modest (well, $100,000 – but modest in comparison to what could have been) sum of money for the sole purpose of their wellbeing. And again – donning not the black hat, but the humble gray beanie, even if it is a cheap Chinatown counterfeit.
44:06: I wish my high school had had a hot, Latina principal. Mine was an old, pudgy white guy. Funnily enough, his name was Carmen, too.
46:37: On the phone to his son: “I wanted to give you so much more…but this was all I could do.” Heisenberg wouldn’t have settled for “all I could do.” It seems to me that Walt isn’t just talking money here: he’s addressing his failures as a father, and as a fender for and protector of his family. “I made some terrible mistakes”: this is the confession we’ve been waiting long for – not only for his guilt for crimes committed, but for his divergence from the objective of keeping his family safe.
47:37: Tears running down Walt’s face as he realizes it’s too late for reparations with his son. Flynn – not Walt Jr., and not Walt Sr. – is now the protector of his mother and sister. “You asshole, why won’t you just die!” Now that both Skyler and Walt Jr. have expressed their wish for Walt’s death, there’s nothing left for him. Family-less, now twice the pushover he once was, he turns himself in to the DEA. An episode ago, I wanted to punch him square in the jaw when he spitefully told Jesse that he watched Jane die. Now, I want to give him a reassuring hug. Why do the writers of this show do this to us!
51:00: Hey, it’s Ross’s lesbian ex-wife’s lover from Friends on TV! Oh, wait, she also plays a character in Breaking Bad. We haven’t seen Gretchen and Elliot since Season 2. What is it about their Charlie Rose interview that puts Walt right off his Dimple Pinch, whatever the heck that is, and sets him off again? Surely it’s this: “Is Walter White still out there?” “No, he’s not.” Well, he just was. Now Jekyll’s turned back to Hyde. Thanks guys, we’d just gotten the beast to sleep. Gretchen and Elliot were, theoretically, the fundamental cause for Walter White syndrome. They’re the ones who, inadvertently, led him to become a downtrodden, worthless teacher whose great chemical mind was wasting away. They’re the ones who, indirectly, spurred him on to become Heisenberg.
And, yup, there’s that face – here he goes again. He’s out of there. In a reversal of chemical reactions, the Heis-dration process is under way.
So what now? White dudes with beards are always good guys, right? Santa. Jesus. Mr. Magnorium when he’s out of shaving cream. Well, beard or no beard, it certainly appears that Walt’s going back to Albuquerque for one last showdown, and to fetch his money back – whether for his family or simply for his own pride. Of course, it’s no coincidence that Walt was relocated to New Hampshire. The Granite State’s motto is Live Free or Die (incidentally the title of this season’s first episode). It finally looked like Walt was ready to live free, whether that meant staying at the cabin or turning himself in and putting the past behind him, thus freeing himself of his burdens. But at the end of the episode, he makes his choice to return to a Heisenberg state of mind and do just the opposite of living freely: dying. The question is, though: who will he take with him?