As Heisenberg fades back to reality, reality hits Walter White. HARD.
It was never going to be easy to top the climactic tragedy of last episode--W.W reaching the point where he ultimately broke bad, killing not out of necessity but out of sheer will. The magnitude of the event, both in relation to Walt and the series in general, was clearly supposed to be the deal that broke all deals. (Science bitch, after all, mandates that every action must have an equally opposite reaction) Was this finally going to be the point where enough was enough? Or had the power trip gone too far, relegating Walt to a downward spiral of infinite meth and death?
We begin the hour with a pensive Heisenberg, bugged more by the pesky fly than he is his actions. The fly likely represents something greater--not everything can be quashed, Vince Gilligan is smart at being smart, etc., etc., Regardless, the sheer fact that Walt doesn’t try and kill the fly represents a strange evolution in his character. Is he above the fly and the consequences of living in reality? Or, is he slowly realizing the magnitude of his monster? Whatever the case, he does a nice job in keeping up appearances--keeping his back turned to the eager-ish Todd was straight out of every single criminal mastermind movie ever made, something that’s further underscored by the sudden Jesse intrusion. He tells Jesse that “Mike’s gone,” intentionally limiting his conversation to the essentials. Whether or not he’s realized this is no longer the way to live life (as the later parts of the episode suggest) it’s almost like he feels pressure to live up to the narrative he’s created. The legend, it seems, has finally become greater than the man.
Yet, Heisenberg still has some Heisenberg-type work to be done. Namely, people need to be disposed in the trash can, because the Ehrmantraut 9’s dirty laundry isn’t exactly something Heisenberg wants Hank to get a whiff of. He makes this rather clear to Lydia, whose just as much playing the game for herself. Jittery and distressed as she may be, her more than half a brain and ability to play with the big boys unknowingly saves her from the wrath of Walt’s ricin. What could’ve been death is now an exponentially bigger business. Walt’s reluctance to instantly accept the expansion to the Czech Republic, however, is rather telling--for someone who’s been so caught up in the empire business, wouldn’t this be EXACTLY what he wants? The acceptance, again, is simply perhaps Walt doing what he thinks he’s supposed to do.
Next up is Todd’s finally useful prison connections, which turn out to be a bunch of Neo-Nazi f*ckheads who have the ability to kill nine different people in a matter of minutes. They relay to Walt how difficult to the task will be, but Walt curtails resistance by flashing the wrath of H. Walt then completes what may end up being his last TRUE act of Heisenberg, pacing impatiently while waiting for his employees to finish up their routine work. A montage that reeks of vile malevolence, the cold-blooded killings--and the colder-blooded Walt running the show from his ivory tower/kitchen--was yet another masterful exhibition of chilling emotionlessness.
Hank, deflated by the sudden loss of his buyers market, understandably unleashes his frustration onto Walt. Calling Walt a “monster” right to his face was certainly one of those moments that Breaking Bad lives for, but this time it doubled as a nice pace-marker. Again with Newton’s second law, did Hank’s surrender mean that Walt had to surrender as well? Was Hank going balls to the wall trying to catch Heisenberg half the fun? With Mike now gone, Jesse now out, and HANK apparently defeated, has Walt, as he nefariously boasted to Skylar at the end of last season, finally won? If we've acheived victory, is there any point in still playing?
The episode then takes a nice turn to the series’ roots. For all that has happened between Skylar and Walt, they are still husband and wife. They still have two kids, and they are still in dirtaaaay business together. Skye finally has a human moment with Walt, which ultimately proves to be all the difference (this clearly deserves a lot more time, but recap, yo).
The episode increasingly progresses with Walter-esque mannerisms from the past, underscored in part by the short hospital scene. The “looking into a mirror scene,” although bereft of action, was evidently a conclusive turning point in the Walter White identity crisis. He, like the dryer, has been duly damaged by the sh*t he’s put himself through. He’s no longer whole, he’s no longer someone he’s proud to look at. He’s scarred, bashed in, and overall, hurt. Trying to have a “remember the good times” moment with Jesse was just as much comical as it was sad. Telling Skylar that he was out of the meth business--on paper, a declaration of “mission accomplished”--seemed rational, but forced. We’re seeing a Walter whose suddenly disgusted with his legacy, but clearly cannot totally let it go. Inertia, after all, is derived from an object resisting a change in state or motion. Heisenberg to Walt, Empire Dominance to Retired Complacency.
Finally--empahsis on the finally--the dirty laundry. Hank finds what he’s been looking for when he least expects it, reminding us all that doing business where we sh*t is never a good idea. A cliffhanger if there ever was one, I think it’s safe to say we’re in for a wild ride once that toilet flushes.
Jesse Pinkman “Bitch” Count: A fitting end to what was a horrific season in “bitch” utterances. The goose egg, though, is perhaps more of an accomplishment for Jesse than it is a failure. Because for the first time in his life, Jesse is no longer that.
- This Episode: 0
- Season: 3
Random Observation(s) of the Night
- “Argo” looked very promising. Cranston, Affleck, and was that a splash of John Goodman? Gotta say though, is there a human being alive who didn’t know Affleck was the director of “The Town?” Is Ben Affleck suddenly some sort of behind the scenes dude with zero name recognition? Is Ben Affleck embarrassed to say he directed his own movie? Does this movie REALLY have nothing to do with the city of Boston?
- “Yo, I know you really like Chips Ahoy, but you should really try Cheez-Its. They have nothing to do with each other, except that they are both relatively decent snack foods” -- “The Walking Dead” commercials
- The Ricin was avoided, but that elaborate contraption seems a little too elaborate to not play a role
- Saul Goodman had a rather quiet season. Though now that the cat’s out of the bag, I’d expect him to play a bigger part than he had been. Never one for morality, there’s no way his existence could help Walt’s case.
- Find a television series with better, more strategically crafted montages. You won't.
Relationship to Watch: Vince Gilligan vs. Intellectual mindf*cking. Below is the poem the episode is named after, which was written by our good friend, W.W (Walt Whitman)
GLIDING o'er all, through all,
Through Nature, Time, and Space,
As a ship on the waters advancing,
The voyage of the soul--not life alone,
Death, many deaths I'll sing.
The fall of W.W? Heisenberg in a nutshell? Showrunner Gilligan has either created one of the more elaborate cons of all-time (in making us think he’s a certifiable genius who does everything for reasons we can’t begin to comprehend), or that he’s a certifiable genius who does everything for reasons we can't begin to comprehend. Whatever the case may be, eight down, eight to go. Clock.
PS: Thanks for reading, y'all. It's been...dope.