The birds Jesse saw when he looked up with that gun to his head . . . spoiler alert . . . that was the part of the last “Breaking Bad” episode (titled “Ozymandias”) that hit hardest for me. Walt and Skyler’s knife fight was excruciating, especially when Walter Jr. jumped onto his dad’s back. Watching Walt fight sobs as he played a psychopath on the phone was heartbreaking—and one of those occasional “Breaking Bad” moments where you remember Bryan Cranston’s acting belongs in rarefied, transcendent company.
But those birds. Were they eagles? Jesse and Walt. They’d flown together.
Walt had been Jesse’s boring high school chemistry teacher. Their relationship would grow endearing despite the violence. Sweet, even. The flashback at the beginning of “Ozymandias” had Jesse bitching about Walt’s nitpicking; Walt rolling his eyes at what a dumbass Jesse can be. (Walt: “Yeah, like you’re an idiot.” Jesse: “Dick.”) The chemistry between these characters (and actors) has been beyond special. They’ve fought with cunning desperation to keep each other alive. When Jesse killed Gale he gave away his soul to save Walt’s life. And before this final season, my favorite “Breaking Bad” scene, even above the death of Gus Fring, was Walter’s Aztec appearing out of darkness to plow those two corner dealers as Jesse was preparing to gunfight them, outnumbered. And then Blam! and “Run.” It was Heisenberg embracing extreme measures. It was to save Jesse’s life.
Sacred “Breaking Bad” lore says writers initially intended to kill off Jesse Pinkman early. The actor, Aaron Paul, was so good with Cranston they kept him alive. Paul grew into the role and won Emmys. He had to do so much. A favorite Jesse Pinkman scene saw him in Mexico, cussing out a cartel meth cook in front of vicious killers. He’d been rendered suicidal junkie over killing Gale to save Walt from Fring. “Bitch” was Jesse’s catchphrase. He called Walt “Mr. White.”
Walt betrayed him so many times. The final betrayal was handing Jesse to the Nazis to torture and kill. “Found him.” Hank’s death was the last ladder rung down into hell. Walt’s family life was incinerated. Jesse could die too.
Eagles. Jesse looked so beat-down and afraid as he looked up at those eagles.
We saw another animal at the end of “Ozymandias.” When the episode ended, Walt rode away in a minivan with someone who can wipe away identities. After the van left the shot, a dog scampered across the road. End credits. They’d been eagles together, soaring. Now it’s just Walt, a lone dog on the street.
We know he comes back with a machine gun and poison. A prediction: The next two hours of “Breaking Bad” will be an ultimate postmodern spaghetti Southwestern, with the hard violent dark New Mexico edge of Santa Fean novelist Cormac McCarthy (“No Country For Old Men,” “Blood Meridian”).
This is better than the movies. I hope Jesse, somehow, finds Walt and kills him.
He bragged about Jane dying. He fought his wife and kidnapped their daughter. Hank’s dead. C’mon, man. Walt’s gotta go down.
. . .
Quick thought on Todd
Todd should be getting a share of that $70 million in cash they just dug up in the desert, so it doesn’t really make sense for him to keep cooking meth. He seems to be doing this because he has a thing for Lydia, the corporate side of their drug operation. They shared a creepy scene with close talking and her lipstick smeared on a mug.
The part of “Ozymandias” when Todd pulls Jesse out of the ground to chain up in a meth lab plays like raw horror.
Todd is so nice, his face always so calm. On “Friday Night Lights” that same actor played lovable sensitive nice guy Landry. Todd is similar, except for not hesitating to pull a gun and shoot a kid. At the beginning of the To’hajiilee shootout, there’s a moment of Todd shooting a pistol from behind a car door. He is comically disinterested. This adorable nice guy feels nothing over killing, which makes him the opposite of Jesse, who can be so brash and rude yet feels killing’s consequences deeply.
He’s the most compelling supporting weirdo since Bob Benson on “Mad Men.” After Todd shot the kid, he sat in his car looking at a spider in a glass jar:
Two more episodes. Jesse’s got bad guys to beat.