A chemistry teacher has become bigger than Scarface, attaining the rarefied infamy his dark soul craved. Alone and dying, hated by the people he loves, Walter White burns with pride-fueled rage. The last chapter sees Heisenberg returning from wilderness exile to paint the Land of Enchantment red by the Nazi blood of his enemies. In the universe of “Breaking Bad,” Walt has become mythological. And he’s out for revenge.
SPOILER ALERT For Walt to kill Gus Fring with a bomb tied to their mutual enemy was a master’s move in a life-size game of Last Gangster Standing.
The bomb went off at a nursing home (two seasons ago). It killed Gus and Gus’s bodyguard, Tyrus, who looked and moved like a Treadstone assassin in the “Bourne” movies. We watched the blast from the hallway. The door blew off. The camera held. Out walked Gus. The camera curled around to show us his whole face. Half of it was blasted off, down to the skull. He straightened his tie and fell down dead.
Yes! I love that scene. “Breaking Bad” dabbles in pulpy surrealism, becoming comic-book crazy when it wants to. Punches land huge on this show. Walt practiced quick drawing a revolver. There’s been bike-lock strangulation and poisoned burritos. He led a historically lucrative train robbery, and killed 10 men in prison at the same time. “Breaking Bad” once crashed two airplanes together.
The last episode of “The Sopranos” was shitty because it went for high art, doing something strange and dense. “Don’t Stop Believing” plays loudly over Tony sitting in a restaurant booth being boring with his family. There may be a killer in the background, but you have to watch the scene 10 times to even start forming an opinion. Nothing is happening, and then the show just stops. People thought their cable broke.
The Flip Side’s editorial stance has long been “There is power in ambiguity.” “The Master.” “Cloud Atlas.” But I’m finding I prefer the unambiguous goal of “Breaking Bad” to blow our minds with crazy events, staging one wild scene after another as the stakes raise to barely bearable heights. This is definitely art, but the primary goal is satisfying an audience. That’s why Todd can’t possibly survive—it’d be too esoteric, like a message about the unfairness of life.
One hour left. A prediction: There will be no ambiguity; there will be blood.
Walt went deep into hiding with worsening cancer and a barrel of $11 million cash. Months have passed. He’s dropped weight, grown a beard, experienced shattering loneliness, and armed himself with a huge machine gun and a caplet of poison. “I’m going to kill Jack and his entire crew,” he vowed before he disappeared. Jack and his crew are a gang of cop-killing Nazis.
Walt’s become famous for his criminal empire in Albuquerque. He is an ultimate outlaw, Billy The Kid with an even better nickname. “Heisenberg” is spray-painted on the walls of his trashed abandoned house, where no one else can live because it’s notorious and thus cursed. “You are the target of a nation-wide manhunt,” he’s told as he tours the snowy New Hampshire cabin where he’s forced to hide out. “Your face is all over TV.”
This is subconscious victory. He’s ego-maniacal—”Say my name,” he once demanded of a rival in the desert—and he’s dying. Heading into Sunday’s final episode, Walt has been told by his son to drop dead when he sits at a bar and happens to see, on television, his old business partners getting grilled by Charlie Rose about their history. They say Walt had nothing to do with the founding of their billion-dollar company. It rips open an old wound. It hits his pride. Gretchen, a lost love, tells Rose that Heisenberg may be out there but the sweet, kind Walt they knew is gone.
That was the push. Saddened Walt changes in his eyes into furious Heisenberg (like when he watched Jane choke and chose to let her die). He was gonna turn himself in, but fuck that. “Live Free or Die.” They killed his brother, stole his money, and worst of all cooked his blue meth. HOW DARE THEY! He’s “the devil,” by far the killing game’s best player. He wants revenge and he’s got nothing to lose.
Dead-eyed maniac Todd and the Nazis are waiting. So’s Jesse, angrier than ever.
The ending to the great New Mexico fiction of my lifetime is finally here, and anything goes. It’s been a blast. Cue madness.