Just in case you thought maybe this wasn’t really the end of Breaking Bad – if you were one of those hold-outs, thinking all this “final season” mumbo-jumbo was just nonsense, a ploy to pull in viewers before they sprung an extra season on us – just in case that was you, Sunday’s episode should have put all those thoughts to bed.
This week was like a train wreck. Horrible, but magnetic. It makes you feel awful, but you can’t look away.
We started with a flashback, a reminder of how far Walt has come. He and Jesse are cooking in the RV, their first excursion out to the desert to do so. We even got to see one of the first times Walt ever lied to Skyler about cooking. We see him practice the fib, aiming for just the right inflection to deflect her suspicion. But of course this was back in the days when Skyler had no reason to doubt Walt. She thinks nothing of his tale, he doesn’t even get out his rehearsed excuse.
Walt’s figure fades away, then Jesse’s, then the RV. All that’s left is a silent dust bowl, whose peace will soon be disturbed, as we know all too well.
We return to the gunfight in full force – Walt cowers in Hank’s SUV as his brother-in-law takes cover behind the riddled carcass of his vehicle. The bullets come to a halt as Hank looks over at the lifeless form of Gomez. Just behind his head lies his shotgun.
With his own clip empty, Hank begins to crawl towards the shotgun. It’s futile effort, Hank and Gomey never stood a chance – they were outmatched in bodies as well as firepower by Jack and his merry men.
Hank knows he has no chance of escape. Likely, he just hopes to take out one or two of them – probably, hopefully, squeezing off a shot at Walt before he expires. Jack smiles down at him almost pityingly, especially after one of his cronies unearths Gomey’s DEA ID. It’s the nail in the coffin.
The only one who doesn’t seem to see the obvious conclusion is Walt. Still handcuffed – a metaphor for his impotence – he begs Jack to spare Hank, offering him everything he has, to his own detriment. He tells them about the money buried beneath their feet, verifies that the DEA knows nothing of their confrontation, even admits that Hank is his own brother-in-law.
Hank is the one to make things clear to Walt, in a voice dripping with hatred: “Can’t you see they made up their minds 10 minutes ago.” And with that, Jack ends Hank.
As Walt collapses in grief, Jack sends off his crew to scour the hills for Jesse – and, oh yeah, dig up that $80M Walt told them about. The thing is, Walt was never equipped to handle Jack. He never had the skills to control someone so volatile. He was in way over his head.
But the person to blame for this mess? Obviously, it’s Jesse. He got into bed with the DEA, led Hank and Gomez out to the desert, refused to play by the rules. So when Walt spies him hiding under his caddy, there is only one choice for his erstwhile partner: death.
Luckily for Jesse, Jack and Todd operate by their own set of warped rules. And Jesse has something they need – something they know Walt won’t give them, now that they’ve relieved him of $70 or so million dollars (because they’re not all bad, they let Walt keep one of his barrels). They decide to take Jesse with them, rather than end it right there.
Walt doesn’t have a shotgun to pull on Jesse, but he does have one weapon left in his arsenal: the truth. Just before Jesse is dragged away, Walt delivers a final crushing blow – the truth that he’s the one who let Jane die.
As all this goes down miles from home, Marie is on the move herself. As Hank lies dying, unbeknownst to her, she goes directly to Skyler. With Walt out of the picture, Marie is now in charge. She orders Skyler to tell Walter Junior the whole truth, a task they take on together.
Skyler and Junior return home from the car wash, Junior in shock and Skyler in a daze. But, inexplicably, Walt is there when they arrive, madly throwing clothing into suitcases, directing them to gather anything important to them so that the family can leave immediately.
It takes Skyler only a moment to realize what’s happened: Walt’s equivocating only makes her sure. There, in their living room, in front of their son, free from all the lies, she looks Walt in the eye and speaks the truth: “You killed him.”
Walt won’t accept defeat. His manic dance around the truth continues until Skyler pulls a kitchen knife from the block and brandishes it, refusing to leave and begging Walt to leave the house. She swipes at him and he lunges into epic battle over the blade that only ends when Junior throws himself between them, dialing 911 on his cell phone and begging for assistance.
With that, Walt picks up Holly and exits.
But it’s folly, and he knows it, to be on the run with an infant. Every shield within 100 miles will be on the lookout for Holly – a baby kidnapped by her drug-dealer father. As Walt changes her diaper in a gas station, without a car seat or a bottle or anything, as she whimpers for her mama, he knows he has no choice.
But before he can take care of Holly, he has to take care of the rest of his family first. After all, they were the reason he set off down this path in the first place. Taking care of them was the only thing he ever cared about. And so he takes the fall. He calls their house, first asking Skyler point blank if the police are there listening – a fact he knows beyond a shadow of a doubt to be true.
He launches into a minutes-long rant, berating her for her disloyalty. She always told him to quit, never knew anything about the business, always acted scared. And as the police lap up every word, Walt does his best to clear her name. This was all his idea.
Once his grand lie is told to the police, he picks up his daughter and leaves her at a fire station, where he knows she’ll be found and returned to her mother, safe. From there, he only has one call left to make. To Saul’s guy who erases people’s pasts, lets them start over new. He meets the red minivan at dawn, and rides away into the sunset to his new life.