Breaking Bad: 5.15 - Granite State
Last week's Breaking Bad, the excellent and heartbreaking Ozymandias, has been received as not just a great episode of this show but one of the greatest TV episodes ever made. Will this level of praise stick once we've all calmed down? Who knows, but it was excellent either way.
Now Granite State has the unenviable task of following it, as well as being the penultimate episode of Breaking Bad ever. Where can Walt possibly go after last week's horrible ending? Will he finally become the bearded 52-year-old we saw in all those flashforwards? Spoilers follow.
Walt's Miserable Camping HolidayWisely, after last week's rush of horrible climactic moments, Granite State slows things way down. Everyone still seems traumatised, as if they can't believe how they've ended up. Considering the entire of this half-season has been a surprisingly high-speed rush to the climax of Ozymandias, they can get away with pausing here, I think, to appreciate just how bad this all is. Walt has managed to ruin everything so totally, even Saul can't be tempted into dealing with him again, and finally ends up alone in a cabin, nothing to look forward to except death and his caretaker coming back to steal his money. Bummer.
I especially enjoyed the sequence where Walt seizes his Heisenberg hat, seemingly about to have one of those stirring heroic moments you often see on TV, and then... makes it as far as the gate before turning back. Alas, the hat does not have superpowers and he is merely a sick middle-aged man who has messed up his life. With no-one left to manipulate and no seeming point in carrying on, things look rough.
After last week's episode, I theorised that we might finally get some sympathy back for Walt when he finds out Jesse is being held captive by the Nazis and returns to rescue him. But no, White continues to fall below my expectations when his return to New Mexico is triggered... not by fatherly love but pure ego. After hitting rock bottom and almost turning himself in, he happens to catch his former partners dissing him on TV and makes a run for it. Where? Why? I dread to think.
Jesse's Spacious AccommodationSpeaking of Jesse, his plotline this week is more visceral and action-packed than Walt's, but ironically doesn't achieve anywhere near as much. He tries to make a similar escape from his trap, but only manages to get Andrea executed by Todd, who is becoming scarier by the week. It's unsettling because Todd isn't motivated by pure greed or sadism, he definitely wants to be happy and please people, but he also has no ethics whatsoever and a marked lack of human warmth. His attempt to connect with Jesse, because he clearly thinks they should get on as pseudo-brothers, is an awkward mess, ending in him helping Jesse escape with his desperate bid to facilitate their friendship.
Also, surely Todd has dropped Lydia straight into the poo by going out of his way to tell Skyler to leave her out of it? If Skyler wasn't going to tell people about her before, she probably will now, especially as the lawyers turn up the pressure. But the poor evil lad still tries so damn hard. I did briefly wonder whether it was convincing that Uncle Jack would keep Jesse alive though, especially once he turns out to be a pain in the arse to keep hold of. Ah well.
So, what next? I kinda still expect Walt to try to save Jesse from the Nazis, in a desperate bid to both recover his money and win back Jesse's approval. So then we get another triumphant few sequences of them working together, just like the old days, and after they've escaped, Jesse kills Walt, because it still doesn't make up for all that other shit. Probably he'll cry a lot as he does it. So, if we're playing predictions, there's mine.
Another good episode, then - not off-the-charts amazing, but loads of good character bits and exciting possibilities put into motion for the finale, which is now only a week away. This time next week, I will be typing up a Breaking Bad review, safe in the knowledge that I'll never get another new episode again. That's... almost more depressing than anything that might happen in the series. Nonetheless, very excited to see how Vince Gilligan and co will finish it.