Breaking Bad: Granite State, Review

Review Nick Harley 9/22/2013 at 11:38PM

Another superb episode of Breaking Bad. The problem is...what the hell are we gonna do with ourselves after the series finale?

Breaking Bad will not go quietly. Breaking Bad wants to break your heart in the worst way, sever the ties like the world’s worst ex-lover imaginable. Breaking Bad wants to crash your car, burn your house down, and leave you awestruck in the ashes. Other shows end, but this show leaves youBreaking Bad is preparing to leave you behind like an ABQ meth head, either begging for just one more batch of the blue, or saying, “stop this ride, I want to get off.”

Why would anyone try to kick this habit? Well I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this show has gotten pretty heavy lately. I’m considering the option of acquiring a prescription to anti-depressants just so I can watch next week’s finale without the impending certainty of an anxiety attack. "Granite Slate" continued the all out assault on your heart and felt like the perfect first chapter of an "epic television event." In the final moments of the episode, with the score pounding and the camera zipping through the bar as police burst through the door, it truly felt like the scope of what is ahead of us is greater than what any other television show has set out to do in its conclusion. We are watching the Beatles make Abbey Road knowing full well they’ll never produce another record. Is it worse seeing the gun?

But before we talk about the finale, we still have to talk about tonight. Jesse Pinkman has officially become Vince Gilligan’s personal whipping boy. Aaron Paul didn’t win an Emmy tonight, but to be fair, the voting panel didn’t see this episode, I guess. If they had, maybe we would actually get to see Paul cry tears of joy for once. His scene after Andrea’s shocking murder was utterly devastating. The reason you know Uncle Jack and his men are sincerely sick is because they watch Jesse’s confession tape, hear all that he’s been through, and still think that he’s soft. Andrea’s murder was like the icing on the most sadistic cake ever concocted. The worst part may have been how the show gave you the thrill of watching him escape. They feed you the guise that maybe Jesse’s going to get a win, then just rip the hope away like the Cleveland Browns (but hey, they won today, go figure).  

Todd continues to be completely unsettling. He’s the soft voice in a balaclava, the dead eyes behind some free Ben and Jerry’s. He is the special kind of evil that you’d unknowingly unlock your door for. I never thought I could get over Jesse Plemons being Landry on Friday Night Lights, but Landry has forever been erased by the evil that Todd is doing on this show.  The intimidation scene between Todd and Skylar was arresting and suspenseful, the quiet voices only adding to the tension. The scene with Lydia was awkwardly fascinating to watch Todd please the object of his affection with his drug peddling prowess. But better than both moments is when the camera pans away from the two and we see Todd picking lint off of the back of Lydia’s shirt. Little things like this are what Breaking Bad is all about.

[Related: Yeah Mr. White! Yeah Science! The 10 Most Exciting Uses of Science on Breaking Bad]

Walt’s journey to New Hampshire and his new life as Mr. Lambert was quiet but bubbling with menace, guilt, and potential. Watching Walt come to the revelation that his chips are down and that his body is weak was a hard thing to do. I even almost felt sorry for the guy as he tried to explain himself to his boy, as if it would mean anything. Walt can’t understand that maybe money couldn’t buy a father (or an uncle, for that matter). When the cancer would have gotten Walt, he would have at least had his Uncle for support. Not anymore. The best thing that happened in Walt’s scenes came towards the end, and it was a moment that I was waiting for to.

Ever since the show first introduced Grey Matter and the characters of Gretchen and Elliot, I had been waiting to hear more about the subject or more form the people. I knew the writers would figure them back into this somehow. Ever since we first heard the story, I’ve suspected that Walt’s falling out with Grey Matter was the real motivator for his quest for an empire. Whatever scorn he felt propelled him into the underbelly, and it was nice for him to face those demons right before he marched back into hell. The television interview of Elliot and Gretchen was a perfect moment, a reminder that things could have turned out very different for Walter White had he not been pushed to things. Gretchen says that Walter White is gone, and something tells me that this other guy, Lambert, he’s not going to be here for much longer.

The Best of the Rest

- Saul’s appearance in this episode was the perfect goodbye for the character, well, at least for his part in this series. Making him and Walt bunkmates was pretty ingenious and the callback to the “we’re done when I say we’re done,” scene was a great bit. Amongst Walt’s hacking, Saul says, “it’s over.”
- Skylar has been so strong and sensible in season five. Her interview the police was just another classic example of this strong woman doing the best she can to stand up for herself and her family.
- RJ Mite said no more breakfast, I want to act, and he’s been doing a hell of a job.
- For Walt’s crimes he must watch Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium for an eternity.
- Todd has great taste in ice cream. Americone Dream is super good.
- “If I said yes, would you believe me?” – Robert Forester in some inspired casting.

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this episode was like watching a really good movie. this has suppased TV now. 11/10.. most probably my favorite episode ever. at least in my top 3. better than last week even for me! and last week was amazing

Great review and a truly spectacular episode. You are write in saying that there is an air of significance about these final moments - the episode's parts were sublime, but the sum of them is somehow even greater. I felt myself forgetting Walt's crimes entirely in the final dozen minutes, and yet havent been on the Walt bandwagon since Brock, and loathed him so irreversibly last episode. Such inspirational talent on display!

Is it possible that Skyler gave the feds some information?

I think it is. I think she might have given them the information that Walter hates Gretchen and Elliot and the Grey Matter announcement is a trap. The feds are watching them waiting for Walt to show up. I think that's what the ricin is for. Walter is clever when he's not running with his emotions. If he thinks, he might get them. Ricin in a bottle of wine.

Is it possible? Perhaps. It's really Skyler's only move. Give the feds some information that can catch Walter without saying anything about masked men in the night and a certain brunette who really needs to be killed in her own right. Remember, she already went rogue once and tried to have some people killed and Mike was going to kill her for that. She's probably going to try to have Skyler killed, or continue to talk Todd into it. The real question: Is there enough time left in the series to tie up this end? Perhaps, one way or another.

*Who will find that barrel of cash?

*Will Walter get his chance to get even with Todd and his creepy family? A full on rush with machine guns won't help him, he's too sick. Trained DEA agents weren't able to take them down. Perhaps a truck filled with fertilizer would. It wouldn't be the first time Walter used explosives. Walter has got to get them all or they will kill his family. He's in a sticky situation.

*What will happen to Pinkman? Who does he hate the most now? It's a shame he didn't plan his escape more carefully. He should have waited until they were asleep, and he should have watched for cameras and motion detectors. While Walter is largely responsible, Jesse shares in the blame. He entered the business willingly. He was an adult. He could have walked away. If he had used his brains he could have gotten his ex and her boy to safety. But as always Jesse never really used his brains. He wasn't very smart and this is Jesse's legacy for the show. Maybe because of too much heavy pot smoking when he was young. It's a shame since he was one of the few persons to really get a Conscience. He just wasn't smart enough to use it.

*The surest way to get Todd and his buddies probably was to turn himself in quietly and tell them he'll only talk once his family is safe. But he screwed that up when he implied Hank was killed on Walter's orders.

*I would have thought some big shot lawyer would have stepped up for Skylar if the case had gotten on the national media. Any decent lawyer would have gone to the media and made a statement saying his client (Skylar and children) were the innocent victim but was being treated as a criminal by the feds, Blah blah blah, protective custody.

*The one big problem with the plot is any decent criminal would have had his money laundered. He could have had dozens of businesses through hundreds of shell corporations owned by shell corporations in Belize. Do a search for "Belize Planet Money". He could have quietly invested as a silent partner in businesses without revealing himself, through a third person, like Saul.

I wonder if the guys at NSA hates Breaking Bad, I bet they get a lot of hits on Breaking Bad forums, message boards, blogs and such.

Its an interesting theory, but, meh, i don't know. Its so far fetched that : They would know Walt was going to be watching that one show, at that exact time, and that's the only thing that really seems to keep it from possibly being a brilliant ploy to : flush him out. If they were really trying that, i think : they would have put something about it in one of those newspapers he read as well, and he already would have been working on that revenge. And, while i'm here, why in the hell would he take such a risk to grab that ricin? Going all the way back to his old home like that? He can MAKE ricin, that's where the ricin came from in the first place.

Probably been thrown out there before but, but how bout this for an end to Walter. He suffers a brain injury from a gun shot or bad reaction to chemo or maybe a stroke. Winds up semi-vegetative in a Nursing Home in a wheel chair with a dinger on the arm. Ted drives Skyler and the kids over to see him one last time. That should do it for me.