Breaking Bad #508: Poetic justice
Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but I had nightmares after last night's "finale." I will put spoilers after the jump, but here I will say that at least some of those nightmares involved baby Holly toddling around with that uncovered, not-fenced-in pool five feet from the back door of her house. I don't know whether Junior pushing the baby around the perimeter of the pool while the adults chatted happily in the foreground was supposed to fill me with dread, but it did. Are there no parents working on this show?
Now on to other intimations of danger...
How will I make it to next summer knowing Hank is finally on Walt's trail??? The Hank-gets-dangerously-close sequences have always been terrific. And now that Walt has thoroughly lost my sympathy (that prison-killings sequence was so chilling, and I think the way it was presented shows that the creators know we're no longer rooting for Walt at all), Hank is the new hero, as Emily Nussbaum predicted:
To escape this moral checkmate, Gilligan might shift yet another character into the foreground, revealing that the show is actually (as a friend suggested) a hero's tale in disguise. In that version of Breaking Bad, the protagonist is not Walt but Hank, a man with no children. Despite injury and depression, Hank brings down a vast drug ring, even when he discovers that the kingpin is his own brother-in-law, a sneering brainiac who has always considered himself superior. But because Hank is decent, and the show is on the side of good, Hank triumphs. That ending would have the virtue of symmetry, and pleasure, and closure, and relief, for the suffering audience.
"Right now, however," she adds, "its easier to imagine someone innocent coming to harm." Yes, especially with that pool and the chronically undersupervised baby!! Ahem. Or, maybe the one who comes to harm is Hank. Will the last half-season find Walt considering killing his brother-in-law? Once that would have been unthinkable. But now, by the end of last night's episode, I have to ask, Who wouldn't Walt kill to stay on top? (Even though that raises a further question: on top of what?) Whatever happens, next summer's episodes ought to be good and wrenching.
Questions I have: did Walt really mean it when he told Skyler he was out? My first thought was "What game is he playing now?" But he seemed sincere, and I took the final sequence to mean that he really did want to retire on his earnings and go back to family life. (And now justice will catch up with him. It's like the Hayes code says: crime must not pay.) So, if he really did quit, what does that mean for Todd? And for Lydia? I'm guessing we'll see more of the Czech Republic scheme, and I'm certain we'll see more of Todd. I haven't forgotten that he's (apparently) more dangerous than Walt seems to appreciate.
How could Walt have been dumb enough to leave that Walt Whitman book out where Hank (or anyone else) could see it? Did he do it on purpose? Or had he never noticed the very incriminating inscription? ("Dear Walt, Thank you for teaching me to cook such good meth. 'W.W.' stands for your name. Love, Gale.")
Other questions? Predictions? What do you want to see happen (or, what do you dread happening) in the last eight episodes? And who's going to get that ricin?
About the Author
Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.