Another season of Breaking Bad goes out with a [metaphor that will surely be abused in other recaps of this episode]. As usual, the finales of this show end not on cliffhangers but at the foot of an emotional cliff we’ve spent all season falling off of. The startling trick is that you realize this crater is itself on the crumbling precipice of whatever horrors next season will bring. In other words, great television!
Gus Fring — the man, the myth, the legend — finally gets the closure he deserves, though surely not the ending he would have wanted. If Giancarlo Espositio is not officially recognized for his work on this character, then I will insist on the convening of a human rights abuse tribunal. Step away from the Don Draper for a moment, people. Don will still be there when you want him to slap you around again.
And yes, it turns out Walt poisoned little Brock in order to bring Jesse back to his side of homicide. Gus getting involved in that scheme just never made correct sense, and we all knew there was really only one other explanation. But it would certainly have represented a new and irredeemable low for Walt. And it’s a low he has comfortably made a new home in, to all appearances. This guarantees, in my mind, a full comeuppance for Walt in the final season in regards to his various crimes against Jesse, both this poisoning and the euthanasia of Jesse’s girlfriend, among others. And since either of these crimes would be unforgivable, one can’t really put a limit on the possible punitive response.
In honor of the finale we have some other special treats coming shortly (stay tuned), but meanwhile: For this final gallery of Breaking Bad moments, we’re retiring all the usual categories of awards and making special cases for the standouts represented by this episode and the season. Enjoy.
BEST POTENTIALLY LETHAL USE OF AN INNOCENT NEIGHBOR: In a maneuver appropriate to an early David Lynch villain, Walt sends this well-meaning biddy into the nest of cobras lurking in his home. The snakes choose to retire than pop the old lady, but one gathers Walt wouldn’t have minded much either way as long as he avoided facing them himself. Further argument to never trade housekeys with anyone.
MOST CHEERFUL CAMEO: I hope the lil’ ol’ lady who nearly gave Walt away with her chipper greetings at the nursing home was somebody’s gramma who got the part out of love, and I hope she brought her own pink spectacles. I was really hoping she’d get a scene with Tyrus, as those two could have really played off each other.
BEST SCOLDING: Nurse Bingo sure gives it to Hector over those nasty things he made her almost spell at the DEA. Why don’t you just sit there for awhile and think about what you’ve done, you naughty nelly! Perhaps this scolding is what finally drove Hector to suicide bombing.
OH MY GOD DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT AWARD, POSTHUMOUS: Hector “Tio” Salamanca is a man of few words. Pretty much “ding” makes up his entire vocabulary. But here’s an expression that pretty much says it all. An utter bastard to the end, Hector gets to blast Gus to bits in a way so gloriously operatic that he deserves his own narcocorrido, if there were any cartel members left to commission it.
GOING OUT IN STYLE AWARD, POSTHUMOUS: Oh Gus, I’m so sad to lose you, though I think we all knew this was coming one way or another. Even so, what a way to go. Meticulous to the end. He may be missing half his face, but Gus is not going to lie down an die with a loose knot in that tie. Bravo, Mr. Fring. We never learned the real story behind your mysterious Chilean origin, but it was enough to make even your Mexican cartel enemies reluctant to kill you. Perhaps your messy demise will finally provoke an extreme sanction from way, way down south next season.
MOST EVIL: We can’t very well retire this most important of categories without handing it off to Walt. He kills people without remorse or hesitation now, as well with a great deal of premeditation. And yes, he poisoned a child. He “won,” as he tells Skyler. But he’s now certainly no better than any other villain on this show, morally speaking. So it’s very difficult to understand how one can still feel sympathy for him. It’s a perverse thing, rooting for an antihero. But just as with Gus, when or if Walt is ultimately destroyed, it will likely be both extremely satisfying and regretfully sad. Much like all the rest of Breaking Bad.
‘Breaking Bad’ 4.01 Recap: The Unkindest Cut ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.02 Recap: House Party ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.03 Recap: There Is No Spoon ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.04 Recap: Ear Apparent ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.05 Recap: Oh My God Shut Up Walt ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.06 Recap: A Challenger Appears ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.07 Recap: The 13th Step ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.08 Recap: The Brothers McMeth ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.09 Recap: Ultimate Meth Chemist Fighting Championship ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.10 Recap: Shots by the Pool ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.11 Recap: Bad Trip ‘Breaking Bad’ 4.12 Recap: Do It