After the adrenaline pumping emotionally draining exploits last week, this episode slows things down but is no less gripping. The episode opens with Saul, now needing to take advantage of his own fixer, finding to his surprise that he actually operates out of a real vacuum cleaner store. But he isn’t the only resident in the way station to anonymity; Walt is still waiting to be moved on and is none too happy about it. With the odd couple now thrown together for the next few days, Walt attempts to have Saul contact a team of hit men in order to seek revenge on Uncle Jack. Saul though, seems to have finally reached his limit in going above and beyond for Walt and refuses to help him. He even offers “a nickels worth of advice” and suggests that to save his family from further persecution he should turn himself in.
This enrages Walt who flies into full Heinsberg mode before the all to grim reality of his situation brings him crashing down to earth as he falls to his knees in a furious fit of coughing and wheezing. Uncle Jack and his gang are seen watching Jesse’s confession tape that they stole from Hanks home. When Jesse recounts Todd gunning down the young boy, Todd smiles with sickening pride. Jack has had enough of Jesse “whining like a pussy” and goes out to shoot him. Todd talks him out of this and during the conversation it becomes apparent that he is doing so in order to impress Lydia, who Todd has developed a crush on. After returning home from her disorientating meeting with the prosecutors Skyler attempts to relax at home but when she goes to check on Holly she is confronted by 3 masked men led by Todd.
The scene was as frightening as any horror film in recent memory. The initial reveal was skillfully handled and the tension was racked up to almost unbearable levels as the squishy-faced psycho threatened Skyler with unnerving politeness. Jesse Plemons has been a cracking addition to the cast. For fans worried that it would be impossible to follow a villain as brilliant as Gustavo Fring, Todd has been a worthy replacement. His “aw shucks” manners masking simmering violence have been a nerve-shredding treat to watch. His “date” with Lydia where he reveals to now be in possession of 92% pure blue intrigues her to continue with their “mutually good” relationship. The moment when Todd removes a stray hair from the back of Lydia’s coat was positively skin crawling.
Walt, meanwhile, has been brought to his new digs in a remote part of New Hampshire with minimal supplies including brilliantly not one but two copies of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Ed warns Walt that he is not to leave the house and he will return in a month with any other supplies he requires. Back at Camp Nazi, Jesse is doing his best MacGyver impression and successfully removes his handcuffs using a paper clip and after climbing out of his own personal hell has his freedom cruelly snatched from him as Jack’s thugs corner him. Begging them to just kill him as he won’t cook for them and has nothing left to lose. Jesse is then given a horrifying reminder of the depths of Todd’s depravity as he is driven to Andrea’s house and forced to sit and watch as Todd murders her in front of his eyes. Aaron Paul was simply stunning in this scene as he presses his face into the car window letting out a heartbreaking cry but is not allowed to grieve for long as Jesse is reminded that they can still murder Brock.
We then skip ahead a few months and now see Walt receiving his latest delivery from Ed who, along with newspapers, also brings Walt treatment for his cancer. After the last episode when Walt revealed to Jesse his involvement in Jane’s death, I remarked that no matter what the writers had in store for Walt for the rest of the series I could never be on his side again…it took them 20 minutes to break me. When a frail, lonely Walt begs Ed for just a few hours company and then has to resort to paying him for his time, it was hard not to recall the Walter White from earlier in the show who has, as would be remarked later, the “sweet, kind brilliant man” and not the Heinsberg demonic character he became. That night when his wedding ring falls from his finger, Walt decides he will have one last attempt at providing for his family. Walt makes his way to a bar in the neighboring town and tricks Walter Jr. into taking his call. He tries to arrange for his son to take money from him but Walt Jr. wants nothing further from his father except to “just die already”. Realizing now, perhaps for the first time, that the family he sold his soul to try to provide for is now irreparably broken and all he has suffered for has apparently been for nothing. Broken and accepting of his fate Walt calls the DEA and sits at the bar to await his arrest.
Before he can enjoy a final drink as a free man, Walt happens upon an interview with his Gray Matter colleagues Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz who, due to their association with a drug kingpin, find their company under threat and attempt to distance themselves from Walt by minimizing his involvement in the company. They go so far as to say that his involvement started and ended with the company name. During the course of the show you get the impression that of all the danger and perceived slights Walt has found himself on the end of, turning his back on both Gretchen and the company is the one that hurts him the most. Memorably remarking to Jesse that every day he checks the stock price as if he should start every morning by punishing himself for his failures. As the police arrive at the bar we find that Walt has fled and another gripping episode comes to a close. If last weeks episode was about the characters descent into hell, this was certainly one were they faced there individual purgatory.
Walt isolated, watching as his body gradually betrays him sitting in front of a barrel of his legacy powerless to use it for any means. Skyler facing that fact that she will be forever defined as a drug baron’s wife and Jesse facing a Theon Greyjoy like existence forced to be shackled to the life he tried to leave behind. Vince Gilligan has one hour left to wrap up his opus. Walt’s M60 indicates this show isn’t going out with a whimper. It is literally and figuratively going out all guns blazing.
4.5 out of 5 nerds