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Breaking Bad delivers one of this season's best episodes and it does it by building magnificent tension without any of the fireworks it has had to resort to throughout this season or last year's finale.
Well, the big revelation by Hank at the end could certainly count as fireworks, as his brain was surely ready to explode. It’s Gale Boetticher, the first man Walt and Jesse didn't "have" to kill, that is going to bring the whole thing down from the grave. A little internet research shows that we never see Gale give Walt the book, but I know we have seen it before tonight and I could take Walt's indifference to Gale's moves of friendship for Walt not realizing the passage in the notebook Hank found at the scene was also in a book sitting on his toilet. But we aren't here to talk about possible minor plot holes; we are here to discuss this excellent half-season finale of the best show on television.
Todd and Walt dispose of Mike's car and body, and they then proceed to make a ton of meth. Not without making a new deal with Lydia though, who was one mis-step from getting a dash of ricin in her coffee. Lydia plays to Walt perfectly, stroking his ego and offering him the world in an international network that will put "the blue stuff" in the Czech Republic. Lydia lives, "and boy does the money role in."
We get an excellent montage of three months of work by Walt, Todd and team and the piles of money seem to be never ending. The montage is set to a brilliant song choice, 'Crystal Blue Persuasion', and it served as a nice little recap of where everyone in the business currently is. My favorite bit was Saul pouring himself a drink after taking his latest payoff. The money amounts to a storage unit sized pile of cash, more than Skyler could ever dream of laundering, and Walt, finally, seriously faces the question, how much is enough?
Before we get to Walt's answer, we must get rid of a whole mess of snitches in prison. Everyone is ready to roll over on Mike and Fring, but Walt has other plans for them. Todd’s uncle, a nasty neo-Nazi type, with the inside track on prisons comes into play and Walt lays out a plan with him and his guys to get them all in a two minute window. I love seeing Walt’s Heisenberg in this episode’s early scenes and Walt starring at that painting while these guys plan 10 murders is just chilling. The murder montage, played to a peppy big band number, was incredible. Brutal, affective and it all goes according to plan. The scene is masterful and takes the cake as the best scene of the episode; and one of the high points for the season. I hope I never go to prison and am then assassinated in such a grizzly way.
So the Fring loose-ends are tied up, the money is pouring in and Walt is faced with that big question; how much is enough? Walt starts taking a step in the right direction by giving Jesse his owed buy-money of five million. It didn’t play so simply though, as the scene in Jesse’s living room was one of the most intense of the season. The tension created by two guys reminiscing has never been greater and it was great to see Jesse still on edge three months after their last encounter.
We find out Jesse knows about Mike from Saul and he is legitimately terrified of Walt. The scene goes without incident though and we quickly find out that Walt is out, the family is back in, and everything is happy again. It’s that bomb of a discovery in Walt’s bathroom by Hank that blows up the calm family get together that I thought for sure might turn into a massacre. The tragedy of it all already hurts; great stuff.
So we only have eight episodes of Breaking Bad left (and months to wait for them), and we don’t really have any clues as to what might be going on in the season’s flash forward cold open. Walt being on the run from the DEA is pretty obvious, but I can’t imagine Hank walking out and confronting Walt in the opener of the second half of the season next year. Whatever happens, I am sure it will be worth the wait, as Vince Gilligan and team have the show tee’d up for potentially fantastic final eight episodes. Until next summer…
Lots of thoughts:
-Jesse is out, but that fly has got to mean something, or just a symbol of his lost team.
-Uh oh, laundry mat man.
-Heisenberg Hat! Feeling cocky.
-I'm glad we didn't see disposed Mike.
-"What do you want exactly?" Good question, Walt?
-"You'll blow their hair back." Stroke his ego, nice Lydia.
-Take credit for something you can't disprove, again, nice Lydia.
-Czech Republic, eh, quite the empire.
-Oh snap, just in case her drink needed a little bit of ricin.
-Ricin still in play, Lydia passed the test.
-These look like some bad dudes Todd knows.
-I'm excited for the Godfather-esque montage.
-"Just not the way you want it." Walt doesn't like those words.
-Heisenberg makes me smile.
-Here we go.
-Wow! Anybody survive?
-Hank had to be more pissed than that.
-Haunting imagery, baby bouncing on his knee, right in Hank's own house.
-Does Walt feel guilty at all for screwing Hank?
-"Tagging trees is a lot better than chasing monsters." Line of the night.
-Crystal Blue Persuasion, how did it take this long to use this song? It’s perfect here.
-Fistbump, amazing editing here; touching base with everyone.
-Marie's rug is even purple!
-Holy shit! That's a lot of money.
-Uh oh, back at the doctor. Is Walt going to want to go out with a bang.
-I think they would have fixed that towel dispenser by now.
-Give him his five million, Walt.
-Good call, Jesse, moving that bong out of ricin range.
-Enough with the small talk, Walt; taking a trip down memory lane.
-Tensest small talk ever.
-Lydia doesn't want product to stop flowing.
-This setting is way too happy.
-Gale's book is the Chekhov Gun.