Last night’s episode of Breaking Bad proved that The Walking Dead isn’t the only AMC show that knows how to make good use of a special effects budget. Season 4 went out with a bang and one very, very curious little twist thrown in at the end as it would appear that Walter White has crossed yet another line.
Walter White’s slow but steady evolution into the dark, calculating man he’s become is one of the things that keeps this show on its toes. Just when we think we’ve seen the very worst of him, he goes and does something else. The fourth season of the AMC drama series saw Gustavo dead. The entire season seemed to be building up to this. Either Gus was going to die or Walter was. Despite all of Gus’ experience and instincts, Walter finally got the best of him.
Using Tio, who is possibly the only remaining living person who wants Gus dead as much as (if not more than) Walt does, was a stroke of genius in some respects, and a little obvious in others. Once upon a time, we might not have figured Walt to be the kind of guy to encourage an elderly man to suicide-bomb himself in an effort to take out a foe, but those days are long gone and Gus should have realized that. He did, eventually, but it was too late by then. Walt gave Gus a few seconds to process what was happening, as Tio’s wheelchair-bomb didn’t go off the first time he hit the bell. Given how often we’ve heard that bell ring over the course of the series, a few more clipped dings seemed like fitting parting words from Tio, whose eyes said much more than his bell could anyway.
Following the explosion, which seemed set up not to do much damage beyond Tio’s immediate radius, Gus strolled out of the nursing home room and straightened his tie, appearing to be stunned but OK. Then we saw the reactions on the faces of the attendants coming to his aid from his right. Pan around to the front of Gus and sure enough, half of his face has been blasted away and he’s looking like Two Face. Then he collapses, dead. Gross? Without a doubt the most horrific thing to ever be shown on this series, and that includes topping the head-on-a-turtle scene. Amazing? Ok, kind of.
Skylar’s reaction to learning that her husband is the man behind the bombing at the nursing home does well to remind us that, just as we will, she will once again have to decide if she can continue to stand behind this man. While Walter is literally declaring victory, three people in a nursing home are dead. Granted, they weren’t exactly good people. Tio and Gus would’ve been happy to see Walt dead, but still, Skyler can now say that her husband is the kind of man who bombs a nursing home... because he is.
Is Walter also the kind of man who poisons a child in an effort to manipulate Jesse? That seems to be what the final scene indicated. Jesse learned that it wasn’t the ricin that poisoned Brock, but some berry from a plant called Lily of the Valley. This revelation doesn’t come until after Gus is dead, and Jesse sort of shrugs it off, telling Walt (and himself) that even if Gus didn’t poison Brock, Gus had to go. While that certainly weakened their justification for killing Gus, he was sort of right, from Walt’s perspective anyway.
The last shot we see is what appears to be Walter White’s backyard and near the edge of the perimeter is a plant labeled “Lily of the Valley.” I’m taking this to mean Walter did, in fact, poison Brock. Or we’re meant to spend the duration between Season 4 and 5 thinking that, anyway. While Walt convinced Jesse that Gus poisoned Brock as a way to manipulate him into wanting to kill Walt, it was really Walt who poisoned Brock, intending to use it to turn Jesse against Gus and re-gain his loyalty. If that’s the case, his plan worked beautifully. Walt did in fact “win.” Not only did he best Gus, but he undid all of Gus’ efforts to separate Jesse from Walt.
Last night we learned that Walter White is the kind of man who brings a bomb into a hospital and a nursing home, who convinces a man to be a suicide-bomb, and he’s the kind of man who would poison a kid if it means getting things back to the way they were. Sure, Brock was ok, but if the kid had died, would Walter have even felt remorseful? Does his mind even process right and wrong on any kind of sane level anymore? Or is he so far removed from the man he once was that he’d put innocent lives on the line to protect his own interests? Some things to ponder while we wait for Season 5!