Breaking Bad is going to end with Walt getting the ricin out of his old house and then using it on his last remaining enemy – himself. In the last moments of the show he’s not going to murder Jesse, or Skyler, or Hank, or anyone else. He’s just going to kill himself in a way that will look legit and no one will go digging into a violent death, uncover his secrets and take his money away from his family.
Flash back to the “present” of this post:
At the beginning of the first half of the season, I wrote a Breaking Bad post discussing how I wanted to do more than just speculate on what was going to happen next. Well, tonight clearly I’m gonna do the reverse, so let’s all keep playing the speculation game: how is Breaking Bad going to end and why has Walt gone back to the house that has become Skater HQ?
By this point even your third grade social studies teacher who never watches TV has heard that Vince Gilligan called this a show about Mr. Chips becoming Scarface. And the huge gun in the trunk at the flashforward of Season 5.1 certainly seemed to tease that he was going to have a “Say hello to my little friend” moment before the end of the series. I imagine the laws of Chekhov will come into play, and there will be some big shootout to give the viewers what they want, but I still don’t think Walt is going out in a blaze of glory.
Because yeah, Mr. Chips has become Scarface, and that’s what the show was about on a certain level. But more than that, it’s also a show about how ANY of us Mr. & Ms. Chips could end up turning into a total shitbag, even with the very best of intentions. It’s a show about one little decision that seems perfectly logical and even very right leading to another little decision that leads to a difficult situation where you have to make one more difficult decision that takes you down a road of several more until one day you look in the mirror and realize that suddenly you’ve become The One Who Knocks, and everything is very wrong.
But the key is that throughout the entire process, any rational person would think that you're still Mr. Chips, and you're just reacting to the hand that you've been dealt.
“I know meth is bad, but isn’t leaving my family with nothing worse?”
“I don’t want to kill anyone, but if I don’t this guy will kill me, so it’s not like I really have a choice!”
“Usually I like all animals, but this fly could seriously fuck up the cleanliness of my lab, and I really like it when things are clean!”
So you make each decision, and you go down the path, and you say and do terrible things that completely negate all of your original goals, but you don’t see yourself for who you are until some random event makes everything click.
And even though Walt has done so much already, he still hasn’t had his Look in the Mirror moment and truly realized who he’s become. When he does that, he’ll start one last plan based on one last decision that he’ll think he’s making for the best intentions.
Of course, there was also plenty of suicidal foreshadowing in this week’s episode, “Confessions,” so it’s an easier assumption to make now than it was last week. At the Taqueria with the Greatest Waiter since Office Space when Hank and Marie sit across from Walt and Skyler, Marie comes right out and tells Walt that if he really wants to help he could just kill himself. And in that moment Walt’s face registers: that's actually an option he hasn’t considered yet!
Then when Hank and Marie watch the “confession” video that Walt has made, he himself says, “I’ve thought about suicide, but I’m a coward.” Of course, Walt is 100% full of shit in that entire video, and I don’t think he’s thought of suicide since he tried to shoot himself in the head in the pilot when he thought the cops were about to bust him, but it gives the audience another glimpse into what’s coming so we won’t be quite so blindsided.
Later in the episode, Walt meets Jesse in the desert to ask him about his interrogation and give him some good fatherly advice that basically boils down to, “You’re young, you still have a lot of money. And I’ll give you more! You should go anywhere in the world you want and start a new life! Think about how awesome that would be!”
But Jesse’s been through too much, so he hears everything Walt’s saying as, “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us. Get out of here by sunset or I will straight up murder your ass.” And Jesse’s had enough of all that bullshit, so he calls Walt on it.
But here’s the thing – Walt wasn’t bullshitting Jesse. Deep down, Walt still believes he’s Mr. Chips, and in this particular conversation he really was trying to help Jesse. After all, if he wanted Jesse dead he would have just killed him.
Walt just can’t see himself that way, until Jesse loses his shit and holds one last mirror up to Walt. “You’ll kill me if I don’t leave, won’t you?”
Walt goes blank for a minute, then he walks over and hugs Jesse. Because he realizes that Jesse totally has every reason to think he’s threatening him; he’s threatened him before.
And that’s probably one of the first times Walt has been in full Mr. Chips mode and had someone tell him, “But dude, you’re Scarface!”
Jesse takes Walt up on the offer and puts the plan in motion to leave town, but then right at the last moment a Very Convenient Plot Device featuring a mysterious man in a minivan who can give you a brand new identity but is SUPER against marijuana for some reason leads Jesse to realize that his suspicions about Walt and ricin and poison were right all along. He gets really mad, buys some gasoline and starts throwing it all over Walt’s house… and we cut to black.
Clearly there will be more of a showdown between these two, and there’s still the issue of Todd calling Walt and talking about their train heist with Nazis, and all of the other reasons that Walt will understand how everyone else sees him and what he’s become, and he’ll learn that he can never truly retire from being a drug kingpin.
There’s a lot more to discuss, and I imagine a bunch of you will disagree with me. So let’s talk! How ‘bout that guacamole?