Walt in the Granite State - or in a Dizzy State from Propane Fumes

Granite State

Bad Ass Quote of the Week

Settle down.  Settle down.  Hey remember!  There’s still the kid.” – Uncle Jack Welker

Thoughts on “Granite State”

Sure, this episode could be entitled “Granite State” because Walt goes to New Hampshire, but I think it’s because pretty much every character has hit rock bottom.  Except for Todd, whose sense of empathy is just stone like.

The first words that came out of my mouth when I was watching this episode were, “Oh Yeah!” when I saw that Robert Forster was cast as Ed the Dissapearrerer.  Season 4 may have been the nod to “Scarface” with Steven Bauer (Don Eladio) and Mark Margolis (Tio Hector Salamanca), but Season 5 is for “Jackie Brown” with Michael Bowen (Uncle Jack) and Robert Forster.  I loved Forster’s character Max Cherry in “Jackie Brown” and so does Vince Gilligan, as he mentioned in this week’s “Breaking Bad Insider Podcast”.  The characters of Ed and Max Cherry seem quite similar, and it makes sense that Ed was based on Max, and the role was written for Forster to play.  What a great treat!

Ed’s calm practiced manner shows his experience and professionalism in what he does, and it is a good counterpoint to Saul’s disheveled appearance (who didn’t laugh at that “hair flip”?) and uncertain demeanour.  Saul’s character has always had two main facets.  His desire to maximize his own profit, and saving his own skin from danger.  Saul also knows his business, and when he’s applying that knowledge he’s very sure of himself.  However, when his skin is in danger, he does get a frazzled, worried countenance.  He does not like dealing with situations where he does not have all the answers and has to deal with uncertainty.

Saul is making the right call though – getting the heck out-of-town fast!

Similarly, Walt doesn’t like to be out of control either, but in contrast to Saul, he is raging that he is confined in hiding, and is impotent to take the actions he wants to take.  The fight hasn’t gone out of him.

Impotent is also a good word for the empty promises SAC Ramey is making to Marie about finding Hank and Gomez as he drives her home.  Marie is pretty much dazed and disconnected, and we only see her brief startled reaction when they discover that Flintstone Manor has been broken into (by the Uncles of Anarchy in order to secure Jesse’s DEA confession recording).  This is the only time we see her in this episode, and we are given no hints as to how her life goes during the large time jump that occurs by the end of it.  I really am curious to discover how she has dealt with the loss of her husband in the months that followed.  A little bit of shoplifting to try to feel she is in control again perhaps?

It’s TV night at the neo-nazi compound, and the guys are enjoying take-out food, beers and Jesse’s confession video.  I was wondering in my article on Episode 512 – “Rabid Dog” just how far Jesse went in his confession, and it’s now clear that Jesse didn’t leave anything out, including the graphic details of when he shot Gale Boetticher.

Todd, the “Opie, dead-eyed piece of shit” (as Jesse refers to him) smiles slightly and is proud of his killing Drew Sharp (Episode 505 – “Dead Freight”)  Not only are his emotions wired completely wrong, I think he is also happy that Uncle Jack and the crew are seeing this, that it shows them what a bad ass he is, just like them.

I speculated (in my article on Episode 514 – “Ozymandias”)  that Jack and the crew would have no interest in cooking meth anymore now that they have $70 million.   Getting Jesse to help him raise the standards of the meth was all Todd’s plan in order to impress Lydia and somehow try to satisfy his schoolboy crush on her.  Now we see that’s exactly the case, as Jack susses out, and he’s willing to indulge his nephew, ‘The heart wants what the heart wants.”  Jack’s soft spot for Todd is the only thing that spares Jesse’s life.

Walt still thinks he has power, and that he can reclaim what is his, “all of it!”  This is clearly delusional, his mad scribbling of his plans on a notepad (using his remaining barrel full of money as a desk) really underlines how obsessed he is.  This is one of Walt’s big character flaws.  He thinks he is being logical and thinking things through when he is really just reacting in anger and frustration.  Saul’s advice that the best thing he could do for his family is to turn him self in, use his money to perhaps “soothe some troubled waters”, and spend his final days knowing he has at least done something to help his family is really the right solution (like I mentioned above, Saul does know his stuff).  Walt won’t take the time for even a deep breath to pause and think about things in this way though.  Speaking of breath, Walt tries to deliver the same threat to Saul, “It’s not over until I say it’s over”, that he did in Episode 501 – “Live Free or Die”, but collapses in a fit of coughing before he can get the words out.  Saul is right again, “It’s over.”

Skyler’s questioning by the DEA lawyers put her into the same disconnected state that Walt’s cancer diagnosis did to him in Episode 101 – “Pilot”.  Ed is right later on when he says that her public defender looks like a “deer in the headlights”.  Being asked to “rack her brain” to come up with information that she simply doesn’t have, is akin to Walt’s diagnosis, it’s the end of her (and her children’s) lives as they know it.

Saul said that the authorities would recover anything obtained by the family through ill-gotten gains.  I wonder if “Eyebrows” Bogdan gets the car wash back?

The truth is, Skyler does have something she can rack her brain for to help out the DEA, her knowledge of Lydia.  Todd effectively puts a stop to that when he terrifies Skyler by invading the home (while it is under police surveillance) and threatening her and the kids.  His words to Skyler, “I’m going to need you to say it.” parroted Uncle Jack saying, “I need to know we’re square.” to Walt in “Ozymandias”.  More hair-raising behaviour from Todd, he used the same “hand on the shoulder” move when threatening Skyler, as he did when he was trying to connect with Lydia in Episode 513 – “To’hajiilee”.  That kid just isn’t right.

Speaking of Lydia, someone has finally indulged her clandestine “meeting back to back in a restaurant” cloak and dagger routine, and of course it’s the puppy-love filled Todd (who has also taken up tea drinking I notice).  It’s just so ridiculous though, that Todd is pretty much turned to face her any way, and she is using hand gestures.   You would imagine she could at least think of putting in a bluetooth headset or something like that to try to help with the charade.  To me, this just emphasizes the fact that she’s out of her league, and she has been very lucky surviving in the drug business so far.  Her nervous nature is not misplaced in light of this.  Once again she has a chance to get out of the meth trade, to take the oodles of money she must now have, and live in relative safety with her precious daughter, but she is tempted again now that Todd (well, Jesse really) has the purity up to 92 %.  I’ve said it before – I really want to know what motivates this woman to keep doing this – is it just simple greed?   Todd grins happily that the 92 % purity has impressed Lydia – as if he was the one that cooked the meth.   He picks lint off of the back of Lydia’s jacket when the scene ends.

Lydia poses a real danger to Skyler – she clearly does not like the idea of Skyler remaining alive to potentially identify her.  I have been wondering how Lydia will be brought into the equation when Walt returns to Albuquerque, and I’m leaning towards it having to do with Lydia’s paranoia about Skyler.  If Skyler decides to go back on her word to Todd and reveal Lydia to the DEA, this would prompt Lydia to order Skyler’s death.   I think Lydia would then become a prime candidate for some ricin in her stevia rich chamomile.

Can you imagine the misery of travelling three days in an empty propane tank?  That couldn’t have been good for Walt’s lungs.  The cabin is pretty sparse, but at least he has two copies of the movie “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”, a movie that was not very highly regarded by critics, but does have some small parallels with Walt’s situation.  The movie is about a man who is dying, and tries to pass along his magic to a new generation.  I think it  is funnier, though, that Ed says, “I’m not much of a movie guy.”, in direct contrast with the character played by Robert Forster in “Jackie Brown”.

Walt is dismissive of Ed when he is given the advice not to leave “the reservation” as he will be caught, and he waves Ed away as if to say, “I’m done with you if you can’t or won’t help me conduct my business.”   The Heisenhat makes its first appearance in this final half season, although for now, it seems to be more about foreshadowing things to come.  I suppose the three days breathing in propane fumes have had an effect on him, as he rethinks his plan to go to town to try to conduct some business.  That, or perhaps he finally has had enough of a pause to realise that it’s not the time act rashly any more.

Todd is pulling more “Silence of the Lambs” stuff on Jesse (like the “Hannibal” stuff he did last week in “Ozymandias”), by lowering ice cream to Jesse in a bucket.   He’s truly a sociopath and has no idea of how to relate to others.  It almost seems like he thinks he and Jesse are friends, or at least co-workers at this moment.  A little later he is able to lure Andrea out of her house and execute her in sight of Jesse, saying, “Just so you know, this isn’t personal”.  Yeah, we all want to see Todd go down in the finale, and hopefully with some suffering.  Just so he knows, it will be personal.

On Jesse’s side, I suppose he did need to try to escape, just once, if it was within his means (great upper body strength for a guy that has been beaten up and kept in a cement dungeon).   It’s unsettling though, as he was aware of the threat to Andrea and Brock’s lives from their photo being in the new meth lab.   He doesn’t care about his life any more, and tells the Uncles of Anarchy that he is done, and to kill him.  Well, they know just what to do to re-motivate him.  I don’t know what Jesse’s ultimate fate is going to be and I feel that he has been tortured enough for his crimes.  That said though, I don’t think the torture can ever leave his mind, and the dismal prospect is that he does not want to continue living, and may not be capable of existence any more.  Crushing.

Things are getting bad for Walt, having been in his cabin for several months, his vision is even beginning to go.  I’m sure that receiving just one chemo treatment a month (nice touch using the deer antler as an IV stand) isn’t sufficient.   He also must be suffering knowing that his family is living in poverty – Skyler is supporting them by dispatching taxis part-time.  Even the isolation is finally closing in on him, and he has to bribe Ed with $10,000 for just an hour of company.  Ed’s a straight shooter, and will continue his obligations to Walt, until Walt finally dies, but they both know that Walt’s money is going to end up Ed’s when that happens.   I loved the symbolism of Ed dealing “two kings” from the deck of cards, representing them both – Walt is one king, waiting to die, and the money will then go to Ed, the king in waiting.  This also echoed the king on the chess board seen at the end of “Ozymandias”.

It’s a pity that AMC hasn’t put the newspaper clippings about the Heisenberg case online for us to look at to fill in some of the gaps about what is going on in Albuquerque, just as they provided the Gale Boetticher case file in Season 4.

The deterioration of Walt’s health continues to the point where his weight loss results in his wedding ring falling off (very symbolic of his loss of family), and he secures it around his neck with a bit of string.  I have a feeling that this may be the final thing Walt looks at when he meets his demise.

Walt’s got one hope left to try to “ensure” the future of his family – by filling the box that the “Ensure” bottles came in with cash, and trying to get it to the family undetected.  What a step down from the beginning of this episode, when Walt insisted to Saul that he would get “all of it” for his family, and now he can only attempt to send them a minuscule fraction of it.  After months in the cabin and nearing the end of his strength, this is the only thing within his limited power that he can try to do.

Of course, his family wants nothing to do with him or his money.  He’s responsible for Hank’s death and he’s destroyed the family’s way of life.  No money can buy forgiveness for that.   Walt “Flynn” Junior uses the same words he did in Episode 104 – “Cancer Man” to snuff out Walt’s last hope, asking Walt, “Why don’t you just die already?”

Great acting by Bryan Cranston showing Walt’s complete defeat here.  That’s it.  There is nothing left to do, but to give himself up, just as Saul counselled him to do four or five months earlier (at the beginning of the episode).  He calls the DEA in Albuquerque, giving them his name, and leaves the phone off the hook so that the authorities can trace his location and come and get him.   Time for a final drink in freedom, some Dimple Pinch scotch.

Even at this lowest darkest moment, the show has to put in a little joke, although it would be easy to miss, and I only caught it on my third viewing of the episode as I am writing this article.   When the bartender is flipping channels on the TV, you very briefly hear the voice of “Mr. Magoo” the nearsighted cartoon character.  This cracked me up when I noticed it, obviously a well executed joke about Walt’s failing eyesight and new glasses.  This is also a call-back to Hank calling Walt “Mr. Magoo” after their car “accident” in Episode 411 – “Crawl Space”.  Well played Vince Gilligan!

Then the kicker comes.  Seeing Elliott and Gretchen on TV interviewed by Charlie Rose, diminishing his contributions to Gray Matter is more than Walt can take at this moment.  He sold out his future once, to them (as he explained to Jesse in Episode 506 – “Buyout”) and he’s not going to sell out again.  You can see his fist and jaw both clench as he watches this.  Elliott and Gretchen are donating $28 million to drug treatment centres, and he’s sitting there with a little less than $100,000 in an Ensure box.

The Most Heisenberg Man in the World

A Meme I Made “The Most Heisenberg Man in the World”

Walt heard two things in the Charlie Rose interview.  One was Elliott and Gretchen minimizing his contribution to “Grey Matter”.  The other was that the blue meth is still out there in the Southwestern US, and in Europe.

I don’t think going after Elliott and Gretchen serves much purpose for Walt at all at this point, aside from just plain cold revenge.  But hearing them speak about him that way was a catalyst for him to abandon his plan to surrender and take action… why and what action?

Well, he knows Todd is not capable of cooking quality stuff – that’s why Jack wanted him to tutor Todd.  So Walt realises that they must not have followed his orders to execute Jesse.  He blames Jesse and the Uncles of Anarchy for Hank’s death.  But also, he wants people to “Remember His Name”.  They are saying his contributions to Grey Matter were almost nothing?  Well, no one is going to bust Lydia or Todd, or Jesse or Uncle Jack or anyone and give them the credit for his blue meth.  His family doesn’t want anything to do with him – and his family was what he claimed was driving him all along.  But we know the one other thing that has driven him… his hubris.  That’s all he’s got now… so dammit, people are going to remember his name!

The third and final thing he hears in that television interview is Gretchen saying, “Whatever he became, the sweet, kind, brilliant man that we once knew long ago,  He’s gone.”   Final line of the episode.  The sheriffs close in, but all that’s left at the bar are Walt’s scrunched up napkin and his half-finished “Dimple Pinch”.   Time to go make people “remember his name”.    I got chills at this ending, and it fills me with excitement for the final episode.

Here are a few final thoughts.  Walt is down to whatever money is in his “Ensure” box.  With the sheriffs closing in, there is no way he’s going eight miles up the one road in to his cabin and eight miles back to retrieve his barrel of cash.  Also, we didn’t see him transfer a barrel of money from the Volvo he drives from New Hampshire to his new car at the Denny’s in Albuquerque in the flash forward in “Live Free or Die”.  His only chance for money now, if he can even convince his family to take it, is to liberate the money taken from him by Uncle Jack.

Heisenberg is about to take some bold action, so time for some bold predictions.

I’m certain that Elliott and Gretchen do not figure into Walt’s plans.  As I mentioned above, he will really accomplish nothing by going after them.  You won’t see them in the final episode.

Lydia is going to get onto Walt’s radar (which she isn’t on right now) by becoming a threat to Skyler and the kids.  The ricin is going to Lydia.

Walt is going to assault the neo-nazi compound to try to liberate his money.  What he does when he discovers Jesse there is anyone’s guess, but I think this will be bad news for Jesse.  I just have that gut feeling.

I’m so curious to find out how things are going to end up for all of the characters.  Not long to wait now.  It’s going to be so bittersweet to see the final episode of this astounding drama that I love so much!  Enjoy the finale like a fine wine with your favourite meal everyone!

If you are trying to sort out your feelings after the finale, you might be interested in participating in an academic study on how fans react to the end of a popular television series.

Take Part in an Academic Research Study about the End of Breaking Bad

I was contacted last week by Dr. Melissa Click from the Department of Communications at the University of Missouri.  She is involved in a study on how fans deal with the ending of popular TV series, and is looking for Baddicts to volunteer for her study.  I am going to participate, and if you are interested, here is what she says about it, with a link you can use if you wish to participate also.

Breaking Bad fans:  You are invited to participate in a research study about fans’ reactions to the end of Breaking Bad.  The purpose of this voluntary and confidential research study is to better understand fans reactions’ to the ends of popular TV series.
A team of researchers at the University of Missouri is interested in conducting interviews with Breaking Bad fans about their experiences of the last season of Breaking Bad.  You must be at least 18 years old and consider yourself to be a fan of Breaking Bad.  One-on-one interviews will be conducted via phone or online audio communication program (such as Skype) and will last 15-30 minutes, depending on what you have to say. If you would like to participate, please click the below link to enter our Qualtrics survey.  Here we will collect demographic information, basic information about your fan activities, and contact information so we can schedule an interview:  Fan Reaction to the End of AMC’s Breaking Bad.

Dr. Click has promised to share any academic papers or results produced through this study with me, so when I receive them, I will publish them or links to them here at Tucker’s Hole for anyone else that is interested.

New Predictions

Well, since Walt is going to take some drastic action in the finale, I might as well make a couple of final risky predictions.   I have nothing to lose but my positive prediction score!

I predict that Walt is not going after Elliott and Gretchen or Gray Matter.

Lydia will be the one that is poisoned by the ricin.  (I really don’t know who else he could give it to, aside from Jesse, and I’ve already predicted that Walt won’t take it himself, as there is no need for that with his cancer).

Prediction Results

None of my predictions came true or were disproven in this episode.

My score since beginning this site now stands at 7 1/2 predictions correct,  4 1/2 predictions wrong, and 5 predictions are now still pending.

Humorous Quote of the Week

If I’m lucky, a month from now, best case scenario, I’m managing a Cinnabon in Omaha.“ – Saul Goodman