As we head toward the final stretch of Breaking Bad episodes, which begin THIS SUNDAY, it’s probably a good time to be reminded of where we are in the series. With all the hype about Heisenberg, the possible outcomes, the fact that Hank has connected the dots, and the Ozymandias trailer from last week, it’s easy to forget if you haven’t rewatched the series that — at the end of last season — Heisenberg was no more. Walter White had gotten out of the business. He and Skyler had supposedly made inroads in their relationship. The kids are home. Walter has more money “than we can spend in a hundred lifetimes,” and he had left Jesse his own pile of cash. We can also safely assume that the cancer is back.
So, how can the final eight episodes of Breaking Bad be about the fall of an empire, if Walter White has already given up the empire?
Obviously, Hank’s discovery will play central to that, and it’s a good guess to assume that, if anyone is going to inform on Walter White, it will be Jesse, who is still terrified of Walter White. Where does Skyler fit in the equation? Again, that we don’t know, although we can safely assume based on the fact that Walt is no longer wearing his wedding ring in the flash-forward, that they’re not together, or at least pretending not to be together. Maybe she’s dead. Maybe Hank put her into witness protection. Maybe Walter bought a huge weapon to avenge her death. Or the death of Walter, Jr. and Holly. Or the death of Jesse; after all, the original first season was supposed to end with the death of Jesse, and Walt’s arc after that was meant to be about avenging Jesse’s death.
I don’t think, however, there’s any scenario in which Walter gets in an intentional gunfight with Hank. Hank could be dead, and the DEA could be after Walter White without Hank, but there will never be a shootout between Hank and Walter. I don’t think Walter turns against his family, either, although there could be a situation where Skyler informs on Walter in exchange for witness protection (maybe that’s why Walter was in New Hampshire; maybe that’s where his family is hiding out). Walter could also be helping out the DEA in exchange for leniency against his family (which might explain the POSSIBLE presence of a wire).
There are a lot of possibilities, and at this point, it’s practically impossible to nail down one.
What we can surmise from the flash-forward, however, is that there will likely be some kind of shootout, and that Walter will not be taken alive. How do we know that Walter White will not go to prison?
That’s from the pilot episode. When he believes that the police are about to apprehend him, Walter at first plans to go down in a blaze of glory.
But then he pulls the gun on himself, and ACTUALLY pulls the trigger. Although there was no bullet in the chamber, it is still telling.
There’s nothing more satisfying in the final season of a great show than to tie it back into the pilot. I mean, Vince Gilligan has already buttoned the cancer diagnoses in season 5 and the pilot.
Note, too, that in the pilot, Walter White is wearing a green shirt, the same shade of green he was wearing after he defeated Gus Fring and proclaimed on the phone with Skyler, “I won.”
In the flash-forward, he’s wearing green again, although a different shade.
I expect we will see several other instances in which Gilligan and company tie the final eight episodes back into the pilot and the first season, because Gilligan is going to want it all to tie in together, to maintain narrative continuity, and to wow us with clever callbacks, because that’s what Vince Gilligan does because he’s a made f***ing genius.
This is where we are right now: Jesse has a gun. Todd’s still in play. The ricin is still out there. Lydia and Walter’s new distribution partners are still in the game. Walt’s going by his wife’s maiden name. The cancer is back. Hank knows. Walt’s got a huge gun. Whether they are dead or alive, the interests of his family are probably still at the forefront. After all, Bryan Cranston said himself that the worst possible outcome for Walter White is a life without his family. My guess is that he wants to get revenge on someone before law enforcement nabs him.
There’s only two endings that make sense for Walter White: He either goes to prison, or he dies, and the fact that in the pilot he was willing to kill himself to stay out of prison rules out the first possibility, ergo Walter White is going to die. The only question is, will it be by someone else’s hand, or his own?