“It’s over!” : Breaking Bad 05×15 ‘Granite Slate’ Review
“Remember my name”, Breaking Bad S5 tagline
Despite everything that has happened, despite the fact that the breadth and depth of the horrors Walter has committed are now fully known by his one time partner, his family and to an extent the authorities and the wider world – Walter White still insists he did it all for his family.
Yet everyone around him knows how deluded this is. Walt, Jr (who I’ve decided to finally call Flynn from here on – let’s face it he deserves a name of his choosing) listens as his father hatches a plan to send the family money, he is silent for a majority of that phone call until he just loses it completely and screams about the murder of his beloved Uncle Hank and how he wishes his fugitive father would just die already. Walter may think he is doing his wife and children a favour by giving them money but they don’t want anything to do with him. Why on earth would they?
Even Saul Goodman a man who isn’t exactly a morally upstanding member of society pleads with Walter that if he really wants to help his family then he should turn himself in. No amount of money will help them even if he did manage to hide it from the authorities. No Skyler needs her husband to face the consequences of his actions; one phone call won’t help her case not with two DEA agents dead.
As soon as Walter makes his way to the snowy mountains of New Hampshire he is already looking for a way out, convinced he can make everything worth it. But the Walter White that is left in a small cabin with only two copies of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is wasting away slowly from the cancer that kick-started this entire descent into hell to begin with. He is a losing weight, eyesight becoming weaker and even as he dons the famous Heisenberg hat he can’t make it down the icy slope to the nearby town.
Watching someone die of cancer, someone who has long been stripped away of their humanity and committed many a heinous crime well it puts the audience in a difficult position. We know cancer is a horrible disease; unfortunately the majority of us have probably had to see a loved one succumb to it. So our natural reaction is to feel sympathy in a way. Yet with Walter it is hard, even as he falls asleep and his wedding ring falls off, even as he begs the only person left in his life to stay just for another hour even with all of that I still couldn’t shake the person Walter had been. The crimes he had committed, the lives he had ruined.
Turns out neither could Walter
“Whatever he became, the sweet, kind, brilliant man that we knew once ago, he’s gone” Gretchen Schwartz, 05×15 ‘Granite Slate’
As the episode ends perhaps for the first time Walter realises the truth about his motivation these past couple of years. Having been rejected by his family and realising all that he worked for has gone or in the hands of Nazis Walter decides to turn himself in. Much like in To’hajiilee when Hank and Steve have him cornered Walter resigns himself to the fact that he has failed. That everything he has done as been a waste of time that it wasn’t worth anything. He sits waiting in that bar for the DEA and police to turn up. However, staring back at him on the TV are Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz, former business partners, former friends.
Arguably everything that has Walter has become over the course of the series didn’t really stem from his transformation into a meth cook but from the years of resentment over Gray Matter, the company he co-founded and left before it become a huge successful company. He has always had bitterness over what happened and to hear the Schwartz’s downgrade his contribution to a mere name well talk about hitting Walter where it hurts.
His legacy has been the most important thing to him because it fuels his pride, that giant ego which has gotten him into so much trouble.
I think it is brilliant move to bring back Elliot and Gretchen not just because it is always great to have call backs of earlier seasons but because they actually played two very important roles early on. In 01×05 ‘Gray Matter’ Walter’s bruised pride means he rejects the simple solution to all his worries – financial help from Elliot and Gretchen.
And in 01×03 ‘…and the Bag’s in the River’ we get one of the most important quotes of the series between Gretchen and Walter
Walter: “I don’t know. Just…doesn’t it seem like…something’s missing?”
Gretchen: “What about the soul?”
Walter: “The soul? There’s nothing but chemistry here.”
Walter has been losing that soul since day one and now he is nothing but a shell for Heisenberg to reside in. Now he is going to reclaim what is his not for the good of his family, not because Jesse is in danger but because it all has to be worth something. His name, his legacy has to be remembered.
Yet does a tiny bit of that soul still exist? Because if it does, if it struggles to survive then maybe his legacy could be to do something good. Maybe his last stand doesn’t have to be destruction for once. Maybe it can all be worth it in a different way.
+ So many things to mention like Jesse. This man is never catching a break is he? The escape scene was thrilling the horrible consequences of it heart wrenching. I’m terrified of his ultimate fate right now and if Walter is heading towards the lab what will happen when they face each other again?
+ Uncle Jack and his gang are heartless bastards that found a whole lot of pleasure in mocking Jesse’s tearful confession tape. Yet they still find time to tease Todd about his crush on Lydia – hey even murdering maniacs are allowed to love. Or something. Lydia run now whilst you can.
+ Turn in the spotlight: He has been mentioned a few times before but we finally got to see the ‘Cleaner’ and all hail Robert Forster a great actor who had a no nonsense approach that has been missed since Mike died.
+ Saul Goodman lives! It was a little doubtful after the Better Call Saul spin-off was confirmed to be a prequel but really it makes sense that someone like Saul would survive. I’m really glad actually – he may have been a sleazy lawyer but many times he attempted to help Skyler out and he did try to give Walter good advice even if his client is a stubborn control freak.
+ Marie oh Marie we didn’t get to see a lot of her and god knows where she is now a few months on but I do have a little bit of hope. When Flynn thought he had a call from his Aunt he didn’t seem to surprised so I’m hoping Marie is living with them or at least on good terms (as good as one can be when your brother-in-law is responsible for the murder of your husband)
+ Skyler is trying to stay strong and continues to work to support the kids as she fights the case against her. Skyler continues to be the greatest. No really. Congratulations to Anna Gunn on her Emmy win.
Final theory corner: Walt goes to kill the Nazis, finds Jesse and then Jesse has to decide whether to kill him or not. Now killing Walt would be what Jesse wants and needs but then wouldn’t it be a quick relatively pain free demise? Maybe letting Walter live and continue to die of his cancer would be a crueller thing to do.
Small things I would like to see next week: Would love to see the fates of Skinny Pete, Badger and Huell (assuming he is not longer in that safe house!). I mean it’s not vital to my enjoyment of the finale but it would be nice.
All I actually want from the finale: Jesse to be happy, Skyler and the kids to be safe and happy. Ok no-one has to be deliriously happy (because it’s probably impossible at this point) but at least alive and fine and getting on with life.
Comedy watch: Two copies of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporiu. Two copies!
Todd Watch: He is the creepiest character on TV right now. He like executed Andrea! Threatened Skyler and poor baby Holly! Seemed to take pride and pleasure when Jesse’s describes the death to Drew Sharp. Oh and his plans for Lydia cannot be good for her. Just because you bring Jesse ice cream does not make you a good guy.
Death Watch: Poor Andrea that kind of surprised me for a second I thought Todd was just showing Jesse that she would be in danger if he didn’t co-operate but nope he actually went there. It’s a shocking death and there goes my plan for Jesse Pinkman’s retirement – he was meant to live happily with Andrea and Brock damnit!