SPOILER ALERT: The recap for the "To'hajiilee" episode of "Breaking Bad" contains storyline and character spoilers.
The first thought at the end of "To'hajiilee," the most tension-filled episode yet of the cat-and-mouse game that has made up "Breaking Bad" Season 5.5: several exclamatory phrases that would have to be spelled out with a lot of asterisks.
Our second thought: "Bad" creator Vince Gilligan has said this isn't even the season's best episode; that comes, he says, with next week's "Ozymandias."
Third thought: It's really going to be a long week.
Because in "To'hajiilee," two very clever cats finally outsmarted one increasingly desperate, sloppy, and ailing mouse, leading to an explosive showdown where the three major players of this gotcha game were finally in the same room (OK, piece of the desert). It looked like Hank and Jesse had won, had managed to lure Walt into their trap, where Hank would drive him off to jail, and Jesse could celebrate finally stopping the man he called The Devil.
But then, like they've done so many times before (multiple times within the same episode, frequently), the "Breaking Bad" crew took it in a different direction, and we're left to wonder for the next week: Who made it out of that shootout alive?
Walt vs. Jesse
Walt took Jesse's threat at the end of "Rabid Dog" seriously. He meets with Todd, Uncle Jack, and Kenny to arrange a hit on Jesse. Walt wants it to be quick and as painless as possible, and he's willing to pay triple the going rate for it. "Jesse is like family to me," he says.
But Jack doesn't want cash. He wants Walt to do another cook or two with Todd, to give Todd a chance to learn how to concoct Heisenberg-quality meth. Walt says no, but Uncle Jack points out that if he cares about Jesse, he should care enough to have the very best take him out. "Don't skimp on family," Jack urges. "Want us to do this right? That's the price."
Walt agrees to come out of retirement for one cook, but only after Jesse is dead. He tries to use Jesse's ex-girlfriend, Andrea, aka Brock's mom, to lure Jesse into the open, to no avail.
Jesse vs. Walt
Jesse promised Walt at the end of "Rabid Dog" that he would get him where he really lives. His plan: Find Walt's money, as it's the one piece of evidence that would tie Walt to the Heisenberg enterprise, and the one piece of evidence Jesse is certain Walt would not have destroyed.
But how to find that cash, which Walt has certainly hidden well? Like this: Hank and Gomey nab Huell (last name: Babinow) and take him to a DEA safe house. They tell him Saul and Walt have turned on him, and they have the recordings to prove it. His pal Kuby has already disappeared, they say, and Walt has ordered Huell to be next.
Huell's skeptical. Why would Walt want him dead? Because you know he poisoned Brock… because you know where Walt's money is, Hank says. He and Gomey have even used a piece of raw, bloody meat lying beside Jesse's head to convince Huell that Walt has already blown young Pinkman's brains out.
Huell spills all he knows: He and Kuby rented a van, bought seven black 55-gallon barrels, loaded Walt's money into the barrels, loaded those into the van, and gave the keys to Walt. Walt also had a shovel, and when he returned the van, it was muddy. Hank deduces he might have buried the stash in the desert.
The rental company didn't have GPS in the van, Hank learns, but he tells Jesse and Gomey that might not matter, because Walt doesn't know the van didn't have GPS.
Jesse and Hank vs. Walt
While milling around the car wash, Walt receives a photo via text message. It's from Jesse, and it's of a barrel — a black 55-gallon barrel — full of cash. Jesse calls, and tells Walt he found his cash, and unless Walt gets in his car now, doesn't call anyone else, and remains on the line with Jesse, he will burn all of it. In fact, he's going to burn $10,000 a minute until Walt arrives.
Walt speeds through town to his hiding spot, alternately begging Jesse not to burn the cash (it's for his kids, Walt pleads, which just reminds Jesse of Brock and angers him even more) and berating Jesse for not being grateful for all Walt has done for him.
As Walt arrives at his hiding spot, the location of which he marked with that lottery ticket, he gets out, sees no one, notes that Jesse is no longer on the line, and realizes he's been set up. He pulls the SIM card out of his phone and throws it to the ground, but when he sees some dust on the road, he knows Jesse has tracked him, and is coming for him. He puts the SIM card back in the phone, calls Uncle Jack, and gives him the coordinates to find him, immediately.
But it isn't Jesse. Not just Jesse. The SUV that arrives also carries Hank and Gomey, and when Walt spots the trio, this alliance of his enemies, his face becomes clouded with a look of… resignation? Relief? Both? Still on the line with Uncle Jack, he tells him not to bother showing up.
Walt emerges from behind the rock where he was hiding, and Hank cuffs him, while taunting him about the barrel photo he doctored up. Hank says he took that out in the backyard, by the grill: "You know, where we used to cook out with the family."
Jesse reminds Walt this location is also the first place they cooked meth together. And while Hank reads Walt his Miranda rights, Walt calls Jesse a "coward" (typically arrogant of him, considering he was just hiding behind a rock), Jesse walks up to him and spits in his face, and the two begin to tussle until Hank throws Walt into the SUV and Gomey drags Jesse into Walt's car.
Hank tells Gomey he should stay at the site until a team comes to dig up the cash, as Hank's taking Walt to the office to book him. Hank takes a minute to call Marie first, telling his teary wife that he got Walt.
But then… Uncle Jack shows up, with two vehicles full of men with guns. Hank and Gomey yell at them to put their guns down. Jack demands to see their badges. Everybody's guns are drawn and they're ready to fire, and even as Walt is screaming in the SUV for Jack to abandon their plan, Kenny gets an itchy finger and fires a shot.
It's a full-blown shootout. Walt dives onto the floor of the SUV, Hank and Gomey take cover behind the SUV, Jesse tries to slip out of Walt's car, and the last thing we see is Walt's glasses falling off of his face as the screen abruptly goes black.
Go behind the scenes of that epic "Breaking Bad" shootout right here:
"Breaking Bad" Bits:
The Walt/Jesse bromance, or pseudo father/son relationship, is good and over, officially, and irreparably, because there was that little matter of Walt hiring Uncle Jack to kill his former protégé, but Jesse also addressed Walt as "Walt." He called him "b----" multiple times, too, of course, but it's a far, far more dangerous thing that he called him "Walt."
Todd's ringtone: Thomas Dolby's "She Blinded Me With Science." It's so literal it almost makes the little psychopath endearing, doesn't it? Almost.
Brock doesn't want string cheese or a yogurt tube with his lunch; he wants both, thanks, Mom.
Best line of the episode, from Hank: "Nice try, a--hole," after he intercepts the voicemail Andrea left on Jesse's Hello Kitty phone, the message Walt had her leave to try to flush Jesse out so Uncle Jack could send him to Belize/Old Yeller him.
That batch Todd whipped up at the beginning of the episode? There was totally no blue in it. Not even, as Kenny suggested, a hint of aquamarine.
Saul-ism #1, to Walt Jr., when Saul goes to A-1 Car Wash to get his Caddy cleaned: "Don't drink and drive. But if you do, call me." Saul Goodman… guiding America's youth.
Saul-ism #2, to Walt, explaining why he's at A-1 Car Wash (besides warning Walt Huell is MIA): "I swear, the kid left so much booger powder in there, my Caddy is a K-9 unit's wet dream."
Let's hear your thoughts on:
Yes, we know Walt makes it out of the shootout alive, thanks to those flash-forwards (and the fact that Walt isn't going to die with three whole episodes remaining). Not feeling so certain about Hank or Gomey, though. Of Hank, Gomey, and Jesse, at least one of them has to survive the shootout, as they're the only three people who know the full story about Walt, and know where the proof is buried… right?
Todd is clearly warm for Lydia's form. She clearly thinks she can manipulate him. But is she truly aware of what lovesick Opie is capable of?
Did Brock react oddly to Walt? Sure, he was super into that box of Froot Loops, but… does Brock know something about what Walt did to him? We still don't know exactly how Walt got the Lily of the Valley to Brock. If he did deliver it to him himself, is Brock now connecting that he became sick shortly thereafter?
Anyone else surprised Todd was able to achieve a 76 percent purity for his meth cook? Missing color aside, wouldn't have imagined he was capable of getting a batch to that point. Is making meth easier than we thought? Is Todd sharper than we thought? Probably neither, but still...
Did Uncle Jack just not hear and/or understand what Walt was saying when Walt was in the SUV and screaming for Jack to call off the attack on Hank, Gomey, and Jesse? Or did Uncle Jack just ignore Walt's orders?
Oh, Hank. In "Rabid Dog," he narrowly got away with Jesse just as Walt pulled up to the White house. If only Hank hadn't taken the time to call Marie before driving off with Walt to book him, maybe he would have been on his way before Uncle Jack and his minions arrived? Then again, if Uncle Jack had arrived only to find Jesse and Gomey, would he have killed both of them immediately?
On a smaller scale, didn't that cut to the credits at the end of the episode remind you of the polarizing "Sopranos" series finale? Good news: We have to wait just one week to find out what happens to Walt and company, as opposed to, well, forever, as far as Tony Soprano goes. Whether it was intentional or not, the ending felt like a nice little homage to another of TV's all-time greatest dramas.
"Breaking Bad" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.