Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad | Photo Credits: Ursula Coyote/AMC
[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of Breaking Bad. Read at your own risk.]
On Sunday's episode of Breaking Bad, Walter White was a dead man walking — and not just because he's a wanted criminal.
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Although Walt (Bryan Cranston) makes his escape to a snowy cabin in New Hampshire via Saul's (Bob Odenkirk) "vacuum repair guy" (Robert Forster), he slowly becomes more and more frail as his cancer takes a firmer grasp. Despite Walt's desire at the beginning of the episode to hire hit men to kill Jack (Michael Bowen) and his crew, Walt soon realizes he no longer has the fight in him. Soon enough, Saul's guy is giving Walt makeshift chemotherapy, and Walt is paying him $10,000 just to stay and talk for an hour.
While Breaking Bad reached new heights by winning its first Emmy for best drama series Sunday night, the show's main character hit rock bottom. After a final failed attempt to send his family some money, Walt calls the DEA, seemingly giving them his location in an act of surrender. But before the local cops arrive, Walt sees his former business partners Gretchen and Elliot on TV discussing their now-fugitive former partner. And as they belittle Walt's contributions to their billion-dollar company, Heisenberg rears his ugly head one last time. As the cops bust into the bar, Walt has disappeared, no doubt destined to return to Albuquerque armed with a machine gun and his ricin capsule.
How much fight does Walt have left? And can an equally broken Jesse (Aaron Paul) recover from the tragedy of watching Todd (Jesse Plemons) shoot Andrea (Emily Rios) after Jesse tried to escape? TVGuide.com turned to "Granite State" writer and director Peter Gould to dissect the series' penultimate episode.
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Given all the huge things that happened in "Ozymandias," what were your goals going into this penultimate episode?
Peter Gould: This show is all about consequences. Certainly we didn't feel we were finished with the last episode because there were still all these huge dramatic questions left in the show: What happens to Walt? What happens to Jesse? What happens to what's left of the White family? And also the big question of the show is: When does Walt see who he really is? When does Walt get insight into what he's done? And the answer we always came up with was, "Well that's the end of the series. Once he could look in the mirror and truly see who he is, that's the end of the show." I felt really privileged to do this episode because this was Walter White hitting bottom — being as pathetic as that character could get.
But he doesn't start out that way! He has all those plans to kill Jack's crew and get back his money, even when Saul is telling him the smart thing to do is turn himself in. Why won't Walt listen?
Gould: Walt [wants] to defend his money. ... At this point, this money is the only reason he can cling to for all the terrible decisions he's made, all the awful consequences. Ultimately the only reason he's still alive is what's in that one black barrel. That is the whole universe to him. There are a whole host of other reasons he doesn't want to die in prison. He doesn't want to go through what he'd have to go through and give the system and Hank that kind of win.
But Walt's not exactly Heisenberg in this episode. He can't intimidate Saul without going into a coughing fit and once he gets to New Hampshire, he gets even weaker.
Gould: What he's not willing to face is he's lost his mojo. We always talk about Heisenberg, but it seems like Heisenberg may have died when Hank did. This is a guy who's now alone. He's lost whatever that crazy energy was that allowed him to do these things and always had him bouncing back. He's lost his self-confidence really. He thinks, "What am I going to do next? Am I really going to hire a bunch of hit men? Suddenly he's seeing that everything he's trying to do, all his great schemes, have completely backfired. That's the ultimate torture. There's that line Robert Forster says, "This could be a great place for a man to sit and think." That might be the ultimate torture for Walter White.