The fantastic third season of Breaking Bad ended with another heartpumping season finale filled with the usual breathtaking artistry. By now we shouldn’t be surprised at what Vince Gilligan and his writers can cook up, and with my high expectations going into the episode, I was not disappointed one bit.
After Walt killed the two drug dealers last week, the repercussions came hard and fast. Walt is called out to a meeting with Gus, unsure of his or Jesse’s fate. Rightfully, Gus is mad and needs to keep a tight leash on Walt, so he lets Walt go and continue cooking, but has Victor shadow him everywhere. At the same time, whether it be for Walt’s health problems or fear of Walt getting out of control again, Gus asks Gale how long it would take to learn all of Walt’s secrets.
Not to be outdone, Walt is also scheming. When he met with Gus, he dons the trademarked black hat of Heisenberg, criminal mastermind extraordinary. As he’s proven time and time again, Walt has a certain acumen for criminality, and immediately catches on to Gus’s plans from Gale’s constant inquiries into his techniques.
Saul turns out to be surprisingly loyal–or at least greedy–enough to cross Mike and back Walt and Jesse. He takes Walt to the laser tag place where Jesse is waiting. Walt talks with Jesse and the only course of action they have is to kill Gale. Gus needs cookers daily and if Gale is dead, Walt is the only person who can do the job. (For sake of convenience, I’m guessing it would be insanely hard for Gus to find competent chemists who would be willing to dive into drugs.) Having already killed, Walt agrees to do it, sparing Jesse of the one thing he has not done yet. All he needs is Jesse to get Gale’s address.
Before Walt can execute Gale, Victor brings Walt to the factory to have him killed. Walt pleads for his life and offers to bring them Jesse. He gives Jesse a call and manages to blurt out enough information for Jesse to get the idea: Jesse must kill Gale himself or Walt will die. And Jesse follows through, forcing himself to shoot Gale, taking the same step Walt did last week. Now they’re in the same boat, with blood on their hands, and more drug cooking in the future.
I’m rather ambivalent about Gale. We didn’t really get to know him, so emotionally, I didn’t care much about his death. Whether he deserved to die is another matter. We see his nice apartment and cool gadgets, all things obtained from his illicit job. But Gale isn’t malicious, at least on the outside. He views his work as a high paying job without examining the consequences of his actions, so we don’t know exactly how he feels about his drugs going to the streets.
The episodes begins on an ominous portent of Skyler showing Walter the house she wants. After looking through the house, Walter is slightly dissatisfied, saying “Why be cautious? We go nowhere to go but up.” Well, Walt, did go up in net worth, but he’s fallen so far as a human being. As I watched everything transpire in the episode, I couldn’t help but remember the cold open, a sad reminder of the hope once carried by Walt and his current state, a struggle for survival where one wrong move can spell death.
The extent of Walt’s self-preservation is rather odd. He will kill a semi-innocent so he doesn’t get killed in turn, but he refuses, under any circumstance, to turn himself in to the DEA. His pride goes so far that he views being arrested and turned into a government puppet as worse than death. Walt values his life, but more importantly, he values how he handles his own life, not the government telling him what to do.
Looking ahead to the next season–Breaking Bad was officially renewed today for a fourth season–the cartel will probably be making more moves against Gus. Mike stages an awesome one-man assault to save Gus’s Chinese guy (who doesn’t speak Chinese very well) from the cartel. He shows a brutal, cold efficiency matched only be the now deceased Cousins. And he uses his granddaughter’s balloons to take down the electricity, mixing his personal life with his bloody business life, something Walt desperately tries to stray from.
We have one painstaking year to wait for Breaking Bad to come back, but I’m still excited and I’m sure everyone else is too.
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