Breaking Bad: Granite State, Review

Another superb episode of Breaking Bad. The problem is...what the hell are we gonna do with ourselves after the series finale?

Breaking Bad will not go quietly. Breaking Bad wants to break your heart in the worst way, sever the ties like the world’s worst ex-lover imaginable. Breaking Bad wants to crash your car, burn your house down, and leave you awestruck in the ashes. Other shows end, but this show leaves youBreaking Bad is preparing to leave you behind like an ABQ meth head, either begging for just one more batch of the blue, or saying, “stop this ride, I want to get off.”

Why would anyone try to kick this habit? Well I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this show has gotten pretty heavy lately. I’m considering the option of acquiring a prescription to anti-depressants just so I can watch next week’s finale without the impending certainty of an anxiety attack. “Granite Slate” continued the all out assault on your heart and felt like the perfect first chapter of an “epic television event.” In the final moments of the episode, with the score pounding and the camera zipping through the bar as police burst through the door, it truly felt like the scope of what is ahead of us is greater than what any other television show has set out to do in its conclusion. We are watching the Beatles make Abbey Road knowing full well they’ll never produce another record. Is it worse seeing the gun?

But before we talk about the finale, we still have to talk about tonight. Jesse Pinkman has officially become Vince Gilligan’s personal whipping boy. Aaron Paul didn’t win an Emmy tonight, but to be fair, the voting panel didn’t see this episode, I guess. If they had, maybe we would actually get to see Paul cry tears of joy for once. His scene after Andrea’s shocking murder was utterly devastating. The reason you know Uncle Jack and his men are sincerely sick is because they watch Jesse’s confession tape, hear all that he’s been through, and still think that he’s soft. Andrea’s murder was like the icing on the most sadistic cake ever concocted. The worst part may have been how the show gave you the thrill of watching him escape. They feed you the guise that maybe Jesse’s going to get a win, then just rip the hope away like the Cleveland Browns (but hey, they won today, go figure).  

Todd continues to be completely unsettling. He’s the soft voice in a balaclava, the dead eyes behind some free Ben and Jerry’s. He is the special kind of evil that you’d unknowingly unlock your door for. I never thought I could get over Jesse Plemons being Landry on Friday Night Lights, but Landry has forever been erased by the evil that Todd is doing on this show.  The intimidation scene between Todd and Skylar was arresting and suspenseful, the quiet voices only adding to the tension. The scene with Lydia was awkwardly fascinating to watch Todd please the object of his affection with his drug peddling prowess. But better than both moments is when the camera pans away from the two and we see Todd picking lint off of the back of Lydia’s shirt. Little things like this are what Breaking Bad is all about.

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[Related: Yeah Mr. White! Yeah Science! The 10 Most Exciting Uses of Science on Breaking Bad]

Walt’s journey to New Hampshire and his new life as Mr. Lambert was quiet but bubbling with menace, guilt, and potential. Watching Walt come to the revelation that his chips are down and that his body is weak was a hard thing to do. I even almost felt sorry for the guy as he tried to explain himself to his boy, as if it would mean anything. Walt can’t understand that maybe money couldn’t buy a father (or an uncle, for that matter). When the cancer would have gotten Walt, he would have at least had his Uncle for support. Not anymore. The best thing that happened in Walt’s scenes came towards the end, and it was a moment that I was waiting for to.

Ever since the show first introduced Grey Matter and the characters of Gretchen and Elliot, I had been waiting to hear more about the subject or more form the people. I knew the writers would figure them back into this somehow. Ever since we first heard the story, I’ve suspected that Walt’s falling out with Grey Matter was the real motivator for his quest for an empire. Whatever scorn he felt propelled him into the underbelly, and it was nice for him to face those demons right before he marched back into hell. The television interview of Elliot and Gretchen was a perfect moment, a reminder that things could have turned out very different for Walter White had he not been pushed to things. Gretchen says that Walter White is gone, and something tells me that this other guy, Lambert, he’s not going to be here for much longer.

The Best of the Rest

– Saul’s appearance in this episode was the perfect goodbye for the character, well, at least for his part in this series. Making him and Walt bunkmates was pretty ingenious and the callback to the “we’re done when I say we’re done,” scene was a great bit. Amongst Walt’s hacking, Saul says, “it’s over.”– Skylar has been so strong and sensible in season five. Her interview the police was just another classic example of this strong woman doing the best she can to stand up for herself and her family.– RJ Mite said no more breakfast, I want to act, and he’s been doing a hell of a job.– For Walt’s crimes he must watch Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium for an eternity.– Todd has great taste in ice cream. Americone Dream is super good.– “If I said yes, would you believe me?” – Robert Forester in some inspired casting.

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4.5 out of 5