'Breaking Bad': How low can Walt go?
September 26th, 2011
12:07 PM ET

'Breaking Bad': How low can Walt go?

The final act of last night’s episode of “Breaking Bad” gave us dramatic television perfected, as multiple plot points converged in an 11-minute cyclone of goosebump-inducing dread and tension (and superb acting and cinematography).

Recapping it won’t do it justice, but I have a duty to you loyal readers. So let’s start at the beginning, where various storylines both moved forward and served as fodder for the episode’s concluding spectacle.

First, after Gus turned the Cartel’s pool party into a mass murder scene, Jesse rushed the semi-poisoned kingpin and his bullet-riddled sidekick to a personalized port-a-hospital in the middle of the Mexican desert.

Gus recovered his health about as quickly as a video game character and was soon trudging back to America. He and Jesse weren’t ten steps into the journey before he promoted Jesse to lead meth cook. Pinkman accepted, under the condition that Gus merely fire Walt instead of flat-out killing him.

As for Skyler’s little predicament, she was forced to use her Saul lifeline to get Ted to pay his back taxes with Walt’s “gambling” money. Saul sent two thugs to do the whole “threaten Ted without explicitly threatening him” shtick, and it worked. Ted signed the check for the IRS, but there was just one SLIGHT hiccup – Ted tried to escape the henchmen and as he sprinted away, he fell and appeared to fatally break his neck.

Yes, the Ted/IRS thread had become a nuisance...however! There was always a light at the end of the tunnel, for we knew we’d eventually get to see what happened when Walt learned his money was going to Ted. We were willing to tolerate some nonsense on the path to that moment. When the moment actually arrived last night, the reveal was so powerful and executed so efficiently that all is now forgiven in that Skyler subplot. It was all just a means to an incredible end.

So let’s rehash how it went down. Since Jesse could now cook solo, Walt knew his existence was no longer necessary to Gus. He begged Jesse for help but was turned away, and before the rejection could even register, Walt was being shocked with a cattle prod and dropped in the desert with a bag over his head.

Gus emerged from a black car and officially fired Walt, and it became clear he was only alive per the request of Jesse. Gus proceeded to inform Walt that he was going to take care of the Hank problem himself, and if Walt were to interfere, Gus would kill Walt’s family.

This led to a trademark “Frantic Walt” sequence: he raced to Saul’s office and, in a pair of last requests, asked that the greasy lawyer make an anonymous tip regarding Hank’s impending hit, and asked for the Deluxe Vanishing Package. This would take the entire White family off the grid with new identities. Only thing is, it would cost around $600,000.

No problem, Walt had that – and more – gathering dust in the crawl space! So he went home and burrowed down under the floorboards and rifled through the vac-packs of money. He saw more clothes than cash, at which point Skyler informed him the money went to Ted Beneke. Upon realizing that his family’s fate had just been (vacuum) sealed because his earnings went to his wife’s man on the side, Walt cracked. He let out a rage-filled shriek and a few whimpers before cackling maniacally, the sound of a man who has lost all.

In the middle of Walt’s most epic breakdown, we heard Marie leaving a hysterical voicemail about Hank being targeted again, as Walt’s cackling continued in the background. Hank’s rogue investigation of Gus, Jesse’s rise, Skyler’s attempts to clear Ted’s debt, and Walt’s feud with Gus, it all came to a head in this chilling crescendo. There was no cathartic release, just pressure building on all sides. So with the camera trucking up toward the ceiling and a menacing David Lynch-ian ambient noise reaching a fever pitch, we saw Walt on his back in the crawl space with a vacant stare.

He had hit rock bottom, and in a nifty piece of symbolism, it happened at the very bottom of his home, a man trapped underneath a hulking construct of his own making. So with two episodes left in the season, will Walt crawl up from the depths like a pesky little roach?

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Filed under: Breaking Bad • television • TV recaps

soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. jlar

    holy crap . . . that is great television. This show is genius!

    September 28, 2011 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mark

    Walter White – When he put the cat in the bag and the bag in the river. Think plate shards and bicycle locks.

    Jesse Pinkman – When he smoked his 1000th hit.

    Skylar White – When she slept with her former boss to get even with her husband.

    Hank Schrader – Every time he self-righteously tries to help everyone.

    Marie Schrader – When she realizes her shi* don’t stink and she can steal from anyone.

    Walter White Jr. – When he lapses into an Oedipus complex and blames his father for all of the family woes.

    Gustavo Fring – When he participated in the CIA backed junta in Chile back in 1973. His real name is Gustavo Leigh.

    Saul Goodman – When he received his law degree.

    Mike Ehrmantraut – When he worked for the CIA to protect Nazi assets in Chile.

    Hector Salamanca – Many years prior to putting a bullet in Max’s temple.

    Jane Margolis – When Walter let her drown in her own vomit after a Meth session.

    Donald Margolis – When he allowed his daughter to become a drug addict.

    Ted Beneke – When he cheated on taxes to the tune of $100s of thousands of dollars to protect his
    interest and then try to blackmail Skylar for more money.

    Gale Boetticher – The moment he realized that he was a mediocre chemist.

    Leonel and Marco Salamanca – Doomed by Hector’s lessons in life.

    4 minutes ago · Like.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:16 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mark

    I got to wondering when each character in “Breaking Bad” lost their soul. Don’t read if you are not caught up or interested in the TV show. Some of this conjecture reflects plot lines in the show and some is speculative.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  4. Playjojo

    THIS is what a message board is! How wonderful to hear just back a and forth discussion, and no obnoxious comments, I've learned a lot. It kills me I had to cancel cable! I ADORE Brian Cranston who by far is one of the best actors we have today. THANKS GUYS!!!!!

    September 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Tanker

    Best written drama since West Wing...Damn near the only thing worth watching...

    September 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |

    Hank told Walt, that anytime you get over your head who's the first person you should call. Hanks starting to realize that Walt has a connection to the whole Gus thing. Hanks saved Walts ass from crazy drug kingpins before and he will do it again.

    September 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anthony

    I don't agree that the breakdown scene was Lynch, it was more like Kubric.

    September 27, 2011 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. erich2112x

    Skyler is no longer in this thing hip deep. She has become a major player, a problem solver in this whole operation. She will be the one to save Walt. Meanwhile, the only person Gus fears in this whole story is the one person who doesn't need him, Jesse.

    September 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. james

    does gus really need jesse? there is technically a video of jesse's mexico cook which would make even him obsolete

    September 27, 2011 at 12:42 am | Report abuse |
    • paul in ct

      But if Gus now kills Jesse because, yes, there is a video of Jesse cooking Walt's Blu Meth and ostensibly it can be used to show anyone how to cook the Blue Meth, how will he be able to hire anyone else to cook for him? The forty or so guys in the Mexican lab Jesse cooked in all , except for the arrogant chemists, looked like peasant janitors and if Jesse disappears they will all find out he is dead, so why work for Gus if they know he will kill them? Plus, as if they could follow the directions for the cook even if it is on video? Both Gus and Jesse will be alive as long as Gus's position does not deteriorate. Which is very close to happening, even with the mass murder of the heads of the cartel who were extorting him.

      September 27, 2011 at 2:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. h_e_n_r_y

    An Emmy just isn't enough for Bryan Cranston.

    Give him an Oscar!

    September 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. glenda

    Wasn't Skyler trying to hide 7 million dollars a few weeks ago, at the carwash? Or was 7 million dollars the amount Walt would have made in a year cooking for Gus? When I started watching this show, I thought Walt was cooking for himself. How did he end up with Gus?

    September 26, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • errr

      Its Gus's lab. He's the boss. dude watch season 3. Basic knowledge

      September 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul in ct

      I am a little curious about why there is actually much less cash in the house than I had surmised was possible. If Skyler gave Ted $600K and Walt needed about that amount to "disappear" his family, thats 1.2M. If Walt is making $7M per year, as SKyler figured out three weeks, and he has been cooking for Gus for a while and Gus offered Walt $3m for 3 months of his time, then several million dollars should be available. Minus what was paid for the car wash and that should still leave much more than what Walt found in the crawl space.

      September 27, 2011 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
  12. Skyler

    The previews for next week show Walt making a bomb. Seems like a good idea to explode the lab as Jessie was trained working on that exact equipment. Walt's brother-in-law's investigation will certainly be slowed down by the explosion of the lab and Gus will have to re-think his plans for Walt. This season sort of got off to a slow start but the latest episodes reminded me of why I have seen every one of the episodes of "Breaking Bad".

    September 26, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BadFan

    I will say it is one of the best TV shows I have seen in about 20 years. The written recap can't do it justice.
    Am I the only one that thinks Hank knows Walt is much more involved than he (Walt) lets on? I think it's an extended "Columbo" kind of interrgation/investigation approach. Hank was a repulsive agent with little charisma, but he was not stupid.

    September 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul in ct

      Many storylines available here: Does the IRS investigate the strange death of Ted Benneke? If they do, that might lead to Saul. Without the money available, Walt cannot "disappear" his family. I very much want to see Skyler explain the $600K "donation". Let's see if Walt understands why it was needed...Now that Hank is stuck in his house under guard from the "tip" , will Gus reward Walt for keeping Hank away from his lone wolf investigation that resulted in an auto accident with minor injuries or will the DEA punish Hank for his recklessness? While the producers and writers of the show did not expect it go this far, and perhaps the storylines are getting a little beyond where they thought they might get, we still all have to know that this will not end well for our characters and friends on this show.

      September 27, 2011 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mary Ellen

    This is the BEST show on TV people! If you haven't ever seen it....RUN, don't walk to the nearest store and buy the DVD's. Then you can catch up and buy this season when it comes out. Next season is the last, and it will not disappoint. This entire series has ROCKED! Bryan Cranston will get the emmy next year for last night's episode alone.

    September 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Breaking Bad Season 4 Streaming

      All the episodes of season 4 steaming here:

      September 26, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rich

    How low? Seein' as it's filmed here, in Albuquerque -– cho low!

    September 26, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Tully

    Bryan Cranston is fantastic.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Really?

    tracie, i understand how you might be referring to the interogation scene between the DEA and Hector (old mexican cartel bell ringer in wheelchair) when he lets a BM go at the end of the interview. However, that was half way through last season or maybe even the one before it. Whats up with the Poo stories?
    Great RECAP though. Spot on about the ending giving goosebumps. The sinister music, the look on Skylers face as Walt loses it, and the answering machine picking up Marie's "frantic" message. BEAUTIFUL film making. Everyone single cast n crew member, writer, co-director ALL of them deserve Emmy's!

    September 26, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  18. be quiet

    Best episode of the season so far! Walt has no choice but to kill Gus. Will he do it himself? Will Jesse? Maybe Mike will realize he is becoming more and more expendable as time goes by, and he'll help out?

    Cranston just earned his fourth Emmy last night.

    September 26, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yo

      It was good, but Salud was better..... in my opinion. That episode was BAD-ASS...... this was badass

      September 26, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Nick

    He looks like a troll

    September 26, 2011 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |

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