ICE IN MY VEINS
WOW. Just…WOW. What an episode. Surprisingly, I had a strange sense of calm after last night’s episode. Much moreso than last week. Slept better too and I’ve been feeling calm all day. Maybe I have more bloodlust than I thought and just need a desert shootout every now and then. Or maybe it’s because this is the first episode in awhile that felt like it included just a smidge of release instead of all buildup, despite the excruciating cliffhanger. Maybe it’s that whole staying cool in a crisis thing, which I’ve definitely experienced before in real life, and the fallout will come later. The situation on this show is definitely a crisis. Threat Level Midnight, yo.
Anyway, on to the actual content of the episode. It’s hard to know where to start. This was one jam-packed hour. Almost stuck in too much awe to write about it. A calm awe, mind you, but still.
ALL-CONSUMING BETRAYALS AND SUBTLE TRAGEDIES
This is a half-season about betrayal. In the first episode, Hank is consumed with betrayal that his brother-in-law is a huge meth cook, a multiple murderer, a man who has arranged for an orchestral dance of witness prison deaths, and has lied to him over and over and over.. Hank’s world is in shambles. In “Confessions,” Jesse is consumed with betrayal that Walt did indeed poison Brock, that he too was played over and over and over by his teacher, his mentor and father figure Mr. White. In this episode, Walt is so consumed by the betrayal of Jesse teaming up with Hank that he can barely speak as he asks Uncle Jack and his crew to call it off. Dean Norris, Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston all play their realizations of betrayal so exquisitely and individually. Walt’s is practically heart-stopping.
But of course Uncle Jack and his boys still come out to the desert. They need Walt to help Todd cook. And that is a betrayal of Walt by Walt, one more thing he agrees to do that he said he never would, cook again. That’s what happens once you start on this path that all these characters are on, going against their inner moral compass in small ways that snowball into more and more so that Walt’s commitment to being out of the business and his disgust for Jack, though palpable, are superseded.
This is also a season of subtle tragedies. I still can’t shake it from the previous episode, how Walt actually was the only one who cared about Jesse’s survival, how he went so far as to say in his message that he would be unarmed, that Jesse could come put a bullet in his head if he wanted, that he was in Jesse’s hands.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Walt and Jesse. Walt has done a lot to save Jesse’s life–even some things that would in Jesse’s mind be unforgivable, like Jane (though Walt has his own reasons for that too)–but Jesse has risked his life more for Walt. When Walt ran over the dealers, let Jane die, got Jesse from the crackhouse and checked him into rehab, and so on, he saved Jesse but was not at a huge risk himself. Jesse has jumped in front of guns a few times for Walt and told Gus straight up that if he killed Walt he’d have to kill him too. Jesse has put his life at risk when he didn’t have to. And now, Walt was doing that for Jesse to some extent. He wanted so much not to have to kill Jesse that he was willing to make himself a target. It was so…touching. And Jesse couldn’t see it.
That sort of tragedy only deepened in “To’hajiilee.” Even as Walt commits to this hit on Jesse he’s ordered, he’s still, in a strange way, trying to protect him in a twisted way. He defends Jesse’s honor to Jack, saying he’s not a rat, when we know he is. He defends Jesse to Saul when Saul suspects Jesse might have something to do with Huell’s disappearance, saying Jesse is not on a spree but out for him alone. He wants Jesse’s murder to be quick and easy, and not just for his own conscience. He wants Jesse not to suffer and not to be afraid. Again, touching. And tragic.
“Jesse is like family to me.” Walt finally confirms what we’ve suspected for seasons now. But he doesn’t say it to Jesse, or even to Skyler (though he had an opportunity to say such a thing at the hotel), or to Saul who has seen them through so much. When he finally says it out loud, it’s to Jesse’s intended murderer. So many fucking layers.
And then of course, there’s Walt, in the car, driving like a madman, screaming about all the things he’s done to save Jesse’s live (confession to five murders and child poisoning in the process) after he’s ordered Jesse’s murder. The layers, the duality of these characters, the tragedies upon tragedies are so exquisitely orchestrated and heartbreaking it could almost kill me. In the most gorgeous, humbling way.
I firmly believe now that the end of this show will be about Walt and Jesse, their ever-changing dynamic that is so primed to combust, so layered with rage and betrayal, and so underscored with a strange, fierce, family-like love. Even the detail that Walt buried the money in the location of his first cook with Jesse seems significant.
Their story isn’t over. I’m convinced Walt comes back to ABQ to rescue Jesse or the ricin is for Jesse.
NAMES, COLORS, CALLBACKS AND BRANDS
There’s some interesting stuff going on with names. We learn that Huell’s last name is Babineaux. They really go all out on the last names on this show, don’t they? Rodarte-Quayle, Ehrmantraut, Alquist (Todd), now Babineaux. And Kuby’s first name is Patrick. We learn a little something more every day with this show. But even more interesting, name-wise: Huell calls Walt “Mr. White,” and Jesse calls Mr. White “Walt” in conversation for the second time ever in the series.
Lydia and Skyler are both worried about their brands. Lydia needs the blue color of Walt’s signature meth to maintain her brand in the Czech Republic. Skyler wants Junior to remember to say, “have an A1 day,” as part of the carwash brand. Consistency in products and services is important here.
In the last episode there was that strange moment when Jesse met Marie. In this one, Jr finally meets Saul. It sure makes Skyler uncomfortable. I’m assuming that Jr’s at the carwash on a Saturday because Walt thought that Jesse’s threat to get him where he really lives meant his family, and they’re hiding out there in a public place away from the house until Jack gets the job done. Skyler’s just waiting for the news that Jesse’s dead.
Might we see more unusual character pairings to come? Jesse and Jr perhaps? One of the Whites and therapist Dave?
Todd’s meth wasn’t blue but Lydia’s jacket was a brilliant cerulean (which I would not call aquamarine, even in the best light). By the way, Walt, who’s been mostly in bland beiges and tans all half-season, was finally wearing a blue shirt after his agreement to cook with Todd.
Another color thing I noticed was a lot of red in this episode. Uncle Jack and Andrea both wear red tops, and even Huell’s shirt has some burgundyish purple going on. Not wardrobe but there’s that eerie red glow when Walt goes to discuss the hit on Jesse with Jack and Todd. It reminded me of the red glow around Jesse in “Full Measure” when he gets the call from Walt to go kill Gale. Not red but Saul’s sporting some bright pink and has upgraded his wardrobe to include a bullet-proof vest. Jesse still hasn’t changed his clothes, and there’s some brick red in his shirt and jacket. Hank and Gomie are rocking their usual orange.
Lately, phone calls have been used, over and over, as a way of orienting us in the time of the story. That happened in the last episode, as Walt and Jesse had simultaneous experiences that were shown consecutively. Walt leaves his first voicemail for Jesse and we later see Hank listening to that voicemail so we know that those moments match up in time. It happened twice in this episode. Hearing Todd’s end of the phone call Walt made at the end of the last episode orients the Todd and Lydia and aquamarine pink salmon meth conversation in the timeline of Walt’s story. Later, Andrea’s voicemail for Jesse helps us keep track of where each story is in time compared to the others.
The writers are really hitting it outta the park with their ringtones and phones, aren’t they? Jesse’s Hello Kitty and now Todd having “She Blinded Me With Science” as his Mr. White ringtone are such nice touches. Todd has that awe of the genius scientist feeling towards Walt that Jesse once had, so long ago. The attention to detail in this seasons is just superb.
Yeah let’s just talk about some of the amazing details and funny (though not as overly as last week) lines and moments in this episode:
-Saul pays for his carwash with a fifty dollar bill
-“Don’t skimp on family,” Uncle Jack says. That was so darkly funny.
-“Fruit loops, that’s good stuff,” Walt to Brock. -“Aquamarine.”
-“Too many savages out there.” Let’s just be real, Uncle Jack may be a total freakazoid neo-nazi white supremacist and a pretty careless criminal and a horrible shot, but at least he’s funny. I’m not sure he knows it though, which makes some of it even funnier.
-“Angry non-rat, got it.” Another Uncle Jack line.
-Jesse has still been in touch with Andrea and checking on Brock, even though they broke up months ago.
-Walt does double duty when he visits Andrea–he gets her to make the call to help flush Jesse out but he also suggests Jesse might be dead from his drug use, planting that seed so she’s not terribly surprised when he never calls to ask about Brock again. “Instead of him being, well…” Walt says.
-The first word that Walt utters after realizing Jesse played him is “bitch.” (Followed by, “Son of a bitch, son of a bitch.” )
-Jesse’s shocked face, open mouth and, “What the hell, man?” after he sees the brains.
-One of my very favorite exchanges in the entire episode might be when Hank is leaving Huell and Huell asks, “Well, how long you gon’ be?” and Hank says, “As long as it takes to keep you safe.”
There were also a few callbacks to earlier episodes:
-After Hank hears Andrea’s message, he says, “Nice try, asshole,” which was the first thing Jesse said to Walt on the payphone in the square at the end of “Rabid Dog.”
-Huell talks about washing the rental van, which brought to mind Lydia getting her rental car washed at A1A.
-This may not be a deliberate callback, but when Walt’s in the carwash, before he gets the text from Jesse, and Skyler and Jr are working together, it reminded me of that scene in 203 when Walt sneaks home from the hospital to hide his gun and money and sees Skyler and Jr talking and gets a sense of what it might be like after he’s gone. I got that same sense here, even though this time they know he’s there. Walt’s getting a little peak at how their lives might go on if he can’t beat the cancer.
-The lotto ticket resurfaces.
-The return, again, to the site of the first cook, and Walt having a coughing fit on Cow House Hill.
-“Fire in the hole” was a callback, of course, to Declan’s demise in 510.
FIRE, SUSPENSE AND BEAUTY
Speaking of “fire in the hole,” has anyone else noticed that there have been a lot of references to fire this season? In his third cook, Todd started a fire. Jesse tried to burn Walt’s house down. Jesse said he was lighting Walt’s money on fire. It kinda makes me want to see something go up in flames. Firelust, yo. I wonder if a fire is coming? If Todd survives the shootout (think he will), maybe he has to keep cooking without Walt or Jesse’s help and then blows shit (and himself?) up later on, getting injured and putting the operation in a pickle?
Walt’s visit to Andrea’s was chilling. Brock’s pretty cold to him. On Talking Bad, what Don Cheadle said about this scene was exactly how I’d read it, not that Brock remembers Walt as the man who gave him a tasty little juicebox a few months ago and figured out Walt poisoned him, but more as Brock having that sixth sense that kids and animals have about people with bad intentions. Kids are so often more perceptive about this than adults. The worst moment was when Walt looked at Brock while telling Andrea he didn’t want to bore her with the details of his argument with Jesse. Brock seems to perk up at Jesse’s name, I noticed. And holy shit, that kid is adorable. He better not get hurt in the episodes to come.
As always, Breaking Bad does an awe-inspiring job of juxtaposing great brutality and great beauty. The cinematography is stunning. Walt’s frantic drive and his screaming match with Jesse has a riveting backdrop. Once Walt arrives in To’hajiilee, the landscape is breathtaking and dramatic. All that orange, the blue sky, the hills, the rocks. Amazing. And this gorgeous terrain is the site of Walt’s worst devastation–the betrayal by Jesse, his arrest, the shootout he’s powerless to stop with his brother-in-law in the crossfire.
There’s also such great suspense. Things unfold so, so slowly. Walt’s surrender is drawn out, his walk towards Hank so slow it’s almost painstaking. It’s almost hard to believe. It’s hard not to wait for Walt to pull some move to get out of this situation, which only makes it more powerful when Hank slaps the cuffs on him. Walt has no more maneuvers. He’s choosing Hank here, giving himself up, calling Jack off. Walt is such a complicated and compelling character. It’s simultaneously a little heroic and deeply devastating to see him surrender, to see what he does when given a choice. This has always been a story about choices.
Another moment of great suspense is right before the shootout starts. The standoff is drawn out. Then it all goes quiet and still for a moment before the eruption of gunfire.
The ending is one of the most suspenseful cliffhanger we’ve ever seen. On Talking Bad or the podcast (can’t remember now!) they said that the shootout continues into the next episode. Strange choice to end it in the middle, but an interesting one. If they had ended it earlier, with the suspense of will Jack and his guys open fire, it would have left a different impression. If they ended it later, another different impression; we would have been in the aftermath. Lots of suspense, and lots to look forward to after this. So many characters have lives and fates in the balance. We’re left with exquisite, heart-pounding dread.
TODD, LYDIA AND THE TEASER
Todd and Lydia. Just gotta say it: gross! It’s not a big surprise that Todd’s cook is not all that good. He applied himself with Walt but he just never had the natural talent for meth-cooking. He burnt it, like a cake.
Todd always wants to impress–his uncle, Walt, now Lydia–and he’s going all out here, making her tea the exact way she likes it and making sure he got it right, offering to “smooth things over” with her Czech connections, which of course means a la Declan, “things got a little messy” style, and of course, talking up how he can improve the cook. Lydia’s response was one of the creepiest things I’ve seen on this show, right up there with Walt’s icky “I forgive you” hug to Skyler. “Please do make the cook better. It’s very important to me.” Her tone changed when she said that, and it was like some psychological horror movie twisted mother talking to a mentally-challenged son. That’s what her tone of voice conjured for me. Of course, she knows Todd is into her, and is using that to try to motivate him. Lydia’s a smart one, knows when to kill and when to kill with fake flirtation. Still, I was a little grossed out.
And Todd, he’s polite and a diplomat! “Yeah, kinda, if it catches the light just right, I could see how you’d think there’s a touch of blue, blue-green in there.” But still pretty emotionless. He has no reaction to Walt saying the target is Jesse. Not gloating (that son of a bitch who punched me is gonna get it!) or worrying (Mr. White is offing his old cook partners, what if I’m next?) or even curious (WHY?!) just serene and untroubled.
I was a little bothered by the chemistry in this teaser. WTF method is that they’re using for checking the purity? They should be using a gas chromatograph to determine the purity of something easily vaporized like meth. A gas chromatograph was used to measure the purity of Jesse’s cook in Mexico, and was the instrument Gale asked Gus for to check out Walt’s product. But I can forgive it because none of the people involved in the Lydia, Jack and Todd operation are chemists by any leap of the imagination.
For an answer to what they’re using, check out Weak Interactions post on the science behind “To’hajiilee” – thanks John!
The blue is another issue, of sorts. It’s been said a lot of places, real pure meth would not be blue. Discoloration represents impurities. It’s one of those things that’s more artistic license and color symbolism than reality. But now that they’ve committed, “Apparently that blue touch that you put on it is all the rage with those slavic types.” Uncle Jack, what a character. Is it me or does anyone else think that this crew is NOT happy about having a woman in charge, judging the cook, orchestrating it all? Well, Todd might be okay with it.
On a personal note, it was a little trippy to hear the song “Thunder Island” by Jay Ferguson in the background as Lydia’s driving away and Todd’s fondling her lipstick mark on the cup. In my early twenties, I started working at a Kohl’s department store before it opened (which was a lot more fun than working there afterward, I’d so much rather build shelves, organize clothes by size and color and work in ratty old jeans than constantly clean up after customers) and they had this constant background music of ’70s and ’80s pop/rock, and this song played there all the time. Even though that was over ten years ago, I was immediately taken back there, and still in scene with Todd getting his phone call.
WALT’S COMEUPPANCE AND ITS AFTERMATH
The story wouldn’t come full circle if the man who manipulated and lied to those around him wasn’t lied to and manipulated by those same people. The student surpasses the teacher, or at least matches him, for once.
“The kid is not as dumb as you think he is,” Saul says. Jesse’s been getting smarter for awhile now, but unless Walt’s using that to manipulate him to stick around, I don’t think Walt wants to see it. I have this theory that Walt is intimidated by anyone who’s close to being his equal. Remember how quickly he ditched Gale? And he took that Gray Matter buyout for reasons we don’t fully know, and it seems from mentionings throughout the series that he also used to work at Sandia Labs but clearly bailed out of that too.
It happens sometimes with really smart people, they get attached to being the smartest one in the room, it’s their identity, and when they get to a professional work experience where others are on their same level, it’s threatening. And the old Walt was easily intimidated. So here, in the meth game, he could once again be the smartest, both in terms of chemistry and in terms of being a criminal mastermind manipulator, with no one coming close to approaching his level. But he’s taught Jesse well, and Hank was always a worthy opponent. A few steps behind at times, waylaid by recovering from gunshot wounds at others, blinded by his perception of Walt as this milquetoast guy but always just a few steps behind. So when this worthy opponent and this former student who knows Walt at his core team up, they get him where he really lives, the money. For a moment.
Neither cell phone picture that’s used in the scheme is all that convincing. Jesse has great bugged out dead eyes but seriously? Hank didn’t even try to make it look like there were any actual gunshot wounds. The picture of the barrels has the wrong dirt, as Hank delights in pointing out later, and it’s clear if you stop and look at the picture that the dirt’s all brown without any of that To’hajiilee desert orange. But as in some of Walt’s ruses in the past, the pictures just have to be believable enough to get people in their emotions, their fear, their suspicions (Saul’s been afraid of Walt several times, I’m sure some of that transferred to Huell) to get them to do as intended.
Hank and Jesse also use half-truths, just as Walt always does. Hank boosts his story to Huell by listing off Walt’s crimes to show Huell he knows what he’s talking about, mentioning Huell’s involvement in poisoning Brock and knowledge of the moving of the money. He also plays on Huell’s fear, in another classic Walter White move, by using some emotional truth in there too, which is that Saul probably would only try to protect Huell for about fifteen seconds if it was in his own interest not to. He also uses a truth that he’s not a hundred percent sure of but that’s a pretty safe gamble: that Walt wanted Jesse dead. There’s that little line from Gomez to Hank, that it looked like Huell was looking for someone at the Dog House.
With Huell’s info, it was easy for Hank and Jesse to use some half-truths to make Walt think Jesse was at Walt’s money, especially the detail that there were six more additional barrels.
It was satisfying and thrilling and nerve-wracking to watch as Walt drove and listen as Jesse bested him. “Oh, you’re gonna talk about kids? You’re seriously gonna go there?” I’m not rooting against Walt–he’s far too complex and contradictory and interesting for that–but it was a little glorious, for a moment there, to see him getting played. No one, no one, is without weaknesses that can be used against them. And Walt’s is his money, the empire he built, and when that’s on the line he admits to five murders and some light child poisoning.
When Jesse goes silent, what was that about? Was it because they had those confessions? They wanted to freak Walt out even more by making him think he’d lost the call, which was the one thing Jesse told him not to do if he wanted his money to live? They had Walt’s car in their sights and were able to follow him and didn’t need to track by GPS anymore? They literally lost the call? I just wasn’t quite sure what to make of that.
When Walt arrives, and sees he’s been played and he’s out there, in that beautiful desert, coughing, Walt’s devastation was so palpable. And he doesn’t even know that the real betrayal is still coming in a minute or two. And that what will come after that will be even worse. Can we just take a moment of silence to sit in awe of Bryan Cranston’s acting abilities?
On Talking Bad, someone asked if Walt would take the bullet for Hank if he could. I can’t remember who said what but someone on there put it perfectly, Walt probably thinks he would. He sees himself as the hero, as this man who has principles he won’t compromise. Walt is like most of us in some ways (in others not), he does some bad things, some terrible things, he enjoys feeling like a badass, but at the end of the day he thinks of himself as a good person. But I don’t think that as things stand now, Walt would actually commit that kind of self-sacrifice. From his position in his handcuffs, safe from that choice, he might think he would. I bring this up only because I think Walt’s perception of himself as hero will come into play at some point.
In “To’hajiilee,” Hank and Jesse both get what they want, for a moment. And I think things will change for both of them after this. Hank wanted nothing more, throughout the series, than to be the one to put the cuffs on Heisenberg, and he got that chance. Jesse wanted to punish Walt for poisoning Brock and he got to help catch Walt and then spit in his face. They both got the satisfaction of pulling off a Walt-level manipulation. But it can’t be successful for either of them, not fully and not yet.
For Hank, now that he got what he has wanted for so, so long, to actually read Walter White his Miranda rights, to humiliate him by making him walk backward and get on his knees and then rub it in his face that he fell for a picture that wasn’t even that great because he was consumed by greed. Then he got that call with Marie. I think that’s it for Hank. He got what he wanted, now his character can die. Yes, I think that Hank will not make it. In an odd way, it’s an ending that’s almost happy, that has closure. It’s triumphant and poignant and ultimately tragic. But more on that later. In fact there’s a discussion below for the odds of survival for Hank, Jesse, Gomez and Todd.
Whereas Hank will most likely die after getting what he most wants in regards to Walt, I think things will change for Jesse in an entirely different way. I think Jesse will actually come around to Walt’s side. I may be alone in this and it may sound crazy, but here’s why. Hank has wanted to catch Heisenberg for well over a year now. It was a long-standing quest he was never going to give up. With Jesse, his turn on Walt wasn’t a slow burn over time but recent, more instantaneous, the hot flame of anger and betrayal. Chemically reactive. It can only burn so long. After helping take Walt down, after spitting in his face, I think Jesse may have a fair amount of it out of his system and start to calm down. It’s like when couples have horrible fights, say the worst, most hurtful things, push all the buttons they know to push until they’re spent. Then it’s time for make-up sex. There’s also the fact as awful as Walt’s actions were, Brock survived and wasn’t hurt long-term. The white hot fury that Jesse felt toward Walt for poisoning him just can’t last, especially since he acted on it and got a release.
No, Jesse’s going to have a change of heart. All the groundwork is there. Hank told him how much Walt cares for him. Walt tried to say the same thing on that epic phone call argument, even using one of the same examples. He also told Jesse his cancer’s back. Once Jesse calms down from his anger (and his fear in this shootout may be just the thing to usurp his rage), he’ll start to see the truth in all of this. Also, I firmly believe that Jesse’s about to watch Walt watch helplessly as someone in his family dies. That could sway him too. As angry as Jesse was, he never wished that on Walt. And even when Jesse was at his peak of hating Hank and said horrible things about him, he was the one to tell Walt that Hank was in the hospital, and he made a pitch to Mike about why they shouldn’t kill Hank even as Hank was closing in on Gus’s operation. Jesse understands how important Hank is to Walt, and watching Walt watch Hank die will change him. I would not be surprised, at all, if Jesse tries to either help Hank in some way, or help Walt directly, in the aftermath of the shootout. Plus it would add to the tragic irony that abounds in this season of the show if Jesse somehow helps Walt when the whole reason those guys were there was to help Walt kill Jesse.
And Walt, it will be harder for him to forgive Jesse, but I think, given a lot of time, he could, especially if Jesse helps him somehow in the desert. Walt was ready to forgive Skyler when he thought she went and spilled her guts to Hank. He said to her, “I know you made a deal.” He was wrong, of course, but at the time, he was sure. A big time-jump (or a few?) have to be coming, and a lot can change with time. I still think that the final part of the story has to involve Walt and Jesse, and that either Walt will come back to save Jesse, or to kill him with ricin.
OUTCOMES AND SURVIVAL ODDS
Just so it’s clear, the previews gave away nothing, so this is all just gut instinct. I would bet money that Hank dies and Jesse lives. I’m not so sure about Todd and Gomie. Let’s take each one in turn with name, predicted outcome of the shootout, and percent convinced I am of it. And just to be clear, this is for the shootout only. The two I’m predicting to live could definitely die later on still.
HANK – DIES – 85%
As soon as he called Marie, I thought, Hank’s a dead man. Sorta thought Uncle Jack wouldn’t listen to Walt’s attempt to call it off. When Hank told Marie he loved her, it was more like absolute certainty. It could be a fakeout–we thought Ted was dead after all–but I don’t think it is this time. For one thing, a twist has to serve the story not just fool the audience. And a twist where Hank lives doesn’t really work. Things needs to get all crazy up in here to lead to whatever the finale has in store for us, but if Hank lives and Walt somehow gets away, that’s like hitting the reset button. Yeah, Hank’d be more rabid than ever, especially if Gomie did die, but it would basically be the same story as it was all season, Hank pursuing Walt in any way he can.
The only difference would be that he has some more evidence (they could dig up Walt’s money, plus anything Walt admitted on the phone with Jesse, I think we can assume they recorded that) but it just won’t shake up the story enough. A lot more caca needs to reign down on this whole thing, and that happens more if Hank dies. Marie will go insane. Walt could lose Skyler over this; she was so upset about making the confession DVD and I can’t imagine her “What’s one more?” would apply to her sister’s husband. Walt also could blame himself–he fell for the trickery, he brought those guys out to the desert and wasn’t able to call it off when he tried–if Hank dies. Hank’s death would change things irrevocably and have a huge impact on the story.
A possibility would have Hank injured but not dead, but we’ve already seen that in the shootout with The Cousins in “One Minute” so I don’t see it happening that way again. Plus, as discussed above, Hank got a decent sendoff with that call to Marie, with arresting Walt and one-upping the great Heisenberg for a quick second. His death would be sufficiently tragic too, with Walt trying to stop it even after all that.
To sum up, Hank dying could introduce a lot of new story elements and we know things have to get a lot crazier, and soon. It was time for someone close to Walt to go, just for the progression of the story.
JESSE – SURVIVES – 99.9%
I’d bet A LOT of money Jesse survives the shootout, almost for the same reason I’m so convinced Hank dies, story logic. Of all of these, Jesse’s the one I’m the most sure about. A death at this point in the game has to have huge story impact. If Jesse dies now, who cares? In the world of the show, I mean. I don’t mean to sound cold–you know that if Jesse dies I probably won’t be able to get out of bed for weeks except to weep in the bathtub–just analytical. None of the characters are invested in Jesse’s survival so if he dies it won’t deeply affect any of them. Everyone wants him dead anyway. Nothing changes for anyone if Jesse dies. There’s no fallout to be had. The worst that could happen is Andrea could call the cops if she still doesn’t hear from him, but even that is a little unlikely since Walt already planted the idea that Jesse might be dead when he spoke to her. It won’t change anything, story-wise, if Jesse dies now.
Hmmm I also just also thought that if Hank dies and Jesse lives and Marie knows this, she could blame Jesse. It’s a bit of a remote possibility, Marie is so focused on Walt, but it’s a thought.
Last week, I was convinced the writers were setting us up to accept Jesse’s death but the more I think about that, there’s no way they’re going to take it that easy on us. If Jesse gets killed, they’re going to make us all, even those who hate him now, weep in a bathtub. There’s no way they’d waste the potential dramatic payoff of a heart-wrenching Jesse death by having him go in that shootout when no one cares. The only possibility is that Jesse could die in the desert trying to help Hank or Walt. But I think even that scenario is pretty remote. No, Jesse’s going to survive; things are going to turn around. At least for now.
GOMEZ – DIES – 55%
Could go either way, but if I had to bet, you know if I had a gun to my head or some skinheads pointing their artillery at me and had to pick, I’d guess he dies. He looks the most wounded at the end. I was thinking maybe he has to live to be able to tell the DEA, Marie and others about what happened to Hank, but it might be more dramatic if there’s no one to do that, if they’re all in the dark. Plus, I think the endgame will involve Jack’s crew, so it might be time for that to take even more center stage, and the DEA threat to take a backseat. I don’t think either DEA agent makes it out of that shootout alive. The one thing that makes me so hesitant is that I’m convinced that Walt’s crimes become public and if that’s the case, someone needs to go public with it. Gomez would be the likely choice. I’m really pretty 50/50 with his fate.
TODD – SURVIVES – 75%
Could go either way on him too, but again, if I had to bet, I’d say he lives for now. He’s the connecting point between his uncle’s crew, Lydia, and Walt and Jesse. If Todd died now, Lydia would need someone else to cook and Jack could be pissed and out for vengeance, so it would affect the story, but I just don’t see it playing out that way. For now, those factions need to be connected and Todd serves that purpose. I don’t think Jack and his guys would keep trying to cook without him since they wouldn’t have anyone to cook and they haven’t really gotten entrenched in the business yet. They’re just starting out. I think if Todd dies, it’ll happen later on, when the stakes and the consequences will be even more dire. Maybe in 515. Plus the polite little psycho has to live another day to nurse his creepy crush on sweet blue Lydia.
WALT – SURVIVES – 100%
This is a yeah duh situation. Since the flashforward wasn’t some alternate universe, or Walt coming back as a ghost to try to influence the lives of the people he once knew, or someone’s dream, it’s a given that Walt makes it out of the desert alive.
Still, even if all of these are correct, so many questions remain. How does Walt get out? How does Jesse? Will Jack and his men figure out that they just killed two DEA agents? And one of them Walt’s brother-in-law? What then? How does news of whatever happens out in the desert reach Skyler, Jr, Marie? What will happen with the cook and Lydia? What makes Walt leave town? Do Skyler and Jr leave with him? If not, where do they go and why do they abandon the house? Will Walt fake his own death? Will his crimes become public?
LOOSE ENDS THAT COULD COME INTO PLAY
So, assuming Hank and Gomez don’t make it out alive, what will be left of their investigation?
-The call to Marie. She knows Hank arrested Walt.
-Agent Van Ostner who was watching over Huell. He doesn’t know what was going on but he knows something’s up.
-Huell. Not exactly the quiet type. And clearly freaked.
-Uncle Jack and his boys now know where Andrea and Brock live, and that they’re the way to get to Jesse.
-Jesse’s confession? There must be a copy in the Schrader home.
-Walt’s false confession. Could it still come into play?
-Walt’s real confessions in that phone call, recorded anywhere?
Detailed predictions beyond who lives and dies in this awesome desert shootout are over at Season 5 Part 2 Predictions and Detective Work.
Just there more episodes to go. Holy shit!
SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS ON THE IMPENDING END OF THE SERIES
The other thing I’ve been thinking? I missed out on a lot of things. Discovered Nirvana just after Kurt Cobain died, never got to see them live. Got really into TOOL (basically my musical equivalent of Breaking Bad) in about 2003 and did see them live but not back in the day. Watched Arrested Development long after it went off the air. Same with The Wire. I didn’t have a TV in the late 90s/early 2000s so totally missed The Sopranos and when I finally watch it, I’m sure I’ll have that same missed the boat feeling. I’m always finding things too late. I was even late coming to Breaking Bad.
But lately I just keep thinking about how we are witnessing greatness as it happens. Art. Not late, not in hindsight, now. There have been other great shows, and there will be others to come, but there will never be another BrBa. It’s something really special to be watching it unfold, as sad as it is that the ride will be over so soon. Nineteen days until the final episode. The loss is coming, and it’s going to crush us, but I think it’ll be worth it. I think they’ll end it right, somehow. Go out even greater than they came in, and that was one stunning pilot. Breaking Bad has made me a better writer and has in some ways restored my faith in storytelling and art. Nothing will come close for awhile. I’m getting sentimental here, I know, but with only three episodes left, it’s hard not to. I’m just so glad I didn’t miss this brutal, intense, funny, dark dark dark, tragic thrill of a ride.
“Fire in the hole, bitch. There goes ten Gs. Nice orange flame.”
More About “To’hajiilee”
- Tucker’s Hole
- Sidekick Reviews
- Insider Podcast
- AMC Talk Forums Topic for “To’hajiilee”
- Weak Interactions – The Science of Breaking Bad
- Tim Goodman – Bastard Machine Deconstruction
- “To’hajiilee” is the Finest Episode of Breaking Bad Yet
- If “To’hajiilee” Took Place Entirely on Facebook
More Breaking Bad Topics
- Season 5 Part 2 Predictions and Detective Work – updated frequently
- Hank’s Dilemma in All its Dimensions
- Chekhov’s Ricin
- Walter White’s Moral Demise and the People Jesse Pinkman Loves
- How Walter White Poisoned Brock and What Happened to the Ricin Cigarette
- 512 “Rabid Dog”
- 511 “Confessions”
- 510 “Buried”
- 509 “Blood Money”
- 508 “Gliding Over All”
- 507 “Say My Name”
- 506 “Buyout”
- 505 “Dead Freight”
- 504 “Fifty-One”
- 503 “Hazard Pay”
- 502 “Madrigal”
- 501 “Live Free or Die”