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TV Monolith

Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 15 "Granite State"

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We've come a long way everyone! For anyone who has been checking in every now and then since I've started this review series, I just want thank you. I'm aware that most people look at these and likely decide not to read and honestly I'd probably do the same. I can only hope that the read is clear and enjoyable, even if the reward for you is coming to a disagreement.

If I was to describe this episode in a few sentences it would be that all of these characters seem to be trapped in a timeless limbo. Some are going to hell and some may not, but this is judgment day. It's a foggy fantasy for where your mind might place these characters after the big, highly anticipated bomb that has been driving the series from the start has gone off. This is an episode where every character is on their own and one of the main themes (and which has been a strong one for the show always) is that intentions don't end up with the same result once put to paper. The universe doesn't recognize perceptions. Only what's real.

Walt puts on the hat and marches with the intention of disobeying the rules set out for him in this hell he's found himself in, but whimpers back after seeing the long road ahead, unaware of where it will take him. The physical deconstruction of Walt and everything he holds dear has already gone far into effect, but it's also the decay of Heisenberg or what Walt envisioned as Heisenberg. He can't leave this place until he figures out what he really wants, and he can't even do that until he can free himself from the fiction he's been so determined to embrace throughout the whole series. Walt comes to terms with himself at his core here in order to entertain a new and truer identity before he can apply his final actions more accurately to the real world.

I remember thinking that I wouldn't mind if we never saw who the disappearer was. The mysterious red van was character enough, but when it's revealed to be Ed played by Robert Forrester, I was fully behind the decision to lift the curtain because his presence for the episode added a lot. It's just great casting for this type of character. As we open, we see that it's not Walt being transported, but Saul who is also going to need a clean break. Feel free to use whatever vacuum metaphor that comes to mind. Saul is heading for Nebraska according to Ed, but not before bunking with his favorite bed-fellow Walter White, who can be seen on the camera as a defeated soul locked in his room.

And this is Limbo. Two exhausted men in white who are on their final crossing path, talking about their past and future before the higher power sends them on their way. They way it's directed, it feels like their back and forth can go on forever in time, but luckily Saul knows how to move on. Walter however will remain trapped running in place until he makes some serious changes. In the beginning of the season, Walt who is fueled with a god-complex threatens Saul by stating "It's over when I say it's over." This time he does it again when trying to get Saul to stay with him, but it falls completely flat because at this point it's not up to him anymore. He is too far on the path he chose to have choices at this point. Saul doesn't have these demons weighing him down and we bid farewell.

Marie is left with nothing now. She can only ride passenger until she can search for the confirmations on Hank and Gomez's whereabouts. She knows it's a hopeless task with a lack of anticipated reward but it's all she has. What's terrifying is when the agents roll up to Marie's house. Once again the neo-nazi's prove to be this invincible, unforgiving tornado (remember when you can only wonder if the Schrader house was a safe place to hide?) as they have blown right through to gather any evidence of Todd that was given by Jesse. She's very lucky to have not been there for that. Perhaps the universe has a special place for her but until then, she's rushed the hell out of there.

Skyler is an empty vessel, apparently a taxi driver now. Even worse for her is that she is surrounded by a group of unfamiliar suits who don't give a shit what happens to her or what she has gone through, just as long as they get what they want. The only person who seems to be more hopeless is whatever no-name she hired as a lawyer. Skyler did bring this on herself a bit when she stalled to take any action on her husband's behavior. I don't blame her, but there is something about her that has enjoyed "breaking bad" somewhat even if she realized it was a terrible mistake and wanted out. Same can be said about Jesse. We want the best for Jesse. He has learned from his mistakes but he is still facing punishment. While Skyler gets a frightening shock from threatening burglars, (which was so tense, I felt the floor open up beneath me) she is left to hold back on to baby Holly once more. Jesse has done far worse in his life and unfortunately won't get off so easy.

Let me transition to him by talking about Todd for a second. If there's anything that has come out the most dynamic and creepy from season 5, it's Todd's character. I mean on their own, Jack, Lydia, Kenny, etc. are certainly interesting, but not as strong as what they offer to the story as a whole. Todd is the exception and Vince did good in taking advantage of what Jesse Plemons can bring to the table. That little smirk he gives upon hearing a recorded Jesse explain the shooting of Drew Sharp is one of the most bizarre reactions I would have ever expected, even after knowing the extent of his sociopathic tendencies. I love the callback to his burglar roots as he pops in on Skyler and the chilling calm he brings when telling Skyler to refrain from mentioning Lydia to the police. Killing seems as innocent a game of "tag, you're it" to him, yet he's aware that almost everyone else doesn't want to play so he's apologetic and kind when a potential victim has been cornered.

Where Walt lacks the will and energy to leave his personal hell, Jesse uses every last bit of his in order to escape. There's the difference. Walt's choices are limited, but his struggle is completely internal. Jesse on the other hand has no control over what happens, therefore it's an external struggle. His escape was not only intelligent, but it took a lot of skill. The entire sequence was intense and I loved the score.



Unfortunately he lacks Walt's luck which he refers to in "Rabid Dog". Our hearts sink as the goon squad catch him and we now get one of the hardest scenes to watch in the series ever (but not before Jesse tears into them, calling them psycho fucks). Jack and the boys pull up to Andrea's house and as Jesse watches from the backseat of the car, Todd lures her out and before you can figure out what going to happen, it just happens. He silently executes her right there on the porch. The worst is Jesse's reaction. It's so surreal and you can tell he can't even process it, but he knows it just happened, yet there's no way to turn back time or even retaliate. Todd opens the door again and sandwiches Jesse in the middle. That absolute gagged screaming as he now has to ride along side with her killer is really tough to take. Jack yells at him to settle down because Brock is still alive incase of any future disobedience.

Walt's story is a lonely one. He's a dying fugitive in a cabin with a barrel of money he can only piss away on monthly supply drops and the company that Ed can reluctantly offer. His lack of courage won't even allow him to insert his own I.V. It's a deserved end point for him though because while he warms his hands on the fire, everybody else burns due to his actions. After realizing that Ed has no reason but to keep the money for himself after Walt's time is up, he finally marches into town with a package.

It was already one thing for Junior to cope with cerebral palsy, but now his personal hell is that Hank's dead and he'll constantly have eyes on him for being the freak son of Walter White. That's a lot of distress to live with. The phone call to Junior is very heart-breaking from both ends. Walt is pathetic and Junior wants nothing to do with him after the all the devastation his father left behind. This is what Walt probably feared the most when Junior dismisses him with anger and tells him to just die already. Walt's last ounce of purpose has been squandered, so he decides to finally take Saul's advice and turn himself in.

Turnover time. Just when I thought that Junior's principal Carmen was a dig-up, a surprising couple is shown on the tv. Gretchen and Elliot are being interviewed by Charlie Rose, probably as a PR move to wipe Walt's association from their company, Gray Matter. They go on to state that Walt never had any contribution to the company and even Gretchen digs into him personally as being far from the man they even knew. Of course, this serves as an immediate spark in the damp rag of Walt's lasting motivations. It's the root cause that set Walt so far off into the deep end to begin with. He's got the look on his face, the theme song plays for the first time, and by the time the police swarm the bar, he's nowhere to be seen. This is it, ladies and gentleman. A powerful ending for the penultimate episode.

Do you feel for Walt? Because I can't help but feel for him still. The show certainly succeeded in having me hate Walt, but the character is so human, I often find myself flip-flopping between the viewer who wants "Heisenberg" (in whatever form that is) to take control of the situation, and the viewer that wants Walt to suffer the ultimate consequences. Stay tuned for the final review where we'll take a look at this a lot more closely.

Comments

  1. Elliot76's Avatar
    Just to reply to your intro, I have been reading these periodically but not consistently. They're pretty interesting and I like hearing your reactions to some of my favourite moments of the show.
  2. lionelhutz123's Avatar
    I'm glad to hear that man. anything to offer a vicarious thrill.
  3. Walid's Avatar
    todd shooting andrea was the hardest scene ever for me. jesse's reaction is so heartbreaking. it's surprising to me that there are people on youtube and probably elsewhere that think he deserved it because he knew of the potential consequences of trying to escape, but still. bums me out every time

    oh and i always enjoy reading anything breaking bad
  4. lionelhutz123's Avatar
    yeah the comment section of youtube is pretty much the best tool to weed out some of the worst people. there's a lot of people who really have it out for jesse for being a rat.

    and thank you, it makes it worth it to finish this season of reviews.
  5. Walid's Avatar
    I remember reading comments about people laughing at the Andrea death scene because Jesse deserved it or something like that. Like, that scene was hard to watch, how is it funny? I hate people...

    I can't wait to read your review of the finale
  6. lionelhutz123's Avatar
    I could have easily shown the andrea death scene for the video in this blog, but I thought it was too dark and sad to even display. some people are so wrapped up in fist-pumping for Heisenberg, that they are deluded from any possible sympathy for any of the other characters. that's humanity for you.

    I cant wait to write it!