Not long before Breaking Bad launched the second half of its final season, those involved in the show began speaking out about audience expectations and where the series would be headed in its final eight episodes. Naturally, people were inquisitive about how Walt would reconcile his being a meth kingpin and come to answer (or not) for his crimes as Heisenberg. As was expected, Bryan Cranston and series creator Vince Gilligan managed a few tantalizing words without actually giving anything away, but the phrase that stuck around in regard to the finale described it as “an inevitable action that had to come.”
In ‘To’hajiilee,’ Walt finds himself in the middle of another inevitable action, the one where he must deal with his longtime associate, student and, for all intents and purposes, surrogate son, by plotting to have him killed. While being grilled by Todd’s uncle about the particulars of the murder, Walt does everything he can to lessen his emotional stakes in what he’s about to do. Walt again refers to Jesse by saying, “He’s like family to me,” and makes excuses – either for himself or for Jesse – by saying things like “He won’t listen to reason” – which doesn’t sound at all like: “I poisoned a child to make blowing up the proprietor of a chain of chicken restaurants easier.”
But that’s all part of the hubris of Walter White: his actions are justifiable and within reason – if only someone would stop and listen! – while those operating against his wishes are clearly in the wrong. What’s worse, Walt’s narcissism blinds him to such a degree it doesn’t occur to him someone like Jesse would operate on anything but a purely instinctual, reflexive level. And with gasoline fumes still emanating from the White household, who can blame him?
Gamesmanship aside, one thing is for certain: for a group of individuals who’ve spent the last few months cooking meth, burning down superlabs and killing rival drug dealers, Walt and Jesse sure can deliver award-worthy performances when need be (if they live through this, maybe they’ll start an Albuquerque theater group next). First, Walt sends Hank a surefire Oscar contender with his “confession,” and now Jesse gives whole new meaning to the phrase “phoning it in” by convincing Walt his money has been located and is being burned at the rate of ten-thousand dollars a minute.
‘To’hajiilee’ moves faster than Walt drives when his fortune is supposedly going up in smoke and concludes with another inevitable action: a gunfight between Hank and Steve Gomez and Uncle Jack and his crew. All this time it was Walt vs. Hank, or Walt vs. Jesse, in a race to see who could emerge from this fiasco unscathed, but in his thirst to win, Walt’s let the genie out of the bottle; he asked for Jack’s help and, as is evident in the shootout, Uncle Jack and his crew don’t listen to reason…or even the guy who hired them.
As each episode ends, the layers separating Walter from Mr. Lambert are peeled back even further. And now, more than ever, it seems like the machine gun in Walter’s trunk isn’t just a weapon of destruction, it very well may be a tool to help certain detestable Aryans listen to reason.
Breaking Bad continues next Sunday with ‘Ozymandias’ @9pm on AMC. Check out a cryptic preview below: