The ongoing stand-off between Walter, Jesse, and Gus will reach its breaking point tonight, in the Breaking Bad season 4 finale.
After last Sunday’s shocking episode found the one-time partners in crystal meth cookery putting their disagreements behind them in order to kill the would-be drug kingpin, Gus is going to have to watch his back now more than ever.
Following Walter’s (Bryan Cranston) failed attempt at killing Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) with an improvised car bomb, the pair soon realize that it’s not going to be easy to take down their former boss.
Fortunately, Walter and Jesse (Aaron Paul) aren’t going to have to go up against Gus on their own. Thanks to the ever-helping hand of Saul (Bob Odenkirk), the duo adds a surprise co-conspirator to help in their efforts.
The masterfully executed Breaking Bad season 4 finale perfectly balances the series’ beautifully methodical character development with an abundance of remarkably shocking resolutions that not only exceed all lofty expectations, but also serves to drive audiences to ponder what’s next.
Continuing where last week’s episode left off, the visibly shaken Walter White leads the charge of his and Jesse’s revolution against the power that once controlled them. Two men, who were once sure of themselves and their place in the manic world in which they live, are now forced to not only endure the result of their chosen lives, but are also required to redefine their morality – all for the purpose of surviving.
Forced to seek help outside of his familiar confines, Walter leads the charge in attempt to accomplish the duo’s predetermined goal of killing Gus by aligning himself with his former enemy, Hector Salamanca. An agreed-upon plan between Hector and Walter, which is not revealed until the finale’s final moments, serves to brilliantly highlight Vince Gilligan’s intentions of putting the characters (and their stories) before any superfluous reveal forced by the need to placate impatient viewers.
Like the perfectly played game of chess that this series has always shown itself to be, Gilligan once again serves to elevate the unfortunate (but often expected) need for swift resolutions, by instead revealing the beauty and suspense behind each and every decision and action the characters are forced to make.
From Hector painfully spelling out his wishes with a grid, to Jesse being tirelessly questioned about the poisoning of Brock, to Walter patiently watching his plan unfold from afar, Gilligan is resolute in his intentions to wonderfully convey the fact that it is the characters that should drive a series, and not the eventual outcome. A conclusion will happen – no matter what. By focusing the choices that the characters make, the effect that these choices have, and reveling in journey that these choices take each character on, it ultimately presents a more earnest conclusion, when one does eventually occur.
And, for all intents and purposes, one could say that all of the conclusions that viewers have been waiting for since the beginning of Breaking Bad have been presented. The demise of Gus, both beautiful and shocking, was as rewarding as it was tragic. Continuing the series’ earned track record of always expecting the unexpected, it was not until the final moments of Gus straightening his tie that the reality of what occurred was revealed and, ultimately, set it.
A fitting end for a beloved foe, no doubt. Though, the celebratory death of Walter and Jesse’s greatest threat was quickly retorted with a contemplative thought from Jesse: “He needed to die, right?” For what all transpired, for the threats to their lives, for all the turmoil that Gus caused - he needed to die, right?
While it may have been true that Gus did, indeed, need to die, it was amazingly revealed that the puppet master behind this decision, behind forcing the hand of everyone involved, was Walter. Secretly poisoning Brock to lure Jesse into his calculated plan and unwittingly coaxing Hector into sacrificing his life to kill an enemy, Walter quickly became the man that he feared most – a man who not only decided the best decision for himself, but also forced others into believing that it was the best for them, as well.
So, while the majority all expected resolutions may have occurred, the one unexpected resolution – the one that was staring us all in the face, from the very beginning, still remains: Walter White. From the beginning of the series, Walter has continued to traverse a dark and mysterious path – all while attempting to present a morally sound conviction. Though it may have taken this long to fully reveal itself, the intentions of Walter White are now apparently clear.
With sixteen episodes left before Breaking Bad comes to an end, the story about the man that is Walter White is what waits for us – as it always has. Despite conquering a powerful enemy and reassuring his family that “it’s all over”, the man that Walter White has now become is not something he can simply walk away from.
-Breaking Bad season 5 returns summer 2012 on AMC
Follow Anthony on Twitter @anthonyocasio