Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 15: Granite State
Warning! As always this review spoils everything up to and including the latest episode (season 5 episode 15) of Breaking Bad.
It was really nice to see that everything’s looking rosy for Walt, Jesse and the whole gang. It looks like next weeks finale is going to be a brilliantly happy and everything’s is going to turn out just fine. Of course that’s not the case, things somehow manage to get even bleaker this week. I can only imagine the horrors that lie in store for next week.
We start out this week with Saul’s guy in the red van, who helps to make people disappear (played by Robert Forester), has a new customer; this week it’s Saul who needs to disappear. Walt is still waiting to be ‘re-homed’ because he’s such a high profile client, the story about him being an infamous drugs kingpin is all over the news, and he’s now the subject of a nationwide manhunt.
Things aren’t really improving for anyone else either this week. Marie is on her way home, accompanied by a few DEA agents. She already thinks that her brother-in-law is responsible for murdering her husband, who’s body has yet to be found, and now she comes back to find her home has been ransacked, courtesy of Todd, Uncle Jack and the gang. It looks like she won’t be going back there again then. I was a bit puzzled about what the Nazis would want from Hank and Marie’s place, but when it was revealed it was pretty obvious. They were there to get Jesse’s confession tape, so they could figure out what he’d told Hank and they weren’t exactly thrilled with the results. The tape shows Jesse talking about the kid that Todd had murdered during the train heist, and he explicitly named Todd, which isn’t going to be great news for Uncle Jack. The worst part was, that while the tape talked about Todd gunning down Drew (the kid with the motorbike) Todd was pretty much beaming with pride.
Jack and the rest of the crew are about ready to get out of the meth business, and with $70 million under their belts I’m not sure you can blame them really. They’ve decided it’s time to tie up loose ends, which isn’t great news for Jesse, and get out of the game. Todd has other ideas though, thanks to his creepy crush on Lydia. Todd wants to carry on cooking meth, and using Jesse to keep the purity up, in the hope of impressing Lydia. What a fantastic couple those two would make.
Walt’s mental state isn’t great, either. He’s got a plan, he wants to go after Jack and Todd to go and get his money back, to protect his legacy, take back what’s his, oh and they killed Hank as well. His plan seems to revolve around hiring some decent mercenaries, because that worked out so well last time, and taking out the whole Nazi gang. Saul has usually been the voice of reason throughout the whole series really, and it’s no different here. He wants Walt to stay in New Mexico, to go to the police and face the music to clear Skyler’s name if nothing else. Saul makes a very valid point that as long as Walt is still being hunted then the DEA are going to have to go after someone and that someone will be Skyler. The last couple of episodes have all been about a shift in power with Walt, a couple of weeks ago we saw a very definite shift in the balance of power from Walt to Jack and this week was Saul’s turn. Walter was trying to go into full on Heisenberg mode to scare Saul into helping pull off his plan (the brilliantly thought out one with mercenaries having a huge gun fight with Neo Nazis). The only problem for Walt is that his cancer seems to be back, and quite prominently too. Walt can’t even make it to the end of his threat without breaking down in a coughing fit. He’s really not the intimidating, brilliant and powerful drug lord he (thought he) once was.
Unsurprisingly Skyler isn’t doing brilliantly either, as Saul predicted the DEA are going after her in a big way. It’s a slightly jarring scene as she’s questioned by the guy who used to be in the Orange adverts (you know, the one that looks like Kevin Spacey). There’s also a nice callback to the very first episode as Skyler is tuning out everything they’re saying to her, trying to pretend it’s not happening in a similar way to Walt with his doctor when he got his diagnosis.
Todd continues to be incredibly creepy in this episode. Lydia had asked him to go and make sure Skyler didn’t say anything about her or her connection to the meth business. I was really expecting the worst because we’ve seen Todd has no issue with acts of mindless violence, something that resurfaces later in this episode. Instead of just killing Skyler and Holly Todd has just asked her not to say anything, I think he still has a lot of respect for Walter and so is trying to do the right thing by him. I guess you can see why Todd would feel like that, Walt did his normal teacher thing with Todd when it came to cooking meth, and it was probably the nicest anyone has ever been to Todd.
Todd and Lydia have a little meeting, in the cafe where she met Walt, to discuss how it went. Oh to add to the creepiness of it all Todd is dressed up like a teenager going on a date to the mall and he’s drinking camomile tea (the same thing that Lydia drinks). Jesse Plemons is really doing a brilliant job of making Todd a disturbing psychopath. Lydia is keen to get out of the meth business for the moment, things are a little bit difficult lately with Walt’s confession to the DEA. I would think that meth is being targeted more aggressively than normal by the DEA at the moment. It’s only when she hears that with the help of Jesse it’s now up to 92% purity and back to the famous Heisenberg blue. Greed seems to really get the better of everyone in Breaking Bad and I would think it’ll be Lydia’s the downfall just like it has been for everyone else.
Things are beginning to tie up now with the flash-forwards that we have seen of Walt. He’s got his new identity, Mr Lambert, and a cabin in the middle of nowhere in New Hampshire (the Granite State), and his only contact with the outside world is meant to be through Saul’s guy who will do a supply drop every month.
I’ve read quite a lot about poor Jesse, and I’ve actually written a lot about how I feel sorry for him but looking back he is a pretty selfish character. He does things without thinking about the consequences and ends up getting people hurt, he’s really not that different from Walt. This week he’s got the picture of Andrea and Brock from the lab and it looks as though he’s just sat in his cell (it wasn’t lost on me that both Walt and Jesse are effectively prisoners now) staring at the photo of Andrea and Brock. It turns out what he’s actually staring at is the paperclip on the photograph, and thinking about using it to escape. It seems that Jesse missed the, not so, subtle message the photo was meant to convey ‘we know what’s important to you, fuck with us and we’ll go after them’. Instead he was just thinking about himself and, after a very tense scene, manages to escape. Unfortunately for Jesse (and Brock and Andrea) he’s not really thought the rest of the escape through and ends up getting caught pretty quickly.
When he’s caught Jesse is pretty much begging Todd to just kill him, but of course that’s not what Todd and Jack had in mind and I can’t believe Jesse didn’t get the hint from the photograph. No what they had in mind, in possibly the most disturbing scene in Breaking Bad for a while, Todd drives Jesse to Andrea’s house, manages to get Andrea out of the house and then shoots her in the back of the head just to make a point to Jesse. She was one of the few innocent characters left in the series, along with Walt Jnr, and she was just killed in cold blood to make a point to Jesse. It was all just business.
A few months have passed when we catch up with Walt, and he’s still in his isolated cabin. The only contact he’s got is with Saul’s guy, I don’t think we ever get his name, who is not only delivering Walt’s supplies but also helping to administer his chemotherapy. Walt isn’t looking great either, he clearly pretty ill now and is losing weight quite rapidly (his wedding ring falls off to reinforce that), and he’s worried about what will happen to his money on the day that Saul’s guy comes up to the cabin and Walt is dead. Walt’s last great plan is to get some money to his family by sending it to one of Walt Jnr’s friends. Walt has managed to make the 8 mile hike into town, and has gotten someone in a bar to call Walt Jnr’s school, pretending to be Marie. It’s Walt’s last play to make contact with his family, to try and have some kind of connection with them after everything he’s done for them. The thing is Walt Jnr thinks that his Dad was responsible for murdering Hank so understandably he doesn’t really want anything to do with him, when Walt made that phone call to Skyler last week, to try and clear her name, he really burnt any chance of ever reconciling with his son. The one thing he’s always said he wants to do is protect and provide for his family and doing that has meant that he’s lost them, for good.
Walt seems like he’s given up, that Walt Jnr’s rejection was the final straw and that he was going to give himself up by calling the DEA, telling them who he was and leaving the phone off the hook for them to trace. It really seemed that Walt might actually go out with the whimper instead of a bang until the TV in the bar caught his eye. Elliot and Gretchen (of Grey Matter fame) are on the news talking about their, sizeable, donation to start a drugs rehabilitation program, a move that is obviously designed to distance themselves from their co-founder and now drug kingpin, Walter White.
Elliot and Gretchen unwittingly have provided Walt with the incentive he needed to fire him into action. They play down his involvement in the company, that he was only responsible for helping to come up with the name of the company. He’s already lost his family, his money, his empire and now Gretchen and Elliot and playing down his achievements. If there’s one thing Walt is proud of it’s that he’s smarter than everyone else.
We did find out this week what’s happened to Walt’s house in the flash-forwards. The bank had repossessed the house ready for auction, but it had become a bit of a tourist attraction, thanks to his notoriety. It’s a bit of a disappointing explanation really but I suppose it’s one way of explaining things, and tying up another one of the loose ends.
Next week looks like it’s going to be unmissable. I think that the machine gun we see Walt buying way back in the first episode of season 5 is for Jack and Todd. I can see Walt going slightly Scarface and storming the compound to reclaim his money and his blue meth legacy. I’m pretty certain that Walt won’t be aware that Jesse is even still alive, so it should be interesting what he will do when he (inevitably) comes across Jesse. Their paths just have to cross again. Although, I’m not sure what state we can expect Jesse to be in after what he witnessed this week…