I can’t remember another show that’s gone through such a drastic shift for its main character. Sure, we’re no stranger to anti-heroes, guys who are bad from the start like Tony Soprano or Dexter, and the show grows outward from them.
But Walter White? Five years ago (and one year in show time), he was a chemistry teacher trying to raise money to beat cancer and provide for his family.
My, how far we’ve come.
Each episode this season has built on the last, showing how Walt is reaching new depths of craziness on a mad power trip to become meth king of the American Southwest. But last night? He’s crossed the bridge to insanity and blown it up behind him.
No point beating around the bush, Walt killed Mike, and up until the thirty seconds preceding it, I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting that kind of turn. It was almost botched in typical Breaking Bad fashion, as for a moment it seemed like Mike could have gotten away to be Walt’s reckoning another day. But alas, he expired on the banks of a rather picturesque river, allowing Walter to bask in the madness of what he’d just done, and realize he didn’t even have to do it at all.
It’s just so strange to have the main character of the show twisted from the good guy into the villain. There’s no redemption for Walt now, we’re passed that. The hero mantle now falls to Jesse it seems, who has graduated from supporting character to the only real person we’re rooting for on the show any more. And I suppose Hank if you want a swift law enforcement ending to the whole thing. But can you really imagine that happening?
Before Mike’s final goodbye, we saw Walt flexing his muscle in different ways. He did so successfully securing a deal with the rival drug gang, though going into business with a bunch of murderous thugs he’s never met is probably not that smartest idea. But Walt has been anything but smart recently. His strongarm tactic failed to work with Jesse, and his insults drove him away rather than made him realize he had nothing without Walt. I think it was a pretty significant moment to have Jesse choose jack shit over Walt and millions of dollars. Walt just couldn’t believe it, and he lost his only actual friend.
Now Todd is being trained to make meth, and though he’s a good student apparently, let’s not forget this guy MURDERED A CHILD a few weeks ago, so I’m guessing he’s not going to be a net positive for Walt’s little operation. I could see him ending up killing Walt. That’s something this show would do, rather than make it some big dramatic showdown between established characters.
And really, doesn’t Walt have to die? Isn’t this the way this is going to go? We’re only a few lines of coke and an M-16 away from the ending of Scarface. Walt’s in full Tony Montana mode as evidenced by his “Say my name” power play in the desert. I’m surprised he didn’t yell, “You f*** with me, you f*** with the best!” shortly after.
This was a truly powerful episode from start to finish, and not just because of Mike’s death alone. The full range of emotions on nearly every character was on display here, and by the end even self-proclaimed badass Walt lost his cool when he realized how far he’d gone.
Now what happens? Next week is the “season finale,” whatever that means in bizarro AMC land where seasons are eight episodes long and take six month breaks for some reason. So what goes down in the finale? How could it possibly top this?
How will Mike’s death be discovered, or will it? Will Walt just pretend Mike escaped to happyland, or will the police somehow find the body in that remote location? What happens when Jesse finds out? He has to know Walt did it, and I think we might get one more showdown between the pair of them before this series ends.
And…what does long-haired Walt need that machine gun for months later as we saw in the first episode? Where the hell are we going here?