MAJOR spoilers follow...
As predicted by myself (and, I'm sure, just about everyone else), the creators of Breaking Bad made us wait a week AND five minutes to find out the results of last week's shootout. We get a cold open that flashes back to a time when Walt and Jesse had just begun to cook together. A phone conversation between Walt and Skyler reveal the origins of baby Holly's name. And, cue the opening credits...
As the show truly begins, we are now thrust back into the shootout between Todd and Jack's gang and the outgunned team of Hank and Gomez. At this point, I want to give one final SPOILER WARNING! If you haven't yet seen the episode, watch it now, then come back to read. Cleverly and effectively, we don't actually SEE anymore of the gun battle. We are given a long distance shot and can hear the shots raining down. When we finally get back to the scene, the fight is over and Gomez is dead and Hank has been shot in the leg. At this point, Walt seemingly is able to negotiate a deal with Jack for Hank's life, and we, the audience, would be forgiven for thinking that the writers have found a way for Hank to make it out of this seemingly unsurvivable ordeal alive. Hank, however, knows better and in an amazingly acted and written scene, his saga comes to an end. In one of the biggest moments in the history of the show, Hank is dead.
Walt is not incredibly happy about this, but he still expects Jack to follow through with their deal to kill Jesse and points him out. The gang decides to take Jesse back, torture him for info, and then kill him. Again, we're given a moment where it seems that Walt is going to save him, but it turns out that he only stops them long enough to FINALLY reveal to Jesse that he had a hand in Jane's death. Punch to the gut #2 for the episode.
In order to avoid just a 'play by play' rundown of what happens next (because, although much has happened, we're still quite early in the episode), I'll just say that afterwards, Walt Jr. is finally told the truth about his father's actions over the last year and a half and needless to say, he doesn't take the news well. This leads to a skirmish between Walt, Skyler, and Jr. that involves a knife (it's quite tense as the three of them roll around on the floor with a butcher knife in the mix) as Walt tries to get them all to leave (to avoid Jack's gang) and Skyler finds out what happens to Hank. The confrontation ends with Walt abducting baby Holly. This episode could not have been more tense. The episode ends with Holly being left at the fire station, Marie finding out the fate of her husband, Jesse being recruited to cook with Todd (still chained up), and Walt accepting the services of Saul's connection that can make you disappear with a brand new identity.
I would have to say that this was certainly the best episode yet of this batch, and perhaps even of the series. There were so many amazing small moments to go with a HUGE amount of plot advancement - Hank going out like a champ, Marie semi-gloating to Skyler about Walt's arrest despite the irony of the audience knowing the REAL results of what happened, Todd's mentioning of the "history" between he and Jesse, and about a hundred others.
What sticks the most on this one, however, would have to be the dark turns that Walt himself took. So far this season, we haven't seen as much of the "broken bad" side that shone through so perfectly in Seasons 4 and 5.1. But, I can tell you, it's back, and in a bad way. Watching him send Jesse to be tortured and killed, but not before getting one final punch in by telling the truth about Jane was chilling stuff. The late episode phone call where he reminds Skyler of the consequences of crossing him will have you yelling back at the screen. I believe it's say to say that Bryan Cranston is soon to be burdened with yet another Emmy for his performance. I just hope that he's joined by Dean Norris on the supporting side.
With only two episodes left, it seems silly to even say that next week is going to have to be huge. After quite a bit of character development to start the final season, the last two episodes have delivered hugely on the action and shocks. The ending of this episode certainly seems to tie in to the flash-forwards that we've gotten of Walt with a new name, but we must still be left for two more weeks to figure out what he is planning to do with the ricin and rather large machine gun in his trunk. I know that I certainly have my guesses, but more so than any other show in recent memory, I absolutely cannot wait to find out. After only five seasons, Breaking Bad will be going out on top...
Episode 14 -- Grade: AAA+
Cast:- Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Laura Fraser, Jesse Plemons, Steven Michael Quezada, Matt Jones, Charles Baker
TV Review by Jason Howard, , Lead Entertainment Writer
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