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Earlier tonight, I was ready to destroy the world because someone posted a key spoilery screenshot of the Breaking Bad season finale. Seriously, I was ready to spread destruction across the globe in my fury, as I'd been waiting all week and all night for the episode to pop up on SOME site, since I couldn't watch it when it aired due to fatherly duties. So when I saw that screenshot, I was in full-on KILL ALL HUMANS mode. I instantly knew that it was one of those moments that, had I seen it in the episode itself, would have utterly floored me in the way that Breaking Bad has floored me in ways that no one show in recent memory has, and I was furious that such a rare viewing experience was stolen from me.

But having seen the episode, even that jaw-dropping awesomeness was nothing, nothing compared to that last shot. In that instant, all my excitement was tempered with a bone-chilling twist in my gut that I must exorcise.

I know that most people haven't seen Breaking Bad (Best show that no one is watching? Probably), but I NEED to hash out that ending with people. If you haven't seen the show yet, please, for the love of god, don't click the cut-tag, don't read the comments, basically abandon this post entirely and either rent the series or watch it on Netflix Instant.



So... when do you think that Walter White--the Walter White who wept at the prospect of killing the petty criminal in episode 3--died entirely, leaving only Heisenberg? At what point did his moral center entirely rot away? When did he become the kind of monster who would put Rick from The Walking Dead to shame?*

Because I think it happened so gradually, through so many justifiable/sympathetic/understandable steps, that it's hard to say. I'd LIKE to guess that it happened the moment he burst out laughing in the crawl space, that that was the breaking moment. But then I wouldn't be taking poor Gale into account. Gale, whom I dearly loved, but whose ending I completely understood from Walt's perspective as no other way out based on the situation he found himself in thanks to Gus. It was so easy to place it all on Gus, to believe Walt when he put Gale's death on Gus' head in Season 4 Episode 1 "Box Cutter."

But what about Jane? All the way back to the end of Season 2, there was Jane. Now, it's been a while since I've seen the episode, but when I watched it with Mom, she actually said, "Good," approving of the way Walt let that potential mess neatly handle itself. I truly cannot remember how justified he was to do what he did, or rather, what he didn't do. Even still, it's clear from "Fly" that he shows deep remorse and guilt over Jane, or at least how much it ended up torturing Jesse. Even at that point, Walt was still Walt, no matter how far he'd fallen.

Can the case still be the same? Does it count that he let out a sigh of grateful relief when his poor oblivious neighbor called back safely, or when he got the news that Brock was going to be all right? Does it show any shreds of decency that he intended no maliciousness, that he lacks Gus' cold-hearted efficiency and still feels the pain of every horrible and evil decision he makes? Is there any humanity left in Walt, or had he finally embraced Heisenberg, now and forever?

I'd hate to think that, but then, that may have been the path he was inevitably on once he decided to start cooking meth. If you want to get truly moralistic, that single decision is what kicked off the irreversible degradation of his soul, even if wasn't sold outright at the start. And even if it's not entirely lost, it will be. I don't think there's any coming back for Walt now. But the show has surprised me in the past, no more so than in this episode, so maybe Vince Gilligan has a plan. Maybe Walt has a last-minute redemption in store. Or maybe there can be some happy ending for Skyler, Hank, and/or, most importantly, Walt Junior, who could somehow come away from all this without scars, without his father dragging him down along the way. Maybe Skyler's horror at the realization about Walt will keep Walt Jr. safe.

But Walt... Jesus, Walt. Deep down, I still wonder how he could have fallen this far. Vince Gilligan has said that he envisioned the show as "Mr. Chips becomes Scarface," but that never clicked for me because Walt never seemed like the Kingpin type. In fact, he STILL doesn't. He's too desperate, too emotionally-fueled to ever be half the Kingpin that Gus was. Gus' one failing--which Walt and Tio** beautifully exploited--was his sole emotional Achilles Heel of revenge cloud his impeccable business sense. Gus was a monster, but what he wasn't was sloppy. Walt is sloppy. Walt escapes his problems by the skin of his teeth, leaving death, destruction, and ruined lives in his wake.

Up until now, those lives were at least arguably criminal, thus giving Walt an excuse. But even if he KNEW for certain that the Lily of the Valley wouldn't have killed Brock (and his damming "Thank god" indicated to me that he didn't know for sure), the fact that he was willing to poison an innocent child, even in a scheme to ultimately protect his family, has pushed him into full-blown evil territory. While Gus was figuratively (and then literally) two-faced***, he never excused himself the way Walt has up till now, and if he tries to fill the power vacuum left by Gus, he will fail. Hard. And if even if he wins, god help anybody around him, because they're all expendable to him at this point.

So who deserves to take him down? The German cartel that Gus was involved with? No, not them. Not more drug dealers. Hank? Hank dearly needs vindication, which he may have now, but I don't want to see his reaction should he learn that Walt was lying and manipulating him all along. I cheer for Hank now, and that truth would crush him, just as it would crush Walt Jr. Skyler already knows the truth, and it's on her to preserve the myth of Walter White for her family, but even she wouldn't and shouldn't be the one to finish Walt off.

It has to be Jesse. He's come too far in this show, come into his own too much. He needs to learn the full extent of Walt's actions. He needs to know not just about Brock, but about Jane. Only he could understand every action Walt took, every reason behind it, and thus be the only one who can truly call out Walt and give him the comeuppance he deserves. Jesse has seen the depths of personal hell, and his final confrontation with Walt will be what finally sets him free. And who knows, maybe he'll have Mike along to help him out. That'd be nice.

This final season cannot come fast enough, and yet, a part of me is hesitant to witness the depths of degradation and ruin we'll be seeing by the end. Until then, I'm gonna rewatch the entire series by showing it to Henchgirl and Captain, to see if I can map out just where and just when it all went so irreversibly wrong.






*Rick from the comics, I mean, although I bet we'll definitely see it in TV's Rick too over the next season or two. Now there's a character you can dislike entirely while still understanding where he's coming from. You can hate him, but it's hard to judge him either way.

**I think Tio is the going to be the most awesome part of this episode that no one talks about. While everyone's all about Gus' death or the revelation of Walt's actions, what really sold the FUCK-YEAH awesomeness of the nursing home scene was the transformation in Tio's face. I've admired character actor Mark Margolis this whole time for performing while doing so little, but in those final moments, he was King Badass Motherfucker Fuck You. For such a loathsome character to become so awesome is a testament to the combined skill of Margolis, Gilligan, and Giancarlo Espositio.

***I believe in Gustavo Fring.
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