Breaking Bad Recap, 5×15: “Granite State”
I am so sad. I am so very, very sad.
We’d first like to congratulate Breaking Bad on its three Emmy wins. Bryan Cranston was not one of them, which is a travesty and he was clearly robbed. However, let’s take a second to cackle in glee at all the Team Walt Skyler-haters whose entire world is crumbling beneath them right now because Anna Gunn got an award and Cranston didn’t. Okay, moving on.
We begin with the red car from last week’s episode as it pulls into… huh. A vacuum cleaner store. Well, that’s surprising. The guy who gets out of the car says something to that effect — but it’s not Walt. It’s Saul. Wow, man, you know things are bad for you when even your lawyer has to change his name and skip town.
Vacuum Guy takes Saul’s picture for his new Nebraska license and tells him that he’ll have to stay in the store’s basement for a few days while they figure out what to do with the fact that Saul’s face is plastered all over town. However, Saul’s’s not going to be alone. “I don’t usually like to do this, but you’ll have a bunkmate,” Vacuum Guy says.
Welp, we all know what that means — and as we’re figuring it out, Saul looks in on a live feed of the downstairs security camera and sees Walter White, the exact man that he’s running from. And he’s pretty dang angry down there.
After the commercial break, there’s a close-up of Marie in the passengers seat of a dark car. She’s still wearing black, and for a second it feels like she’s in a hearse (or at the very least, the obligatory on-the-way-to-the-gravesite limo that a lot of funeral services provide for the grieving families), until we overhear somebody talking to her about how they haven’t found her husband yet. As it turns out, she’s really in a police car and the detectives are taking her back to her house. Do we know whether or not these guys have names? I don’t remember hearing them yet, and I kind of like that — this show isn’t about them, after all. They’re just an exercise in inevitability, symbols for Walt’s downfall. Although, speaking of which, they’re clearly not as inevitable as swift white supremacist-related retribution, becuase Jack’s gang has already managed to ransack the Schader’s place and find the disc of Jesse’s confession.
As a matter of fact, they’re watching the video right now and laughing at how pathetic they find Jesse. “Is this pussy crying through the entire thing?” YOU TAKE THAT BACK, GUYS. It’s not Jesse’s fault that he’s a sensitive soul who doesn’t respond well to things like murder. They fast forward through to the part where Jesse names Todd, whom he accurately calls “that Opie dead-eyed piece of shit,” as responsible for the death of that Drew Sharp kid.
Jesus, Opie looks proud.
This angers the White supremacist gang, and while Jack is immediately ready to kill Jesse as punishment, Todd is surprisingly not so into the idea. He wants to cook more meth to bring to Lydia despite the sudden windfall they’ve all come into, because “no matter how much you got, how could you turn your back on more?”
And that’s when Jack figures out the real reason — because of Todd’s crush on Lydia, who I think he might have called “Lily” instead. Everybody has a laugh at Todd’s horrible taste in women. “That one’s so uptight she’s probably got a wood chipper for a coochie!” Jack says. Normally I would object to this because of feminism or whatever, but Lydia is the worst and so is Todd and so is everyone in this bar and everyone go away.
You know who isn’t the worst, though? Jesse, who could probably hear all of that outside from his cagehole. As Jack’s saying something dumb about how the “heart wants what the heart wants” and basically telling Todd that he can use Jesse for his dumb crush, Jesse is looking down at the blackmail picture of Brock and Andrea. Which has a paperclip on it. Hey, you know what paperclips are good for? Secret escape plans. Awww yeaaah.
Back to the vacuum store, where Saul and Walt are playing at the weirdest game of “Odd Couple” ever. Saul’s also wearing a white shirt for what I think might be the first time on the show’s run, and considering that his life has been completely tainted by a White, that’s certainly an interesting choice as far as color theory goes. Walt wants Saul to give him the names of any mercenaries he knows so he can kill off the Aryan Brotherhood for murdering Jesse and taking his money.
Saul thinks this whole thing is stupid. “If you’re worried about your wife and kids, don’t leave. Some people might say you’re leaving them high and dry,” he says.
“Some people would be ignorant on the facts,” Walt retorts. He sounds sort of like Reddit right now. Saul points out that while that the phone call was a good move — so we’re definitely working on the assumption that it was a calculated move on Walt’s part to sound as evil as possible and take the heat off Skyler — but that it’s not going to do anything to save his family. She’s their only lead, so they’re going to go after her and keep all the money Walt’s saved up. They might even take their house, too. Which we know they do, of course. Saul’s advice, ultimately, is that Walt turn himself in with his head held high since he doesn’t have that much longer to live, anway. Good advice, Saul!
Good advice that Walt literally does not understand, of course. “You think I want to run? This changes nothing. What I do, I do for my family.” Yeah, no. You’re really not getting this. Your family is totally screwed.
Vacuum Guy interrupts to tell them that Saul’s ready to go, but Walt refuses to let him leave. Apparently he’s forgotten that he gave his actual partner up to Nazis and wants Saul as a replacement. “You’re still part of this whether you like it or not.” Saul, however, is completely done. He tells Walt that he wants to just live a quiet life in Nebraska where he’d be lucky to manage a Cinnabon in Omaha.
Speaking of which:
— Cinnabon (@Cinnabon) September 23, 2013
Cinnabon’s social media team is on point, you guys.
As one last desperate move, Walt tries to do that thing he did in the beginning of season 5 where he slowly backs Saul up against a wall and tells him that it’s not over — but he starts choking and coughing so much that he has to lie down on the bed next to them. Saul looks vaguely concerned and says, “It’s over,” then walks away with his bags.
Another commercial break. A close-up on Skyler as the sound drops out around her, because she’s very much not listening to her lawyer and the detectives. “Are you following all this?” they ask.
Yes, she responds. “I understand I’m in terrible trouble. I understand you will use everything in your power against me and my children unless I give you Walt, but the truth is I can’t give you what you want. I don’t know where he is.” In my notes I wrote, “See, asshole? Saul was right.”
Later, two of those detectives are staking out the White house. Skyler can see them out the living room from her place on the couch, where she is smoking and drinking and basically doing everything but meth to calm herself down. Then Holly starts crying down the other end of the hallway so she goes to check and FUCK, it’s the gang all wearing black ski masks. One of them grabs her from behind and puts his hand over her mouth.
Todd asks if there’s anyone else in the house. After confirming that there isn’t and that she won’t scream, the one gang member removes his hand. Flynn (we’ve been going with “Jr.” here but after last week’s episode, it feels weird) has been staying at a friend’s house for the past week.
“We got a lot of respect for your husband, there’s just something that we need to straighten out,” Todd says, but they need to make sure that she’s not going to say anything about Lydia. Ugh, Todd. Get over your shtty fucking crush. Skyler tells them what they want to hear and Todd seems to believe her. “You really don’t want us coming back here,” he says, and he sounds legitimately concerned. Fucking Todd, you guys.
We follow fucking Todd into the next scene, where he’s wearing a button down and drinking fancy tea at a diner that Lydia probably picked out. If this weren’t so horrible, it would be cute. Horriblute? I’ll work on it. Anyway, Lydia comes in and does that thing where she sits at the table behind whoever she’s talking to, and Todd obliges because he doesn’t know how stupid that is. Of course, the plan backfires anyway, because the waitress walks up just as Lydia is talking to Todd, but that doesn’t stop her from thinking she’s being clever.
Of course, she’s still completely freaked that Skyler saw her face, but Todd doesn’t want to do anything to Skyler because “she seems like a nice lady.” Lydia isn’t used to this kind of risk, so they’ll “have to take a break” from the meth for a while.
“But my meth! Pretty lady! Me sad!” Todd thinks. He points out that they’ve gotten it back up to 92% and blue, and Lydia’s interested all over again. Todd also points out that, ” I just think we work together good. We make a good team. It’s kind of mutually good. ” What is this, a romantic comedy? Can things stop going well for Todd, please.
Meanwhile in New Hampshire, Walt is getting out of the tank of a propane truck and steps onto the fresh snow of the Granite State (hey, that’s the title of the episode!). “Mr. Lambert, welcome to New Hampshire,” Vacuum Guy says, and we zoom out to a white snowy landscape that’s the exact opposite of New Mexico.
Walt dumps his barrel o’money in the middle of the living room as Vacuum Guy explains all the amenities. There’s a wood stove and enough food to last the winter, but no internet, no TV, and no phone reception — just a bunch of DVDs. Walt picks up one. “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium?” Yeah, Walt. That’s all you get. No fun Internet times for you.
“Normally we would have already gone our separate ways,” Vacuum Guy points out. He’s officially the hottest client Vacuum Guy has ever had, and not in the fun way that Kit Harrington is. “If you leave this place, you will get caught.” And Vacuum Guy won’t be helping him anymore if that happens.
So Walt promises that he’s not going to leave the cabin. And what does he do the second the guy leaves? Fill his pockets up with money, put on his stupid Heisenberg hat, and walk out towards the road.
It’s covered in undisturbed snow, and it’s probably only just occurring to the coughing Walt that it’s cold, he’s weak, and a dumb idea. He closes the gate back up and mutters “tomorrow” to himself. Haha, nope. Won’t happen. Just watch the Wonder Emporium and go to bed and die.
Jesse wishes he could get some Wonder Emporium in his cagehole, but he can’t. He’s still trying to escape, but puts it on hold when Todd shows up to bring him ice cream. Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream gets a shout-out, and if I were Stephen Colbert I would be freaking out about that way more than about the Emmy I just won. “That batch you just cooked was 96% so I thought you deserved a little something,” Todd says. Jesse takes the opportunity to ask that the tarp on top of his cagehole stay off for the night so he can see the stars.
Todd obliges, and the instant he walks away, Jesse is back into escape mode. He makes it out of the cagehole and across the Nazi camp except there’s totally a security camera watching him and OH MY GOD AAAAH
He’s making his way up the fence when all the Nazis find him. Great. Well. “Go ahead! Do it! Just kill me now get it over with!” He says.
And then we cut to Andrea and Brock’s house, and if you listen real closely you can basically hear the bottoms drop out of 6.4 million stomachs at once. Todd is at the door, and tells Andrea that he’s a friend of Jesse’s and that he’s sitting in a car nearby, and like the sweet naive perfect angel she is, she goes out to look. He is there, but he’s also bound and gagged and rightfully flipping out. Andrea doesn’t see that, of course. She also doesn’t see the gun that Todd’s pulled on her from behind as he tells her that “it’s nothing personal” and shoots her in the back of the head. Everything is the worst forever.
Of course the show cuts to commercial right there. When we come back, we’re back in New Hampshire, and Walt is letting a car onto his new property, so it must be Vacuum Guy — which means it’s been at least a month. He’s got a stack of newspaper with him, as well as Ensure to help Walt with his rapidly losing weight, and a bunch of new glasses for Walt to try on. Does cancer affect your eyeballs, too?Anyway, he also has news about Walt’s family: Skyler’s working as a taxi dispatcher and using her maiden name, more out of necessity than anything else. The house has become a tourist attraction so they had to put up that fence.
While he’s here, Vacuum Guy also helps Walt with his homemade chemo, which he keeps suspended above him by hanging it onto a deer head in the bedroom. Okay, I’ll admit, that’s pretty hardcore.
Walt isn’t, though. He tries to inject himself but he can’t, either because he’s too weak or because he just lacks the drive. He also offers the guy $10,000 to hang out with him for a couple of hours because he’s all lonely and sad. “One of these days you’ll come up here and I’ll be dead,” Walt says, and asks if Vacuum would give his family the money when he dies. “If I said yes, would you believe me?” Walt doesn’t answer.
After Vacuum Guy has left, Walt wakes himself up coughing to find that he’s so skinny, his wedding ring has slipped off his finger. So there’s your flash-forward answer, folks — he’s got no ring because he’s got cancer. Instead he strings it on a piece of twine and ties it around his neck, presumably so he’ll be able to throw it into the fires of Mount Doom. He gets up to look at the box of Ensure, and there’s a bunch of newspaper clippings pasted to the wall behind him. About him, I’m assuming? Either way, he’s more interested in the box, which he’s decided to fill with money and take into town to mail. Duuude. Vacuum Guy’s not going to be happy.
We’ve still got those extra 15 minutes left, by the way. Oy.
RJ Mitte was 17 when the show first started, but now it’s very clear that he isn’t — we see him in a high school classroom getting called to the office, and he’s about a head taller than all the other kid actors they got to fill seats.
While in the office, they tell Flynn that it’s a call from Marie. Did they find Hank? Did something happen to Skyler? Oh no, guys!
Nope, none of those things. It’s actually Walt calling from a payphone in a shitty New Hampshire bar. He’s weepily trying to explain to Flynn that the things they’re saying about him are true and he made stupid mistakes but they were all for his family and blah blah blah, we’ve heard all of this before and it’s real sad that you’re weepy and all but this is all your fault. He also wants to know if he can mail a package full of $100,000 to Flynn’s friend so it’ll get to the White family.
This, naturally, sets Flynn off. “You want to send money,” he says. “You KILLED UNCLE HANK, YOU KILLED HIM. What you did to Mom, you asshole! Stop it! I don’t want anything from you! I don’t give a shit! Leave us alone! Why are you still alive! Just die already!”
Walt tries to explain himself over the shouting but it’s definitely too late for that. Flynn hangs up, and Walt slowly begins to make another call to someone — the Albuquerque DEA. Holy shit. “I’d like to speak to the agent in charge of the Walter White investigation.” “Who may I say is calling?” “Walter White.” And then he leaves the phone off the hook so they can trace it and orders a drink at the bar.
Except who is on the TV at the bar? The very, very last people that Water White wants to see ever again.
On the right: “NO NO NO.” Genius propwork, y’all.
AHAHAHAHA. It’s Gray Matter Technologies. You know, that empire that Walt didn’t get to build. And they’re on Charlie Rose. They’re starting a charity to help drug abuse victims in the Southwest, and they tell Charlie that Walt really didn’t do that much with the company in the first place. It was only really the name that he contributed.
“Whatever he became, the sweet, kind, brilliant man that we once knew long ago — he’s gone,” Gretchen says.Walt looks like he’s about to murder somebody. Probably Gretchen, if I’d wager a guess.
The theme music starts underneath as New Hampshire sheriffs descend on the bar, and walk in to find that the seat Walt was sitting in is now empty.
So what now? Is Walt so freaked out by his legacy that he’s going to open fire on Gray Matters or something? Or is he after the Aryan Brotherhood again, as one final redemptive move? Who the heck knows? Either way, if he doesn’t die at the end of the series, I’m going to be incredibly disappointed.