The beginning of the end starts with this episode. The chess match and battle of wits takes a back and forth sequence, with no one really knowing what will come next. I always wanted to see how a scenario with Jesse and Walt butting heads would work, but this proved it’s as thrilling as I thought it would be. And be a more fulfilling, exciting confrontation than the ones with Gus, Tuco or Mike.
Todd, Lydia and the Nazi gang are inspecting a newly made cook to see the improvements being made. It’s found to be marginally better in quality but not enough to make a difference to the buyers in the Czech Republic. Lydia remarks about the absence of blue on the meth which was its trademark and is all too important to the overseas customers and buyers. As hard, tough and dangerous the Nazi gang is, I’d be more afraid of the Czech buyers for the fact we have no idea how powerful they can be. It would make sense for them to comply with their standards.
It’s sometimes hard to feel for a character that’s also a criminal, but I really felt bad for Lydia during that whole scene. She was obviously uncomfortable being in the presence of hate mongering murderers and you feel the disgust with every glare one of the Nazis gave her. She can’t even fake enthusiasm when talking business with them. It’s apparent she won’t be alive for much longer. She dodged death at the hands of Mike and Walter so her doing it again is highly unlikely. The third strike will do her in. It’s made all the more uncomfortable when Todd talks to her. He brings her a cup of tea and offers to get another batch if it’s not strong enough, much like the crystal meth. It’s hard to wrap your mind around Todd’s way of thinking. He just has an overall creepy demeanor that you can’t deduce where it’s coming from. He’ll ask you how you’re doing then shoot you in the face right after.
It’s another showing of Todd being nice and creepy all at the same time. He promises to increase the quality and sees the mistakes he made. Lydia responds with a creepy response of her own saying she believes in him and appreciates him in trying to better the product. Todd goes in closer offering his uncle to bargain with the Czech buyers which Lydia declines. There is the oddest feeling of tension in this scene. Almost as if Todd was preying on her, taking on the nature of the tarantula he took from the boy he killed, Andrew Sharp. As with everything on this show, I can’t tell where this is going. As Lydia leaves, Todd wipes the lipstick from the mug in wide eyed perverted amazement. The same amazement he had while looking at the tarantula in the jar. Moments later he receives the call from Walter about a job for his uncle and killing Jesse. Todd is on board then ends the call. He casually drinks from the mug in the same place that Lydia drank from. He gets weirder and weirder and is becoming the most complex and interesting character on the show.
Hank and Gomez meet under an underpass to discuss a new plan with Jesse. He offers to get him where it really hurts and get him at his money. Gomez enters the Schrader house while saying he got Huell under surveillance. Hank gets the brain Gomez bought and puts it on the floor. Hank and Gomez enter the safe house with Huell and muscles him for information. Hank says he is in danger from Walter after he said Walter would take care of Jesse first. He shows Huell a photo of Jesse seemingly dead with the would-be brains as his own. Huell spills everything without knowing where the money is. Hank leaves with all the information he needs, further enacting the chess match with Walter.
Walter meets with the Nazi gang to arrange the hit on Jesse. He wants him dead but doesn’t want him to suffer. Says he’s family but would rather have him out of his way. The love he has for him is so complex and filtered. He would feel bad for a little bit but would easily go on with his life like it was just another business deal. As Walter goes over the price, the Nazis don’t want money but rather have him cook a couple times to get the quality up to par. Walter, who at this time has become an expert in negotiations, offers to do one cook after the job is done. He doesn’t know where he is, but he knows how to flush him out. The battle of wits goes up another level. Every time Walter thinks he’s out, he gets pulled back in.
Walt meets up with Andrea to use her to get to Jesse. In one of his more awkward encounters, he talks to the mother of the child he poisoned for his own gain. Brock is still creeped out by the very sight of him, refusing to acknowledge him in the slightest. Walter gets Andrea to call him by saying he’s using again, getting her penchant for addiction to make the call easier. He gives her the phone number that he is now using and leaves a message. Walter leaves calling the Nazis saying he’ll have the location of Jesse very soon. But the plan is all but moot when Hank gets the message instead. It was a good plan, not the greatest from Heisenberg. Hank and Jesses plan will prove to be even better. Hank finds out the van company doesn’t have GPS anymore but Walt doesn’t know that. I love how Breaking Bad gives you hints for a brilliant plan, making you think you have an idea, and then later blows it out of the water with an even greater plan.
Skylar and Walter Jr. are working the cash register at the car wash. As they are working the register, Walter Jr. forgets to say have an A-1 day which Jr. wonders why it’s important. Skylar says it reinforces the product. She later goes over the distribution of the products in the car wash. This reminds me of Lydia and the care she has for her product, wanting the trademark blue to reinforce her product. Skylar and Lydia aren’t that different really, both strong headed, smart, driven career women who happen to live a life of crime. Saul enters the carwash with befuddled, stone faced expressions for Skylar, Saul and Walter leaving Walter Jr. with a wide eyed amazement when meeting a local celebrity. The expressions on everyone were hilarious and of course Walter Jr. is continuously ignorant of everything around him.
Walter meets with Saul outside who is cleaning his car from Jesses coked out excursion in his car. He finds out that Huell is missing; leaving Saul scared for his life sporting a bullet proof vest. Walter underestimates Jesse saying he’s doped up somewhere, but Saul says he’s not as dumb as you think. Walter never realized that Jesse was never as dumb as he seemed, seemingly never giving him the credit he deserved. Later inside, Walter gets a message of an open drum of money in the desert. He then gets a call from Jesse who said the first bitch of the second half of the season. And it was a longtime coming.
Waiting for Jesse to say his favorite word "bitch" feels like Christmas, but when he actually does and in a way that is used perfectly it makes it all the more special. And when he did say it, it was awesome. He says it a few more times peppering it throughout the scene to make up for the lack of bitch lately. He rushes out of the car wash, driving like a bat out of hell to the spot in the desert. He pleads with Jesse to leave the money and not burn it, wanting it for his kids. Jesse barks back that he shouldn’t even be mentioning kids wellbeing, as he poisoned a child and didn’t blink an eye while watching another get murdered. He uses an ends justify the means approach, which doesn’t go so well all the time. It’s a terrible way of reasoning for Walt, and just shows his callousness that’s grown over the years.
He then goes on; going over the major murders throughout the season he’s done to protect Jesse. Unbeknownst to Walt, he confesses to everything to Jesse and the DEA. While he gets to the spot, he doesn’t see Jesse or the money. He realizes it was a trap to kill him and takes the battery out of his phone. There’s a trail of dust in the distance leaving Walter distressed and rushing to his phone. He puts the battery back in and calls the Nazis for help as he is fearful for his life. As he is talking to them, an SUV pulls up with Hank, Gomez and Jesse leaving the car. Walter then realizes that Jesse is with the DEA, and he is ultimately crushed, destroyed and betrayed. He has no words for what he’s seen and wants the Nazis to back down. But I would never think a hardened Nazi group to back down from a potential deal to work with a one of a kind cook like Heisenberg.
For all the horrible things Walter has done to Jesse and never seeing him getting a comeuppance, it’s weird seeing him with a look of betrayal on his face. He’s asking to himself why me? What have I done to deserve this? It’s the biggest defeat he has ever been dealt with, more so than the news of his cancer diagnosis, finding out Skylar screwed Ted or that he wasn’t able to be at the birth of his daughter Holly. Walt eventually comes out of hiding with guns aimed at him from Hank and Gomez. He slowly puts his hands up, gun down, and walks towards them. He gets cuffed and read his rights from Hank in a great feeling of bitter justice for Hank.
Over the course of the entire series, he finally gets his man cuffed and dead to rights. But eventually Walter finds a way to get out of it like always. Walter calls Jesse a coward which feels like the pot calling the kettle black. Walter is by far a bigger coward than Jesse will ever be. Jesse wanted Walter dealt with by any means necessary even if it meant going to the authorities. He hates him so much that he’ll turn to the other side, because if he had any chance of nailing him, he’d have to have lots of outside help. Jesse slowly walks up to Walt and spits in his face. A scuffle ensues with Walt going after Jesse with Hank and Gomez taking them apart. They are placed in separate cars as Hank calls Marie, the only other person who knows of his investigation, and tells her he finally got him. Says he loves her and hangs up.
Anytime someone usually says a declaration of love to ones significant other with a feeling of closure, it usually means something terrible will happen to that person. This does happen as Walter sees the Nazi horde pull up in the rear view mirror. He yells for Hank to watch his back and pleads with Jack to not shoot. For all the horrible stuff he’s done, he really doesn’t want Hank or Gomez to be hurt. Jesse he would like dead but everybody’s ass is on the line at this moment. Like so many confrontational moments on Breaking Bad throughout the series, the Mexican standoff is very prevalent. Usually the standoffs deal with criminals against other criminals. This is different as it has two clear sides of the law, the DEA and a Nazi gang facing off.
A tense sequence of close ups on the eyes of each man and slow motion shots give a feeling of a classic western starring Clint Eastwood. The only thing missing was the score from Ennio Morricone. Eventually Jack gives the nod to his guy to make the first shot with his thunderous automatic shotgun. Bullets are flying from both sides, raining the Arizona landscape like confetti. It’s quick, explosive, hectic and one of the finest action sequences on the show. No one is shown visibly hurt in any way but I have to think Hank, Gomez or both are hurt. It’s hard to not get brazed by at least one bullet from six guys firing handguns, machine guns, and automatic shotguns with plenty of ammo to spare. But I’m thinking the Nazis don’t want any attention from killing two DEA agents. The Mexican cartels have made a point in not killing DEA agents in previous seasons. But you can’t exactly let them live either. And with so much stacked against Hank and Gomez, it’s impossible to see them coming out alive. They’re outmanned, outgunned with no backup of any kind coming their way.
However it pans out, this is a scenario I knew would happen by series end. I knew Walt would advertently or inadvertently involve the Nazis and DEA into a gun battle. As the bullets are flying, Jesse and Walt are ducking for cover in the cars. The Nazis need Walter but have no choice but to fire at the car he is handcuffed in as Hank and Gomez are using it for cover. It ends at the climax of the vicious gun battle with Walt’s face and body laid across the seat. As far as cliffhangers go, this has to be the biggest cliffhanger to date. Breaking Bad always seems to top itself when it comes to show closers and having the three main characters at risk of death is a thrilling, unprecedented way to end this episode.
The series is entering the home stretch with three more episodes left and uncertainty at an all-time high. I haven’t had this feeling since The Sopranos was preparing its swan song. But I’m positive that Breaking Bad will have a more epic feel to it. As much as I love The Sopranos, Breaking Bad will take it up several notches in action, drama and closure. Ozymandias will prove that no matter how powerful a king may be, they will always fall. Walter deserves to fall and fall hard. He needs to go to the bottom, see the squalor he has made for himself and rise up to right the wrongs. Before the series closes out, I believe we’ll see his enemies looking at his works and despair. After all Walter will have nothing left but his legend and his perseverance to cement it for all time.