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Breaking Bad Knocks Down All the Dominos
It’s a testament to how well Breaking Bad is constructed that the show can spend most of an episode moving people around, advancing storylines, and in general setting things up for the finale, then suddenly change directions and go somewhere completely unexpected and yet still be compelling and intelligent. Up until Walt was Tased, I believed this was a set-up episode, where nothing would really happen and the dominos would be set up for the final two episodes of the season. But it was like the show decided, “To heck with the finale, let’s knock these bad boys down NOW!”
What was particularly rewarding was having something I found to be a sudden but effective end to a storyline turn out to be just another piece of this giant domino line of disaster. When Ted first tripped over his rug during Skyler’s visit, I thought, “Why’d they use that take? Did it just feel more natural? People do trip over rugs, I guess.” To have that not only come back later, but also ultimately kill Ted was simply brilliant. It was oddly elegant, and hard to see coming. In fact, if anyone says they predicted Ted tripping on that rug and breaking his neck then they are lying. That’s how shocking it was.
And I believed that was basically the end of the Ted/Skyler story. He’s dead, and the IRS gets its money. Super. All that made it even more tragic when Walt realized most of his money was missing. His failsafe, getting new identities for his family, was shot down so fast by Skyler’s dealings with Ted that he barely had time to figure what had happened. Walt has run out of options, and it breaks him. What starts out as a cry of frustration and anguish turns into mad laughter as Skyler watches him in horror. That was an unsettling image, to say the least.
“Crawl Space” is a beautiful work of deception. You would never expect at the beginning of the episode to have the stakes so sharply raised by the end. That’s just not something that usually happens, which is what makes Breaking Bad so amazing to watch. It does away with the usual, carving its own path. However, just because all hope seems lost doesn’t mean Walt cannot be saved. We’ve been left a small white light in the form of Jesse Pinkman. He, as Walt has done so many times for him, would not let Gus kill Walt. Somewhere, deep down, he still cares for this selfish, antagonistic man. As long as that’s there, he can be counted on to do the right thing and stop Gus.
Two episodes are left, and the game can still change at any moment. I’m betting right now that Gus will not survive the end of this season. Jesse will rise and up and strike him down just as he was supposed to so many episodes ago. In the meantime, it’s going to be a wild ride. This has been a terrific season, and I’m sad that it’s so close to the end. Hopefully when the finale rolls around we’ll here news of when we can expect the fifth season to air.