But it was personal… only read ahead if you are cool with spoilers…
This episode was considerably slower than last week’s “Ozymandias”. Many scenes were quiet, and that is one reason Breaking Bad has been so great. The premise is about drugs and guns, but the majority of scenes don’t involve either. “Granite State” was quiet, but hard-hitting. There were several scenes that were very hard to watch, or had you on edge of your seat. It was what the audience needed after such mayhem just a week ago.
At the beginning of the episode, the ominous red van pulls up to … an actual vacuum repair shop… with front of the building’s design resembling the pick up spot. Now you’ll never be able to go to the vacuum repair shop/U-Haul rental down the street without wondering what kind of criminal petri dish is hiding in the basement. The Exterminator (that’s what I’m calling him) gets out and Saul follows, which was very unexpected. It was unclear if this was how he came to ABQ or how he left, but we quickly find out it is how he left. For the first time since the end of the 2nd season, Saul is not wearing his blue ribbon, which symbolizes McGill (Goodman’s real name) finally shedding his scumbag lawyer facade and becomes “just another douchebag with a job and three pairs of Dockers.” Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) as The Exterminator takes Saul’s new ID picture in the shop, directing Saul to fix his hair. Saul flicks his hair back like a woman preening in the mirror.
The exterminator makes the Nebraska ID. Saul asks, “What’s in Nebraska?” a question which many people have thought of themselves. The Exterminator tells him it will be a few days before he can get Saul out of New Mexico, but it will have to be faster than normal since his ads are still plastered all over the city. Saul will have a roomie, and Saul looks at surveillance footage of Walt throwing a temper tantrum in his room.
Marie is in the DEA car. She is being told by other DEA agents that they will find Hank. Sadly, it is after the death of her husband that we find Marie the most attractive Marie has ever been. As they arrive at the Schrader house, it is clear it has been broken into. I guess we got this wrong last week. I never thought the Aryans would actually go get a tape they weren’t sure even really existed. As the agents realize the house has been compromised, two agents hop out and Marie is whisked away. I have no doubt that this will not be the last time we see the lady in purple.
In the background the viewer hears Jesse’s voice on the confession tape. We see Jesse on the TV and the Aryans watching the video while drinking beers. Todd looks at the video like he is proud while Jesse describes the “Opie dead-eyed piece of shit” murdering Drew Sharp. The Aryan’s go out to Jesse’s dog-pound and Jack is ready to kill Jesse because of the tape. Todd stands up for Jesse, saving him once more and then Jack realizes that Todd likes Lydia. That would be the only reason to keep cooking meth after they have so much money. Jack also likens the uptight Lydia’s lady parts to a wood chipper. Ouch. In the dog-pound, Jesse pulls out the picture of Andrea and Brock from Todd’s meth lab. He takes the paperclip from it and begins to pick the locks on his cuffs.
Back at the vacuum shop, Saul and Walt are having a jammy party in the basement, waiting for their new lives. Walt asks Saul for a list of five hit-men. Walt wants to kill the Aryans to avenge Hank and Walt’s money. Saul says he doesn’t know any hit-men. Walt tells him “you know a guy who knows a guy”, something that is classic about Saul. Saul then gives Walt is first tid-bit of free advice: if he leaves, he is leaving his family high and dry and in danger. He tells Walt that without him giving himself up, he is putting Skyler in jail because she would have no leverage for the lawyers to offer a plea. The money and house will be gone and everything will be tapped. Walt tells Saul he doesn’t want to leave and he will give all of his money to his children. He must kill Jack and his crew, get his money back and then he will be through. We’ve heard Walt say he will be through many times before. He is also jumping the shark by believing he alone can take out Jack’s crew. The Exterminator enters and tells Saul he’s ready to go. Walt tells him that Saul and he will being going together. “I’m not your lawyer anymore.” Walt backs Saul into the wall and tries to use his best Heisenberg voice on him before he has a nasty attack of cancer-cough. Saul tells Walt, “It’s over.” And for Saul, it really is.
At the lawyer’s office Skyler, wearing her, of late, signature white, is hearing the white-noise of lawyers going back on forth on her case. Her lawyer, certainly no Saul Goodman, looks over at her like a deer in headlights, which oddly enough is how he is referred to later in the episode. When Skyler comes to, she answers the lawyers pleas for giving up Walt and she admits she doesn’t know where he is. At the house, the police watch the White residence. Skyler looks out her window at the beat down cop car and takes a drag off her cigarette, her vice when she is stressed the whole series. Holly cries and she goes to check on the baby. Three of the Aryan’s dressed in black with masks are in the nursery. Todd talks calmly to Skyler. She pleads for them to not hurt Holly and Todd tells her that he respects her husband. He then tells her to not say anything about Lydia to the police. We see Todd’s love for Lydia here, because it seems odd that she would be who he is worried about in Skyler’s confession to the police. As he leaves, he touches her shoulder in such an odd, reassuring way. Todd is so icky!
At the coffee house where Lydia and Walt first make the Czech deal, Todd dressed for a date and sipping a cup of Lydia’s signature tea and waits for Lydia. Lydia refuses to sit with him, which visibly hurts Todd’s feelings, and lets him know she is going to back out of their deal, even saying they are going to take a break (ouch), because she is worried about being given up to the police. He tells her his batch of meth is at 92% (Heisenberg Level!) because of Jesse. Todd turns in his chair to look at Lydia. He talks of their partnership as being more than just the meth deal. He thinks they are in an actual relationship. If anyone in that coffee shop were to look at them, they would think he was just as creepy. He picks the lint off her blazer. Weird-o!
Walt is in the bottom of a propane truck. He gets out of the awkward holding cell, and enters the cold, snowy emptiness of New Hampshire. The Exterminator greets him as Mr. Lambert. In the long shot, similar to the ones we get of the New Mexican desert, we see the vast amount of snow and trees and a very tiny cabin that will be Walt’s new home. It will be a lonely life in the forest.
Walt wheels in his barrel of money into his new shack. The Exterminator gives him the grand tour and gives him the all the downsides to the place (no internet, no TV, no phone). Walt finds the two copies of Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (Mr. Magorium dies of cancer just like Walt, although his Emporium is way cooler than Walt’s). The Exterminator tells him that he will make a supply-run for him in a month. Walt is paying him a substantial amount of money to come back and check on him every month. For news, Walt will get the Albuquerque newspaper. Walt is insistent that he still has business to conduct, presumably killing Jack and the clan. The Exterminator lets Walt know that he is wanted nationally by the DEA and that his face is all over the news. He will surely be caught if he leaves. The Exterminator says his goodbye. Walt opens his bin of money and takes some cash out. In classic Heisenberg fashion, Walt puts on the pork-pie hat, smoothing the rim.
He walks in a determined pace to the gate and sees the long roadway with nothing in else in sight. Walt has a coughing fit, closes the gate and promises himself he will go to the town “tomorrow.” The Heisenberg is still determined, but Walt still has cancer.
Back in the dog-pound, Jesse has uncuffed himself. and he is struggling to reach the grate at the top of the cage. He hears the voices clan and Todd walks to the cage. Jesse is laying on his mat, cuffed again. Todd lowers a bucket to Jesse with two different flavors of Ben and Jerry’s. It is a “prize” for cooking 96% percent (closer to Heisenberg level) in the last batch. Todd lights up a cigarette and watches Jesse eat his ice cream. Jesse asks Todd to keep the tarp off the cage because he wants to “see the stars”, appealing to Todd’s softer side. In a mad dash, Jesse takes the cuffs off again, piles this blankets and bucket to balance on and in the coolest Mission Impossible stunt, Jesse Tom Cruise’s his way to the top of the cage, hanging by one arm off the grate.
He finally is able to get both arms on the grate, unlock it and run. He sees the long fence surrounding the property, but does not see the cameras. As he climbs the clan surround him. He turns around and asks them to kill him. Aaron Paul’s intensity is mind-blowing here. The way he screams at them, especially the use of the F-bomb, is so real.
Todd walks up to what we know is Andrea’s house. It was hard to deny what was coming next. This time, it is Todd who knocks. Todd kindly approaches Andrea and as per usual, is very polite to her. He lures her out by telling her that Jesse is out in the truck outside. Considering this girl grew up in the hood, its amazing she falls for this. But she does and Todd being so fucking polite tells her “Just so you know, this isn’t personal” and shoots her in the head.
I really can’t wait until that fucker dies. Jesse looks on crying and screaming uncontrollably. Todd gets back in the car and Jack warns Jesse that he needs to settle down and that “the kid” is still to be killed. This was one of the hardest scenes to watch in all of BrBa history. I didn’t have much of an attachment to Andrea, but rather what she represented for Jesse and any kind of normalcy he knew in the series. Poor street smarts or not, Andrea was the last presence of innocence left in all of Albuquerque. Forcing him to watch her die really could be the factor that causes him to go psycho on the psychos.
Back in New Hampshire, Walt is a little snow bunny. He walks to his gate to let The Exterminator in for his monthly drop. Walt did not choose to go out “tomorrow.” He now has hair and a full beard. The Exterminator brings Walt new glasses, as his aren’t working anymore (now we know how he got that look). He updates Walt on his families well-being. She and the kids don’t live in the house anymore, she works as a taxi dispatcher and she is using her maiden name (also Lambert). The house is fenced in because it has become a tourist attraction. The Exterminator pulls out the chemotherapy IV. He assures Walt he can administer the needle because he watched YouTube videos (yikes!). The IV hangs from the deer antlers on the wall where the pork pie hung earlier in the episode. After the needle goes in, The Exterminator gets ready to leave. Walt offers him 10,000 dollars to keep him company. It is a new kind of sad and lonely for Walt to have to pay a stranger to sit with him in his condition. As The Exterminator deals cards, it is hard not to notice the wall Walt has created of all the news paper clippings of his pictures and claims against Skyler from the newspapers. Walt asks The Exterminator to give his money to his family after his death. It becomes clear, this would not be the case, because who would rightfully give a free 11 million to who it belongs to? Later, a very thin and sickly Walt wakes up form a nap. His wedding ring has fallen off his finger due to his weight loss. He ties the ring around his neck, still trying to keep his family a part of his being. He looks at the boxes of Ensure The Exterminator brought him to gain weight and gets an idea. He was warned to not wire the money, but not to mail it. He puts the money in the ensure boxes and finally makes his trek to the one horse town. Walt is clearly weaker. He walks slowly and is coughing more. Also, a note on AMC’s choice of commercials: whose idea was it to go from the shot from behind Walt walking into the stark snow to a back shot of Rick from The Walking Dead waking up to a zombie apocalypse. Talk about a shitty transition.
Back in Albuquerque, “Flynn White” is called to the principal’s office, but not for anything his fault. Carmen, the administrator Walt used to have a crush on tells him that his Aunt Marie is on the phone. A fat biker lady is on the other line in a bar. Walt takes a hold of the pay phone and tells his son why he did what he did. He then tells him that he sent him a box of money for the family to Jr.’s friend, Louis. Walt is degrading himself for not doing more. Flynn has the opposite reaction Walt expects and freaks out about Hank and the money. Walt says, “It can’t all be for nothing” while Flynn screams at him to “Just die already.” Again, Walt is defeated. It really could all be for nothing and his son hates him, an opposite reflection of when Flynn gets so mad that Walt won’t get chemo in the first season, telling him to die. When the line is cut off, Walt makes another call, to the Albuquerque DEA. It’s pretty amazing he knows their number by heart. Anyway, he asks for the agent in charge of the investigation and tells them it is Walter White. At this point, with nothing left that matters, he is ready to just give it up. He leaves the phone hanging and is knowingly and willingly about to go down as the kingpin of Albuquerque. He grabs a drink at the bar, “dimple pinch neat”, and watches the TV. He asks the bartender to stop on a channel where he sees his old pals Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz being interviewed about their contribution to drug rehab facilities in the Southwest United States. They are asked if this contribution was to cut the ties of Walter White “the methanphetamine kingpin” being the co-founder of Grey Matter. They say that Walt had nothing to do with the company and where it went other than the name. There is also a mention of the blue still being sold in the Southwest and Europe, even though the Walt is not the cook any longer. When asked if Walt is still out there, Gretchen is sure that he is not. Now that Walt has lost his family and his money, he now looks at the TV and realizes that his pride and legacy are gone, too.
Walt’s life has come full circle. He lost all credit for everything he did for Grey Matter, and now he has lost control of his precious blue meth. Pride gets the best of him, as it should, or the story wouldn’t be consistent. The theme song plays as the New Hampshire police swarm the bar. As the enter we get a shot of Walt’s drink, the tip and an empty seat. One of the best uses of music this series.
Hush Comics gives “Granite State” an A. It’s hard to knock the writing, because it is Breaking Bad and the second to last episode. It is hard to tell how much of this episode will effect what happens next week. After the lack of movement in this episode, and how little we saw of Skyler or Jesse in the several month period, it is hard to see how the entire series will culminate in only an hour and fifteen minutes. But as always, amazing acting and amazing character development. It was a bit disappointing to not end this episode where the season premiere started. There were about four months of time skipped to convey Walt’s physical depreciation, desperation and loneliness instead of focusing on other major characters and their lives during this pandemonium.
written by Adrian Puryear
All media credited to AMC Television unless otherwise stated.