Breaking Bad: ‘Fire in the hole, b–ch’

Realising his mistake … Walt goes to his stash site to find it undisturbed. Sick of being under fire … Saul Goodman in a bullet-proof vest warning.
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The end game for Breaking Bad has begun. To’hajiilee is the fourth last episode and the wheels are spinning quickly now.

There is no turning back and ramifications will be felt, almost certainly in a painful manner. The cliffhangers are no longer about whether something will happen, but rather to whom it will happen.

It’s hard to imagine, for example, that the furious gun battle, which begins as this episode ends, can be resolved without loss of life.

A week ago I pointed out that Walt’s call to the dutiful Todd to hire his neo-Nazi Uncle Jack for another hit wasn’t explicitly linked to Jesse. But a few minutes in, after Lydia tries to point out to head cook Todd and his uncle that the meth needs to be a better quality and blue – “blue is our brand,” says the perpetually edgy Lydia – Walt is confirming that his former de facto child has to go: “Just one target, not currently in jail – Jesse Pinkman.”

This was one of the lines Walt had tried not to cross, only to self-justify stepping across. But this is no longer about building a criminal empire as Heisenberg; he’s trying to protect what may be his final months as Walter White and taking care of his immediate family.

Walt is staggering – literally, due to his cancer – to the finish line, and the best he can do now is ask that Jesse’s death be “fast and painless”.

Walt’s reversion also leaves him on the back foot. He hires Uncle Jack, paying with the agreement to cook one more time as a tutorial for Todd, but Jesse is already scheming with Hank and Gomie. Jesse and Hank are a dream team when it comes to plotting Walt’s downfall – the former pinpoints his weaknesses, the latter figures out how to exploit them.

After conning Saul Goodman’s bodyguard Huell with a mobile phone picture of Jesse showing his brains supposedly blown out by Walt’s assassin (they were animal brains), they hatch a plan to find his money. While they don’t have the location, they know he used a van to transport it into the desert.

Even as Walt visits Andrea and Brock, getting her to call Jesse in the hope he’ll blindly dash over, they prepare their own superior scam (Jesse never gets the call because Hank has confiscated his phone).

Jesse’s call to Walt is one of several scenes where long held rage gets satisfied with triumphant deliverance. A faked picture of one of Walt’s seven money barrels convinces him Jesse has found them, and Jesse stokes his panic by announcing that he is going to burn the contents. “Fire in the hole, bitch!” he declares, promising to torch $10,000 every minute.

Walt, driving desperately, tries to avert Jesse, but his powers of persuasion with the younger man are gone and he makes a damning confession; reminding Jesse of the people he had killed to help his young protege. Do Hank and Gomie have that on tape?

When Walt realises he’s been duped, after finding no-one at the stash site and the ground undisturbed, he is furious – even with a coughing fit wracking his body.

He calls Jack when he sights a car, but tells him not to bother once he realises Jesse is there with Hank. His brother-in-law appears to be the final line Walt won’t cross, although he has a habit of manufacturing circumstances where others obliterate the line for him.

That’s the question that underpins this episode. Looking at a close-up on Walt’s face as Hank calls for him to show himself, and it isn’t clear whether there is regret, rage or reluctant acceptance to be seen. Will he go down fighting or give up? And did he make a phone call – to Saul or Skyler – we didn’t see before he came out?

Walt calls Jesse a “coward” after Hank handcuffs him, although there’s no response to the quiet but powerful vindication of Hank finally reading him his rights.

This is what Hank wants most, and he calls Marie to let her know he’s done it; a moment – when combined with him acknowledging his love for her – that signals he is in grave danger. Jack and his heavily armed gang arrive, and the swastika-tattooed killer weighs up an arrested Walt, who is screaming at him not to start something, with the profits to be gained by Walt giving Todd a master-class. He goes for the money, and the automatic rifle fire is torrid.

No-one gets hit. Walt cowers under the crossfire and Jesse looks to slip away. But then again by this point of the show, who hasn’t been badly wounded in one way or another?


– “Don’t drink and drive, but if you do, call me.” Saul, wearing a bulletproof vest, makes Jr’s day at the carwash.

– Jack’s white power army look like serious business, but they’re not great shots. They’ve got the accuracy of your average Imperial Stormtrooper (Badger would back me up on this).

– How unnerving was the vibe between Todd and Lydia when he drew close to her? She gave him much the same look that a breakfast cereal-eating Brock gave Walt when he showed up. We don’t how Walt poisoned Brock, but on some level Brock appears to know that Walt is bad news.

– She Blinded Me With Science: Is Todd’s ring tone, taken from Thomas Dolby’s quirky 1982 new wave hit, an all-purpose ring or one specifically reserved for the greatest meth cook in the world?

Three episodes to go – Is this the end for Hank? His moment of triumph and affirmation from Marie are bad portents. I think that the final episodes won’t end where we anticipate – they’ll get there earlier and then venture beyond, into the fallout and the tragic aftershocks.

What do you think? Has Walt given up? Is Gomie doomed? Is Jesse revitalised or about to descend once more? Who will end up with the barrels of cash?

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.

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