"Stay Out Of My Territory!" Heisenberg said that some time ago, but that was still the message, loud and clear, in "Face Off," the finale of this season's Breaking Bad
. Hard to believe things flew by so quickly.
I had certain problems with this season, more than with the previous three, and maybe I'll write about them some day. But for now, let's just enjoy what's become the best show on TV. And for a season finale, "Face Off" was very satisfying, even if in some ways it was ridiculous.
Last week we had Jesse and Walt both in danger as Gus realized he had to take action. Furthermore, they seemed united against Gus for the first time in quite a while. Walt tried to kill Gus with a car bomb, but Gus, who realized something was off from his talk with Jesse, avoided it. So now Walt retrieves the bomb and goes to Jesse, still waiting in the hospital.
They have a talk. Gus is on to them. Before they can discuss how to get to Gus, the cops want to talk to Jesse. (I was thinking last week Jesse will tell Walt about Tio and Walt will put the bomb at the home, which Tio will operate with his bell. This turned out to be 100% correct. Too bad I didn't write it down anywhere so people would believe me.) I was waiting for the cops to show up--Jesse brought up ricin poisoning, which is something surprisingly specific. They just want to talk, of course, but Jesse's been through this before. He justs wants to call Saul. But Saul is out these days, since the heat is on.
In fact, his secretary is busy shredding documents. Walt bursts in and soon realizes he'll need a lot of money to bribe her so she'll cough up Saul's whereabouts. So he goes back home to pick up what's left. (Really? Isn't that the one place he has to stay away from?)
At his place, there's a vehicle waiting, so he calls the local lady with his key and has her check out the place--putting her life in danger, but if you want to make omelette you gotta break a few eggs. Anyway, this flushes out the killers. He retrieves his money and beats a hasty retreat before they can kill him. (Dangerous, seems to me. Can't he just promise the secretary bribe money? He's good for it. Or threaten her a la Heisenberg?)
Jesse is still being questioned when Saul comes in. A great moment. Nice to have him back. His life may be in danger, but you get the feeling Saul loves his job. He can't get Jesse out easily--the word "ricin" comes up and the FBI starts to get interested. At least, Saul notes, Jesse is safe where he is. And Jesse has the chance to pass on the info about Tio Salamanca.
Saul meets Walt at a non-descript location to talk about Hector. Not helpful until Walt understands Tio and Gus are enemies. That he can use. He pays a visit to the home and makes a deal with the guy who'd like to kill him. The exact deal we're not sure of, but Tio communicates to his nurse he wants to talk to the DEA.
This sounds weird, because we know Tio is old-school. He saw his nephew die and wouldn't talk. He saw his sons die and wouldn't talk. Tio is willing to die himself, but he'd never talk to the DEA. (For a guy who can't talk and can hardly move, Mark Margolis as Tio has gotten a lot of face time in the series, and has done a great job.)
Meanwhile, a frantic Junior and Marie call Walt, insisting he come to the safety of Hank's place, rather than worry about the damn car wash. (Speaking of which, who's minding the place? It's a big investment, and when the boss is away, are they taking the coins in the cars and that sort of stuff?) Skyler can't be bothered to talk to Walt, of course. She knows he has things to do.
Gomie drops by Hank's. Hank has figured out a lot about the laundry--too much wattage, for one thing--but it seems doubtful he'll convince anyone to go there again. Anyway, there's news. Hector Salamanca wants to talk, but only if Hank is there. (Seemed a bit odd if he won't say anything, but I assume it's to make sure Gus is paying attention.) Marie says absolutely not--it's a ruse to draw him away. But Hank would probably rather be shot than not go to find out what's happening. He's on the trail. Marie puts her foot down.
Cut to the DEA, where the interrogation with Hank is about to begin. (A gag similar to Marie convincing Hank to leave the hospital last season.) Anyway, Hector just swears with his bell at them till they return him home. He's ready to get Gus, but he's no informer. As he's taken from the DEA, Gus gets word there may be Tio trouble.
Tio's brought back to his room, his nurse disgusted. Walt is waiting to set up whatever it is they'll set up (you know, the stuff I predicted would happen). Meanwhile, Gus sends out Tyrus to check the place for bugs and the like. Walt is hiding outside, waiting for Tyrus to leave. (Did Walt expect Tyrus first, before Gus. If so, good call.)
Meanwhile, Jesse's let go. Tox screen showed no ricin. (Which makes sense. I thought ricin killed differently anyway.) Jesse leaves and the first thing he should do is hide, you'd think, since he knows he's either on a hit list or a shit list. But no, he's tased and tossed in a van. To do what with?
Gus gets the call. Jesse has been taken. Also, Tyrus says no surveillance at Hector's place. Gus says he's coming in. Tyrus wonders if he should bother, but there's no way Gus will allow anyone else to end Hector, the man he's been toying with for years. This makes sense. Walt is using Gus's one blind spot--his need for revenge.
Gus shows up and he and Tyrus go into the room. (Good thing Hector's got a room to himself.) Gus is disgusted that he would talk to the DEA. Does he want to be remembered as a rat? As Gus leans in to give Hector the syringe shot that will kill him, he starts thinking and Hector starts ringing. Gus figures it out too late and the bomb goes off.
The door is blown off its hinges. Then Gus walks out. Huh? We get a full shot and see half his face is blown off (hence the title). We've seen this CGI before, and it's a bit cheap, but it's such a satisfying moment we can forgive the show.
Walt waits in a parking lot, listening to the radio. Big news--an explosion at a home, and three people may have been killed. The message is clear. Don't mess with Heisenberg.
We have a commercial to think about things. The head has been cut off, so what happenes to the operation? Is it a Wizard Of Oz
sort of thing, where everyone's happy to be let free? Does someone step into the vacuum? (And don't forget the Cartel's head has been chopped off, too.) I don't know. Guess we'll find out next year.
Return from commercial and, somewhat to our surprise, Jesse is cooking. I guess no matter what, the roads must roll. Jesse has a tough new overseer making sure he doesn't screw around. Just considering fighting back could get him in trouble. (I thought maybe Jesse should try Walt's old trick--put on the gas mask and lets the deadly vapors flow.) The elevator buzzer sounds and the henchman handcuffs Jesses to pole. He goes to the elevator and who should walk out but Heisenberg, gun a-blazin'. He tells Jesse Gus is dead, then says "we've got work to do."
Sure do. It's only a matter of time now before the DEA comes to investigate. Must destroy the lab. But where will they cook? I sure hope Jesse has millions left, since Walts' blown most of his dough. Anyway, the boys destroy the lab. (Walt is good at creating things, but he's even better at destroying them.) Upstair, Walt shouts "Vamonos!," not that the workers need to be told when they hear the explosion.
At the hospital, Jesse brings good news to Walt--Brock will make it. And it wasn't ricin. (How could it be?) It was "Lily Of The Valley," poisonous red berries that little kids often eat. So Gus didn't do it, according to Jesse. (How does Jesse know that? Could be any sort of poison, couldn't it? The main thing was to steal the cigarette and convince Jesse it was ricin.) Anyway, Jesse says, Gus had to go. I guess that's right, even if he was being groomed to be the top cook, and Gus was sort of fond of him. (Around this point we get a faraway shot of Jesse and Walt, as if there's surveillance, but it seems to be a false alarm. With this show, you're always tense.)
Walt calls Skyler, who's watching the news with the whole gang. Uncle Hank was right! With Tio and Gus going out together, even the DEA can figure it out. Skyler wants to know what happened. Walter says it's over, we're safe, I won. Heisenberg rules. Never doubt a chemist.
Ah, but what other things do chemists know? Walt drives out of the hospital, passing Gus's Hermanos car, which will be there for quite a while. Whoever drives it out will have to pay maximum, that's for sure.
Then we get a nice, slow shot (by the way, the episodes written and directed by Vince Gilligan) of the White's back yard. We slowly move in on a plant. Sure looks like a Lily Of The Valley.
Many fans had been speculating Walt was behind the poisoning. Okay, he was, but it's a little hard to buy. Not that long ago he was tased, hooded and brought to the desert where Gus told him to get out of the way or he'd kill his whole family. Frantic, Walt warns Hank (which will get his family killed) and then plans to go underground, except Skyler spent the money so he can't afford it.
So what does he do? Though scared out of his wits, expecting to be surveilled, and waiting to die, he comes up with a plot. He'll pull some handy-dandy poison he happens to have growing in his backyard, go visit Andrea and Brock--whom he doesn't know, and who may be surveilled themselves--somehow drop some berries in the kid's oatmeal, then return home. Meanwhile, he'll also get Saul to go along with the complex scheme by having him call Jesse and demanding he come over (to receive money) and when he does, get Huell, Saul's bodyguard, to search Jesse, remove the ricin cigarette (which has to be there), then return it to his jacket. Then Walt has to wait while Jesse figues it's ricin poisoning because of the missing cigarette (no guarantee), and then puts two and two together and figures Walt did the poisoning. Then Jesse has to come to Walt's place to kill him (rather than call Gus and say it's now alright to kill Walt), and not kill him. Instead, he's got to pick up Walt's gun and ask Walt to explain, and then have Walt convince him the Gus was behind it all.
We're far away from the simple plans in earlier seasons, where a phone call here, a deadly gas there ("yeah, science!") solved the problems. This is a plan I don't think even Gus could pull off. But you know what? It led to a "happy" ending, so I'll accept it.
And now we wait a year for season five. Who's in charge now? And where is Mike? (I thought he might come back but now I figure Vince Gilligan just wanted him out of the way so Gus'd be shorthanded when he needed his best man.) Do Jesse and Walt have to start from scratch? Or will Walt just retire on that good car wash money?