MANY SPOILERS AHEAD
Greed, it turns out, might be the deadliest of the sins. At least for Walter White. If viewers had had any doubt about Walt’s motivations for getting into the meth business over the last 5 seasons, “Toha’jiilee” wrote it in the sky with lights, then fired canons at it for emphasis- MONEY.
For the critics who have complained that nothing really has happened in this second half of the fifth season, I hope you’re happy now, as this episode actually caused me to yell at my TV, then try reasoning with the characters through the screen. Vince Gilligan and his team have certainly played the long game on this one, but boy have they got us hooked.
At the end of episode 12 we saw Walt talking to Todd’s Uncle Jack, the go-to guy for making sure that living and breathing problems go away, and the start of this episode sees the end of that conversation. Walt wants Jesse dead but is not willing to do the deed himself, but even that doesn’t stop him defending his one-time partner to Uncle Jack. “He’s not a rat. He’s just angry” Walt jusitifies to a bemused jack. Walt is backed into a corner, but still doesn’t believe Jesse would really turn on him, which is more a testament to Walt’s own narcissism than any feelings he had for Jesse. Of course this faith is entirely mis-placed, as the audience knows Jesse is with Hank, doing his very best to ensure Mr White gets arrested and charged by the DEA. In Walt’s world Jesse is his dumb child-like sidekick, loyal to the end. Even Saul Goodman’s aside of “The kid’s not as dumb as you think” made Walt think twice.
Even when Jesse sends him a photograph of a barrel of money in the desert Walt doesn’t question his motives, or who else might be involved. Jesse is not, in Walt’s world, capable of duplicity. His desperate drive to the desert saw him unravelling, spewing forth the truth to Jesse on the other end of the phone. His desperate attempts at manipulation to stop him burning his stash such as “Don’t you touch my money… I’m dying”, give way to admissions about past murders, and another opportunity to call Jesse stupid.
All of which leads to Hank, Gomez, Jesse and Walt ending up in a gunfight with Uncle Jack and his Nazi thugs. We know Walt makes it out, but how? And who else will make it (although, let’s face it, there are some obvious redshirts in the mix here)?
Now that is all very exciting, but let’s not forget that whichever way this gunfight goes, Walt is trapped. If Hank dies (which let’s face it, looks very likely given the firepower Uncle Jack’s gang were holding) then Walt is going to have to go back to cook for Lydia, not doing so is not going to be an option. If the Nazis are gunned down then Walt is in serious trouble with the DEA. He has seemingly lost all his power, and probably his money too. So Walt has two choices at present- the frying pan or the fire. Now we know at the end of the season he is on his own, about to unleash some firepower and some poison, and the whole of his old neighbourhood know about his alternate life, so how do we get from here to there? Everyone is embroiled in a battle and not everyone is going to survive. Will it be Walt or Heisenberg who ultimately makes it back to his old home?
Let’s not forget the women of Breaking Bad.
Todd and Lydia, sitting in a tree, K.I.S.S… wait, no. Todd is just creepily touching the lipstick mark on her cup. Lydia is not a happy woman. Not only has the purity of the meth she is manufacturing dipped, now it’s not even blue. Lydia is a woman who appreciates quality, and having a below par product must irk her as much as the pressure from her customers in the Czech Republic. She doesn’t want to be just a meth dealer, she wants to be dealing the BEST meth. Todd, meanwhile, seems to have taken Lydia into his heart. First leaning in towards her as if he were about to kiss her, then running his fingers along her lipstick marked teacup. The boy has it bad, but what is he going to do about it. He has been very gentlemanly so far (helping her tiptoe blindly past the bodies of people she ordered massacred), but we know Todd’s moral compass is a little off kilter.
Lydia still has an entire drugs empire behind her- Todd and crew are merely the manufacturers for a multi-national business. She is not going to take too kindly to the attention they have just drawn on themselves by engaging the DEA in a gun battle.
Marie may have seen an echo of what was about to happen to her husband as she finds a mushed up brain in the bin. She is the only person who knows that Hank, Gomez, Jesse and Walt are in the desert and may be key to whatever happens next. Will she take up Hank’s mantle if he dies and ensure Walt is taken down by the DEA?
Then there is Mrs Heisenberg. Skyler is not going to leave Walt alone for long after seeing him run out of the car wash after taking that phone call. She will know something is up, but what could she do? Her default would normally have been to turn to Marie, but as Saul was the last person to come into the car wash, she will surely turn to him next.
Episode 14, “Ozymandias”, will surely see the second half of the battle rage, but no-one is going to escape, not really.