Breaking Bad Finale Update: The Season of Gus Fring

[Warning: Spoilers ahead, don't read until after you've watched the finale.]

Series Creator Vince Gilligan explains last night's finale of Breaking Bad in a must-read article in the New York Times.

My predictions on the finale were wrong. It turns out: [More..]

  • Jesse isn't interviewed by the DEA or state cops about drugs, but about ricin. And the new detective, Kalanchoe, didn't play a big role.
  • Mike never returned.
  • Saul hooks Walt up with Tio, aka Hector (but the tip really came from Jesse. )
  • Tyrus had no inside man at the DEA, he was just watching the DEA office. (He did use a syringe to fill a vial with poison but he didn't poison anyone, it was for Gus to inject into Tio. )
  • Walter gets his bomb off by convincing Tio to let him hook it to Tio's wheelchair so Tio can play suicide bomber, taking out Tyrus, Gus and himself.
  • The photo of Gus with his eye and face blown off has been on the internet for days, but everyone thought it was photo-shopped. It was real. Someone from one of the graphics labs that created it probably leaked it. (Added: or someone in the media who got an advance screening copy.) You can bet Gilligan wasn't happy about it as in one article, Giancarlo says security was so tight they were only allowed to read the script in Gilligan's office. There were no written copies.
  • There was no ricin, but Walt did poison Brock with the berries from the plant in his backyard. It was a lilly plant.
  • Walt's family and Hank and Marie are fine. So is SA Gomez. There were no crooked cops or agents.

Three things I did notice and write about in my earlier post occurred, but were inconsequential:

  • The unknown gunman was a just a goon of Gus's who broke into Walt's house looking to kill him.
  • The blue and yellow blob in the lab picture in the preview was Jesse, but he was just handcuffed to a tank.
  • The medallion of Los Pollos Hermanos hanging from Gus' rear-view mirror was featured again but for no real purpose. It was in the next to last scene where Walt is driving out of the hospital garage and drives past Gus' Volvo, which is still parked there. The camera panned on the medallion.

In one sense, I didn't think it was really a chess-match between Walt and Gus so much as Walt plotting against Gus while Gus was plotting against Tio. Walt wasn't Gus' primary concern in this episode. But reading Giancarlo Esposito's explanation, in another sense it was a chess match, one in which Walt outwitted Gus by hooking up with Tio, a move Gus never expected (and probably should have since he took Jesse to Tio's nursing home and introduced him to Tio as his nephew's killer):

I think it was a cancer on [Gus]. There is a morality tale in all of Breaking Bad, and I think it's the drive for that revenge that allows Gus to miss the fact that Walt could get to Hector and that Hector would give up his life to kill Gus because of his hatred for him. It is a morality tale. Gus doesn't get a chance to get Walt because he's so focused on the hatred of Hector. It certainly blinded him a little bit.

One thing is for sure: the episode title was quite literal:

On to next season: What's on the horizon for the show and characters? Walt and Jesse blew up the lab, there's no business left for Walt to take over. What will be the reason for Hank to keep investigating Heisenberg since he thought Gus was the mastermind and now Gus is dead? Presumably, Gus' computer and the security cameras and tapes were destroyed in the lab fire. Will the police find something at Gus' home that connects him to Heisenberg ? Or will it just be a case of the same "blue ice" turning up on the streets of Albuquerque, making Hank realize Heisenberg is still out there?. Otherwise, I would think it would be case closed. The DEA and FBI aren't going to expend too many resources trying to figure out who killed a retired cartel member, a drug lord and his goon.

Gilligan says they will bring Mike back next season. He could want retaliation against Walt for killing Gus, even though Gus abandoned him in Mexico. And he'll probably try to enlist Jesse in his effort.

Walt has now moved to cold-blooded killer. He was willing to sacrifice his neighbor, he shot and killed the guys guarding Jesse in the lab, he poisoned Brock and killed Gus, Tyrus and Tio with his bomb. Quite a toll for one night. There's no going back for Walt. This season ends with him saying "I won." You can bet next season won't. This is a morality tale, and no one gets off scott-free.

Next season will undoubtedly feature a Walt vs. Jesse theme, with Jesse no longer being the underling. I can't see them going into the meth business separately to become rivals. If they go in together, where would they even set up? Surely not the car wash. Gilligan repeated to the Times that the show is about Walt, and his transformation from "Mr. Chips to Scarface," so it's a given Walt will keep moving in an ever-increasingly evil direction next season. So what will pit Jesse against Walt? About the only thing I can think of is Jesse realizing Walt poisoned Brock (if he hasn't already) and teaming up with Mike to take Walt out.

Final thoughts: The best parts of the episode were the scenes with Tio in the nursing home. The least (and most-far-fetched) was Walt poisoning Brock with the plant. When did he have the time? What if Brock had survived and told doctors or his mother Walt gave him the plant? And if Walt just left it on their doorstep, how could he count on Brock actually eating the berries? And who took Jesse's ricin filled cigarette? Walt couldn't have done that. And with Saul again repeating he hoped he was buttering the right guy by helping Jesse, why would he have plotted with Walt to hurt Jesse through Brock?

This would have made a great series finale, as opposed to a season finale. Which according to Gilligan in the Times article, is how it was written since at the time they didn't know there would be a next season. As for Gus's background in Chile, they may introduce it in flashbacks next season. Giancarlo also thinks he'll be doing more episodes via flashback. How will it be relevant? Perhaps whoever it was in Chile that protected Gus from being killed by the cartel will come after Walt to seek revenge. I suppose they could hire Mike to do it or force Saul into helping.

There were no cliffhangers in the finale and everything seems neatly wrapped up. Probably the only lingering question is whether Jesse knows Walt poisoned Brock.

I can't imagine what the writers will come up with for the final season, but they open the writer's room in November to start plotting.

If you missed this season of Breaking Bad, it will be available everywhere, from Netflix to iTunes to Xfinity and more. It's great television and I highly recommend it. There should be a lot of Emmy's for the show next year, all very much deserved.

< Breaking Bad Finale: The OMG Moments | Monday Morning Open Thread >
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  • Display: Sort:
    It's pretty hard to miss the spoiler (none / 0) (#1)
    by Gisleson on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 08:22:45 AM EST
    when you put it in your headline.

    Good point, I changed the headline (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 09:35:58 AM EST
    I waiting until after midnight to post it, since it had aired in all time zones and all the news outlets reported on what happened, but I forgot that some people were avoiding the news if they recorded it on DVR to watch later. Thanks for the reminder.

    Gus was/(will be?) a great character (none / 0) (#4)
    by MKS on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 12:43:47 PM EST
    One very hard to forget.

    Some of the little things.  Like Gus answering the phone at the cheesy fast food chicken place with the greeting, "Pollos Hermanos where something delicious is always cooking."  

    Gus says it with such elegant presision.  Just sticks in your mind. Even his yellow shirt that he wears at the chicken place appears crisp and elegant.

    And, are there El Pollo Loco fast food restaurants outside the West?   Great take off of that name.

    And, Gus is at bottom quite sincere and simple.  He is loyal to Jesse, and let's Jesse stay at the hospital while Brock recovers from the poisoning.  No, it is Walt, not Gus, that harms kids.....

    And, Gus always beams when anyone compliments his chicken, even at the most trying of times.  When he is making his ill-fated pitch to the Mexican mob to make meth.  When he is being questioned by the DEA iirc.  What a contrast with the cool composure that always predominates.

    Bring back Gus.  The Pinochet backers will not let Walt's very public FU execution stand.

    Give Giancarlo Esposito the Emmy.

    I agree the poisoning thread was out there--but... (none / 0) (#5)
    by dgwohl on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 05:58:35 PM EST
    There were some hints that Saul was involved. In the previous episode, when the guard frisks Jesse, he puts something in his pocket after the frisking. I read that one online and if you look, you can see it.

    The bigger point was in last night's episode, the secretary is shredding a CLASS SCHEDULE. Presumably Brock's.

    Even with those tidbits, it still seems like a huge undertaking, but at least Gilligan sort of addressed it...

    I re-ran the bodyguard (none / 0) (#6)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 06:54:59 PM EST
    frisk so many times, even in slow motion, and it wasn't clear he put something in his pocket, although it's possible. I too saw the speculation online.

    I had no idea the secretary was shredding class notes. That makes it much more likely it was Saul, especially considering he did visit the house to drop off money.

    I also couldn't spot any red berries on Walt's plant. So maybe Saul went and bought one to bring with a check. for the mom. But wouldn't the mom have told Jesse Saul stopped by?


    Yeah no berries...I noticed that too... (none / 0) (#7)
    by dgwohl on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 07:03:43 PM EST
    But in the interview Gilligan pretty much agrees that Walt did the poisoning, so I guess that part is basically unequivocal. Maybe there are no berries precisely because Walter used them.

    This is a really interesting article as well. In a couple of days they'll be up to the end of the season...



    I just read another version (none / 0) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 07:18:05 PM EST
    of last week's interview with Vince and he confirms Saul's bodyguard took it and put it in his pocket.

    I think in the second to last episode, everything he said to Walt is correct, even as to, perhaps even as to how Walt was able to get the cigarette off him, you know, Saul's bodyguard, Huell. If you look very closely actually, if you look very closely, Huell, after he passed him down, is seen putting something into his left pocket. It's very subtle, it's right at the bottom right corner of the frame, but it is there.

    I love how all these reporters make it seem they had a one on one conversation with Vince and the actors when it's obvious the reporters were all on a conference call. And some media members apparently got screeners of the finale in advance. Come to think of it, it was probably one of the media people who got a screener tha leaked the shot of Gus's face blown off, not someone in the graphics lab. I better go amend my post.


    Reading that article is funny... (none / 0) (#9)
    by dgwohl on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 07:39:23 PM EST
    ...in that their writer's room is the antithesis of the LOST writer's room, where they just came up with things that seemed cool and never worried about how it would pay off later.

    The interviews DO all seem so personalized. I never even realized they could all be on a conference call. LOL.


    And that Buell pocket incident... (none / 0) (#10)
    by dgwohl on Mon Oct 10, 2011 at 07:51:05 PM EST
    ...was probably a BIT too subtle if we needed message board conspiracy theorists and the writer himself to explain it to us.