Following the suspenseful conclusions of the previous few episodes - culminating in what may have been the most tense five minutes in television history last week - my expectations were lowered for "End Times."
I felt a bit like a Yankees fan heading into the 1928 season. There was simply no way any cliffhanger could match what we witnessed on "Crawl Space," especially with the season finale a week ago and many shows using a penultimate episode such as this to quietly set the scene for the explosive action to come.
Yet, despite this mindset, I was still disappointed when the final credits rolled. Heck, I was even a bit confused.
Did Gus have a feeling that Walt (or someone) was out there, plotting his murder? Why would he? I understand that a man in his position must be careful at all times, but he's likely walked to a parked car before. Why did he suddenly decide to turn around?
I'll reserve full judgment until we find out where he's headed, but it comes across for now like Breaking Bad is simply dragging out the climactic killing of Gus until the finale. It feels sacrilegious to even hint that Vince Gilligan and company are spinning their wheels and needing to contrive a way to extend this storyline. I don't know of a showrunner I trust more.
And I'll happily devour my words next week if it all comes together, but this was actually the second time on "End Times" when Gus came across as too powerful and all-knowing.
He was really on to the ricin and somehow managed to poison Brock?!? I did what Walt pleaded with Jesse to do (in an incredible scene that ought to have cinched another Emmy for both these actors) and I thought long and hard about it and I still don't see how Gus pulled this one off. Yes, he has cameras inside the lab, and Tyrus is often parked outside Walt's home... but I still can't follow the logic of how he knew about the ricin, lifted it AND poisoned Brock with it.
Gus is a fascinating character - seriously, the show has crafted such a layered backstory for him that you find yourself sympathizing for the man, before being reminded at times such as this that he's a drug dealer and cold-blooded killer - but let's not make him into some kind of psychic comic book villain. It's a rarity, but Breaking Bad asked us to make some leaps in logic to keep things progressing this episode.
Of course, it also provided its typical handful of powerful, quiet character moments. There was Hank in sullen shock as he clicked through photos that supposedly disproved his theory. There was Skyler really needing a smoke and wondering how she and her family ended up here. There was Walt, just staring at his wife and daughter as they pulled out of the driveway, which followed a speech that officially did away with Heisenberg and brought Walt down to a level his ego probably never thought he'd be again.
This is his fault. There was a time when he could have done things differently, but it's too late now. And only he should suffer the consequences. It's impossible to argue with any of that, isn't it? Watching Walt return to basic chemistry in his kitchen - in order to build a bomb for a murder, granted - was also a nice call back to when Mr. White was nothing more than a science teacher.
Overall, not my favorite episode of Breaking Bad, as it mostly served to bring Walt and Jesse back together. But they are on the same side once again now, and I can truly say I have no idea what will result from that on the finale, the promo for which you can view HERE.