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Breaking Bad Review: "End Times"

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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.

Walter White, Defeated

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.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.9 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (84 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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I think there is a third player- yet to be announced- who is behind the shadows wanting Jesse to stop cooking and possibly have him gang up against Gus. For the following reasons:
1. The gun that Walt spins- the first tow times he is the target but the third time e target is someone else- Jesse or Gus.
2. All seemed confused at Brock's illness (if he were truly poisoned)- Walt cannot remember the boy's name and seems oblivious of him. Gus would have calculated that Jesse would have taken time off if Brock was murdered thus affecting the cook cycle. None of the players want or need Brock hurt but some other player wants inner fighting. Here's my bet - Gomez was working with the cartel and wants revenge or to take over Gus' business. That's right I said Gomez from the DEA. I bet Hank will be killed in the finale. And o

Piecar

Damn, Dot. You're far more concise than I am. Well done.

Piecar

By the way, on the "The kid couldn't have smoked the cigarette cause Jesse saw it this morning" front. When you were a kid and stole, let's say, some booze outta your parent's liquor cabinet. Being a smart kind, what did you do? Make everything look like it did before. Go after the vodka, because it looks like water, add water to the vodka. The kid took the interesting *special* cigarette and turned another one over. Mystery solved. That's all Jesse's been doing up to this point, looking to see if there's the "turned over" cig in his pack.

Piecar

THE RICIN:
The very first thing I thought was that the kid got into Jesse's jacket and smoked the cigarette and that poisoned him. Jesse is cool, and the kid would probably want to emulate him...so he smoked the cigarette. The most visually interesting to a kid would be the one that was upside down. GUS TURNS AWAY: Gus is a savvy savvy guy. He gets enticed to leave a place and come to another place. The reason is plausible, but suspicious. He got pulled out of hiding. He knows Jesse is smart enough to realize that he'd be losing a cook. He knows Jesse has earned a favour (by saving Gus' life!)So he'd have to guess that Jesse would call him for help in something so important. Jesse is unusually distant to Gus all of a sudden. He knows Jesse is loyal to a genius chemist. He was walking into an empty parking garage, doing the permutations in his head. That Jesse was setting him up was a clear permutation. I buy it. I suspect, in this season of carefully calculated chess moves that have led to this moment, that the final move was a random chance moment that everyone involved, used to analyzing every variable, miscontrued based on their own fears. Saul is a good guy for making sure Jesse got his cut. He was bugging out anyway, and had REAL bad guys to worry about. I'd have taken Jesse's bread and headed to Belize in Saul's state of mind. I thought the ep was okay.

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i just watched the ep again. and i am 100% convinced that it was saul who poisoned him. when jesse got patted down when he got to saul, if u watch carefully you see him stuff a white bok into his pocket afterwards. i dont understand why they would do it like that but im sure next episode will explain everything. watch it again and tell me that black security man didnt take his pack. maybe even switched it.

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@johnny No, of course I'm not seriously proposing that Walt Jr. masterminded the whole thing. I was just extending the Keyser Söze analogy. Haven't you ever watched the Usual Suspects? **Spoiler Alert** Kevin Spacey was faking Cerebral Palsy the whole time and engineered the deaths of all of everyone who ever wronged him in he slightest.

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I think that Brock simply took the cigarette out of jesse's pack a few days ago and turned another one upside down so that jesse wouldn't notice. kids are good at this sort of thing.

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Have you forgotten in Season 1 that Walt's house was bugged, therefore,stands to readon that so is Jesse's. And Walt and Jesse had all those conversations about the Ricin and the cigarette at Jesse's house. For all we know, Gus has cameras in Jesse's house too! Gus knows everything!

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Walt was barricaded in his apartment, so I cannot fathoml how he could have poisoned Brock. On the other hand, Gus did say that there would be an "appropriate response" to Walt's alleged fault for the DEA search. Perhaps Brock was seen as as just a handy implement (do you really think Gus is "too decent" to have an unknown child killed?) to be used TO INDUCE JESSE to kill Walt, thus completing Jesse's seduction by Gus and getting rid of Walt without Gus getting blood on his hands or causing a "problem" with his vital cook. If Jesse could be motivated to killl Walt, he could hardly object to the death of Walt, as he would if Gus killed Walt. Other explanations are possible, but I get the feeling that any other explanation would be the writers pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Now, why did Gus get spooked at the Volvo? Spidey sense is unconvicing. The only explanation is that Jesse told him something. This is plausible because Gus feigned concern and understanding of Jesse's desire to stay at the hospital instead of, as expected, resorting to threats and preaching about how much moneyy was at stake.. This is part of the secuction of Jesse by Gus. He could not force Jesse back to the lab. He could kill him, but what would that accomplish? Once Jesse had his back up -- and remember that Gus saw Jesse dismantle tha arrogant Mexican chemist for the cartel before an audience of killers -- he knew that there was no forcing him. So Gus was all sweet concern and understanding -- even beyond what any nornal emplayer might exspress. It would be classic Gus to express sweet compassion after poisoning a child (either directly or on his order). Remember the hit on Hank, which was proposed by Gus as a substitute for Walter White back when Gus wanted him still alive, while he expressed sincere concern and regret at the hospital to Marie. Whatever happens, I am sure that it will be astonishing. I dred the cliffhanger and months of waiting for season five. By the way, I see where Anna Gunn has scueduled new television work and a new play. Does this bod ill for the survival of Skyar? Didn't her smoke by the railing last night have a "last cigarette" vibe to it?

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I tend to agree that maybe Walt did do it. That would resolve most of the sense of forced storytelling cited in this review. it would make Gus' reactions much more sensible. He is angry with Jesse because he doesn't know what is going on. He seems genuinely surprised at what is transpiring, is generous in his final reaction to Jesse, and then he's pondering what just happened in the garage. That's why he stopped--something isn't right. Someone did this. Why--to draw him out? To put him in a specific place where they could be waiting. Gilligan did say one of the points of the show was to dramatize how a school teacher becomes Scarface. With only one season left, Walt has to take that step. And what better way to dramatize it than his deliberately choosing to put an innocent life at risk? Jane was a bit of an accident, and certainly passive. All he had to do was not intervene; what happened is what would have happened anyway if he hadn't broken into the house. Gil was a desperate attempt to save himself, and did involve killing a fellow criminal. But Brock is crossing a big, bright red line obvious to anyone. Now that's very risky from an audience point of view. Will the audience continue to tolerate some level of identification with a protagonist who is unambiguously evil? But that's what Breaking Bad is all about, constantly pushing the line, slowing upping the water temperature as the audience, like the apocryphal frog, sits in that pan. It would make perfect sense if they go that way, because we don't need another season of Walter White that repeats Season 4.

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