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Breaking Bad Review: "End Times"

by at . Comments

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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David,
you said: [Despite your naysaying, or more likely because of it, I'm going to stick with my theory of Saul pulling a Keyser Söze on everyone - Him or Walter Jr., AKA Flynn, AKA the Webmaster (for cancer donations), AKA the PT Cruiser with a CD player "for his 'tunes."] Are you really jumping from suspecting Saul to suspecting Walter Jr??? Really? Why not Marie?... or wait, I know... the ghost of Gail...OOOHHHH!!! now THAT makes sense!

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Let's consider these points and see if they could be applied to find the answer we are looking for: When it comes down to the crux: "Your family or mine?" Who's family would you put first? When someone you trust completely betrays you and joins forces with the enemy what would you do? Would you try to seek poetic justice and return the favour? A child for an infant, using the same pawn to punish the perpetrator? If you were a brainy, smart sort, and was forced to Break Bad, would you do it in half measures or go the whole hog, "resin" hell for anyone who dares cross your path? Walt Disney is no more.

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im starting to think that it was saul who poisoned brock. he had his security pat down jesse and he wants gus dead too just as much as walt. and he's also already washed his hands of any further contact with jesse by giving him his money and going on the run. i think he knew he had to get jesse back on walts side and that was his only card to play knowing it would get them to team up on gus.

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The gun spinning three times? A fantasticmetaphor of the classic Mexican standoff! In New Mexico! Woo Hoo! Quentin Tarantino would be so proud. 1. Tyrus finds a suspicious small container in Jesse's cig carton; he already hates both him and Walt (was Victor like his cousin or something)?
2. Brock gets sick and Jesse jumps to the wrong conclusions, first blaming Walt.
3. Walt convinces Jesse that Gus is really to blame .
4. Jesse tells Gus that Brock was poisoned but keeps a poker face (you are incredible Aaron Paul!)
5. Gus thinks Jesse, his "prodigal son" and new cook, was the real target, not by Walt but by the Cartel.
6. Now everyone is paranoid, including Walt's family and the DEA.
7. The Ricin is a red herring - something else is going on. Everyone's weapons are drawn, but who'll pull the trigga N!99a?!? Think about it: No one in New Mexico knows of the Mexican wipe-out except Mike, Jesse, Gus...and Tyrus? But how, when could Tyrus get to Brock, of all people? Why not off Brock's mom? Why would Gus risk incurring the wrath of Jesse, just because he won't back down on Walt? Lose both your cooks, all in the matter of hours? Yeah, right. Gus already knows, Jesse isn't cool with kids getting killed in the drug war crossfire. At this point, Gus thinks Walt is running scared, hiding behind the DEA. Gus hesitation in the parking lot? As he said, he's on the board of directors of the hospital, so to allay Jesse's fears and concerns he's going to pull out all stops to make sure Brock gets the best care possible, so Jesse gets back to cooking. He's also going to make sure Brock is protected up the wazzu, since he now shares Jesse's concern that he was poisoned (for different reasons, thinking Jesse was the real target, not Brock). We know Walt and Jesse aren't behind it, so what about Tyrus? He did not poison Brock, but he did find the Ricin. But he wouldn't know, in less than a day, what it was, just that it's suspicious. Jesse jumped to the wrong conclusions, but inadvertently saved Brock's life, because he tipped off his mom that he was poisoned...with something. Coincidence? Maybe, but Gus's henchman isn't behind it. Actually, there were plenty of times between Jesse's trip to Mexico and now that the Ricin could have been found. It could have been taken even before Jesse left and a proxy container put in its place. BTW, Ricin doesn't cause flu-like symptoms, even in children. Hopefully the hospital successfully flushed Brock's system before it was too late.

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F@&%!!!!!!!!!!!!! This episoded is kick A$%!!!!!! It's sooooo F#%$ing good! Hail to the script writers. Salut to the director. Thank you, thank you, thank you! Brilliant mannnn! WOW! Initially, I was worried because the first few episodes of season four started rather lazily - a tad slow and sluggish. But now..... hoooweeeee... I'm scared s%*&less.

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@nimrod1313 nice explanation. now im starting to think maybe it was walt. but i cant bring myself to believe he would harm a little boy just to get jesse ti think it was gus. but desperate times call for desperate messures so it may be his whole master plan to get jesse on his side again. but now that his car bomb plan back fired, gus is def going to make things hard for jesse in the finale. and where mike?

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@nimrod1313 I've watched the insider video and he didn't say Gus didn't poison Brock. He's just putting things together - Jesse said "he was poisoned" yet he didn't react in his usual, angry, out-of-control way - he could tell something was amiss. He does say that Gus doesn't know exactly what's going on, the specifics of the situation, which does hint that he isn't the one who poisoned Brock, but on the other hand, Gus asking Jesse, "Who did it?" seemed very, very suspicious to me.

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Chekhov's gun points to Murderer Chekhov's gun is a literary technique whereby an apparently irrelevant element is introduced early in the story whose significance becomes clear later in the narrative. Well that’s what appears to be going on in Ep412 when Walt is spinning his gun. Walt spins the gun 3 times with the first two times having the gun point back at him. The third time the gun ends up pointing past Walt and into the background. Then the camera carefully shifts it’s angle to uncover that the gun is pointed at a lone potted plant. Then the camera does a close up on Walt’s face as his face shifts from defeat to where one can tell a glimmer of an idea is forming. So what appears to be an “irrelevant element� i.e. gun pointing at a plant is the birth of a desperate plan, the plant has reminded Walt of the risen ! In short Walt works out a plan to get Jesse to come to him and to get Jesse off of Gus’s side and back on his, Walt poisons Brock. And Walt know’s that will bring Jesse to him and that Jesse will be ready to do anything to revenge Brocks pending death. After all last time Jesse was ready to die for and/or kill for a child he barely knew. Other Reasons I believe this to be true:
Starting with Season 2 Vince ends each season with Walt being responsible for a death of someone that doesn’t deserve to die and each season it’s someone that deserves it less ; Season2 was Jane, Season 3 was Gale and now … it’s Brock. Each death due to Walter. It would just be like Vince’s twisted sense of humor to use a gun to be a “Checkhov’s gun� device ! If you listen to Ep412 behind the scene video you will hear Gus explain that he knew something was wrong in the parking lot because he hadn’t poisoned Brock. So walking back to car he deduced the poisoning was to draw him out and to the hospital ! Well if he didn’t poison Brock … who did ? How ironic what started Walt’s entire issue with Gus was the killing of a child in Season 3 …. Now it’s come full circle and it’s going to be a killing of another child that saves him.

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Gus wasn't using "Spidey-sense" if he didn't poison Brock. If he didn't poison Brock then he's wondering who would and why . The conclusion he'd come to is Walter and to draw him out in to the open ... so he'd deduce going back to car a bad idea. If you listen to BrBa "inside Ep412" video you see this is the case.

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No way it was Walt. Walt was too wrapped in paranoia about attack on his own family to make such an elaborate plan during the time frame. More likely Gus. His hesitation inparking structure was him putting pieces together. He is on his way back into hospital to forcibly bring Jesse with him Ending will invovle Hank somehow in a way that does not implicate Walt or Jesse so season 5 has the main players around.

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