The beginning of the end got underway for Breaking Bad last night, as "Blood Money" took viewers into the disturbing future of Walter White and then settled on his suddenly unsettled present.
Yes, Hank now knows the truth about Walt. And Walt knows Hank knows. And, in a scene we'll be talking about for years to come, Hank knows Walt knows that he knows... and no one has any clue what will happen from here.
But Round Table panelists Matt Richenthal, Dan Forcella, Steve Marsi and Jim Halterman will at least take a few guesses, as they convene below and debate the best scenes, best car wash names and more from one of the final episodes of one of television's best-ever shows.
What was your favorite scene from the episode?
Matt: I'll let other panelists tackle the nail-biting final confrontation and go with Walt's genius plan of how to reorganize the air fresheners. It was both humorous and revealing, a sign that maybe Heisenberg really is in Walt's past... the drug-dealing Heisenberg, that is. But the controlling Walter White has now found a new venture into which he can pour his time and intelligence: the car wash business!
Dan: Definitely the haunting cold open. When the first words don't get uttered for minutes upon minutes... and those first words are "Hello, Carol"... and the groceries are dropped to the ground... it set the tone for a wonderful final run of Breaking Bad.
Steve: It seems too obvious to pick the face-off between Walt and Hank, but it was so brilliantly executed that I have to. Dean Norris' expressions conveyed how dismayed, distraught, vengeful and stunned he was at the same time, while Bryan Cranston seemed perfectly stuck between Walt and Heisenberg, unsure who was confronting Hank at that moment. Amazing.
Jim: Definitely the garage scene with Hank. I thought it was going to end with Walt walking away but then it was almost as if Heisenberg emerged within and decided to confront him. Walt's face was showing both his vulnerable former self and then his harder, newer self so that scene was everything. And Dean Norris was never better! Overall, it just showed that these last episodes are not going to hold back and the pedal is to the metal.
Favorite callback moment: the remote control car; Jesse throwing money at the junkies; Walt setting down his vomit towel like Gus?
Matt: The remote control car. Those small moments often go unnoticed when folks rundown the reasons for Breaking Bad's unparalleled success. But Vince Gilligan draws our attention to every minute detail and then never fails to make them count in the big picture.
Dan: My favorite had to be Walt putting down the towel to vomit. It was such a tiny detail, but one that undoubtedly made a number of uber fans scream in delight.
Steve: You can also add the cold open - amazing for all the reasons Dan described - to this list. I immediately recalled similarly haunting images of the debris from the yet-unseen plane crash floating in Walt's pool at the onset of Season 2.
Jim: Walt and the vomit towel. It was almost like a reward to those of us who've watched the show so carefully since the beginning.
Does Jesse really believe Mike is alive?
Matt: That's like asking if Walt Jr. thinks there's anything worthwhile to eat for breakfast aside from cereal. Of course not.
Dan: No... bitch!
Steve: Jesse believing anything Walt says is about as likely as Badger's Star Trek script getting picked up by Paramount.
Jim: No way. Jesse's biggest problem is that he doesn't want to see what he knows, so he'll lie to himself (or just drown in drugs) as much as possible, trying to keep his eyes shut. But the pressure of it is eating him up in a big way and I can't believe it will end good for him.
What should Walt and Skyler name their new car wash?
Matt: High and Dry.
Dan: Easy. White Wash.
Steve: Crystal Blue Persuasion.
Jim: Crystal Blue Clean.
Which, if any, main character will die first this season?
Matt: Holly or Walt Jr. I foresee one of Walt's kids getting caught in some kind of crossfire, setting their dad up for whatever machine gun and Ricin-based mission we saw him on in the flash forward.
Dan: If we are talking series regulars, I think Lydia or Todd are the obvious choices (bumped up to series reg for final eight episode, it should be noted). If we only want to go with people who have been here from the beginning, I think it's Walt. I don't think any other Whites, Schraders or Pinkmans will fall before Walt's demise.
Steve: I don't see anyone surviving the Hank-Walt confrontation; the latter's desperation will, directly or indirectly, mean the demise of his brother-in-law, the most shocking death in a long list of them since the series began. That's just the feeling I get.
Jim: Having no inside knowledge of what's to come, I feel like for Walt to really go where he needs to go, Jesse needs to be out of the picture. Whether Walt does the deed or some other means, I feel like Jesse is on a very different dark journey from Walt's - but he's bound to be in the way sooner or later. We may lose some others before that but of the substantial characters, I think Jesse's days are numbered.