Breaking Bad: Season 5 Episode 15: "Granite State" Recap

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Bloody hell! Walt and Jesse find themselves in their own personal purgatory in the second to last episode of Breaking Bad ever.

Continue Reading for my spoiler filled thoughts and reaction to Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 15 “Granite State”.

Firstly, hats off to Breaking Bad for taking home the 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series and to Anna Gunn for Outstanding Supporting Actress! Just a hunch … there’ll be more Emmy awards for Breaking Bad next year!

Okay, we made it to the penultimate episode! Granite State is a methodically paced, emotionally draining episode. It’s been described as the calm before the storm but that would discount the incredible character work and a very unsettling act of violence in this episode.

Breaking Bad has consistently excelled at portraying the emotional authenticity of Walt and Jesse throughout the series. Each turn of events are given sufficient time to resonate with the viewer as painful and distressing as it may be. I rarely if ever feel cheated that these character’s action are dictated by the plot, because it’s what they feel, think and believe that drives their decision-making process.

As much as I want to jump ahead to Walt with the M60 and ricin capsule, we haven’t earned that moment until now. This is why I greatly appreciate “Granite State”, because Walt’s state of mind is intricately depicted with fine, delicate brush strokes. This is the episode I needed to get me to the flash forward time point.

Ozymandias represented the inevitable downfall of Heisenberg as well as Jesse hitting rock bottom. Jesse’s a badly beaten, chained slave while Walt lost everything that he valued. Little did I know, in Granite State both Walt and Jesse go deeper, darker down the spiral. Some where like purgatory.

Because of the flash forwards, we know Walt wouldn’t take Saul’s advice to “face the music” for the sake of his family, but it does show how angry and defiant he still is. At this point beneath the vacuum store, Walt wants vengeance. “It’s not over!” as he puts it. The remainder of the episode slowly disintegrates whatever will or resolve he has left in the tank to the point where’s he’s resigned to turning himself in.

There’s a great moment where Walt puts on Heisenberg’s pork pie hat like he’s coming back with a vengeance when in-fact he’s utterly powerless. He can’t walk through the gate which is actually the smart thing to do. He’s in his own prison. To add insult to injury, he’s completely isolated, without freedom, dying and physically deteriorated. Can he get much lower than paying $10,000 for a little human interaction?

Walt’s final breaking point is the phone call to Junior. Providing for his family is how he justified getting into the meth business, and his final wish is to send some money that’s been in the barrel. RJ Mitte (Junior) had little screen time earlier in the season but these last two episodes he’s nailed both of his crucial scenes. “Just Die!”is pretty much like ripping out Walt’s heart and stomping on it.

My memory is a little hazy but this scene is the first time I remember Walt admitting his crimes are wrong. This is different from Walt listing the people he’s killed in”To’hajiilee” because he rationalized it by saying he did it for Jesse. But when Junior accuses him of killing Uncle Hank and as much as he wants to explain, he can’t deny he’s essentially responsible for Hank’s death.

Walt no longer can see himself as a hero or the great Heisenberg, certainly not after kidnapping Holly. He’s realizes the pain and destruction he’s put forth into the world. In an earlier recap, I mentioned I didn’t Walt to be redeemed by an act of self-sacrifice in the finale. This was mainly because in order to receive some sort of absolution, I believe Walt needs to first confess his sins. Walt can never make up for what he’s done, but if the writers plan to end on a note of redemption his admittance eases some of my trepidation. I don’t know … I don’t think the writers will go in that direction though.

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So here’s my thoughts on the final scene but I want preface it by saying I only watched it once and haven’t read other people’s thoughts on it yet, so anyone is welcome to correct me if they feel differently.

When Walt called the police and left the phone off the hook, he wanted the call to be traced and get caught. But watching the Charlie Rose television interview changed his mind.

Walt has completely lost everything including the respect of his son, empire, dignity, freedom, and identity. He’s no longer Heisenberg or even Walter White. He’s “Mr. Lambert” from New Hampshire which is nothingness. Watching his former business partners at Gray Matter Technologies talk about how the former sweet Walter White is gone and all he ever contributed to the company is his name [ie. White + Schwartz which means black in German = Gray] triggers something within Walt .

Now he’s also learned that Heisenberg’s trademark blue meth is back on the market. Although he may hypothesize Jesse is still alive and cooking meth it’s not the reason why he’s decided to go back to New Mexico. I think it’s because his identity is being erased or wiped out. First his name “White” is taken away as reminded by Gray Matter and then his signature blue meth no longer belongs to him.

If there’s a motto Walt goes by its “Remember My Name”. It’s his pride, ego, and identity. It’s fairly logically to assume from the flash forwards that he’s going out guns blazing and it’s going to be spectacular! He’s going to reclaim what is his and who he’s become, which will be his final form of transformation. The lyric, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away” comes to mind.

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Okay, let’s talk about Jesse briefly. I cheered during Jesse’s escape attempt only to say Oh shit! Damn those neo-Nazis! “Go ahead, do it! There’s no way I’m doing one more cook for your psycho f*cks!” Jesse wants to be shot right then and there but there’s a fate worse than death for him. It’s knowing his actions took the life of Andrea. Like Walt, he’s trapped in hell.

The first sign of trouble is Todd showing his face to Andrea on her door step. Unlike wearing a mask on his surprise visit (ie. threat) to Skyler, he had no qualms about revealing his appearance to Andrea. That could only mean he had no intention of letting Andrea live. Her death is brutal and ruthless. What bothers me most is that she’s an innocent like Drew Sharp and this leaves Brock an orphan. Poor Brock, poor Jessie.

I have more thoughts on Saul, Todd, Lydia, the new character played by Robert Forster and not enough Marie, but I don’t think I’ll be able to recap every story beat in this super sized episode. As always, I deeply appreciate everyone’s comments so feel free to discuss anything I missed or whatever’s on your mind.

However, I do have some parting thoughts and some crackpot predictions for the finale. There’s so much ground to cover in Breaking Bad’s last episode titled “Felina”. Maybe I’m greedy but I would love a 2 hour finale. Will 75 minutes be enough? But I have complete confidence in executive producer Vince Gilligan … this is going to be crazy!

My hope is that Jesse will take out Todd. I need that to happen. Lydia orchestrated the threat on Skyler but I think that’s a mistake that’ll come back to bite her. Uncle Jack and crew will be taken out by Walt. I hope Jesse will survive the finale but Walt is not going to make it and it’ll be of his own doing. I don’t want Jesse to kill Walt. As much as Walt has lost everything, I don’t believe his karmic retribution is paid in full yet. Walt should eat the ricin. Yummy! 

What is your favorite moment from “Granite State”? Who will get the ricin? What’s your predictions and hopes for the finale?

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