With only less than a year left to his eventual poetic demise, Walt does his best to bury the past in the past and live the decent life, while Jesse desperately struggles to wash the blood off his hands. But the die is cast and all hell breaks loose when Hank’s devastating realization turns their lives upside down. No more prolonging the inevitable.
We’re introduced to Walt’s grim reality with the second episodic flashforward breadcrumb, in 737 down over ABQ fashion. The opening sets the dark tone of the final 8, even more so than the one from 5.01. There’s nothing left of the teacher’s life, only the ashes of decency and the fleeting legacy of a fallen drug lord. It’s Walt and his karma-esque world all over again; you wanted the empire? To be remembered and feared? Here you go, but there’s a catch…
So, a quick recap: Walt’s cancer is back, in 6 months from now he’ll have acquired a fake identity, traveled back to ABQ, purchased an M60 and got the fateful ricin. Is he back for revenge, closure? All we see is a broken man with nothing to lose, and we all know only Walt can take the most extreme of measures in absolutely inextricable situations.
ON THE SAME PAGE
Back to present day, Hank [finally] comes out of the bathroom, caught indisposed, feeling the cold end of a poisoned dagger in his heart. The discovery that his loving brother-in-law whom he trusted with his secrets has been the real enemy all along, working right under his nose, tears Hank apart and sends him right back to square one, as the panic attacks come back with a vengeance. This is even more terrifying than having 1 minute to escape from two badass hitmen. It was good to see Hank going through the Blue sky case files, cross-referencing leads and connecting all the dots he’d missed. In a way, Hank, like many fans of the show, was in for a re-watch of the show’s past seasons!
What bewilders him most is not the revelation of Heisenberg’s identity itself, but rather how this kindhearted man, this decent father and family man could have brilliantly mastered his camouflage to the point that it was impossible to suspect him. The fact that Hank discovered the truth in at Walt’s house was interesting in itself, bringing us back to poor Merkert’s recount of his backyard parties with the two-faced Fring.
We see how Walt and Skyler have grown accustomed to their cover story since Walt quit the business, turning into Elliot and Gretchen in a way. But you can’t just leave a big international corporation with some mediocre meth whose quality has dropped nearly 30% down to what Declan’s crew produced. So Lydia comes back, asking him to get the crystal ship back on course, but the new arrogant Gus Fring won’t change his mind that easily. He’s finally out and wants to spend the remainder of his life in peace, so turns the offer down and Skyler seals the deal for good (probably). But when you put Lydia in a box like Mike did, you better watch over your shoulder.
Hank is at a crossroads, for one thing, now the case of his lifetime had become even more personal; he feels betrayed by Walt, so he can’t just sit on his hands, this has cost him his life literally, but on the other hand he can’t just turn him in with no solid evidence, on top of that the truth will devastate Junior. The cancer is back and so are the nausea and the painful chemo sessions as suspected in last episode’s full-circle MRI followed by a familiar visit to the clinic’s restroom. It metaphorically spreads to Walt’s life once again, as in a moment similar to Gus’s spidey-sense from 4.12 (as explained by Bryan Cranston and the showrunners in the recent Insider Podcast) Walt checks under his car and finds Hank’s tracker. The word is out, the King is cornered.
Walt does what Gus should have done upon suspecting an attempt on his life; he confronts Hank in his man-cave in arguably the episode’s best scene, the face-off we’d all been waiting for. It’s scary how his ongoing transformation has altered Walt’s personality to the point that now it’s Heisenberg who’s in charge with the harmless-looking Mr. White mask on the surface just to further conceal his true nature. You can see both sides of Walt at work when Hank pins him to the wall: Walt the family man plays helpless by saying that he’ll die anyway, but then the cunning Heisenberg takes over from the depths and threatens Hank. What is accomplished with laying all cards on the table? Well, for one thing, Heisenberg gains the upper hand by letting Hank know that he’s on to him as well, and if he’s uncertain about ‘who’ he’s really dealing with, he better tread lightly.
Next: “Two Miracles Short of Sainthood…”