A SHATTERED VISAGE
“Is Walter White still out there? - No, he’s not. I can’t speak to this Heisenberg that people refer to…whatever he became, this sweet, kind, brilliant man that we once knew long ago, he’s gone.” – - We find Walt at his most powerless, unable to summon the mighty Heisenberg from the pits of despair. This notion is visually and thematically reinforced throughout the episode. The iconic pork pie hat, symbolizing the illusion of authority, when brought out of the subconscious closet, is slightly bent inwards and moreover Walt no longer has the guts to insert the IV himself as in 2.03:
- Good old pork pie fails to empower Walt and repress his fears, unlike other pivotal occasions throughout the show where he needed it to stand strong against outer demons in the metaphorical battlefield. Check out the Gif version of these memorable moments plus Bryan Cranston’s analysis of the hat over at Heisenberg Chronicles.
- Heisenberg’s failed power parade in this episode, complete with the chilling theme titled “The long walk alone”, is reminiscent of the other occurrences, namely in 3.13, 2.07 and 4.02.
- Mirroring and yet fitting Heisenberg’s symbolic impotence, we see Walt at a slightly different, albeit visually similar, chemo session. Moreover, the agonizing coughs return, indicating his physical/spiritual weakness.
- As discussed in our review, the shot which captures the pork pie hat and the IV bag (his strong and vulnerable sides, respectively) hanging on the antlers of the deer head best symbolizes Walt’s current physical and emotional state, as we gradually see his lifeless shell drift away.
- The scene with Saul and his ultimate words of wisdom brings the counsel moment from 3.02 to mind, with Skyler being the topic of conversation in both scenarios. Looking back, the inevitable has come to pass, now that Skyler and Junior are suffering the consequences of Walt’s actions and losing everything: “She’s not going to the cops, she’s not gonna tell a living soul. You know why? One word: Blowback. If she blabs, it’ll be a disaster, for her…the kids? Paging Dr. Phil. ‘My daddy’s a drug dealer and my mommy turned him in. And the house? Gone. Feds would RICO her and the kids out on the street.” - As highlighted in the dialogue, unlike in 5.01, this time they’re truly done and Walt fails to bully Saul into a corner. Saul on the other hand, brought this upon himself by openly expressing his wish to be a part of Heisenberg’s empire and basically blackmailing Walt into accepting it back in 2.08. It’s heartbreaking to see his growing ‘lack of chill’ this season, particularly in 5.10, 5.12 and this episode, as things eventually got messy.
- Half sunk, a frail Walt is visually framed like in 5.10. Walt’s helpless pleas when on the phone with Junior (“It can’t be all for nothing!”) also bring the same bathroom floor scene from 5.10 to mind: “Please don’t let me have done all this for nothing…”
- As if the disease and the guilt weren’t enough to devour Walt’s mightiness, Junior too, after Skyler and Marie, wishes him dead, exactly projecting his lines from “Cancer man”. Walt’s turned into the cancer everyone wants to eradicate. Notice how the transparent crying clown once again opens up to Junior as in 4.10 back when he didn’t want to be remembered as a weak role model. Tragically, it’s gone way out of hand now…
- Having already lost his meth empire to a gang of skin heads, it’s the denial of his contribution by the Gray Matter co-founders (stealing his life’s work) which truly flips the molecular switch, reignites his inner strength and awakens his dormant soul.
- Gray Matter, crystallography, blue meth, Walt morphing into granite state, frozen, shattered and then reassembled into a piece of Hank’s mineral collection (!)…it’s all becoming clear now…
Next: That Ship Has Sailed…