Bad News


photo: Ben Leuner/AMC

With the final eight episodes of “Breaking Bad” coming up August 11th, Criminal Class has been spending its days, drifting through clouds of crystal meth cooking in the basement, pondering the fate of the show’s beloved chefs, Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. When Breaking Bad first aired, back in 2008, Walter White (played by three-time Emmy winner Bryan Cranston) was just a sad sack who worked as a high school Chemistry teacher and part-time carwash cashier. After being diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, Walter White hooks up with one of his former students, Jesse Pinkman, proposing the two start up a meth manufacturing operation in order to raise enough money to pay for the hospital bills, his two children’s education and the welfare of his family in general—a sum of $737,000. Since then, however, the lure of easy money, along with the power and respect he earns from his reputation, has transformed Walter from the lovable bad guy to one of the most despised and hated characters in television history. Walter has lied, cheated, stolen and killed, all under the pretense of “providing for his family.” Like any gangster story, the bad guy must eventually fall. In these eight-remaining episodes, we shall finally learn what fate Walter White has bestowed upon himself.

The last episode left off with a trademark cliff hanger from show creator Vince Gilligan, one which anti-villain Hank Schrader (Walter’s brother-in-law and head of the local branch of the DEA) experiences a literal oh-shit moment, as the audience is lead to believe Hank has just put together that his former-high-school-science-teaching/current-car-wash-owning, cancer-stricken, brother-in-law is actually the meth-dealing kingpin he’s been after for over a year now, the infamous Heisenberg. However, during the past year, Hank has greatly benefitted from Walt’s illegal activities—his entire physical rehabilitation treatment was covered by The White Family after he was shot by two assassins sent to kill him. Bringing down Heisenberg could also mean committing career suicide. What is likely to happen is for Hank to trail Walt on his own, like he did when following his hunch about Gus Fring (the former kingpin who Walter killed at the end of season 4). The on-screen tension between Bryan Cranston and Dean Norris (who plays Hank) has already made for some of the most intense scenes in the past, so we’re amped up to see how they continue to deceive each other for the final checkmate.

It might just be the amphetamines talking, but we’re also geeked to see how Walter White finally meets his demise. There are plenty of websites that have interpreted the CAT-scan scene, in the final episode, to mean that Walt’s cancer has returned. Seeing as how his cancer motivated all of this in the first place, that could be a fitting way to end things. Another way, one which would provide at least some sort of satisfaction to the so-called “good guys,” would be for Walt to go out in a hail of bullets, a la Tony Montana from “Scarface.” We’ve already seen a foreshadowing of Walt buying an M-60 (S5, E1), plus there’s the scene (S5, E3) where Walter and Walter Jr. are sitting in the living room, watching the Al Pacino classic, and Walt Sr. makes the comment, “Everyone dies in this movie.” Seems like more than a mere coincidence especially for a show that employs the “Checkov’s gun” set up so often. If he does go out in said hail, who’s going to be the one doing the shooting? In an interview with Vince Gilligan for Rolling Stone, it was revealed that Cranston had been told the reason he was back [buying the M-60 in the flash-forward scen was to protect someone. The most likely scenario would be Walt to safeguard his family—as opposed to some theorists’ views that Walt would be going through the trouble of purchasing an M-60 in order to protect Jesse—but the list of potential enemies is too long to even bother speculating over. The only thing certain is Walter White will die in the end—even the man himself admits it.

As for Walter’s now-ex partner in crime, the infamous Cap’n Cook, we last saw Jesse when Walt dropped off a couple gym bags stuffed with cash, presumably the $5 million he owed Jesse, as his part of the buy out when Jesse wanted out of the game. It’s hard to speculate what role he will play in the final episodes, but one might assume with all that cheddar he can finally get the Hammer up and running again. Apparently it’s been a life-long dream of Jesse’s to front a band called TwaüghtHammer. In S2, E4, Jesse tries convincing his friend, P, they should track down Chivo and Anthony, to record a demo in an attempt to get back in the local music scene. In fact, in damn-near every scene showing Jesse just sitting around, bored out of his mind, he’s almost always beating on a drum-like surface, mumbling something about “the fallacies, the fallacies.” You figure he might as well finance the band’s demo on his own. What else is he gonna do—smoke it all up?