Breaking Bad‘s penultimate episode “Granite State” should have been called “Freaking Todd.”[ref]I say this very tongue-in-cheek. Breaking Bad‘s writers have done a superb job of titling every episode.[/ref]
If you weren’t already simultaneously scared, offended, bewildered, shocked, and adamantly appalled at his nonchalant “Opie-dead-eyed” modes of being, tonight’s episode should have firmly cemented Odd Todd Alquist’s reprehensible ways forever in your mind.
Even though this was an extended episode at 75 minutes in length, I’m not sure I’ll be able to get to 10 moments, but let’s try.
- Despite Season 5, Episode 15’s lengthened time, this episode felt slower. In the closing moments of the previous episode, “Ozymandias,” the first scene inside of the firehouse is a closeup of chess pieces. According to the podcast for that episode, this chess match was purposefully arranged so that the eventual winner was only one or two steps away from winning the match.[ref]I can’t recall which side was about to win. But, even if I could, would that help? If White wins, does that mean Walter White wins or does good win?[/ref] In other words, I think this episode was slow because the writers had to move all of their pieces into the correct position for the end game series finale to end all series finales.
- You likely already know the state motto for New Hampshire, but do you know its genesis? New Hampshire is the “Granite State,” whose state motto comes from General John Stark’s famous line, “Live free or die: Death is not the worst of evils.” Could this trailing line be a clue to Walt’s ultimate fate?
- The Ozymandias Colossus, the monument that Shelley praises in his poem of the same name, is reported to have been made of granite.[ref]Big hat tip to the Breaking Bad Wiki for this one. If you need to know your Breaking Bad trivia, go there.[/ref]
- The deafening silence of unwelcome news occurs yet again when Skyler is listening to the Feds. This singular audio cue, where voices are muffled, ambient noise barrages the ear drums, and a squeal intensifies until words come into aural focus, has been effectively used multiple times in Breaking Bad. Its first appearance was also its most noticeable use, when Walter received his cancer diagnosis.
- In this excerpt from my book, I posited that Walter may wind up like Dante’s Satan, forever alone. In this episode, Walter is wholly and completely alone.[ref]Aside from his kind ($10,000 an hour) once-a-month friend.[/ref] For Walter to truly wind up like Dante’s Satan, he’d have to become frozen in a lake of his own making, so I find it very intriguing that Walter’s effectively stranded in New Hampshire, surrounded by snow.[ref]As another point of comparison also made in that excerpt, The Shining‘s Jack Torrance freezes to death in the film version.[/ref]
- Seeing Holly in a yellow cap made me breathe more easily.[ref]Also, seeing her not be kidnapped by Psycho Opie Odd Todd and His Ski-Cap-Skinhead-Nazi Brethren made me breathe more easily.[/ref] You’d think by now that Skyler would know not to clothe Holly in pink, but we’ll have to cut her some slack. She has a few other things on her mind.
- “Just so you know, this isn’t personal.” Whenever someone says that, it’s always personal. Ultimately, Todd kills Andrea so that Jesse will keep cooking so that Todd can still, maybe, possibly (but not likely) have a shot with Lydia. If the world of Breaking Bad is bent on the existence of a just world, Jesse better get the best of Todd by series’ end.
- The newspaper clippings pinned above Walt’s bed read: “Claim: Wife Knew” and “Feds Move Against White Family: Walter White aka ‘Heisenberg’ still at large.'”
- The irony of Ensure. When Walter stashes his money in an Ensure box and tries to mail it to his family (via Louis, “that nice boy”), he’s trying to ensure his family’s well-being. That Walter Jr. rejects the money and his dad should come as no surprise.
- “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” — Proverbs 16:18. The last scene blatantly reveals Walter’s lifelong nemesis: pride. If I had to put my last barrel o’ cash on it, I’d guess that Walter will reveal himself by way of ensuring that the world knows about either his contributions to Gray Matter Technologies or his epic mastery of meth-making and distribution. His pride wants nothing less than to be known, even if it’s to be known for being the most diabolical of humans.[ref]As a side note, did anyone else think the napkin in the last shot looked like an origami swan? If so, can you recall if that hearkens back to anything in particular? Or was it just a wadded up napkin and I need to stop watching so intently, looking for things that aren’t there?[/ref]
So, there’s 10, though some are a stretch.[ref]Ensure, really? Origami swans?[/ref]
What did you notice about the episode, or what particularly stood out?
Lastly, congrats to the show for winning their first (!) Emmy for Best Drama Series and to Anna Gunn for winning Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Shame on the Academy though for not choosing Bryan Cranston for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series or Aaron Paul or Jonathan Banks for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. And it’s absolutely unfathomable to me how Homeland could win over Breaking Bad for Best Writing for a Drama Series.[ref]Though, honestly, I can’t make that judgement because I’ve never seen Homeland. Really, as you can tell, I watch just about one show most of the time.[/ref]
The end, as they say, is nigh. I just hope that Jesse, Skyler, Walt Jr., and Holly survive the coming apocalypse.
Read the rest of this series: 80 Moments You Might Have Missed in the Last Season of Breaking Bad.