I spent basically the last 20 minutes of this episode having to consciously force myself to breathe. That’s how intense it was. And while the tension didn’t really pay off in a way that I would have liked, this was still probably the best episode of this second half of season five, and puts into motion several things that will take up directly into the finale.
First off, I’m really glad that we saw more of Todd and Lydia. I’ve been waiting for that storyline to get more attention and for it to tie into what’s going on with Walt, and it’s finally happened. There was no way that Walt was going to get out of the business cleanly, and he seemed to have finally realized that in this episode. However, Todd just isn’t that interesting of a character. I’m not sure if it’s the writing or the actor, but trying to shoehorn scenes in to develop his character this late in the game just isn’t working. That time could be better spent in other ways. Thankfully, his badass relatives bring more personality whenever they’re involved, and they close out the episode in a big way. I’m still not totally confident that we’re going to get a satisfying ending to the Madrigal Electromotive storyline, and that will be a shame. We heard just little enough about them over the past couple of seasons to pique my interest, but we haven’t been back to Europe to see the company this whole season, and with only a couple episodes left, I’m not sure we’ll be back over there again at all.
But after that first scene, the rest of the episode is spent finishing up the cat and mouse game between Walt and Jesse/Hank. The intensity levels were crazy high, and it’s really awesome and new to see Walt on the defensive here. He’s spent the last several seasons being a master strategist and always getting his way, but that seems to be falling apart. Last episode his big plan to get to Jesse failed, and the few things he tries in this episode don’t work either, though that’s more to Hank’s credit than to Jesse’s. I find myself in a really awkward position of not knowing who to root for. Yes, Walt deserves to go to prison (and probably worse) for all of the things he’s done, but Jesse has spent every moment since the end of season three feeling sorry for himself. I understand his desire for some sort of healing, but he isn’t being pro-active about it. He’s just pouting and letting others manipulate him. It’s hard to root for someone like that. Likewise, Hank has spent the last 4 years being a lovable jerk, but ever since he’s gotten Walt in his sights, it’s brought out a darkness in him that isn’t terribly different from the darkness he’s trying to shit down in Walt. There are two very clear sides now; I just don’t know which one to root for.
But oh boy, that last sequence of events. From Hank and Jesse pulling a fast one on Walt about the money, to Walt screaming at Jesse over the phone, to Walt’s realization that Jesse is working with Hank and giving himself up, to the arrival of Todd and his friends, to the stand off, there were just so many crazy moments that led to…a completely impossible and frustrating finish to the episode. Let’s get real here. Hank and Gomez were standing IN THE OPEN when Todd’s guy open fire on them from ten yards away with shotguns and automatic weapons. It is LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE that both Hank and Gomez got away from that first barrage alive. I get that we’re meant to be left on a cliff hanger there with the shootout in full swing, but they could have come up with a more realistic way to get us there. It was a tough spot for the viewer, not knowing what they wanted to happen. Hank, Gomez, and Jesse are the “good guys” in this scenario, but their the antagonists of our main character. We can’t really root for them to win. Then up come Todd’s guy, CLEARLY bad dudes, but they represent possible freedom for Walt. It’s hard not to want that. But really, all I wanted was SOMETHING to happen, SOMEONE to die or at least take a damn bullet.
But I can’t let that weigh down what is otherwise a fantastic episode that leaves us in a place of complete insanity and uncertainty. The opening scene of next week’s episode is going to be a rough one, and I can’t imagine that everyone’s going to get out of it alive.
-finally feels like we’re building towards something
-Hank’s strategic moves
-intensity of the final scene
-still no progress on the “future” story
-Skylar is feeling less and less like an important character
-no one died at the end