‘Breaking Bad’s Jaw-Dropping Finale: The Walking Dead

by | October 10, 2011 at 8:58 AM | Breaking Bad, Recap

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad (AMC)

Bryan Cranston as Walter White in Breaking Bad (AMC)

There was a scene in the fourth season finale of “Breaking Bad” that will still be remembered a decade from now. It was clear for weeks that Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) was going to die. He was hellbent on killing Walt (Bryan Cranston), and without Walt, there is no show. The question was how Walt was going to find a way to kill the fiendishly clever, cautious, and always protected drug dealer.

Last week, Gus managed to avoid Walt’s car bomb. But the bomb had his name on it, and sooner or later it was going to go off. An increasingly desperate Walt brought the bomb into the hospital. Would Walt blow up the Pediatric ICU? No. Two cops took Jesse (Aaron Paul) away for questioning because his insistence that Brock was poisoned by ricin aroused suspicion. Jesse managed to stonewall the cops by claiming he learned about the poison on “House.” How many real life criminals have cited “Breaking Bad” during interrogations?

Catch Up On Last Week’s Episode:

walt-saul

Walt managed to track down an AWOL Saul (Bob Odenkirk) after retrieving 25 grand from the crawlspace to bribe his secretary – an operation that involved him sending his elderly neighbor to check on his house as a decoy for Gus’s minions. That established Walt no longer had any qualms about risking innocent people’s lives.

Saul learned from Jesse, who he could not get released, that Gus occasionally met with Tio Hector at the retirement home. It was the one place where Gus might be vulnerable. So Walt persuaded Tio — who it has been established, hates him — that he had the power to get revenge on Gus. Tio used his bell and letter board to persuade his nurse to take him to the DEA, where he thoroughly enjoyed spelling out curse words for Hank.

Gus learned from his watchful minion that Tio spoke to the DEA and went to his room to confront him. He tells him that no man talks to the DEA, asks if this is how he wants to be remembered. Tio keeps ringing his bell. Gus, and we, realize that his wheelchair is rigged with Walt’s bomb. The bell detonates it. Esposito brilliantly conveys Gus’s horror as he realizes what is about to happen to him. Then comes the most amazing shot: Gus walks out of the blown-up room. He straightens his tie. How did he manage to survive? Then the camera zooms in to reveal that half of his face has been blown off! In retrospect, the episode’s title, “Face Off” was one hell of a spoiler. He falls to the ground, dead. RIP, Gus. You were one of TV’s greatest villains. You deserved to have an awesome, memorable death scene.

The toxicology report clears Jesse. It turns out Brock was not poisoned by ricin after all, but by Lily of the Valley, a plant that kids accidentally ingest all the time. He and Walt set the meth lab on fire, destroying all evidence of Gus’s empire. Walt chillingly gloats to Skyler that he’s won. Then, in the episode’s final reveal, the camera focuses on a Lily of the Valley plant in Walt’s backyard. Yes, Walt poisoned a child, risked his neighbor’s life, risked the lives of everyone in the nursing home, and lied to everyone he cares about, so he could get what he wanted.  The transformation of Mr. Chips into Scarface is nearly complete.

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