Entertainment Magazine

Review #3044: Breaking Bad 4.12: “End Times”

Posted on the 04 October 2011 by Entil2001 @criticalmyth

Contributor: Henry T.

Written by Thomas Schnauz and Moira Walley-Beckett
Directed by Vince Gilligan

The lead character of “Breaking Bad” has always been Walter White. This fourth season has focused largely focused on the support system and outside characters surrounding Walter, however. The season, as well as this episode, has shown the consequences of the choices Walter brought on himself and those around him after he chose to become a drug lord. Now he knows that he has come up against a force he can’t possibly compete with in Gus Fring. Gus is playing a different game from the rest of the characters, and well, the viewing audience, it seems. It’s a dangerous one, with innocent people in the middle, and it remains to be seen who will even be left standing by the end.

Review #3044: Breaking Bad 4.12: “End Times”

Walter knows that Gus is coming for his family. So it’s only natural that they get placed in the protection of the DEA. Anything could have happened. I actually had the brief thought that the cars pulling up to the driveway of the Whites were assassins working for Gus (based on the ominous, unsettling music on the soundtrack). They’re bodyguards who shuttle Skyler, Holly, and Walt Jr. to Hank and Marie’s place to put them under umbrella DEA protection. None of the activity makes any sense to Walt Jr. or Marie because they’re under the sense that it’d be ridiculous for the DEA to protect a gambling addict from a Mexican cartel.

Skyler and Hank know the true story behind what’s going on, though Hank is still only guessing at this point. He tells Gomez to investigate Gus’ laundromat, and Gomez gets achingly close to finding the superlab. I love how this show focuses, then pivots away from all these tense moments. Will Hank or the DEA ever find the superlab? I get the sense that they will, but by the time they do, it will be too late. Jesse, Tyrus, and Gus really have nothing to worry about, yet they can’t be too careless about everything. Gus even uses the DEA investigation as ammunition to further turn Jesse from Walt’s side. It plants the seed in Jesse’s mind, which pays off in a later scene.

Showing what’s happening with Hank’s side of things effectively isolates Walter from the narrative. He said it best: Walt has no idea when, where, or how Gus is going to get him, only that it’s certain he’s coming for him. Half of the episode is spent setting up Gus’ manipulation and then it all comes to a head. Jesse receives a phone call from Andrea that Brock is sick with the flu (a telling sign of the ricin poison’s effect on people) and he heads to the hospital. Jesse starts to put two and two together when he discovers that the ricin cigarette that’s been sitting on the sidelines for so many episodes is suddenly missing.

How did Brock ingest the poison? He went to see the fleeing Saul, and found out that Gus put a hit out on Walter’s entire family. That leads to the showdown between Jesse and Walt. The scene between the two of them in the motel room was fascinating. Walt is near certain death because Jesse blames him for poisoning Brock. He asks the questions that we, the audience, would ask: Only he and Walt knew about the ricin. Who else could have done it? Walt thinks it through while under extreme duress from the gun being pointed at him. It’s Gus’ ultimate endgame: Get Jesse to kill Walt for something that Gus actually did, because he will never see it coming. The whole long con game is really quite brilliant on Gus’ part if you step back and think about it. The ricin cigarette pays off, the fact that Tyrus has been watching everything since the beginning of the season pays off. It all comes together.

Things cool between Walt and Jesse (and hopefully means they won’t go bad again, although there’s no guarantee of that at all) enough for Walt to hatch one last desperate scheme. Jesse draws Tyrus and Gus to the hospital, where Walt plants his explosive device on Gus’ car. This leads to an agonizing final scene, where we go back and forth between Gus and Walt, who is on the opposite building rooftop to trigger the bomb when Gus gets into his car. Does Gus see Walt? Does he possess some preternatural sense that he shouldn’t get into the car? Gus looks around. Walt is practically begging him to get into the car. Like the joyride with Junior’s Charger earlier this season, Walt’s plans do not work. Gus walks away. What can Walt do now?

It all sets up for what is sure to be an amazing season finale. I think they’ve isolated Walt from the overall narrative enough this season. A showdown between Gus and Walt is surely due to be shown and you have to think that at this point, signs favor Gus winning in the end. Jesse is the wild-card still in the middle of all this. Walt has been cornered before and found a way, however unlikely, to escape every time (case in point: the end of last season). Maybe Walt has one last trick he can pull against Gus. If that doesn’t work, there’s always running away with his family. I don’t know what Vince Gilligan has up his sleeve for the rest of this show going forward, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

Grade: 10/10

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