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Breaking Bad: “Granite State” recap

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Special to The Prospector

Legacy–that is one of the themes that this show has always tackled since the beginning and it’s at the forefront in preparation for the end. Taking a much slower-burn approach in contrast to last week’s game-changing “Ozymandias,” this episode, besides being longer than the usual hour, nicely set up a lot of material for the finale.

Written and directed by Peter Gould, the penultimate episode allows us to take a deep, deep breath before the end, and very appropriately allows us to reflect for a moment and see what has happened after these monumental events. We finally learn who Saul’s (Bob Odenkirk) contact is, who sets people up for new lives. Ed (Robert Forster, as a great casting choice) is seen giving Saul his new identity and showing him that he’ll be sharing a room with Walter (Bryan Cranston).  Walt is obviously distressed because of how different things are, which makes him tell Saul that things for him are not over and that he’s going after Uncle Jack’s (Michael Bowen) gang.

Jesse (Aaron Paul) also re-appears and things aren’t really looking good for him either, besides working for Todd (Jesse Plemons) and being back to cook, he is being held prisoner, knowing he has no choice or they’ll kill those closest to him. On Marie’s (Betsy Brandt) side of the situation, her house isn’t looking good either. Apparently, it was ransacked by Jack’s gang and Jessie’s confessional video is gone. The scene where Jack and his gang are watching this video also gave us a glimpse into what they want to do with him, and sure enough, once Jesse calls out Todd, things aren’t going too well for him.

Meanwhile, Skyler (Anna Gunn) is dealing with the feds trying to get information from her about Walt and her upcomingtrial. She is, according to Ed, working to provide for Flynn (RJ Mitte) and Holly. And since it’s been a month since the events of “Ozymandias,” it only makes sense  that Heisenberg is now an infamous persona and his house has become a tourist attraction–hence its poor state in episode nine of the season.

One of the most shocking aspects of this episode was, of course, the death of Andrea (Emily Rios) at the hands of Todd. The way that it’s crafted, it’s this disturbingly quiet and very fast gunshot to the head. One of the most heartbreaking aspects is that Jesse sees the whole thing happen, and it was an emotionally powerful showcase for Aaron Paul. It’s really dark because it happens right after Jesse escapes and he thinks that all is well, but by escaping and getting himself discovered, they know exactly how to hurt him in the process.

Something that has become a great teaser––brilliantly giving us hints about the future,––has been the flash forwards in this season. Starting with the season premiere, “Live Free or Die,” we got a look at a different Walter, one who is not only physically different, but who also has a new goal in mind. We see all of this finally pay off, Ed gives Walter a new home at a cabin in snow-bound New Hampshire. Along with the new home, we begin seeing Walt take on a different look, which appears in those future visions–– which are of course now becoming the present.

These scenes brilliantly show how much farther Walter has fallen, and everything from the performance by Bryan Cranston to the way Michael Slovis’ muted cinematography conveys this almost weak state of mind he is in. After all the cancer is there and Walter is aware of that, he knows the end is near and that is beautifully conveyed. There is that heartbreaking scene between Walt and Flynn, when Walt calls him up and it’s painful to see how his own son wishes he were dead. But, as throughout this episode, Walt comes back to that idea of his family and asks Ed if when the moment comes, would he be able to trust him to deliver the money to his family. It’s a fantastic scene and it’s a great showcase for these two veteran actors to play with that dilemma.

The final scene, with the iconic Dave Porter Breaking Bad theme playing, brings again this full-circle moment, and especially to the conception of Gray Matter. It’s nostalgic to see Gretchen and Elliot (Jessica Hecht and Adam Godley) again after such a long time and this scene kind of brought back the idea of Walt’s legacy, when they tell a TV reporter that Walter just contributed the name to the business. As an effect, this serves as Walt’s motivation to have that last desire to complete his unfinished business, and again serves as a set up for the finale, which at this point, anything can happen.

To quote Gandalf from “Lord of the Rings,” “Granite State” is the “deep breath before the plunge.” It serves as a reflective, wonderfully slower-paced episode that details the groundwork to be to set up the series finale. It gives us information as to where these characters are going to be at for the final hour (plus 15 minutes), there are great shout outs as well to iconic character moments (the Heisenberg hat moment was great) and arranges the pieces for the end.

Also as a little side note: at yesterday’s (Sept. 22) Emmy Awards, “Breaking Bad” got some much-deserved recognition: including an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress for Anna Gunn, and finally taking home an equally deserved Emmy for Best Drama, after being nominated multiple times. So congratulations, “Breaking Bad”!

Oscar Garza may be reached [email protected]

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Breaking Bad: “Granite State” recap