Breaking Bad Precap, Episode 512: And Then There Were Five

AMC/Grantland illustration Breaking Bad

Loose Ends We Should Probably Be Prepared to Let Go Of

Andy Greenwald:

• The fundraising efforts to rebuild the Casa Tranquila nursing home.
Louis’s college plans.
• The personal grooming habits of Harry Lipenstein.
• The wicked comeback Group Leader thought of in the shower, four days after Jesse stormed out of his last NA meeting.
• Ted Beneke’s ongoing physical rehab and recovery.
• Whether Brock was ever able to beat Call of Duty 3.
• Kaylee Ehrmantraut’s long-term financial security.
• The tip amount Hank and Marie left for Trent after the world’s most uncomfortable dinner.
• A definitive answer on whether evil is something we choose to be or something we just are.
The roomba.


In Fairness to Our Collective Pants, He Warned Us About Last Sunday’s Impending Pooping


Thinking the Unthinkable: What If Vince Gilligan Blows It?

Mark Lisanti: The first three episodes of this split fifth season have been, by virtually universal acclaim, some of the best of Breaking Bad’s entire run. After AMC’s, um, quixotic plan to hit pause halfway through Season 5, we really could not have hoped for a better and more satisfying opening to the homestretch: the immediate Hank vs. Walt confrontation in the garage, the Skyler vs. Marie sister-off on the bed, the suddenly awakened, gas can–wielding Jesse trying to burn down the place where the Devil himself lives. The neck-breaking forward momentum of these initial three hours of the endgame has done nothing but instill unflagging confidence in Vince Gilligan’s mastery of his world, in his ability to close out the series with the very same gut-punching virtuosity he’s brought to the whole process. We expect nothing less than total satisfaction. And Gilligan’s been taking a preemptive victory lap around the media wearing the kind of sly smile that lets us know he knows he’s already stuck the landing. He commands his section of that Talking Bad couch like a guy ready for anything, even the Julie Bowens of the world, who would pull out his entrails and sift through them for clues about Walter’s fate if not for the debilitating shock collar the producers wisely outfitted her with after she showed them her “POLLO FOREVER” full-back tattoo of Gus Fring’s half-exploded face. Don’t you worry your pretty little meth-ravaged head about it, America. Sit back and enjoy the Aztec ride to hell. Uncle Vince has the wheel.

But what if he doesn’t? What if that confident grin belies the shattering realization that his well-oiled, high-end TV-fabricating machine slipped a few gears at the very end of the production, and he’s merely putting on a brave face for an obsessed legion of followers who don’t know they’re about to be Losted into years of omnidirectional Internet rage? Or, worse, what if he thinks he’s tied an immaculate crystal-blue bow around a finale for the pantheon, but it turns out to be yellow tape encircling the body-strewn crime scene of a too-ambitious heist? There’s a world — and maybe it’s just an alternate universe, like the one where Jim Belushi was cast as Walt and Ashton Kutcher as Jesse (sorry for tearing open a space-time portal to give you a glimpse of that unfortunate dimension in this aside) — in which everything doesn’t end perfectly, in which the pressure to deliver a final scene that simultaneously one-ups the cut-to-black while giving everybody everything they think they want results in a giant mess that pleases no one. Saul in a Members Only jacket. A Heisenberged-out Walt brandishing that M-80 over a heaping bowl of blue sky in the car wash office, inviting the Hank-led DEA onslaught to “Say hello to my little uncertainty principle.” Walt Jr. in a hazmat suit, standing over his father’s broken body, thirsty for vengeance and ready to reboot the empire. Skyler taking the fall for the whole operation. Marie in head-to-toe pink because suddenly she’s not feeling purple anymore.

… Nah. Ain’t gonna happen. There will be no crash in the purple futures market. I just checked the DVR — Kutcher and Belushi aren’t hugging it out in the desert. We’re probably good.

These are idiotic and insane questions to ask. But someone had to ask them, because someone maybe still thinks every plane overhead is about to explode and shower teddy bear debris all over his yard, and someone’s also trying to distract himself from four more weeks of ruthlessly engineered Sunday night panic attacks. They make them fresh right at your coffee table, it’s great. Everything’s going to be great.


Three (Possibly Spoilery) Things the Overly Fanatical Have Learned So Far This Season on the Insider Podcast

Eric Raskin: Every week, Breaking Bad editor Kelley Dixon hosts the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast, where a cast-and-crew panel — always including Gilligan, usually involving an actor or two and the writer and director of the latest episode — makes optimal use of the podcast medium, rambling on about the process behind the show in a way that even some BB obsessives might find excessive. Frankly, it’s a big time commitment, and you already have 15 Grantland podcasts a week to listen to. So we’re saving you the trouble and providing the most interesting scoop from each of the current semi-season’s first three episodes:

Episode 509: In the original draft of the opening teaser, the White house was not gutted and condemned; it was nonexistent. “You start on the skateboarders, and then you find out that the White house is gone,” explained writer Peter Gould. “We were looking for the most striking visual image possible … Literally, the house was gone. It was like an empty tooth in the mouth of the neighborhood.” As the writers discussed it more, however, they felt that an image alone was insufficient. “We need something to happen here, and hence the ricin,” Gilligan said. What are we to take away from this? Be prepared for the possibility that the ricin might not play as pivotal a role in the endgame as we all expect, given that at one point, the writers were willing to let Chekhov’s poison disappear along with the house where it was hidden.

Episode 510: In addition to being a murderer of innocent children and a dead ringer for a young Ric Bucher, Todd might also be developing into Breaking Bad’s romantic lead. Dixon let slip, when discussing the scene in which Todd’s crew put caps in Declan and the 68 percenters, “We get to see a little bit more of how Todd is falling in love with, has got this big crush on Lydia, because he wants to shield her from seeing all the dead bodies.” Gilligan quickly cut her off and said, “I don’t know, is he in love with her, or is he just very chivalrous, in a demented way?” It seems unlikely to me that Dixon, who has seen all of the episodes to come, would misread a scene in that way. So if in future episodes Todd makes Lydia even more twitchy than usual by telling her that her clothes would look best crumpled up on the ground in front of him just like Drew Sharp, don’t be surprised.

Episode 511: Aaron Paul offered fascinating insight on both his interpretation of a key scene and how actors often deliver multiple interpretations, not knowing which will make the final cut. Of the hug Walt gave Jesse out in the desert, Paul said, “It’s just another way to toy with him … When Walt hugged me, my first reaction was, ‘Oh my god, I’m even more terrified of this guy.’” Paul continued, “We did so many different versions [of] the hug. There were a lot of versions where Jesse was trying to just get away from Walt, and he just kept holding on. And there’s a version where he just held and Jesse kind of gave up and, like, fell into his arms.” Hopefully all the assorted hugs will make the Blu-ray extras, including the version where Walt repeats 10 times, “It’s not your fault.”

Get That Guac

Emily Yoshida: Walter White’s empire may be about to go up in flames. But for Mexican chain restaurant Garduno’s, the setting for last week’s Schrader-White family dinner, business is banging! According to The Wrap,

Thirty percent of guests usually order guacamole, but Corporate General Manager Warren Gaustad told TheWrap that the number has surged to 35 percent — with many visitors specifically referencing “Breaking Bad” as the reason for their selection.

There’s also been an influx of “Breaking Bad” tourists looking to see where the episode was shot.

But just because Breaking Bad made the guac famous doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of other enticing items on the Garduno’s menu, according to Gaustad.

As good as that guacamole is, Gaustad said his favorite item is the Red Carne Adovada — pork marinated in red chili sauce — and it could be the perfect meal the next time the Whites and Schraders decide to break bread.

Always keeping the customers’ best interest in mind — that’s that Garduno’s commitment to service!


Oh, You Thought We Were Done With “Ignition (Remix)” After the Bracket? Well, You Were Wrong

Maybe it should have been the Song of the Millennium.

On Huell

netw3rk: For a hard-hitting crime drama that features sunny topics like murder, child murder, murder by box cutter, murder by explosive wheelchair, murder by letting someone choke to death on her own vomit, the dissolution of the American family, the dissolution of child-murder-corpses via acid, midlife crises, cancer, codependence, addiction, and drug dealing, Breaking Bad sure casts a lot of stand-up comedians. And just like every other unorthodox choice the show makes, it works. There’s Bob Odenkirk as Saul Goodman; Bill Burr as Saul’s henchman Kuby; and Saul’s slab-o’-beef-bodied, fleet-fingered, fingerling potato–headed bodyguard, Huell, played by Lavell Crawford.

A hopeful prediction: The rumored Saul Goodman spinoff show gets greenlit, and it tackles the backstory of New Mexico’s greatest pocket-picking planetoid, and how he came to be Saul’s first-call body man. Because, let’s face it, Huell is not good at his job. At least, the parts that don’t include subway-style bump-and-lift pocket-picking (which he excels at) and putting millions of dollars into barrels. Yes, he does have the requisite mass for personal security, but, to put it kindly, the muscle/body fat ratio leaves quite a bit to be desired, especially when considering the unforgiving lethality of the company Saul travels in. I mean, Huell is the dude you hire after the uber-competent hit man and fixer Mike Ehrmantraut threatens you? Then there’s Huell’s not-at-all shocking lack of mobility. Jesse entered Saul’s waiting room, blew by Huell like Huell was … well, like Huell was an obese man dozing in an armchair, and managed to slam the door to Saul’s office right in Huell’s face (which, listen, if you can’t at least lay your three-bills-and-change body on the door and let gravity do all the work, Huell, then I don’t know what to tell you), then proceeded to work over the one guy Huell is employed to protect.

You. Had. One. Job, Huell. And you blew it. And don’t even get me started on Ted Beneke.


Speaking of Lost, the Showrunner Tweet of the Week: In Fulfillment of the Prophecy


Other Endgame Theories That Might Ruin It All for You of the Week

The Ricin

The License Plate


Stuff That Definitely Won’t Happen Sunday

John Lopez: Every Breaking Bad fan knows meth is the perfect metaphor for Gilligan’s addiction-causing approach to TV — the show’s essentially a 99.9 percent–pure crystal of character and story. But last week, Gilligan & Co. hit new heights, cramming into one episode more reversals than a presidential press conference: Walt snookered Hank with a video-selfie revealing he paid Hank’s medical bills; Jesse realized Walt poisoned Brock and repainted Walt’s living room in hues of gasoline; and Walt fetched his trusty gunsicle, presumably to go “no half-measures” on Jesse. How in the name of tableside guacamole could they possibly top those twists?

Here are my admittedly ludicrous guesses:

1. WALT rushes home with aforementioned gunsicle, plugging a portable hair dryer into his cigarette lighter to thaw out the bullets, which causes him to crash into his lovely bay window. He jumps out, holds the gun on Jesse … but can’t pull the trigger. Why? Because Jesse is actually Walt’s son — and not just metaphorically! Jesse is his lovechild via Gretchen Schwartz (remember her?). She didn’t want to ruin a promising chemistry career with a kid and put Jesse up for adoption, which, when Walt found out, is why he cashed in his Gray Matter stock.

2. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF TOWN Hank confides his dark dilemma to ol’ pal Gomie. Gomie just smiles and reveals that Tio Salamanca was his tio, too — in fact, he’s reviving the cartel’s operations using the DEA itself as the front. All he needs is a brilliant meth cook … so he marches Hank at gunpoint to the White house, hoping Hank will deliver Walt up on a silver platter to the new Gomie cartel.

3. MEANWHILE Todd decides to pay “Teach” a visit, carting a sample of his own batch of Henchman Home Brew Blue — just because Todd needs that much affirmation. But he astutely notices the car out of Walt’s window as well as a fleet of siren-blaring DEA cars lead by Gomie, toking a meth pipe. Being the helpful psychopath he is, Todd calls up his Aryan Brotherhood buddies and tells them to come down for a good time at the Negro Arroyo Corral.

4. AT THE CAR WASH, Skyler calmly walks to a Hummer filled with the money barrels Walter thought he’d buried. She’s met by Walt Jr., coordinate-bearing lotto ticket and dusty shovel in hand. As they get into the car, Junior casually throws away his crutches and flexes his legs: Yep, he is Keyser Söze.

Filed Under: Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston, Vince Gilligan