Breaking Bad, Season 5, Episode 15: "Granite State"


If Ozymandias was watching the king lose his power, then Granite State, the penultimate episode of the series, is watching what it’s like for Walter White to live with no power at all. Everything is stripped away from him. He has no control, no support, no say, nothing. He is isolated, he is weakened and he is impotent to change his situation.

Vince Gilligan does nothing but take away from Walt, from Skyler, from Jesse. And all of them are whirling together to the series finale next week.


Robert Forster is Ed the vacuum guy cum “disappearer”. Wow. That’s a nice homage to Tarantino. If Samuel L. Jackson shows up, I’m freaking out.

Turns out Saul is relocating as well. I guess this makes sense when a client of yours is outed as the largest drug kingpin of the southwest, although as Ed points out, his face is on billboards and bus stops all over the place, so it might take a few days. Walt is still awaiting his final new location too and it doesn’t look like he is dealing with the process well. Ed shows a closed circuit video of Walt pacing manically and taking swipes at the lamp.

Marie is being driven to her home and when the officers get there, it’s clear the place has been broken into. We hear Jesse’s voice in his confession video and then we find that Uncle Jack and the neo-Nazis are watching it. Obviously, they broke in to the Schrader abode to check for incriminating evidence, since they shot Hank in cold blood. They’re laughing at Jesse’s tears, until they get to the point where Jesse rats out that Opie Dead-Eyed Piece of Sh*t, Todd, for having killed Drew Sharp. While I have long had a love for Saul’s way with words, I have to hand it to Jesse for the perfect description for that creepy sociopath.

Uncle Jack heads to Jesse’s cell, ‘cause you gotta kill rats. But Todd wants to keep him to keep cooking. Jack says they don’t need the money, but then realizes that Todd’s still working to impress Lydia. “The heart wants what the heart wants.” That touches him, though he thinks that Todd could do better than the uptight Lydia.

Meanwhile, in his dungeon, Jesse sits with his broken and beaten face, staring at the photo of Andrea and Brock. He takes a paper clip off the photo and starts to unbend it to pick the lock of the handcuffs he’s wearing.

Back to the vacuum cleaner/disappearer. As Ed takes care of business above ground, roommates Walt and Saul are downstairs. Walt is formulating a plan. Walt asks Saul for the names of hitmen to go after Jack. Saul declines and offers the advice that Walt should stay to protect Skyler and family, because the feds will go after them hard in his absence. Saul reminds Walt that every time Mike tried to get his nest egg to his granddaughter, it ended up in the feds’ coffers. Walt tells him he doesn’t want to run, but he what he’s doing is for his family. And that means killing Jack and his entire crew so that he can take back the money and give it to his kids.

Forster says it’s time for Saul to go. Walt says change of plans, Saul is staying with him. Saul said that it’s over for him. Walt says it’s not over until he says it is, but then collapses into a coughing fit. Saul uses his indisposition to leave. I’m gonna miss Saul. But I have a feeling we’ll see him again soon enough.

We return from commercial with Sky in a DEA office. The negotiations are not getting through to her, reverberating and droning like the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon. They ask her if she understands what’s happening. She says she understands she’s in terrible trouble unless she gives up Walt, but she can’t because she doesn’t know where he is. Later in the evening she’s hanging out in the living room of the house, sneaking a peek at the agents watching her. This is not the Skyler asking Walt to kill Jesse of two episodes ago. This is a broken shell of a person on survival mode.

She hears Holly making noises and she goes to her room and finds the neo-Nazis in there in ski masks and all black in there. Todd wants to know if she’s told the police anything about Lydia. She promises not to say anything about her. Dead-Eyed Opie tells her gently that Skyler really doesn’t want them to come back. His very sweetness while threatening her is again beyond creepy.

Todd is waiting for Lydia at a café. Looks like the same one she met Walt in last time. Lydia takes a neighboring table which has to hurt Todd’s feelings because she sat at the table with Walt. Lydia wanted Todd to eliminate Sky, but Todd assures her that he put enough of a scare on her that she won’t talk. Lydia doesn’t want to take the risk and tries to end their professional relationship, but Todd tells her he has 50 lbs of 92% blue Heisenberg-quality meth. That makes Lydia take notice. Maybe they do make a good team, as Todd says. He picks a piece of lint off her shoulder like a monkey grooming his mate. He really does freak me out. Is it that Lydia is so blinded by the greed of 92% pure meth that she doesn’t seem to care about his ickyness?

Walt crawls out of the tank of a propane truck to a snowy vista. He’s been in there for a while based on how stiffly he gets out. Ed has driven him to his new home.

“Mr. Lambert, welcome to New Hampshire.”

Ed has a cozy little log cabin for Walt, complete with 30 days of food and needs. Wood burning stove that you can cook on. No television reception, no cable, no internet, no telephone, no car. Eight miles to the nearest town. No power. Walt tells him that he has business to conduct, but Ed tells him that he can’t leave, because he will be caught. Ed says that normally he doesn’t stay in contact, but it’s Walt and so he’ll be doing monthly supply runs. If Ed finds out that Walt’s left the cabin, he won’t be back. From ABQ to New Hampshire, that’s some serious service and it comes with a serious $50K fee.

As soon as he’s gone, Walt is pocketing some cash and heading to the gates. He stops to put on his Heisenberg hat and walks out the door. At the property line, he hesitates. Maybe he’s decided it’s too cold to walk. Maybe that eight mile hike is too daunting. Whatever the case, he doesn’t have the will to do it. He tells himself “tomorrow” and heads back to the cabin.

We see him building a fire to warm his cold hands. He may as well have used the money as kindling for as much good its doing for him so far away from everyone and everything.

Jesse is trying to escape, out of handcuffs, but the bars on the ceiling of his subterranean dungeon are just out of his reach. He hears someone and gets back into his chains. It’s Todd bringing him some ice cream as a thank you for reaching 96% purity on the last cook. Jesse asks him to leave the tarp off, because he wants to see the stars and Todd in his benevolence, agrees. Jesse successfully manages to get out of his cell and starts running, but the compound has barbed wire over a 15 foot fence. He hasn’t even made it to the other side when the flashlights of his captors are on him. He says go ahead and hit him because he won’t make another cook.

But the Nazis have another idea. They drive him to Andrea’s and Todd puts on the wholesome Opie act to get Andrea on the porch where Jesse, bound and bloodied again in Uncle Jack’s SUV can see her as Todd shoots her in the back of her head. Jack reminds the screaming Jesse that there’s still Brock sleeping inside if he doesn’t fall in line.

Walt’s back to trudging to the gate. By the look of his beard growth, it’s been several months of “tomorrow”s. He welcomes Ed with his monthly delivery, which appears to include a month’s worth of Alburquerque newspapers. On the wall are clippings of Skyler’s legal dealings. Walt’s hair is back too. He asks about Skyler and he says that she is still at the blace on the Eubanks. She’s got a public defender who doesn’t appear to be too confident. Skyler is working as a taxi dispatcher, but at least the kids are still with her. Ed tells Walt that she is going by her maiden name (which is also the same name Walt is going by now), Lambert. The bank put up the fence around the house and it’s up for auction. So the home and security Walt once thought he was ensuring for his family have been taken away from him by his actions too.

Ed is really a full-service fixer, because he’s even providing chemo for Walt. He assures him that he’s watched YouTubes on how to stick a needle, not like last time.

It’s all about finding the vein.

Walt asks him to stay another two hours for $10,000. I guess since Hank’s gone, he’s stuck buying friends. Ed breaks out the cards to play a little 7 card poker for an hour only. His money can’t even buy him an extra hour of companionship. Walt tells Ed that one of these visits will find him dead. He asks if he would give the money to his family. Ed wonders if he would believe him even if he says he will. His silence is telling. Walt doesn’t even have the strength of himself to cut the cards.

Lying in bed coughing, Walt’s ring slips off his finger. Yes, he’s lost that much weight. He ties the ring around his neck, the whole process a deeply symbolic act of yet another loss layered upon loss.

Walt looks at the Ensure boxes Ed has bought to help Walt with his weight loss from the cancer/chemo and then realizes that it could work to get money to Sky. He can “ensure” her financial security, get it? He trudges down to the property edge, weak and coughing, with the box in brown paper wrapping. This eight mile trip isn’t going to wait to tomorrow.

Flynn (I believe Walt Jr is no longer the going name, though interestingly, he is still a White, unlike Skyler) is asked to come to the principal’s office. Aunt Marie is on the phone. But it’s not Marie, it’s some gal in a bar helping Walt out. Walt tears up at hearing his son’s voice. He stumbles through an apology and tells him that he’s sending a package to Flynn’s buddy Louis but it’s for him and Sky and Holly. It’s $100K.

I wanted to give you so much more, but it was all I can do.

Flynn really hasn’t said much as his father stutters and stammers through a passive plaint of regret (“Things happened…”). But then, with a focus that only the innocent can possess, he unleashes a torrent of rage that starts with “You killed Uncle Hank,” and ends with “Why don’t you die already?” Not only does he not want Walt’s money—no matter how what bad straits they are in—he doesn’t want to have anything to do with his father at all. The final painful nail in the coffin for Walter White. He has lost his family. He has nothing and he knows it.

He then calls the Alburquerque DA , identifies himself as Walter White and leaves the phone off the hook. The bartender is turning channels on the television when Walt asks him to stop. It’s the Schwarzes of Gray Matter on Charlie Rose, publicizing the $28 million grant they’ve established to fight drug abuse. Rose asks if this is simply to distance themselves from Walter White, which they deny and then minimize Walt’s contribution to Gray Matter. Elliot claims that Walter’s only input was the White to their Black (Schwarz in German) to get Gray. Charlie asks them if they know what’s happened to Walter White. Gretchen tells Charlie Rose that the sweet man they once knew is gone.

Well, that’s not what the all-consuming ego of Walter White wants to hear. The next scene is the police swarming the bar. And Walt’s half finished drink and napkin lie alone.


  • All 61 episodes will be marathoned prior to the series finale next Sunday. I don’t know that my blood pressure will allow me to watch it uninterrupted, but if you came onto Breaking Bad late in the game, or just want to be reminded of how masterfully it’s been plotted and hints have been dropped from the beginning, here’s your chance.
  • And there’s still time to enter the contest to watch the final episode with the cast in Los Angeles.
  • And you can bid for props from the show, and Buzzfeed also compiled a nice list of details that you might have missed from this season. All my Chekhov’s guns for your benefit.
  • Color analysis: Saul was wearing a blue shirt, a nice change from his loud colors. Skyler was in white again. The widow Marie was in black. Flynn had a bright orange hoodie on. Walt’s New Hampshire coat looks an awful lot like Jesse’s.
  • Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. Two copies. What every isolated log cabin without modern communication conveniences should have.
  • Todd brings Jesse peanut butter cup and Colbert’s Americone Dream Ben & Jerry’s. That’s a weirdly nice thing for a brutal kidnapper. Both Colbert Report and Breaking Bad won Emmys for best series in their respective categories tonight. Coincidence? You be the judge.
  • Congratulations also to Anna Gunn (Skyler) for her Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama.
  • Who drank dimple pinch neat? Was that Hank? That’s Walter’s drink of choice at the NH bar.

: FELINA (series finale)


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