WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
The origins of the phrase “Chickens coming home to roost” can be found as far back as Chaucer in the 1300s. But the concept of karma—or the fruits of your acts revisiting you—has been with us since well before Christ. I’m fairly certain that what we’re going to see in this second half of the final season are all of Walter White’s chickens coming home to roost.
The title of this episode refers to physical location that is clearly the cocky Walter White’s roost. It is the place where he and Jesse first cooked meth in the beat up RV. It is also the location where Walt personally buried his millions in oil drums. Just what chickens will roost at To’hajiilee? Jesse, after years of being manipulated by Walt, now thinks he has a better way of taking him down than Hank’s Ahab-esque wire. Skyler has fully embraced her Lady MacBeth role and in asking Walt “What’s one more?” no longer has a moral compass. Marie is openly fantasizing about untraceable poisons. And perhaps more dear to Walt’s heart, Junior has learned Walt’s tells and knows that Walt has been lying to him. So far he’s the one innocent left that gives Walt the benefit of the doubt, but how much longer can that last?
The official preview that AMC provided gave no hint, nor is their description at all helpful: “Things heat up for Walt in unexpected ways.” One of the things that has always driven Walt is his arrogant assumption of being the smartest man in the room. Clearly, both that intelligence and that arrogance have left him with blind spots large enough to propel us through these last four episodes.
There are some tantalizing tidbits character by character in this EW article. I’m waiting on tenterhooks for the reappearance and actions of Lydia based on this.
I am ever more amazed by the fandom of Breaking Bad and how they express their appreciation for the show. Check out these Facebook pages for “Vamonos Pest Control” (Walt’s pest control mobile meth lab front) and Madrigal Electromotive GmbH (the parent company of Gus Fring and Lydia Rodarte) as well as Walt Jr.’s Yelp review for the hotel they were staying in last week.
If you want to imagine the Breaking Bad that never was, this week Vince Gilligan also supplied 12 discarded storylines (think Marie with a purple revolver).
We start the episode with Todd and crew making up a batch of meth. Lydia is there as well, obviously looking for an improvement in quality. Uncle Jack is not a big believer is safety equipment, eschewing the gas mask. Todd has made 50 pounds of 76% pure meth. Lydia wants to see the mark of quality of the blue, but Jack thinks Lydia should be satisfied with the marginal increase in quality. One of the henchmen (Kenny?) thinks there’s at least a bluish tint to it as Lydia insists that “blue is our brand” and that her buyers expect it. Someone suggests using food coloring to get it to be fully blue, like farm raised salmon.
Todd brings Lydia a cup of tea as she recovers from their cooking expedition. Todd is very solicitous of Lydia. He apologizes for the lack of color of his latest cook. He thinks he may have let it get too hot for a moment, like burning a cake. Todd gets closer to Lydia and offers to have Uncle Jack smooth things over with her buyers, but she demurs. It’s important to her that Todd focuses on improving the quality as her buyers expect a ‘certain threshhold’. Todd is clearly very sweet on Lydia as he violates all sorts of personal space and touches her arm and Lydia is clearly exploiting that to get what she wants from Todd. As she leaves the lab, he caresses her lipstick smear on the tea mug. Okay, that’s really creepy. Looks like he’s got another keepsake to go along with the boy’s tarantula.
“She Blinded Me with Science” by Thomas Dolby is Todd’s ringtone. “Oh Sherrie” by Steve Perry is playing in the lab as Todd talks to Lydia. I’m steeped in ‘80s nostalgia.
We hear the rest of the call Walter made to Todd last week where White admits reluctantly the target is Jesse Pinkman.
We see Hank under a freeway pass waiting for Gomie. Gomie wants to bring Jesse in, but Hank knows how Walt deals with prisoners. Hank wants Gomie to hear Jesse’s plan, but Gomie doesn’t understand how you trust a burn out who messed up a simple wire sting. Jesse says that they don’t have any evidence, but he knows some evidence Walt will never destroy. His money. He doesn’t know where it is, but knows how to find out.
We cut back to Hank’s kitchen. Whatever plan they have has Gomie entirely skeptical. But undeterred, Hank drops animal brains on the floor, mangles them and drips blood on it. What the hell, man? Marie is going to freak. Hank says to Jesse, “You’re up.”
They go to visit Huell at a safe house. Apparently, they’ve brought him in. At first we get the stoic, unresponsive Huell, but Hank’s prepared for this. Hank tries to get him to talk by saying that they have a wire on Walt’s phone and heard him saying to Saul that Walt was planning on taking Huell and Kuby down—for knowing too much. It only took 15 seconds for Saul to supposedly squeal, a scenario that shouldn’t be too hard to believe. Kuby, according to Hank, is already missing. Hank tells him not to call Goodman because Saul has a tracer on his phone so that Walt can find him. Huell’s skepticism drops exponentially. He then goes for the close by showing him a cellphone picture of Jesse staring blankly, lying next to the bloody brains. That’s a Heisenberg move, Hank. Huell buys it and gets upset and starts spilling about the van and oil drums. Huell denies knowing where the money ended up, but admits that he filled seven 55 gallon barrels with cash for him and Walt drove off.
Meanwhile, Walt is meeting with Uncle Jack and Todd. Jack wants to know if this is “rat patrol” (all these euphemisms!) and loyal to the end, Walt declares Jesse isn’t a rat, he just won’t listen. He wants whatever he does to be quick and painless. It’s breaking Walt’s own particular code to want to harm his familial inner circle, even if many in that inner circle (Jesse, Hank and Marie) would be just as happy seeing him rot in jail. Walt doesn’t want to contemplate details of what Jack will do, preferring to talk about money. But Jack doesn’t want Walt’s money; he wants Walt to cook with Todd again to get the quality back. Blue is all the rage with the Slavic types. Walt initially says no, but Jack says that’s the price. Walt reluctantly agrees to one cook, after the job is done. Walt says time is of the essence and Jack said he’ll do it right now if Walt tells him where to find Jesse. But Walt says he doesn’t know where Jesse is, but knows how to flush him out.
A healthy Brock is eating cereal (hey, that’s Junior’s gig!) when a knock is heard. Andrea opens the door to find Walt. He asks about Jesse, but Andrea hasn’t heard from Jesse for two weeks or so. Walt tells Andrea Jesse is using again. I have to say, she looks remarkably untroubled by that. Andrea suggests calling Saul, but Walt says he’s tried that already. Andrea offers to call Jesse and Walt gives her Jesse’s new number. Andrea leaves a message asking for Jesse to get in touch with her.
As he leaves, Walt calls a phone, talking to someone monitoring Andrea’s house down the street. One of Jack’s guys. Walt assures him that Jesse should show up any time now, but to make sure to "do the job" far away from Andrea and Brock. No sense in traumatizing them any further.
Hank has Jesse’s Hello Kitty phone, so he retrieves the message from Andrea. Nice try, Walt.
Hank is back from the van rental place. Those damn ACLU liberty freaks have gotten GPS removed from the van—something stupid about privacy—so Hank couldn’t get any coordinates about where the money might have gone, though the presence of a shovel and dirt in the van indicates to the genius that Walt buried the barrels. Of course New Mexico is a big place, so the exact location is a little murky, as that voice of reason Gomie points out. But Hank tells both Jesse and Gomie that Walt doesn’t know that the van’s GPS was disabled, so they could use this to their advantage.
Our next scene is Walt Jr being trained by Skyler at the car wash. Junior understandably thinks “Have an A-1 day” is lame, but Skyler insists that it’s a critical part of their branding. He also thinks that the gasoline smell has probably dissipated in their house by now, but Skyler still hesitates. Luckily, for Skyler, the next client who comes in is the slightly-worse-for-wear Saul. Both Sky and Junior recognize him, but their reactions are very different. Junior is very excited that a minor Albuquerque celebrity who has a billboard right on their property is visiting their place of business. Skyler knows Saul’s presence cannot be a good thing. Walt comes in, holding Holly, and sees Saul at the cash registers. He ducks back outside before Junior sees him.
He approaches Saul outside waiting for his car. Saul tells him that Huell is missing. This has Saul spooked. Walt touches him on the chest and asks disbelievingly, “Are you wearing a bulletproof vest?” Saul reminds him that his 400 pound body guard is now missing, so a little caution is not out of order. Walt assures him that Jesse is not on a killing spree, but Saul isn’t buying it.
What comes next is beautiful in Heisenberg-like proportions. Whether this plan originates from Jesse or Hank, it is clear that the student has become the teacher. Walt gets a photo text of a dug up black barrel open with cash inside. Then a call comes from Jesse. He’s found the stash. And Walt needs to get to him quickly or the cash is going up in flames, 10 grand at a time.
Walt panics and races away from the carwash to the burial spot. He has to have broken some major speeding laws as he races through the desert, Jesse taunting him the whole way. Jesse tells him not to bring anyone. Walt begs Jesse that the money belongs to his kids, that he’s dying. Jesse asks him if he really wants to go there and Walt tells him that he knew how much poison to give to Brock. He’s so panicked that he continues, insisting that everything he did was to protect Jesse as much as him, including killing Crazy-8 and Emilio. Radio silence from Jesse, makes Walt panic even more. He gets to the site and runs around. No Jesse. He’s been had and worse, he just admitted to multiple murders on the phone.
He runs up to the top of a mesa to look around, the effort making him cough horribly. He sees a car coming and realizes that Jesse must have followed him and that he led Jesse to his money. He runs and hides behind a rock, calling Uncle Jack that he’s got Jesse, giving him the coordinates to rendezvous. He begs him to get here as fast as he can…but then, he sees Jesse get out of Hank’s car and tells Jack to stand down. Killing one of his inner circle is one thing, but killing Hank too? That’s a bridge too far. He repeats to Jack not to come.
Walt sits there in shock as Hank calls for him. The one thing he never counted on happened: Jesse and Hank combining forces. That united front just bested him.
Hank is still surveying the beautiful New Mexican desert, demanding that Walt show himself. Walt, perhaps realizing there is nowhere to go, makes himself visible. He drops his gun at Hank’s request and raising his arms walks slowly towards the trio. There is something very messianic about Walt’s posture. Jesse just stares at him, hardly believing he had successfully outwitted Mr. White. Hank cuffs him (taking a little too much pleasure in it in the humiliation of making Walt walk backwards to him and drop to his knees). Hank tells him the barrel shot was taken in the backyard, where he used to cook out with his family. Jesse realizes that the sentimental Walt buried his money at the site of their first cook. Gomie gives Hank the privilege of giving Walt his Miranda rights. Walt’s only word is for Jesse: Coward. I don’t get this. Is this some code of honor that Walt sees Jesse violated? Is he just upset that Jesse doesn’t have the same kind of familial loyalty to him as he does to Jesse? Jesse spits in his face and Walt reacts, trying to headbutt him. They push Walt into the SUV. Jesse waits with Gomie in Walt’s car.
Before he takes Walt off to book him, Hank calls Marie to savor the moment. She wants to know why there are brains in their trash can but Hank can’t wait to tell her that he got Walt. He offers to wave to Hank for her, just to twist that knife a bit. Marie is in tears. Hank wants to know if she’s okay and she says she’s much better now.
Uh oh. As Walt resigns himself to his fate, he sees trucks pulling up. It’s Uncle Jack, not the tribal police as Gomie and Hank initially assume. Walt tries to warn Hank, but Jack is committed to the job. Whodathunk that neo-Nazis are so bad with instructions? Walt begs Jack, screaming from inside the SUV to not do it, and Gomie and Hank demand that they put down their weapons but Jack and crew wants to see some badges. Jesse knows they are there for him and you see him open the door to the car, but he stops short of
At some silent signal between the neo-Nazis, shooting commences. Hank and Gomie return fire. Walt falls to the seat of the SUV to escape the hail of bullets and broken glass. Gomie and Hank hide behind the SUV and keep firing. For people not that far away from each other, they are not great aims, though it’s possible that Gomie took at least one bullet from the way he throws himself against the SUV grimacing. Boy, that Todd is an affectless killing machine, just pointing the trigger in the same direction as Uncle Jack and squeezing. No expression at all. Did Dexter wander onto the set?
We end with Walt squirming on the seat as a bullets fly all around him.
- I think Uncle Jack’s casual disregard of safety equipment and regulations may come back at some point.
- Saul may be very prescient in his wardrobe choices.
- There’s a poetic symmetry to To'hajiilee being an ancient Navajo location, the spot of Walt and Jesse’s first cook, the burial spot to Walt’s spoils and now to a potentially fatal shootout.
- Huell’s last name is Babineaux. A nod to the football playing brothers, perhaps?
- Curious, why did Brock act so scared of Walt? Does he know that Walt poisoned him?
- Froot Loops is part of a good breakfast, so says Walt. I beg to differ. If you have to purposely misspell a word so as to not imply that actual fruit is involved, I’d say that’s not the healthiest choice.
- “The kid left so much booger candy in there, my Caddy is a K9’s wet dream.” I love Saul’s way with words.
- “Got my photo, bitch? There are six more just like it.” I like Hank telling Walt that he figured he’s be so panicked about losing his money he wouldn’t notice the difference in soil of Hank’s back yard.
- Color analysis time: when Walt goes to carwash when Saul is there, he’s abandoned his beige on beige choices for a very blue shirt. Indications of his future cooking? Marie is still in black, as was Junior. Please don’t let that be an omen. Saul was wearing a very Holly-like bright pink.
- Jesse describes Walt’s burning cash as “bright orange frames”. Orange has always been a color associated with death in BB.
- I’ve praised the direction and the camera work before, but let’s hear it for the editing of this episode. It was seriously beat-perfect. Each and every shot was exactly timed perfectly for maximum tension and surprise. I took a physics course on roller coaster design once and the designer who taught the course said that the trick to good roller coasters was to give a rider just a hint of what was coming up because the anticipation heightened the enjoyment, but that it was equally important to allow a few beats of calmness in order for the rider to really enjoy the thrill of the next drop or turn. Tonight’s episode was the filmic representation of the perfect roller coaster thrill ride.
NEXT EPISODE: Ozymandias