Tomorrow night (in America, Monday for anyone with access to Netflix) brings the return of Breaking Bad with their final eight episodes. Speculation as to what will happen in these final episodes has been rampant and through the many discussions I have had on the matter I thought it would be a good idea to present a few here and try to, maybe, piece together an idea of what may happen. Truth be told we have no idea what the writers have in store for us, for all we know everyone could die when aliens come down and destroy the planet during the final episode or everyone could live happily ever after, both conclusions are very unlikely due to the actions of characters throughout the series but remember this is just pure speculation and in eight weeks time I am bound to be proven completely wrong.
*WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. IF YOU ARE NOT UP TO DATE WITH BREAKING BAD DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. INSTEAD GO AND CATCH UP NOW*
Let’s start with the main talking point and one that is unanimous with people I’ve spoken to.
Walter White, the main character of the series who has overcome cancer (although it may have made an unwelcome return), has to die. The overall arc of his character demands that he be killed at the end.
The transformation of Walter White from miserable, geeky school teacher filled with pent up anger and rage into an ego maniac who believes he cannot be touched by anyone now that he has killed off him main enemy (Gustavo Fring), who lies and manipulates all those around him to either do his bidding or to save his own hide is an astonishing one. Don’t believe me, look at the two pictures below of Walt having a gun pointed at him.
The first picture, from season one, is the reaction that most of us would have when a firearm is aimed at us, that is a man who is scared for his life and would do anything to not be in the situation that he finds himself. By contrast the second image, from season five, is a man who is in complete control of the situation even if he does have a gun pressed against his temple but lets face it Mike could well have been holding a water gun to his head for all that Walt cares, the look of smug arrogance is both conceited and totally justified. That transformation is very interesting as it shows just how far Walt’s mentality towards violence has changed, he no longer fears death as in his mind he is always in complete control of any situation that he is in, he has a plan and he knows it will work. Think back to the first episode of season five where Mike asks Walt about how he knows the magnet plan actually worked, his response; “Because I said so”. Heisenberg has truly taken over at that point, his arrogance and ego are at an all-time high and it must be that arrogance which will inevitably be the downfall of both Heisenberg and Walt.
So how will Walt meet his demise?
My theory on this is that due to a tragic death of someone very close to Walt he will end up buying the machine gun as already seen at the beginning of season five and will eventually look to punish and gain revenge for the death of the one that they killed. Who “they” are is unclear as it does seem like Walt is out of enemies (apart from Hank but I will come to that later). It could be the outside dealers who Mike and Jesse tried dealing their methylamine to, it could be Jesse himself in a drugged-up haze (he has to do something with all that money Walt gave him, getting high on weed isn’t going to last), it could be that Walt accidentally puts someone in danger and they die due to Walt’s actions either in a gun fight or in some arbitrary fashion, it could also be at the hand of Walt himself but at this point in time we, as a viewer, do not have enough information to properly suggest how the death of someone close to Walt would come.
Who is likely to die?
Skyler. Jesse. Walt Jr. Holly.
Those are the four names which could illicit the response by Walt that would mean him having to arm himself with a very large machine gun. Each one would send Walt into a whirlwind of depression, which would account for his new look and somber personality in the opening scene of season five, and each one would, in Heisenberg’s mind, demand revenge on the grandest scale and the big machine gun is Heisenberg living out his Scarface fantasy. Out of those four names it is my guess that Walt Jr. will be the one to die due to the impact it would have on Walt. Walt and Walt Jr. have had a very one and off relationship over the course of the series but Walt is always looking to make Walt Jr. happy and he is, in my opinion, the one person that Walt truly would miss. Holly is still very young and, don’t get me wrong here, killing Holly would destroy both Walt and Skyler but I don’t think it would have the emotional impact that still lingers in the opening scene of season five. Killing a baby might also be a bit too extreme even for Breaking Bad. Killing Skyler would also obviously be devastating for Walt but due to their very complicated and strained relationship it is my opinion that the death of Skyler would also not be impactful enough. Killing Jesse would probably be the least impactful for Walt at an emotional level because as much as he might like Jesse and want him around he doesn’t truly care for him like he does his close family. Walt has twisted and turned Jesse constantly since they met and to Walt, Jesse is a mere pawn in his empire building game.
How will Walt die?
Chances are Walt will die by his own hand. He showed back in the pilot that he would not face going to jail. If you remember back he actually tried to shoot himself when he heard the sirens and thought that the police would soon arrive but the bullet didn’t fire so instead he stood in the middle of the road, pointed his gun towards the sirens and waited but as we know it was not the police and Walter White lived on but this just shows that Walt will not be taken to jail, he cannot face the humiliation and with the knowledge that Hank now has it is likely that just when Hank is so close to finally taking down Heisenberg once and for all, Walt will turn his gun on himself and end his life on his own terms.
Now on to another discussion that has made many people theorize possibly scenarios.
What does Hank do?
That last shot of Hank in episode eight of season five was probably the biggest Holy Shit!! moment that the series has had and in a series filled with Holy Shit!! moments that is quite an accomplishment. So what does Hank do when he pulls himself off the toilet? The popular opinion/hope is that he wipes (sorry awful joke, don’t judge me). After that it could go a variety of ways, Hank could immediately confront Walt and demand to know what that inscription is and basically accuse Walt of being Heisenberg right there and then but I don’t think that is likely. As big of an asshole that Hank can be, he is a family man, he would not confront Walt in front of his kids and also Hank is likely to want concrete evidence, an inscription on the inside of a book is good evidence but when you gain a fresh lead on someone like the infamous Heisenberg, someone who has been living under your nose the entire time, you want to be incredibly careful and that is what Hank will do. Hank will leave the bathroom, book in hand, act like nothing has happened but drop hints to Walt. Something along the lines of, “Hey Walt, I was reading this book on the can, you mind if I borrow it?”. A line like that would make Walt start to worry about whether Hank saw the inscription and has targeted Walt for his number one suspect or whether Hank just enjoyed the book, this could maybe trick Walt in to making some mistakes that Hank can capitalize on. A third, much more wild theory, is that Hank confronts Walt but instead of arresting him he instead demands a cut of the money. While this is highly unlikely and also out of character for Hank I found it to be an interesting theory as Hank is a man that likes respect and it could be plausible that Hank would have such respect for Walt for doing all he has without Hank knowing that this would lead him to keep quiet with the DEA in exchange for a sizable amount of money. Personally I find the second theory of Hank toying with Walt a bit until he finds firm evidence to be the most plausible and would lead to some truly intense moments between the two characters.
How does Jesse fit in to all of this?
As I mentioned earlier Jesse now has two bags filled with money. The last time Walt visits Jesse he is already back to smoking weed (likely due to boredom) so two huge bags of money plus a whole lot of time to kill would equal a fast track to drug abuse/addiction especially in an ex-junkie like Jesse. This could lead to Jesse somehow finding out things about Walt that Walt didn’t want Jesse to know (Lily of the Valley?) and in his drugged-up haze hunting down Walt and, possibly, killing the wrong person as I don’t see Jesse killing Walt in such a manner, if Jesse kills Walt it will be sober. Jesse killing the wrong person could link to one of the many reasons why Walt has the different appearance in the scene at the beginning of season five. Another theory would be that Jesse is no longer the young boy who wants to destroy himself like he used to, sure he smokes weed and drinks beer (who doesn’t?) but the Jesse of season five is a changed man, one who refuses to crack in the face of temptation and will likely either sit on the money that he didn’t particularly want or use to for a different purpose. So the question remains how does Jesse fit in to the overall story now that the meth cooking business has been abandoned? The likely answer is that Walt will bring him back in to the story by forcing his way in to Jesse’s life when Jesse clearly just wants to be left alone, Walt will play the sob card, Jesse will buckle and Walt will continue in his role of puppeteer, forcing Jesse to help him when Jesse really should be far away from him.
What is going on in that scene at the beginning of season five?
I’ve already mentioned a couple of reasons as to why Walt has changed his appearance and is buying a machine gun but I wanted to add another theory which is that Walt is under witness protection, hence the new look, hence the new location. Due to the terms of Walt’s witness protection he likely would have given up everything he knew about the meth business (possibly involving Jesse in a role much higher than he actually had in the business) and he knows people will be after him so the machine gun might be for protection and, if you are the former Heisenberg, you are going to want the best protection that money can buy.
Obviously there are many different theories has to what will happen over the course of the final eight episodes and there are likely many variables that I have failed to touch upon but one thing that is definite; these last eight episodes of Breaking Bad will be some of the most intense, emotional, action-packed episodes of television that we are ever likely to get, everything has built to these last episodes and I personally cannot wait to see them.
One last thing… I could not resist posting this theory