Breaking Bad: ‘Granite State’ Episode Review

Cabin Fever.

The Granite State is Walt’s clean slate in Breaking Bad‘s penultimate episode, with Walt getting the hell outta dodge after ‘Ozymandias’s horrific events.

And he’s not the only one, as Saul joins him in gaining a new identity where we finally get to meet ‘the Extractor’, played by the terrific Robert Forster. The veteran really perfects the role as a true, aged professional at what he does. Throughout his ‘relationship’ with Walt, he takes no risks whatsoever; only providing his services to Walt because he’s willing to pay extortionate amounts of money.

Despite Walt’s last ditch Heisenberg: “It’s not over til I say it’s over” threat to a forlorn Saul, Goodman bails, Walt choking in the moment due to his ailing condition. It’s proof yet again that at this point, Walt is literally powerless to do anything or influence anybody to do his bidding. Heisenberg is dead in the water, well, in this case, the snow.

Left in a wooden cabin in New Hampshire to fend for himself months at a time, Walter White slowly decomposes in front of our eyes. After one last-ditch attempt to resurrect his meth-lord alter-ego, he decides to postpone venturing into the village down the road, despite the Extractor’s warnings. From here, he slips into a physical and mental downward spiral, the team at Breaking Bad masterfully turning the hate for Walt on its head. You pity him once more. Ravaged with cancer, shedding weight and losing his trademark shaved head, we’re looking at season one’s Walter H. White for one last time.

During a monthly visit from the Extractor, Walt is too weak to even perform his cancer treatment. His barren loneliness causes him to offer his acquaintance $10,000 to stay with him for an extra two hours, pathetic, but yet pitiful.

Realising that one day he will die in the cabin and that the Extractor will probably steal the last of his fortune once that day comes, he ventures into the town to send money to his family. In a devastating phonecall scene, Walt contacts his son, going by the name of Flynn now (obviously). After many tears and failed sentences, Junior snaps, telling his Father to “just die”, an emotional reminder that Walt has nothing, his meth efforts seemingly all for nothing.

Subsequently giving himself up to the DEA, Walt sets himself up for one last drink, minutes away from being arrested, only for a twist in the tale when he notices his ex-business partners, Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz discussing his ‘non-involvement’ in Gray Matter live on national television.  That old Heisenberg glint in Walt’s eye reappears, his pride and ego dented. The tagline of the last episodes of the series is ‘Remember My Name’ and this is definitely a reference. Walt needs to be remembered, his meth empire is in the hands of a group of neo-nazis and now his previous scientific efforts are being discredited nationally. If there ever was a reason to return armed to the teeth to New Mexico, this is it.

As mesmerising and captivating as Bryan Cranston‘s performance was in ‘Granite State’, it was Jesse Plemons and Aaron Paul that really stole the show, in what were some of the most heartbreaking and stomach-churning scenes of the series.

Brilliantly portraying a stone-cold killer that looks like an innocent farmboy, Todd’s smirk when watching Jesse talk about the shooting of Drew Sharp was sickening. Threatening a terrified Skyler in her daughter’s room was tense, but the murder of Jesse’s former girlfriend Andrea was just distressing. Especially watching a tormented Jesse’s reaction, her murder happening because he’d tried to escape Jack’s place moments before. He must be the most tortured character in television history, take a bow Aaron Paul.

The calm before the forthcoming storm, ‘Granite State’ recapped all that had been lost and showed us everything that is going to be fought for, what happens in next week’s finale is anybody’s guess. You can bet that the M60 has Jack’s name on it and maybe even the Schwartz’s.

Cue that Breaking Bad theme music.

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