How Breaking Bad Will End

Sunday, September 29th, 2013 Writing

I dislike the “Mystery” genre (although I love “Crime” fiction) because I don’t like the implicit double-blind game with the author: of course it’s not the butler, not because the clues don’t point that direction but because that’s too obvious; the killer has to be the character whom even the seasoned mystery aficionado would never guess. Sometimes the obvious solution is correct, because the author understood that those jaded readers would never make such a banal guess. I hate all this; the apparatus of fiction should, in my opinion, not be interrupted by mental Mexican Standoffs with the author and the imaginary typical reader.

But Vince Gilligan has somehow managed to get me back around to enjoying this game of strategically exploited (and reversed) expectations. The final eight-episode run of Breaking Bad has been an elaborate, ingenious, intensely exciting game of anticipated moves and last-minute, perverse surprises that precisely overturn the presumed magic trick for which the props have been laid out. Seven of the eight episodes have aired (incorporating the second of two incredibly provocative flash-forwards, the gamesmanship of which has paid off beautifully, so far), bringing us to the absolute final cliffhanger (and, for the first time, the show’s actual theme music appearing as a final incidental motif before the curtain rises for the last time, Sunday night).

So what’s going to happen? Here’s how I see it (based on my above-outlined understanding of Gilligan’s neo-Agatha-Christie trickery): First, yes, the loaded M60 is for the neo-Nazis. From the moment that Uncle Jack forced Walt to shake hands over Hank’s fresh corpse, that was clear. Walt is going to mow them down, and it’s going to be very satisfying in a Peckinpah sense (while misleading). Second, there’s not a doubt in my mind that Jesse, freed by Walt in the bloodbath I just described, will kill Todd. The “twist” will be that he will appear to refrain from doing it…and will suddenly, surprisingly go through with it in a “Jack Ruby” fashion that will damn him (Jesse) to facing a full-on first-degree-murder rap and, essentially, a doomed fugitive life. I think Walter will die, and I think that either Skyler, Walt Jr., or both of them will be responsible. Somebody’s falling on a knife, or at some point a shot will ring out and everyone will freeze: Walt will look down and see the blood flowing from his abdomen and he’ll have time to say “Skyler…?” before he collapses to the floor. Skyler will go to prison (and Ted Beneke will prepare to testify against her in a surprise re-appearance).

So who’s the ricin for? Nobody. Walt might entertain vague plans of getting near the Schwartzes with it, but none of that will happen…and his visit to the fenced-off, gutted house (“Hello, Carol”) to retrieve the vial will in and of itself spur the endgame into play, as Carol calls the cops and the remaining characters converge.

Marie will somehow avoid all of this and end up renouncing her sister at a crucial moment, selling her purple-crayon house and moving away…and, yet, somehow, her shoplifting will come back to haunt her (I’m a little unclear on this part). The Heisenberg “confession” DVD will successfully cast doubts on Hank, who will end up taking the Heisenberg rap after all. We’ll get a final amusing glimpse of Saul Goodman in New Hampshire, advancing himself in his new job as an ambitious, up-and-coming Kinko’s manager on the move. Walter White is buried with none of his family in attendance.

None of Hank’s and Gomez’ evidence ever sees the light of day: the “Heisenberg” legend remains one of the great rumors of the world of criminal notoriety. Finally, newly-on-the-lam Jesse Pinkman, his tattered soul parboiled by the events of the final episodes, puts on the porkpie hat and approaches Lydia to re-start the blue meth business. He has the final words of the series, speaking to her, pale eyes blazing: “Let’s cook.” The gods of irony are appeased. You heard it here first.