Breaking Bad: Season 5 Episode 15: “Granite State” Recap

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Bloody hell! Walt and Jesse find themselves in their own personal purgatory in the second to last episode of Breaking Bad ever.

Continue Reading for my spoiler filled thoughts and reaction to Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 15 “Granite State”.

Firstly, hats off to Breaking Bad for taking home the 2013 Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series and to Anna Gunn for Outstanding Supporting Actress! Just a hunch … there’ll be more Emmy awards for Breaking Bad next year!

Okay, we made it to the penultimate episode! Granite State is a methodically paced, emotionally draining episode. It’s been described as the calm before the storm but that would discount the incredible character work and a very unsettling act of violence in this episode.

Breaking Bad has consistently excelled at portraying the emotional authenticity of Walt and Jesse throughout the series. Each turn of events are given sufficient time to resonate with the viewer as painful and distressing as it may be. I rarely if ever feel cheated that these character’s action are dictated by the plot, because it’s what they feel, think and believe that drives their decision-making process.

As much as I want to jump ahead to Walt with the M60 and ricin capsule, we haven’t earned that moment until now. This is why I greatly appreciate “Granite State”, because Walt’s state of mind is intricately depicted with fine, delicate brush strokes. This is the episode I needed to get me to the flash forward time point.

Ozymandias represented the inevitable downfall of Heisenberg as well as Jesse hitting rock bottom. Jesse’s a badly beaten, chained slave while Walt lost everything that he valued. Little did I know, in Granite State both Walt and Jesse go deeper, darker down the spiral. Some where like purgatory.

Because of the flash forwards, we know Walt wouldn’t take Saul’s advice to “face the music” for the sake of his family, but it does show how angry and defiant he still is. At this point beneath the vacuum store, Walt wants vengeance. “It’s not over!” as he puts it. The remainder of the episode slowly disintegrates whatever will or resolve he has left in the tank to the point where’s he’s resigned to turning himself in.

There’s a great moment where Walt puts on Heisenberg’s pork pie hat like he’s coming back with a vengeance when in-fact he’s utterly powerless. He can’t walk through the gate which is actually the smart thing to do. He’s in his own prison. To add insult to injury, he’s completely isolated, without freedom, dying and physically deteriorated. Can he get much lower than paying $10,000 for a little human interaction?

Walt’s final breaking point is the phone call to Junior. Providing for his family is how he justified getting into the meth business, and his final wish is to send some money that’s been in the barrel. RJ Mitte (Junior) had little screen time earlier in the season but these last two episodes he’s nailed both of his crucial scenes. “Just Die!”is pretty much like ripping out Walt’s heart and stomping on it.

My memory is a little hazy but this scene is the first time I remember Walt admitting his crimes are wrong. This is different from Walt listing the people he’s killed in”To’hajiilee” because he rationalized it by saying he did it for Jesse. But when Junior accuses him of killing Uncle Hank and as much as he wants to explain, he can’t deny he’s essentially responsible for Hank’s death.

Walt no longer can see himself as a hero or the great Heisenberg, certainly not after kidnapping Holly. He’s realizes the pain and destruction he’s put forth into the world. In an earlier recap, I mentioned I didn’t Walt to be redeemed by an act of self-sacrifice in the finale. This was mainly because in order to receive some sort of absolution, I believe Walt needs to first confess his sins. Walt can never make up for what he’s done, but if the writers plan to end on a note of redemption his admittance eases some of my trepidation. I don’t know … I don’t think the writers will go in that direction though.

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So here’s my thoughts on the final scene but I want preface it by saying I only watched it once and haven’t read other people’s thoughts on it yet, so anyone is welcome to correct me if they feel differently.

When Walt called the police and left the phone off the hook, he wanted the call to be traced and get caught. But watching the Charlie Rose television interview changed his mind.

Walt has completely lost everything including the respect of his son, empire, dignity, freedom, and identity. He’s no longer Heisenberg or even Walter White. He’s “Mr. Lambert” from New Hampshire which is nothingness. Watching his former business partners at Gray Matter Technologies talk about how the former sweet Walter White is gone and all he ever contributed to the company is his name [ie. White + Schwartz which means black in German = Gray] triggers something within Walt .

Now he’s also learned that Heisenberg’s trademark blue meth is back on the market. Although he may hypothesize Jesse is still alive and cooking meth it’s not the reason why he’s decided to go back to New Mexico. I think it’s because his identity is being erased or wiped out. First his name “White” is taken away as reminded by Gray Matter and then his signature blue meth no longer belongs to him.

If there’s a motto Walt goes by its “Remember My Name”. It’s his pride, ego, and identity. It’s fairly logically to assume from the flash forwards that he’s going out guns blazing and it’s going to be spectacular! He’s going to reclaim what is his and who he’s become, which will be his final form of transformation. The lyric, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away” comes to mind.

09

Okay, let’s talk about Jesse briefly. I cheered during Jesse’s escape attempt only to say Oh shit! Damn those neo-Nazis! “Go ahead, do it! There’s no way I’m doing one more cook for your psycho f*cks!” Jesse wants to be shot right then and there but there’s a fate worse than death for him. It’s knowing his actions took the life of Andrea. Like Walt, he’s trapped in hell.

The first sign of trouble is Todd showing his face to Andrea on her door step. Unlike wearing a mask on his surprise visit (ie. threat) to Skyler, he had no qualms about revealing his appearance to Andrea. That could only mean he had no intention of letting Andrea live. Her death is brutal and ruthless. What bothers me most is that she’s an innocent like Drew Sharp and this leaves Brock an orphan. Poor Brock, poor Jessie.

I have more thoughts on Saul, Todd, Lydia, the new character played by Robert Forster and not enough Marie, but I don’t think I’ll be able to recap every story beat in this super sized episode. As always, I deeply appreciate everyone’s comments so feel free to discuss anything I missed or whatever’s on your mind.

However, I do have some parting thoughts and some crackpot predictions for the finale. There’s so much ground to cover in Breaking Bad’s last episode titled “Felina”. Maybe I’m greedy but I would love a 2 hour finale. Will 75 minutes be enough? But I have complete confidence in executive producer Vince Gilligan … this is going to be crazy!

My hope is that Jesse will take out Todd. I need that to happen. Lydia orchestrated the threat on Skyler but I think that’s a mistake that’ll come back to bite her. Uncle Jack and crew will be taken out by Walt. I hope Jesse will survive the finale but Walt is not going to make it and it’ll be of his own doing. I don’t want Jesse to kill Walt. As much as Walt has lost everything, I don’t believe his karmic retribution is paid in full yet. Walt should eat the ricin. Yummy! 🙂

What is your favorite moment from “Granite State”? Who will get the ricin? What’s your predictions and hopes for the finale?

More Posts You Might Like:

Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 14 “Ozymandias” Review

Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 13 “To’hajiilee” Review

Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 12 “Rabid Dog” Review

Breaking Bad Season 5 Episode 11 “Confessions” Review

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About Eddie@Jaccendo

Movies, TV shows, comics, and video game news & review.

Posted on September 23, 2013, in Breaking Bad, Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Interesting last paragraph there, I had a thought last night after watching the episode that the ricin might just be for Walt. Anyway, I’m still reeling, I’m almost fearful of the finale, like I can’t wait to see it, but I’m also terrified of it, lol. Weird, huh? I have no clue what is going to happen, all of my theories are gone out the window now. Lydia not only orchestrated the threat against Skyler, she was unhappy that Skyler was actually left alive. This could be a big mistake on her part. I do hope that Jesse gets to exact his revenge on Todd. My heart broke at Walt’s phone call to Junior, I continue to feel sympathy for Walt, I really don’t know why.

    I think 75 minutes will be a good running time for the last episode, though, like you, I would have preferred more. Nice recap as always!

    • I’m anxious for the finale. A part of it is because I’m hoping for a great conclusion to the story and finding out the fate of all the characters but there’s a chance I’m going to be let down. I do have faith in the writers; this has been an amazing run of episodes and I’m coming to terms that it’s going to be over. Maybe it’s not so weird to be terrified and excited for the finale? These last episodes are emotionally devastating and it’s so hard to predict what might happen. If anyone is rooting for Jesse, it’s going to be a nail biter because I really have no idea if he’ll make it out alive. I hope so.

      That’s a great point about Lydia. She does want to tie up loose ends ie. Skyler. I hope somebody gets to her before she gets to Skyler. I feel sympathy for Walt too; I think it’s due to great writing and acting that I don’t completely despise him.

      I’m thankful for the bonus 15 minutes on top of the regular 60. As always, it’s great discussing BrBa with you!

  2. Hey man cracking review. Me and my mate watched this the other night and this was a crazy episode. While I’d say it was a lot tamer than the last 2 episodes, this episode had a very cruel, dark and twisted nature. Everyone is suffering and its slow and painful. Walt’s life is just nothing, he’s got nothing now, just chilling in a cabin in the middle of nowhere. When his son said he wanted him dead, that was pretty much it. Walt’s life has totally gone down the shitter. The moment that stood out with him was when Walt tried to intimidate Saul and then he started coughing his guts out, he doesn’t even have the power to be badass coz of his deteriorating health.

    And of course there’s Jesse, Jesus! Poor guy, he made his escape only to eventually get caught and then have to witness Andrea getting killed. That just killed me inside. I dunno if he really has any emotional or physical energy to take Todd out but I guess I he did that’d be awesome.

    As for what will happen in the last episode, I don’t even know. I just want a satisfying conclusion. Can’t wait for this Sunday, its gonna be one epic night for TV!

    • Hey Hypersonic55! Very nicely said. This episode is so cruel, dark and twisted but tamer when compared to the shootout cliffhanger episode. Yeah, the cabin in the middle of nowhere is his prison and punishment. He still has millions of dollars but it’s useless. For a moment I thought he was going to put a bundle of cash into the furnace/stove. When Walt tried to threaten Saul he basically choked on his words showing how weak he truly is, that a good point you brought up.

      Because an element of this show is about karma, it would be poetic if Jesse got rid of Todd. After all, Todd shot the kid Drew Sharp and now Andrea; both of which crushed Jesse. I’m not sure if Jesse can pull it together in time but I’ll be cheering him on!

      It’s so hard to guess what will happen. Making predictions is a good way to make myself look silly haha. Yeah man, it going to be epic! I think Twitter and other sites are going to explode on Sunday night! 😉

  3. You’ll hate my guts for this, but I’m fed up with Skyler’s hysterics and Crutchy-Boy’s pouty tirade at Walt. Walt Jr. is simply unbelievable — naive, goody-goody, massively irritating. He came across as mad at Dad because all the toys have been taken away, Mom’s barely making ends meet, and “Uncle Hank” is dead. Uncle Hank was a pompous ass and more concerned about getting even with Walt for punkin’ him all those years than proving Walt was breaking the law. Nothing Hank did or found would stand up in court, but the fool couldn’t wait to go running out into the desert with zero backup in pursuit of a man he knew was capable of murder. An experienced DEA agent would NOT do that with just one other agent at his side and a single shotgun. Well, Hank won’t be making that mistake again.
    Skyler needs a good bitch-slapping. She KNEW the penalties for what she and Walt were doing; why didn’t the two of them have a “worst case” plan in place before it all went to hell? Skyler wasted too many brain cells listening to Hank, who was obviously going to sell her out first chance he got (“Don’t call a lawyer!”) and her dippy, brainless sister who couldn’t wait to kidnap the little girl. BTW, it was the DEA who tore up Hank and Marie’s house, not Walt’s neo-Nazi hit men.
    These people were a case study in falling apart under pressure. For a group who were not using the meth Walt cooked up, they certainly acted like they were tweaked to the max.
    Of all the characters, I’d say Jesse is the most likeable now that Mike’s dead. That boy has a streak of luck a mile wide — he’s still alive and (relatively) healthy in spite of the freaks, tweakers and homicidal psychos he encounters. After everything he’s gone through you’d think he’d finally learn not to act on impulse, but that escape from the cage in the last episode (Granite State) was one of the dumbest moves he’s made. Too bad the young mother had to die for his bad judgement.
    The final episode: Before Walt dies of lung cancer, he’ll use his connection with Gray Matter Technologies to help him eliminate the neo-Nazis (less Todd), recover the rest of his money and get it to Skyler, Crutchy-Boy and the baby so they could relocate in another country. Marie will learn the DEA believes Hank was involved with Walt’s meth business and will not help her financially. Jesse is a tortured soul who can’t learn from past mistakes — sadly, people like that rarely survive to be 30. I suspect he’ll commit suicide if he’s not killed with the neo-Nazi gang. Lydia and Todd will attempt to take over Walt’s meth empire, only to encounter either the DEA or a new batch of drug-addled sociopaths who will quickly kill the two of them off. They won’t last as long as Walt because they’re simply not as smart.
    This has been a marvelous series — one of television’s very best. What we learned: If you’re going to do something highly illegal, be oh, so careful who you do business with.

    • Hey, nice to hear a different perspective even if I happen to see some things differently.

      One difference between the death of Andrea and Hank is that Hank is not an “innocent”. He was willing to throw Jesse into harms way. In the end, Hank got corrupted by the cancer that is Walt White. You’re right, he wanted to beat Walt at his own game more than upholding the law. He didn’t report Walt and could have handed over the investigation to the DEA. If he did, he would have lost his job and other consequences but he’d be alive.

      Marie did bitch slap Skyler in episode 510 but I’m guessing you were hoping it was a closed fist? Haha. All these characters are terribly flawed, make poor judgement and are morally corrupt. I don’t know why I find them so compelling. Perhaps it’s because we are vicariously “breaking bad” along with them?

      I was thinking last night how Gray Matter might come into play in the finale. I really don’t know but I can’t wait to find out. Yeah, this is a marvelous show! I think the show is a warning not to “break bad”. 🙂

  4. GREAT review! I really like how you emphasized the importance of the episode in leading up to the finale and the character work that was accomplished in “Granite State.” It’s easy to lose sight of that because it was such a quieter episode than the week before, but still so important to the overall story. All the characters are at really low points here. Anxious to see how it all turns out on Sunday, but kinda scared and dreading it too!

    ~EJ

    • I’m also anxious but more excited than scared … about the finale that is. 🙂 I love the character work, it’s so brilliant. Yeah, all the characters are really at their low points. I liked how you mentioned in your review that everybody is worse off than before Walt started cooking meth to help his family. Wow, it’s coming to end …

  1. Pingback: Breaking Bad Episode 515 “Granite State” | Emilia Jordan

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