After a string of jaw-dropping Breaking Bad episodes, the explosiveness and tension of "End Times" shouldn't have been a surprise. But it was. Just when you think Breaking Bad has no more gears, nothing left in the tank, it busts out with a series of unexpected twists. I guess you could say Breaking Bad is like Gus, always 10 moves ahead.
The first half of the episode is spent on Walt's funeral march. Everyone in the know--Walt, Skyler, Saul--have conceded that Walt is pretty much a goner. At the same time, Gomez checks out the laundry and finds nothing, but it obviously adds to the notion that Walt is at the center of Gus's problems. Even more depressing, Walt spins his gun and it points towards him, spins it again and it points towards him. But he spins it once more and the gun finally points away, towards a pot instead. Who is the pot?
The second half of the episode hits a level of ballsiness as Brock is in the hospital, ill from something unknown. I was a little confused at first until I remembered reading how the ricin cigarette would play an important role later on, and indeed it did. This spurs Jesse to action, confronting Walt. After all, Walt was the only other person who knew about the cigarette. Jesse pulls Walt's gun on him and is prepared to shoot. In yet another amazing speech/plea, Walt sets out the compelling case that it was not him but Gus who poisoned Brock. Yes, Bryan Cranston is fucking good.
Jesse goes from wanting Walt dead to wanting Gus dead, and a plan is set in motion. Jesse lures Gus to the hospital while Walt puts a bomb in his car. Gus gets closer and closer to the car, Walt looks through his binoculars, preparing to push the button. But Gus stops, looks around, and backs away. Somehow, Gus has enough instinct to realize something is wrong. This should be the end of the road for Walt, the last ditch attempt having failed.
Okay, so I have some complains/hesitations about this episode, or more specifically the ricin. Gus finding out about the ricin, poisoning Brock with it, and expecting Jesse to kill Walt sounds a little too far-fetched. Walt made a compelling case to Jesse while his life was on the line, but the scheme sounds awfully convoluted once you look past Bryan Cranston's persuasiveness. It seems too much like a Rube Goldberg plot where a series of events starting from an precise beginning leads to a precise ending. Maybe there will be a better explanation next week when the dust settles.
With the season finale next week and then a whole season after that, Breaking Bad still has plenty of story left to tell. But the noose tightens around Walt and it seems more and more improbably that he'll ever get out of Gus's grasp. Even if Walt does not, the season finale promises to be a great episode, with all the plots and schemes converging.