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Season 4, episode 12: “End Times”

07 Aug

Breaking Bad, 4-12: “End Times”

Opener

Several dark DEA cars arrive at the White house. Inside, Walt and Skyler are packing, though Walt says he’s not going to Hank and Marie’s. “But we’re in danger!”

“Yes, because of me. All that matters is that the rest of you are safe. That’s why I’m not going with you. I’m the real target…Skyler, please trust me. This is how it has to be.”

“But this is protective custody!”

“All they know is that Hank is in danger. They’re including us as a courtesy to Marie, just to keep her happy.”

“How am I going to explain this to Marie, or Hank, or Junior, for that matter?”

“I’ll talk to Hank – you just back me up with everyone else.”

In spite of all he’s put her through, perhaps tempered by guilt over spending the money he needed in this crisis, Skyler still loves and cares about Walt – perhaps more as a member of her “pack” than as her partner now. But, still, the look on her face in this scene – and the look on Walt’s – implies a sad caring and partnership. Unwilling to let him face the danger alone, she says, “No, there’s gotta be another way!”

“There isn’t. There was, but now there isn’t.”

“Walt, how long till you’re safe, till you can work this out?”

“Skyler, I’ve lived under the threat of death for a year now, and because of that I’ve made choices. I alone should suffer the consequences of those choices – no one else. And they’re coming. No more prolonging the inevitable.”

Walt calls Hank, giving the excuse that he needs to run the car wash. “I’m not in any danger. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Hank replies, “This is just a giant jerk-off.”

“Yeah – yeah. But keep your head down anyway.”

Outside, Holly, in a pink cap, cries in her car seat as Walt kisses her, and says, “I know.” Skyler stands outside the car. She and Walt half-look at each other, then she gets in and starts soothing Holly. Two DEA men are in front; this is one of their vehicles.

Scene 1: the Whites’, the Schraders’, the laundry, Saul’s office

We see the Whites’ pool, with a few leaves or some other small pieces of debris floating in it. Walt sits in a chair by the pool and spins his 38 snub on the table. The first two times it ends up pointing toward him, but the third time it points at a white flowering plant at which Walt stares.

Meanwhile, the Schrader home is crawling with DEA agents. Marie and Junior are upset that Walt’s not there, Junior blaming his mom. Marie tries to call Walt, but he doesn’t pick up. “Let’s take this down a notch,” Hank says. He then urges Gomez to investigate the laundry. When Gomie objects that he’d have to get a search warrant, Hank suggests “a good old-fashioned knock and talk.”

Gomez goes to the laundry with a dog and dog handler, and asks Dennis, the laundry manager if he can look around. He makes up a cock and bull story about a chef being busted for heroin who blamed the place that launders his chef whites, and the “chef’s daddy’s a U.S. senator” pressuring the DEA. He adds that if he has to get a warrant, the laundry will be shut down for a day. Dennis reluctantly agrees to a quick search.

“Dennis, we’ll be like the wind!”

The dog sniffs and Gomez takes pictures, while below Jesse and Tyrus stand waiting, unable to make the slightest noise. Later, a laundry truck parks on an empty highway opposite Jesse’s red car, and Jesse gets out of the back of it, implying that he had had to be smuggled into the laundry to get to work. He tries to call Walt, who doesn’t pick up, and notices that there are six messages from Saul, each more urgent than the last.

As Jesse enters Saul’s office, Huell pats him down, to his surprise and annoyance. “So. What’s so important?”

“They’re here, kid. End times.” Saul opens his safe and starts getting Jesse’s money out.

“What’s that mean? Why the hell did you drag me down here?”

“You want your money, don’tcha?”

“That couldn’t wait?”

“I’m hittin’ the road – don’t like my heat so hot…You didn’t talk to your partner, did you?”

“Not since last night. Today, he didn’t show up to work, and the DEA just happened to, like, raid us. Some coincidence, huh?”

“All I know is when he told me his employer took him out in the desert and threatened to murder his entire family, I should have – ”

“What are you talking about? When did that happen?”

“I don’t know – forget it. Would you do me a favor? Would you put in a good word for me with Fring, just for old time’s sake? I can’t afford to butter the wrong bread here.”

Jesse grabs his money and leaves.

Scene 2: Jesse’s, the hospital, the Whites’

Jesse, at home when his phone buzzes. “Hey, what’s up? Hey! Hey! What’s wrong with him? What hospital?”

Jesse embraces Andrea at the hospital. “It’s like the flu,” she cries, “but it keeps getting worse! I don’t understand – he was just fine this morning.”

A nurse enters the area and tells Andrea that Brock’s been taken to “pediatric ICU…Sir, you’re the boy’s father?”

“No…Go! I’ll be here.”

When Jesse goes outside to smoke a cigarette, he notices that the ricin cigarette is missing from the pack. Frantically, he dumps out all the cigarettes out onto the sidewalk, breaking each of them in half. Then he runs back into the hospital and through a series of doors. “Andrea!” He pulls her back with him to the waiting area. “Brock may have been poisoned, okay? There’s this stuff called ricin – sounds like rice. You need to tell the doctors about it!”

“Why would you say that?”

“Just tell them – it’s a guess. Ricin – they’ll know what you’re talking about! I gotta go see someone!”

“Jesse!”

“Tell them – now! Just do it!”

Walt’s sitting on the couch with his gun in his hand when Jesse knocks on the door at Casa Blanca. “What do you want?” Walt asks through the door.

“We need to talk.”

“Who’s with you?”

“No one, just me. Let me in.”

Walt moves a table, braced against the door, opens it, and looks beyond Jesse. Then he pulls him inside, and shuts and re-locks the door. “I don’t know what you’re thinking coming here. Oh, Christ – what does it matter? Everything – it’s all coming to an end!” Jesse stands there, looking at Walt, intently. “Do you know what’s happening – the whole scope of what’s happening? They put a hood over my head and rode me out into the desert. On my knees, they threatened me and my family, and not just Hank – my wife, my children! It’s a matter of time now.” Walt sits down on the couch, while Jesse remains standing ten feet away. “I was able to protect them for now, but Gus is gonna make his move.” Walt’s set his gun down on a pillow beside him.

There are sounds outside, and Walt gets up to peek out the windows. “I don’t know when – I don’t know where or how – ” Jesse moves toward the couch while Walt’s back is turned, and picks up the gun. “All I know is, it’s gonna happen,” Walt says, turning back toward Jesse, head lowered. When he looks up, Jesse’s pointing the gun at him. “What are you doing?”

“Why did you do it? Why?”

“Jesse – Gus gave me no choice. I had to call the DEA to protect my family. What else could I do?”

“No, you son-of-a-bitch! You know what you did!”

“Just put the gun down, just put it down,” Walt says, placatingly, gingerly moving toward Jesse. “We’ll talk, okay? Tell me what it is you think I did.”

Brock! Why did you poison him?”

“What?”

“You saw him in my living room last night! You came to my door and you looked right at him! Don’t tell me you don’t know him!”

“The boy…Jesse, I have no idea who these people are! Okay…Brock – and he was poisoned…”

“The ricin! He’s dying, because someone gave it to him! And you and I were the only two people on earth who knew about it!” Jesse still has the gun pointed at Walt.

“No, wait a minute…Wait a minute…Maybe he went into your pockets, and – ”

No! I had the cigarette with the ricin in my pocket this morning! The last time I saw Brock was last night! This morning I switched the cigarette into a new pack. There’s no way Brock took it himself!”

“Listen, you’re not thinking clearly. You said it yourself – you had it this morning. Then when could I have possibly gotten it?”

Jesse’s about to cry. “You had Saul do it! Yeah, yeah! I went to his office. He called me – he had to see me today. This big man – his bodyguard – patted me down. That’s when he must have stolen it off of me, right? That’s the plan? Was that the plan?”

“Jesse. Why in God’s name would I poison a child?”

To get back at me! Because I’m helping Gus! And this is your way of ripping my heart out before you’re gone! Just admit it! Admit what you did!”

“I did not do this.”

Shut up!” Jesse pushes Walt down on the floor and stands over him with the gun. “Stop lying!”

“I’m not lying! Just listen to me. What would I have to gain? What possible…Who would…Oh, my God!” We hear the heartbeat drum that presaged Walt’s breakdown in “Crawl Space.”

Jesse says, “Hey!” and Walt falls over, laughing. “Stop laughing!” The heartbeat continues.

Then Walt sits up. “I have been waiting, I’ve been waiting all day. Waiting for Gus to send one of his men to kill me. And it’s you! Who do you know who’s okay with using children, Jesse? Who do you know who’s allowed children to be murdered, hmm? Gus! He has been ten steps ahead of me at every turn, and now the one thing he needed to finally get rid of me is your consent. And, boy, he’s got that now! And not only does he have that, but he manipulated you into pulling the trigger for him!”

Walt is so sincere here that either Brock’s poisoning – with what turns out to be lily of the valley berries – is a coincidence or our “hero” is a consummate actor. If Brock’s poisoning isn’t a coincidence, Walt’s also an amazing plotter and executor of a plot, at a time when he’s under severe stress. He had to steal Jesse’s ricin cigarette and somehow get the Brock to ingest lily of the valley berries. We have few to no believable hints as to how all this was done, and it’s so important to the plot and to the character studies of Walt and Jesse that it better be further illuminated in the final eight episodes – hopefully, along with Jesse finding out about it. If it’s a coincidence, and Brock just happened to find some lily of the valley berries on his own and eat them at this critical juncture, it would be the first time, to my knowledge, that a TV show gave false hints of responsibility (Walt looking at the potted flower in his patio area after spinning his gun to point at it, and a shot of the plant again at the end of the next episode).

Now Jesse, still pointing Walt’s own gun at him, says, “You and I were the only ones who knew about the ricin.”

“No,” Walt responds. “You don’t even believe that. Gus has cameras placed everywhere! Listen to yourself. No, he has known everything all along. Where were you today? In the lab? And you don’t think it’s possible that Tyrus lifted the cigarette out of your locker? Come on! Don’t you see? You are the last piece of the puzzle. You are everything that he wanted. You’re the cook, and you have proven that you can run the lab without me. And now that cook has reason to kill me.” Jesse’s beginning to listen to Walt. “Think about it! He’s brilliant! So go ahead…Go ahead. If you think I am capable of doing this, go ahead!” Walt grabs the gun and pulls it toward his forehead. “Put a bullet in my head, and kill me right now!”

Jesse’s face tells us he’ll never be able to kill anyone in cold blood again, unless he’s absolutely sure they threaten or have harmed a child or someone he loves. Walt puts his hands down. “Do it! Do it!”

“I’ll do it!”

“Do it!”

Jesse’s hand wavers. He groans, and lowers the gun, panting and half-crying with emotion. When he turns to leave, Walt says, “Where you goin’?”

“I’m gonna find that son-of-a-bitch, and I’m gonna kill him!”

“No! Don’t! He’ll see you coming. You’ll die before you get anywhere near him.”

“I don’t care.”

“Jesse.” Walt puts his hand on Jesse’s arm, “dad” again. “Jesse, just get in your car. Just go – just drive!”

“No! I’m going to do this, one way or another, Mr. White!” Jesse’s still breathing heavily.

“Then let me help.” Partners again, at least for now against Gus.

Scene 3: the hospital, Walt’s place

Brock lies unconscious in the pediatric ICU, breathing through a tube. We hear a machine beeping – he’s still alive, but barely. We see Jesse, and hear a nurse say, “Mr. Pinkman, I’m not going to keep telling you! Unless the family wants you in there, you’re not allowed. You can’t keep coming in here like this. You hear me?”

We see Andrea and her mother by Brock’s bed, wearing gowns and masks. “Mr. Pinkman, I’m gonna call security. All right, here I go…Come on now, Mr. Pinkman – final warning.” Jesse goes.

We see time passing outside the hospital, then Jesse asleep in a chair in the waiting area. Tyrus comes in and knocks him over, saying, “You need to be at work – now.”

“I’m not going.”

“You’ve got a batch that will be ruined, and an employer who will be very upset if that happens.”

“I could give a shit. I’m not leaving here. And if my employer has a problem with that, he can tell me himself.” Tyrus grabs Jesse and pulls him out of his chair. “Hey, call security!” Jesse shouts. “I’m being attacked!” Tyrus leaves.

Meanwhile, Walt’s cookin’ up an IED, a pot of blue gunk bubbling on the stove. He tests the radio transmitter sparking device, which works, then receives a text message from Jesse: “Think I got the attention.” Drumming at a heartbeat rate gets faster and faster.

Gus’s car is in the hospital parking garage. Jesse’s just outside the ICU door when Tyrus comes up behind him to tell him the boss wants to speak with him. They meet in the hospital chapel.

Gus: “Tyrus told me what’s happening – a sick child. I understand your preoccupation, but, Jesse, we’re running a business. I need you to go back to the lab and complete the cook.”

Jesse refuses, saying “That little boy upstairs is dying. I can’t be away, if something happens.” Gus says he’s sorry and offers to do whatever he can as a member of the hospital board. Jesse says, “He’s not sick. He was poisoned.”

“How did that happen?”

“The doctors don’t know.”

Gus takes a deep breath and lets it out. Acknowledging that the current batch is probably ruined anyway, he tells Jesse to “stay with the boy and start a new batch when you’re ready to return.” Gus puts his hands on Jesse’s shoulders as if he’s going to embrace him, but Jesse gives him a look like a cat that’s about to hiss. Gus drops his hands, and says, “Next week.”

Hiding behind a wall in a parking area on top of a building across the way, Walt watches through binoculars as Gus and his two henchmen return to the parking garage. Radio device in hand, he urges his nemesis to keep going, but Gus stops 30 feet from the car. When he looks across at Walt’s building, Walt drops his head, perhaps too late, as he has his glasses, which reflect sunlight, on top of his head. Drums play a slow march that increases in tempo, as Gus finally decides to leave without getting in his car. The music spirals down, and Walt sits on the pavement and leans his head against the wall.

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