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Breaking Bad Season 4 finale

Back in about 2008, I canceled my cable television account and never looked back. No regrets. This has resulted in me watching next to no television, with the exception of, say, Ancient Aliens. Or Ghost Adventures. On an iPad. But that’s about it. Zero. Totally off the grid when it comes to the hot shows of recent years. Sopranos, no. The Wire, no. Lost, no. Mad Men, Walking Dead, Downton Abbey, nope, none of it. Hell, I don’t even know the difference between Six Feet Under and Arrested Development. All I know is that one of ’em has Jason Bateman.

That said…

A week ago I thought it’d be a decent idea to curl up with the iPad and and sort of graze over the entire landscape of what I’ve been missing, watching the pilot of each of the big ones. With no commitments. Just sort of take a peek at everything and see what the fuss was all about. So I fired up Netflix Instant, and started with the first season of Breaking Bad. Always heard great things about that show, and several people have recommended it to me, declaring that it’d be up my alley as a writer.

At maybe 4:47AM that night, I watched the final episode of Season 1. Whole season, one sitting. Haven’t pulled a stunt like that since the DVD of the first season of 24.

breaking bad walter whiteI was obviously a fan of the show by the end of that night. And I can remember exactly what it was that hooked me: the scene in Pinkman’s basement when Walt realized there was a missing shard from the broken plate. Aha! Smart show. I also loved the thematic stuff that each episode had. Almost too good. Came across as heavy-handed at times. But the setups and payoffs kept me on my toes. Really fun to watch.

Suddenly committed to the Breaking Bad experience and invested in Walter White’s journey, I moved forward with Season 2. It got predictably soapy at times, as did Season 3, but Walt’s core desire kept me hanging on. I also understand that this series will have a definite end, making for a contained six-season tale, so, you know, count me in. I love good story endings.

I just wrapped Season 4, and have been discussing it with fellow fans who’ve gone before me. The discussion begins with a question I have about the ending, and ultimately a problem I have with the logic. So, for the record, and for further discussion, here goes.


In the final episode of Season 4, it’s revealed that Walt poisoned young Brock with the Lily of the Valley plant. Talk about a bombshell! Walt’s downward spiral is accelerating, and as Season 4 ends, he has irreversibly crossed a major line in his journey from Timid Good Guy to Bona fide Badass Motherfucker. Walt has officially broken bad, and we’re all shuddering. What kind of man would poison a 10-year-old kid? Or, more accurately, how could our beloved Walt be such a man?

But my question is this:

Why would Walt think that Jesse would think that Gus would poison Brock?

I realize you probably feel like you need a protractor and some scratch paper to fully comprehend that question, but follow me closely. Here it is again:

Why would Walt think that Jesse would think that Gus would poison Brock?

In my discussion with fellow BB fans, the consensus is that, in not so many words, “Walt’s turned into a bad guy; he’s crossed the line, and his ego is overshadowing his original intentions, and he’s becoming evil, and…”

Yada yada yada. I get all that. Somebody’s even put together a video attempting to explain the final episode. And while I’m totally on board with the result of the Lily reveal, I have a serious problem with its setup. The logic doesn’t work, from what I remember watching.


Why would Walt think that Jesse would think that Gus would poison Brock?

Recall that in the last couple episodes of Season 4, things are coming to a head, and Walt’s priority is KILLING GUS. Remember? Walt believes Gus has put a hit on Hank, and subsequently the rest of his family. So Walt has been trying to persuade Jesse get close to Gus and poison him with the ricin-tainted cigarette. When Walt learns that Jesse’s refused to go through with the deed, he finds himself at the end of his rope, resorting to explosives. (Which ultimately work, I should add.)

But let’s back up.

Walt’s pissed off at Jesse for not having the balls to kill Gus. Walt pleads with Jesse, reminding him that Gus has already killed the kid on the bike, and has slit throats of people with boxcutters. Walt reminds Jesse that Gus is a monster, and that they are ultimately going to DIE if they don’t kill him first. Him or us, in the spirit of any good western.

Still with me? Good. Now:

This is where we can deduce that Walt resorted to poisoning young Brock. I think Walt’s logic is supposed to be that if he poisons Brock, he can use some smoke and mirrors to manipulate Jesse into thinking that Gus poisoned Brock. And if Jesse believes Gus poisoned Brock, then Jesse would finally be convinced that Gus is a monster, and Jesse would therefore turn his allegiance back to Walt.

↑ Right?

Not so much, in my opinion. This logic has major holes.

First, if Jesse hasn’t seen enough to realize Gus is a monster capable of killing him, then Walt should realize that a poisoned Brock isn’t gonna change that. Remember, Gus has already got the blood of another kid on his hands, and Jesse knows it. Yet Jesse isn’t doing anything. So why on Earth would a poisoned Brock make a difference? (SIDENOTE: This problem is amplified by what I consider a grossly undeveloped relationship between Jesse and Brock. That whole relationship makes no sense, and is not consistent with the Jesse character. Think about it. He’s, what, been mourning Jane for two months and now is hooking up with some random rehabbing single mom and her kid? Where’d these bloated priorities come from? I mean, the dude’s sponsoring four-day meth benders in his house, disregarding everything, completely reckless, yet somehow he feels like a surrogate father to this Brock kid. How so? ANOTHER SIDENOTE: This problem could’ve been minimized if the Brock character had a primal connection to Jesse, justifying Jesse’s emotional attachment. Perhaps the Brock character should’ve been transferred to Jesse’s little brother. Or maybe Brock’s an illegitimate son Jesse didn’t realize he had. In any case, the contrived nature of Brock’s attachment to Jesse is a failure in authenticity.)

Second, I don’t recall seeing that Gus had a problem with Brock. Hell, did Gus even know about him? I don’t think so. Once the kid was poisoned at the hospital, Gus met with Jesse in the chapel, discussing the status of the current batch. When Jesse said he had to stay with the kid, there was no indication that Gus knew which kid he was talking about. (SIDENOTE: This problem could’ve perhaps been remedied if we’d seen Gus getting angry about Jesse’s connection to the boy, and how it was affecting business. Perhaps Gus should’ve witnessed Jesse taking the kid to the arcade or something, with the current batch of crystal getting ruined as a result. Then have Walt learn of Gus’ animosity. Set it up. Show don’t tell.)

So once again:

Why would Walt think that Jesse would think that Gus would poison Brock?

I still can’t answer that question myself. Which brings me to another question:

Why did Walt believe Jesse was the only way for Gus to be killed?

Come on, Walt. You’re a resourceful dude. You’ve also got Saul in your corner. Money isn’t much of an object. So why not just go old-school and have Gus assassinated? How hard can it be? You know where Gus lives. You know where he works. You have access to his car. I know it’s a long shot, but maybe it’s time to cook up some homemade explosives in the microwave and set up a booby trap. Oh, wait…

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