Heh Heh. The Breaking Bad Finale Was Called “Face Off.” Get It?

Just so everyone knows, when I write those Sunday columns that go in the paper, I write them on Thursdays. This one, actually, I had to write on Wednesday. After that, I have no control of what happens.

i'm sorry frank! i didn't mean to be behind on the news!

i'm sorry grimey! i didn't mean to be behind on the news!

So if you read Sunday’s column and thought, “Wait, didn’t I hear that The Simpsons contract thing had been settled???” you were right. But by then, it’s already on the page and gone. Plus, I didn’t even find about the contract settlement until today even though it happened on Friday night. I was a little bit out of the loop this weekend.

So sorry about that. It’s the risk we run. I was for sures the Simpsons thing was going to run into the winter, so I decided it should be safe to talk about it for a Sunday piece. My bad. I’ll use better judgement in the future.

Anyway, we’re all Breaking Bad this afternoon after last night’s finale. If that doesn’t interest you, I’ll be back with links tomorrow, come on back then. If that does interest you and you still haven’t watched the finale, STOP READING NOW!!! Seriously, stop. Watch it and come back. I’m about to spoil the ending.

Are we safe? Good. Breaking Bad finale review time …

stop pointing that thing at me walt. i'm not scared of you.

stop pointing that thing at me walt. i'm not scared of you.

My wife and I have a problem when we watch TV and movies. At least 80 percent of the time, I know where the story is going. And I talk to myself when I watch TV, asking myself the questions that are going on in my head, working out the plot out loud. So I say things out loud that end up spoiling the plot for my wife. The problem is I’m usually talking to myself by myself, because my wife works nights. But for the last three months while my wife has been on maternity leave, I haven’t broken my habit, and it’s been a problem since we tend to watch shows where the plot surprises are the only reason we watch the shows.

It happened a couple weeks ago when we were watching the movie Win Win (a cinch for my top 5 of the year). At the end of the movie, Paul Giamatti is getting dressed when he gets home from work, and I blurted out, “Oh, he ended up taking the bartender job.” Which we find out 30 seconds later that he did. Wife? Not happy. So for the last couple weeks, I’ve been trying to tone it down.

Fifteen days ago watching Breaking Bad, when Jesse was about to kill Walt, but Walt weaseled his way out of it with an elaborate, fictional plan of perceived deception perpetrated by Gus, it hit me. “Wait, what if Walt is actually the one trying to turn Jesse against Gus, and not the other way around? Could Walt really have been the one that poisoned Brock?

It made sense. Walt was at his last straw of desperation, willing to do anything to keep him and his family safe. Actually, I don’t even think he cares about his family anymore. He just wanted to stay safe. More importantly, his incredibly large intellectual ego kicked in, and he was tired of getting outsmarted by Gus on a daily basis. By the middle of the season, it had become more than just staying alive — Walt wanted to win.

Perhaps I should stop using italics.

look, i warned you a bunch of times. if you've gotten down to this poicture and it's giving away the ending, tough noogies.

look, i warned you a bunch of times. if you've gotten down to this picture and it's giving away the ending, tough noogies.

He wanted to beat Gus just like he had beaten the DEA, Tuco, Jesse and every street-level drug dealer in the southwest. It was no longer about safety or self-preservation. It was about winning, evidenced by his phone conversation with Skyler after Gus went all Dark Knight Two Face on us. I’ve kept thinking these thoughts for the last two weeks, but in the ultimate form of husbandry love, I’ve kept it to myself. It’s been hard. Really, really hard. Now that I was right? I’M PISSED!!! I could have put this on the record two weeks ago and been bragging to everyone about how I figured out the ending. But now I’m stuck here trying to convince everyone about how smart I am when I could have proved it a couple weeks ago.

Crap.

Anyway.

Here’s the bigger question/problem. Where does this show go without Gus? For the first couple weeks of this season, the show seemed old. Gus was the open sea the show buoyed itself to for 13 episodes when the rest of cast was mired in side plots we either didn’t care about (Jesse’s nightly open house parties), were already played out (Hank’s rogue detective work) or just plain didn’t want to see to the point that we thought about fast forwarding (Skyler and Beneke).

But Gus was buffalo hot sauce — everything was better when he was sprinkled around. Right from when he sliced his right-hand-man’s throat in week 1, Gus dominated this season at a time when Breaking Bad needed it the most. From his flashback episode when we learn of his start with the cartel to his risky plan to wipe out that same cartel to the five seconds when he fixed his tie with half his face missing, Gus was the man you couldn’t stop watching this year.

maybe we should just remember gus this way

maybe we should just remember gus this way

He was so good, and Giancarlo Esposito was so good at playing the part, that anytime the question is asked over the next 11 months, “Who should win best supporting actor in a drama series at the Emmys next year?” and the answer isn’t Esposito, you should spit on that person’s nose. Seriously. Hock a loogie, rare back and plant it right on their nose so that it drips off the bridge of it. Can the 2012 Emmys just award that particular statue now, so that there aren’t a couple hundred people walking around LA with snot hanging off their nose? I think that would be for the best. Otherwise, we could be staring down the barrel of a spitting epidemic.

What’s even better about Gus is that his character and Epsosito’s performance seemed to invigorate the whole show. The writers stepped up their game, rallying around Gus. The actors started giving a crap. Anna Gunn finally got back down to her playing weight. It’s not like the show was ever bad. But after three weeks this season, after we became so addicted to the show watching it on DVD that we tore through the first three seasons in three weeks leading up to this year’s premiere, my wife and I looked at each other and admitted it together — we weren’t looking forward to watching it that much anymore. Then came all the Gus stuff, and the show banged out four of the best episodes it’s made over these last four weeks. Maybe the finale wasn’t the best of those four — Gus’s cartel eradication was — but it certainly makes you salivate for next summer when Breaking Bad starts again, for the last time. FINALE GRADE: A. SEASON GRADE: B+.

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