In life, death is something both tragic and unpredictable. You cannot predict for it happening, and often, the best thing that you can really do is put yourself in the best possible position so that you can handle it when it arrives.
In the world of television, death is somewhat different. It is only on a few occasions that a death happens without hype. Since there is no time to mourn, writers have to work on giving you closure almost before the moment even happens. This is what we saw during this past episode of “Breaking Bad” in a scene that has to go down as one of the series’ best. In the same spot where Walt and Jesse first started their journey to becoming renewed for all the wrong reasons, we saw the two characters move towards what may be the beginning of their end.
But why is Walter White not dead right now? In the literal sense, it is because we saw him alive in the flash-forward. But in the symbolic sense, there is almost nothing to be gained now from seeing him dead. This was a man that was willing to give up, and we also wonder at times if he is a man ready to die. He perhaps may be on the way to becoming television’s Sisyphus, forced to repeatedly try to end his suffering only to have the barrel roll back down on him. There is almost no greater punishment for Walt than staying alive and bearing witness to the destruction of his world.
As for Jesse, there seems little poetry in him dying within this shootout that brings us to where Sunday’s episode will pick up. Walt does not want him dead, and to see an iconic character like this go out while Heisenberg lives on? It just doesn’t mesh. While he may have been originally set to die during season 1, he has become the yin to Walt’s yang. One cannot live within this universe effectively without the other still around.
Now, we turn to the two characters who we believe are on borrowed time in Hank and Gomez. With the latter, it’s easy for him to die in the shootout. He has never been a major character, and we hold little value in seeing him live. As for Hank, we had the closure in the phone call with Marie. To him, he had that moment of victory, and that may have been all he ever wanted. There is still enough evidence out there to take Walt out, as Marie knows everything. So even though Hank may not ultimately succeed in getting Walt behind bars that grisly tableau of his home in the future shows us all we need to see that he is serving out a different kind of prison sentence.
Note that this is all speculation, and all of these characters could theoretically live on. We are just speaking thematically here, and while we may love Dean Norris, this may very well be his time.
This is the latest edition of our Breaking Down “Breaking Bad” series, where every week we dissect a key scene from this past episode. Click here if you want to read some of our other entries.