It's amazing when you become invested in a show like Breaking Bad, particularly because they are so good at playing "the long game". It feels like this entire season we have been set up for one set of events, only to be surprised and shocked by how it turns out in the last 10 minutes of the cliffhanger mid-season break. Now, I know that many people conjectured that Hank would eventually figure out the connection between Walter and Heisenberg, but I don't think it happened the way that anyone would have expected.
Throughout the whole beginning of the episode, we are treated to Walter White's tough, conniving and terrifying asshole side. He seems like he couldn't care less about killing Mike, and handles the cleanup with Todd in a very calculated, Heisenberg manner. He completely lies to Jesse about Mike being okay, and is such a jerk to him that we're left unsure that they could ever be in the same room together again. Then, there is the fact that he had his little stand-by Ricin set and ready to kill Lydia once she gave him the names of the 9 guys in prison. Don't even get me started with the way in which Walt orders all of the men to be killed in prison. It's brutal and violent and the work of a complete mad-man. Walt went to his most extreme in this episode, and I expected that this is where he was going to continue going (until the last 10 minutes turns everything on its head).
They didn't just do a 'build and twist' of our expectations in this episode, they've been doing it this entire season. We have been set up thinking that Walt is an egotistical asshole who will do anything to get what he wants and will never stop, which made the ending of this episode such a brilliant twist. It was like the ultimate bait and switch, because I'll be honest, I think the last thing that I expected was to have him actually and finally listen to Skyler and get out of the game. Lydia handed him the keys to the kingdom that he has been craving so desperately, and he finally had the chance to build his empire. In fact, when looking at the stack of money that Skyler put in the storage unit, we know that he could finally do just that. Before this moment, as much as anyone tried to convince him, it seemed that there was never enough for Walt, but somehow that finally changed.
Now, I think one of my biggest questions of the episode is what was his motivation for finally making the decision to get out? Did Skyler finally get through to him, or did it have something to do with the cancer screening that he went through just the scene before? It's very hard to decipher that one, because we saw Walt in the scan, and then we also saw him notice the metal towel dispenser that he had punched when he found out that he was in remission. It could be that he had a realization that his cancer truly is gone and he didn't have the fear of dying. On the other hand, it could have been the moment that he realized the cancer is back and he was forced to confront how he would like to finish out his last few days. I'm not sure which one it is...or if it is even either.
In the last scene out on the patio, it is one of the only times this season that we have seen the entire family together - and possibly even look happy. Walt and Skyler are both smiling and they are enjoying their children and having casual conversation with Hank and Marie, in a way that has not happened in a long time. So, what does the show do with the first glimpse we might have at a happy ending for Walt and family? BAM! They fuck it all up and have Hank put together the fact that W.W. means Walter White, which means he is the man (Heisenberg) that he has been searching for this whole time.
I am also now worried as to what the final scene between Walt and Jesse now means. In a moment where we thought we might have to be scared for Jesse (as he was even) we see Walt come to him and reminisce about the beginning and do it with almost a sweet and caring undertone. However, it did also serve the purpose to show how much Walt has changed in these last few moments as he finally gave Jesse the money that he was owed. The anger in him has dissolved and he once again became the "father-figure" that he had been to Jesse. So rather than Jesse having to be scared of him anymore, there felt like a lot of closure between these two about their working and personal relationship. I just hope that doesn't mean that it is the last we will see them together, because their relationship is my favorite and the heart of the show.
Breaking Bad also plays a long game in having things come back up that were brought up many seasons ago. When I saw the Walt Whitman novel I knew that it meant something, and there was some major reference, but I couldn't remember exactly what it was. In fact, it wasn't until Hank's flashback, that I even put it together as the thing that would connect Walter to Gale, which ultimately connects him to actually being Heisenberg. It was a shocking moment, because the build up to it was unexpected. We had this perfect moment with the family and for a brief moment thought things might actually work out, and then we were all of a sudden left with the realization that the last eight episodes will more than likely be about the battle between Hank and Walt. While we know that will play in, Hank also made a reference to how tired he had recently become of "chasing monsters", so the most interesting thing is going to be, what he finally decides to do now that he has figured out who the monster actually is.
When looking at the season as whole, I think we can finally guess a bit about why Walter was hiding in that Denny's in the beginning of this season, as it is most likely some repercussion of this realization by Hank. However, the big question still is why? Is he hiding from Hank? Does Hank find a soft spot for him because he is part of his family and help him get away? I'm not sure about any of this, and even with all of these guesses they could yet again turn the show on its side and surprise us again. We do know that the show is wrapping up with one final eight episode run. While at the beginning of this episode, I thought I might know where Walt's life was going...well, now I really have no idea and cannot believe I have to wait an entire year to find out!