The world of television will go from awesome to much less awesome at about 10:15pm on Sunday night, when Breaking Bad ends its astounding five-season run as arguably the best television series ever. (I'll take the pro side in that argument, by the way.) But until we see the last "Executive Producer Vince Gilligan" closing credit hit the screen, we still have a multitude of questions.
Below, I'll address the most pressing queries I have going into the series finale and even offer a few guesses as to how they'll be answered, knowing full well that I'll be very, very wrong. Because come on, this is Breaking Bad. Who has any idea what will happen other than Gilligan? Feel free to offer your own best guesses in the comments.
1. Will Walter White die?
Yes! Wait, no! I don't know, maybe? This is a real open one, and if you ask me, the odds that Walter will survive are about even with the odds that he'll die. Both options carry very poetic possibilities, and Breaking Bad is definitely into that bigger message sort of thing. Will Walter find redemption and make it out alive as a last-minute family hero? Or will Walter be killed by his own unbridled ego and thirst for revenge (or pesky cancer)?
OUR BEST GUESS: He dies. I get the feeling that Vince Gilligan wants the show to END with a capital E-N-D, and it only definitively ends with Walter kickin' it. I'm not ruling out a happy/bittersweet conclusion, where Walter's legacy does live on somehow, but as for Walter himself? Dead. Scarface died at the end of his movie, and it was the only fitting scenario. Same case here.
2. What will become of Jesse?
Currently, Jesse's best-case scenario is that Jack's crew threw him back into his concrete hole in the ground after Todd whacked Andrea. Jesse had just helped Todd cook a 96-percent pure batch, so the chances that Jack killed are pretty low if those rednecks know what's good for business. It's simple meth-amatics. I still think the real threat comes from Walter, who's pretty P.O.'d that Jesse ratted on him. The last time Walter saw Jesse, he wanted him deader than dead, and a few months in a cold cabin shouldn't change his mind on that. From Walter's perspective, it's Jesse the coward who's responsible for Hank's death. But more importantly, it's Jesse who's responsible for Walter's trademark blue meth leaking back onto the market. Jesse is getting the Heisen-blue out there without the Heisenberg. THAT IS NOT COOL WITH THE HEISENBERG!
OUR BEST GUESS: I mean, if Walter doesn't at least TRY to kill Jesse, it's a rip-off, right? Why set up Walter being so angry at him? But somehow, Jesse will survive this mess. Once the fly in Walt's house, he's now the ever-surviving cockroach in this tale. Besides, none of us will be able to make it through Monday if Jesse dies.
3. Who is the Ricin for?
Well, it's definitely for someone. Why else would future Walt risk going back to his house for it? Now that we've got that bit of common sense out of the way, who on Walter's long list of People to Murder would the Ricin be a good fit for? As we know, Ricin is a sneaky little poison, taking about three days to kill its target after the initial exposure. It's not exactly the type of killing agent that a man who's out for visceral revenge would use, so let's rule out Ricin for Todd's KKKrew. That's what the BFG in the trunk is for. Walter could feel some compassion for Jesse if he sees him imprisoned, but Walt should still want to kill him, just in a way that he doesn't need to be present for. So Jesse's a possibility. Lydia is also a popular destination for the Ricin among the internet's many theorists, but Lydia is a lot lower on Walter's hit list than both Jesse and Jack's crew. So what about Walter? What better way for it not to be over until Walter says it over than to leave Walter's death in his own hands?
OUR BEST GUESS: Walter takes the ricin himself after trying to get his money back, exonerating Skyler, and killing everyone on his hit list, leaving him to die on his own terms with no one able to tell what his cause of death was. Naturally everyone will assume it's the cancer, but screw you cancer, it was the Ricin. Chemistry got him into this mess, chemistry gets him out of it. One big hole in this theory: Ricin supposedly gives its victims really bad diarrhea. Is that the way anyone voluntarily wants to go?
4. What happens to Skyler?
Skyler is in a tough spot. Those danged Feds are hounding her about Walter's whereabouts because she's the dead end in the Heisenberg investigation. She's working as a cabbie dispatch, wasting her accounting degree, and keeping cigarette companies in business. She can't do anything else at this point. Her future is Walter's goal, though, and I think it would be silly if Walter didn't at least partially get what he wants.
OUR BEST GUESS: Walter's reappearance takes Skyler off the hook and she's free to live the rest of her life as the woman who once married a monster, free of prying authorities. But she doesn't get the money, reminding us all that crime isn't just bad for the criminal, but for everyone involved in the criminal's life.
5. Have we seen the last of Marie?
As great as she was, Breaking Bad never really found a way to bring Marie into the main story. She was a kleptomaniac for a while, she barked at Hank about rocks and physical rehabilitation, and she badgered Skyler. But with Hank out of the picture and Marie's relationship with Skyler obliterated, I don't see any reason to bring her back, what with all the more important stuff to settle.
OUR BEST GUESS: Betsy Brandt can now enjoy a quiet life of working on an NBC sitcom. Her work on Breaking Bad is done. And Hank's body is never found. Bummer. Maybe she can honor her hubby by moving forward with the Shraderbrau business.
6. Will we ever see Saul, Huell, or Kuby again?
Well, Saul is living in Tulsa with three pairs of Dockers, asking a pimply-faced teen whether Pepsi is okay with his Cinnabon. Huell might still be in that room where he talked to Hank and Steve. And Kuby has been MIA since he returned Walt's van. I'm just thankful Saul got one final scene as Walter's temporary roommate in the basement of the vacuum store.
OUR BEST GUESS: Nope! Their stories are over. Look for them in Saul's prequel spin-off.
7. What happens to Todd, Lydia, and the rest of that new meth operation?
Business appears to be going pretty well for Todd and Lydia; even Charlie Rose knew that blue meth was back on the market as far away as Eastern Europe. With Jesse playing the role of head chef, the quality is up, and Todd has obviously convinced Jack that selling meth is still a great idea. So it's happy ending for all of them! Well, until Walter and his tidal wave of fury returns to stuff the Heisenberg trademark down their throats. As for Lydia and Todd's romantic possibilities? Not a chance, sorry, Todd.
OUR BEST GUESS: Death for almost all of them. Jack's crew has so rapidly been built up as villains that even a show known for subverting expectations can't avoid giving us the happy ending we all want, and nothing would make us happier than seeing Todd and Jack's heads on sticks. As for Lydia, I'm guessing she gets an easier out and ends up captured by the authorities as the whole ring goes down one way or another.
8. Will we ever see another series like Breaking Bad again in our lives?
Breaking Bad is totally great and better than everything, and it's easy to say that it's a one-of-a-kind series, the likes of which will never be replicated. But I say Breaking Bad influences a whole new generation of high-quality television, many of which will be poor copycats, but some of which will hit similar highs. There will always be upstart networks that are more willing to take risks—Sundance Channel and IFC are already doing wonderful things under the radar—and risk is where greatness comes from. Like that time everyone said I couldn't make that jump but I totally almost did. One broken tibia later, I was great!
OUR BEST GUESS: Yes. Be a little more optimistic about the future, people!
What questions do *you* have heading into the series finale of Breaking Bad?
AIRED ON 9/29/2013
Season 5 : Episode 16