After last night’s shocking fourth-season finale of “Breaking Bad,” everything in the world of Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is up for grabs. The big question that we were left with after the finale, though, was: “How much darker can this show go?”
[Warning: Major finale spoilers will be discussed from this point forward.]
Here’s where we are after the finale: Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) is dead, blown up by Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) via a very elaborate scheme hatched by Walt. Walt parts ways with Jesse (Aaron Paul) -for now), after Jesse tells him that Brock was poisoned by berries from a Lily of the Valley plant. After Walt drives away, declaring to Skyler (Anna Gunn) that “I’m good. I win,” we have a shot of the White backyard, where we pan and zoom onto a big planter full of — you guessed it — Lillies of the Valley.
Remember, creator Vince Gilligan has said all along that the show will show us the transformation of Walter from “Mr. Chips to Scarface,” and the notion that Walt poisoned an innocent child in order to guarantee his and his family’s safety pretty much ensures that he’s on his way to Scarface-dom. But with sixteen episodes left in the show’s run, how will that darkness manifest itself? Some burning questions we’re left with after the finale:
1. With Gus out of the way, who’s in charge? Gilligan told David Itzkoff of The New York Times that he wrote this finale before he knew if he was getting a season five, which makes sense: Gus is gone, the lab has been torched, and we know to what evil depths Walt could go. But now that we know we’ll be with these folks for a while longer, where does Walt go from here? Walt is no longer the desperate guy who’s gotten a taste of the criminal life; he’s now all-in, gleefully satisfied at how he outsmarted Gus. There’s no way he’s going back to a normal life now.
We can see Walt building his own lab, keeping Jesse close as his assistant, and stepping into the vacuum the death of Gus created in the southwest’s blue meth-distribution network. Heck, he may even slip into Gus’ yellow shirt at Los Pollos Hermanos, just to keep the infrastructure in place.
Click the image below to watch the Season Finale:
2. How will Mike react to this? People forget that Gus’s best hitman, Mike (Jonathan Banks), is still recovering in the Mexican tent-hospital he and Gus went to after Gus managed to kill all the major players in the cartel. Mike is no fan of Walt’s, and is not going to be happy that Walt has become The Man when he finally has the chance to get back to Albuquerque. “Mike may have a problem with what transpired, and I wouldn’t want Mike mad at me, I can tell you that,” Gilligan told Itzkoff. If Walt is ultimately going to meet his demise at the end of the series (something that’s not assured), it could be Mike’s expert hand doing the deed.
3. Will Jesse find out the truth about Brock? No matter how dopey Jesse is, he’s good at putting two and two together. At some point someone is going to tip Jesse off about this. Our guess? Good ol’ Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk). The guy has no loyalty, except to himself, and if somehow he has to rat out Walt to save his own hide (like Jesse has a gun pointed at his head, for instance), he’ll do it. Gilligan confirmed to Alan Sepinwall at HitFix that Goodman’s massive guard Huell took Jesse’s ricin cigarette from him when Jesse charged into Saul’s office. This means that Walt clued Saul in on at least part of his nefarious plan; cluing Saul in on any part of your plan is a recipe for disaster.
4. Will Gus’ Chilean cronies come looking for his killer? There’s a reason why Gus wasn’t killed by the cartel years ago; he’s got some pretty deep connections in Chile. And as Gilligan told AOL’s Mo Ryan, “I’m hoping in the future, we may see a little more Gus Fring and maybe even Tio (Hector). I’d love to think that at some point or another we can find another spot to flash back to those gentlemen.” The most easily believable scenario where we would see them in a flashback is if Gus’ Chilean family rolls into New Mexico to find out what happened. If Walt thinks the cartel was dangerous, he hasn’t seen anything yet.
5. Will Hank finally figure everything out? Hank (Dean Norris) is on a mission to figure out where the blue meth is coming from. And with Gus out of the way, Hank doesn’t look like he’ll let up; he’ll just try to find out who got to Gus. It’s entirely conceivable that the show concludes with Hank confronting Walt after finding out about what Walt’s been doing, the master schemer being outsmarted by the brother-in-law he always thought wasn’t much more than a lunkhead, despite Hank’s sterling DEA record.
6. Will something else get Walt in the end? The cancer is still there, waiting to come out of remission. And then there’s the issue of Skyler, the (maybe-dead) Ted Beneke and the six hundred thousand in unlaundered dollars she sent to the IRS on his behalf. We could see the show end with a cackling Walt in an orange jumpsuit, rotting in federal prison on tax evasion charges. Hey, if it happened to Al Capone, it can happen to Walter White, right?