Thursday, September 26, 2013

"Whatever you think is supposed to happen..." - Breaking Bad and the Joys of Almost Knowing It All

This is a special time in the life of a TV show that can only be experienced once, the final week leading up to the series finale when all remaining questions will be answered at last ... or not.  But either way, the door will close for good.  So this is the last, best chance you have to make a prediction as to how it all ends.  "It" in this case is, of course, the Breaking Bad finale set to air on Sunday, September 29th.

I have to admit that this is my absolute favorite time to be a devotee of a series.  When the pieces are all laid out on the table and you think you have a pretty good idea how the final picture is supposed to look, and yet ...  "And yet" is that gnawing sensation that something amazing is waiting out there just over the horizon, something you can't quite see from your current vantage point.  It's the essence of anticipation, when the lines of expectation and the potential for surprise crisscross on the graph of the mind.

One measure of a great thriller (or possibly any truly great story) is whether a fair number of outcomes to the central conflict are at least somewhat plausible while at the same time also being potentially satisfying.  A story that can end only one way lacks imagination and probably has very little to say.  On the other hand, a story that takes a wild turn out of nowhere for the sake of surprise betrays a lack of preparation by the storyteller.  When a series hits that sweet spot, though, you'll find a veritable army of bloggers try their hand at predicting the end in ways mutually exclusive from each other yet equally intriguing.  ( in particular has a great round-up of predictions here.)

Of course, I have my own predictions.  Not that I can take special credit for any one of these theories, but then the playing field is crowded enough that I don't think anyone can claim ownership over any single theory.  (Though, if I could have claimed any one theory out there as my own, it would be the amazing "Breaking Bad is a prequel for Malcolm in the Middle" theory.)

My spoiler-filled theories after the break ...

Even money says that next week's series finale, "Felina", will include the following plot points ...
  • Lydia has Skyler killed -- This woman is not only hyper-paranoid but also prone to highly impulsive (and highly foolish) behavior.  If she really thought it was a good idea to hire someone to kill Mike, the world's greatest ex-cop-cum-ninja-assassin, can we really believe she'll take Todd's word that Skyler won't cause any trouble down the line? Just because that "Opie, dead-eyed piece of shit" (god, I love that phrase) says so?
  • Walt finds out about Skyler, serves Lydia and Todd ricin-spiced tea -- One of the biggest questions on everyone's mind right now is who will get the ricin.  Personally, I find the fairly prevalent theory that Walt will use the ricin on himself to be way off the map (but then, who knows?).  That said, "Chekov's Ricin" would have to be used on someone that trusts Walt enough to let him get close.  Todd reveres Walt, and Lydia has no reason to mistrust him.  Killing a family member would be motivation enough to bring the wrath of Walt down on them, and it echoes Gus's triumphant poisoning of the Mexican cartel in Season Four.
  • Walt makes another "confession" video -- So far, Walt has made two "confession" videos.  The first was made in a panic in the pilot.  The second was made purely for tactical purposes to scare Hank away during the last season.  The third and final video would be Walt's ultimate vindication, spelling out in fine detail the empire he had built.  Or rather, empires ... the first being Grey Matter and the second being the meth network.  His deep involvement in the creation of Grey Matter will expose Gretchen and Elliot's lies, potentially sinking their stocks, while also restoring his Heisenberg legacy from the Neo-Nazis who also stole his work.  Lastly, it would serve as Walt's own self-stylized version of "Ozymandias" ... look upon Heisenberg's works, ye mighty, and despair!
  • The video is played live on television while Walt launches an assault on the Neo-Nazis -- Tell me that wouldn't make a bad ass scene!
  • Jesse escapes with Brock, while Marie takes custody of Flynn and Holly -- Someone has to have a happy ending, no matter how marked by tragedy.
  • And Walt ends up ... okay, I've got nothing -- Yeah, I'm going to punt on this one.  Jesse put it best to Hank: "Whatever you think is supposed to happen... I'm telling you, the exact reverse opposite of that is gonna happen, okay?"  So that's my prediction, that the exact reverse opposition of whatever we expect will happen to Walt.
So there it is.  Four days till we know for sure, when we trade in this perfect high of anticipation for the bitter sweet certainty of the final curtain

No comments: