'Breaking Bad' Season 4, Episode 13 (Finale) Recap - 'Face Off'
The season is over. Even if you didn't watch, you could tell that the season four finale, "Face Off," had ended when the collective scream of "HOLY S**T!" rose from the homes of all your neighbors who did.
But before all of the epic, amazing badassery, we got the other side of "Breaking Bad"... the humor. Really, this may have been both the most thrilling and the funniest episode of the season.
We started off with Walt hurriedly unmounting the bomb and carrying it (in what I'm pretty sure was a diaper bag) through the hotel and sitting next to Jesse with it. Then we got Walt and his glass-breaking scene with HT. Then we got one of Saul's best lines yet: "If I ever get anal polyps I'll know what to name them." We even got some yuks out of scary ol' Hector. But we'll get to that later.
The real question throughout was whether or not we would see Walt truly go "from Mr. Chips to Scarface," as Vince Gilligan promised us. Certainly at the beginning it wasn't looking good, what with Walt carrying a diaper bag bomb that got stuck to the elevator door. His cluelessness at HT's extortion wasn't exactly crime-savvy either.
But a series of moves that were either despicable or badass turned him around. The first sign of the change came as Walt tried to go back home and sent his poor cat-lady neighbor (she walks with a cane, man!) into his house to check for an ambush. Not the nicest thing to do, but a damn good thing he thought of it.
Then there was the approach to Hector. Mr. Ding gave Walt a look that may have been even more hate-filled than the look he gave Jesse, but Walt's proposition was slick, and too good to pass on: "I'm giving you the opportunity for revenge."
And speaking of Hector, how great was the use of "the board?" It was a risky move on the part of the director, actually letting all that spelling go out. It takes a while to get through N-E-E-D D-E-A ("Dea ain't a word, honey"... Hector's face was priceless) and even longer to get through S-U-C-K M-Y F-U-C... well, you know the rest. But the risk paid off. It was damn funny.
Not only that, but it was a prime example of what "Breaking Bad" does so well. We can truly despise a character like Hector for two seasons, but then in just a couple of scenes they turn it around and we're rooting for him.
So much so, in fact, that when he starts dinging that bell like crazy and Gus, finally realizing his mistake, jumps up and gives one last yell of "HAAH!" we find ourselves jumping up and giving our own yell of "HELL yeah!" At least, I did. And I like Gus. I like Gus so much I predicted with blind optimism that he wouldn't die in this episode.
And for a second, I thought I was right. As Gus stumbled out of that room, a million thoughts raced through my head: Is he going to make it through to the last season? Are Walt and Jesse going to hit a true rock bottom? Are one of the "good guys" going to die?
But no, it was only so that Gus could get an epic death fitting of his incredible character. What exclamation did you go with when the camera panned around and you realized that the title "Face Off" was in fact going to be used literally? Mine was something along the lines of "$&*# &$*#&$ #!$&!"
And with the straightening of his tie (the real kind, not the clip-on that he apparently wears at work... glad we learned that detail right before he died), we lose one of the best TV villains I can remember. RIP Gus, you bad-ass sonofabitch.
Interesting how they took Jesse right out of this episode, isn't it? It seems that Vince Gilligan and company wanted to make sure that this was a showdown between Walt and Gus, with no Jesse involved. When he wasn't being grilled by the police over Brock, he was being tased and forced to cook. But it was all worth it for the moment that Walt walked in, face spattered in blood, to say "Gus is dead. We've got work to do."
Though Jesse missed out on the badass moments this episode (though the burning of the facility was pretty cool), we're clearly going to see more next season. As that slow, steady zoom on the lily of the valley showed us, there might end up being some serious beef between Jesse and Walt next season.
Speaking of next season, what can we expect? Besides the chance that Jesse could catch on to Walt, there's still the problem of Hank. He's proven to be way too good a detective not to figure things out. Plus, Walt just killed not only his greatest enemy, but his greatest protector: Walt would already be dead or at least in prison without Gus.
The question is, how will the meth play in? Walt still has some money leftover, and as Skyler said earlier, the car wash could support them. But we know that Walt's hamartia is pride, and now that he's gotten a taste of the power and the thrill that comes with the job, would he ever truly give it up?
We'll find out next summer, I guess. But if I were to bet, I'd say Walt will be back in that saddle and trying to run his own drug ring as soon as he can.
Other notes and awesome things:
- "What happened?" "I won."
- Is Walt driving a Prius now? Or a Matrix? Did he manage to trade in the Aztek for something even more white-bread?
- Good lord, the purple at Marie's house. Good. Lord. And the "end of story" cut was great.
- That long shot on Gus while he's waiting to see Hector. Was he trembling? It was mesmerizing, and he didn't even move. That's how good an actor Giancarlo Esposito is. He will be missed.
- "Our hearts go out the the victime so this tragedy." OH THE IRONY.
Until next year, everyone! Remember: don't do meth.