I reviewed the first episode of the season, so I feel it only seems fitting that I review what AMC is calling the mid-season finale. Though, it is just the mid-point of the season where they make us wait a year to see the rest. Like what was done with the final season of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. I envy those who will watch either of the shows in 2013 all the way through without these ridiculously long breaks.
Anyway, unto the breach, dear friends.
The season has been pretty solid and Shawn Mahone has been guest reviewing it on this blog and seemingly digging it. I haven't always agreed with his assessments but I appreciate that he has put his thoughts into words when I didn't feel like it (I am lazy).
But the show saved its season best episode for last (or mid-last) by not giving us big shocking moments, like last week, but instead by suggesting shocking moments to come at every meeting. And that's essentially what this episode was.
A series of meetings.
A series of deadly or potentially deadly meetings.
And because the show didn't play cute little games with the story points --that inevitably end up with obvious story solutions- the episode played up the tension organically, leaving the audience holding its breath at every potential bad turn.
With Mike gone and Walt having to deal with the consequences of his former business partner's goon squad squealing, things kick into action at a simmering pace. Walt meets with Lydia to get the names of Mike's crew. She worries that his intention is to get those names and kill her. At the end of the scene we learn she was right but by then she has saved her life by offering Walt a larger scale distribution for his meth operation.
Walt then meets with: Jesse to reminisce and pay him his share, with Jesse terrified that Mr. White has come to kill him; Skyler, who reveals they are rich beyond their ability to spend and that she wants him out and the family back together; and a crew of bad guys with the ability to wipe out the individuals on Lydia's list.
The episode also hints at the fact that Walt's cancer has returned.
Mike's men are assassinated in a brutal montage (the episode also has another montage of Walt's now more advanced meth network in play).
Walt quits so that he can have his family back.
And then we get the best THE USUAL SUSPECTS type ending since... that movie. The family, including Hank and Marie, enjoying each other's company, as the audience feels the charge of doom in the air. Something is going to go wrong. Someone is going to die. Walt can't possibly just get out. There will be men walking in any second now to blow them away. Or maybe a bomb. Or a sniper? Something bad is about to happen and there is no way it won't!
It reminded me of the SOPRANOS ending.
And then the payoff.
Hank, accidentally discovers the truth while taking a dump. Gale's signed "Leaves of Grass" to "W.W." calls back to an earlier conversation between Walt and Hank and poof, like that, the detective puts it all together.
Walt is Heisenberg.
Mind you, I've been saying for two seasons now that this show would end with Hank finding out and having to deal with the consequences and reality of what that means.
What does Hank do? Obviously he has to gather evidence but will he burn a family member? Hell, it will destroy his career having the mastermind behind all of this being someone that close.
I imagine he will do the right thing in the end, but that he will do what he can to not take the family down with Walt. And with Walt out of the game and dying, what is the thing that will bring him back into it? Why will he be arming himself to the teeth on his next birthday?
Many questions are left up in the air and we are a long way away from knowing the answers or even pieces. At least the show went out on a high note and earned every breathless moment of anticipation.
If I had to rate this episode, and Mike's rotting corpse says I do, then I'd give it:
98 out of 100
What did you think?