‘Breaking Bad’ Review: “Granite State”
‘Breaking Bad’ season 5 cooks up its seventh and penultimate of the final eight episodes, “Granite State,” as Walter settles into his new isolated existence in New Hampshire, while Jesse's desperate attempts to escape captivity have deadly consequences for Brock and Andrea.
Last week’s ‘Breaking Bad’ episode, “Ozymandias,” saw the fallout of the desert battle between Jack’s men and Hank leaving deadly ramifications for the entire cast, as Walt’s world of lies finally came crumbling down and sent him on the run, so how does “Granite State” set up the series finale? Now that Walter is determined to return to New Mexico, how will it all end for ‘Breaking Bad’?
Read on for your in-depth recap and review of everything you need to know about ‘Breaking Bad’ season 5 episode 15, “Granite State”!
The red van arrives to the vacuum store, surprisingly revealing Saul preparing to disappear through his “guy's” (Robert Forster) instructions. After taking the photos for a Nebraska ID, the man informs Saul he’ll need to lie low with him for a few days, unfortunately with a bunkmate, Walter White himself. Saul watches from a monitor to see Walt’s mood, as the former kingpin paces and angrily swats at a light fixture.
Agents drive Marie home, before discovering the place to be ransacked, and sending her away. Elsewhere, Jack and his men watch Jesse’s confession tape, as Kenny cues up the portion where Jesse admits that Todd killed Drew Sharp. Todd looks for validation, before Jack goes storming toward Jesse’s cell to kill him. Todd insists they can use him to make even more money than they have, but Jack and the others realize Todd merely has a crush on Lydia, deciding to spare Jesse for the moment. Meanwhile, Jesse removes the paper clip from the photo of Andrea and Brock, setting it to work on his handcuffs.
Walt enlists Saul in finding a team of hitmen to go after Jack and his men, though Saul points out he should worry more about his wife and son, lest the authorities turn on them for Walt’s crimes, even with his clever phone call exonerating her. Saul suggests Walter simply give himself up and wait out the time in prison, but Walt remains adamant that all of the money, including that stolen by Jack, will go to his family, however he can manage to get it to them. Robert Forster arrives to begin transporting Saul, but Walt insists Saul will be coming with him instead. Saul insists their association has ended, and when Walt goes to intimidate him once more, he winds up in a coughing fit. Saul resigns that it’s over, grabs his bags and departs.
Skyler tunes out the sound of the prosecution, understanding the level of her trouble with the law, but unable to ease their efforts by giving up Walt’s location. The lawyers urge her to think up something they can use, and that night Skyler smokes and watches her protective detail outside. Going to see Holly down the hall, Skyler instead finds Todd and Jack’s men wearing masks, as they intimidate her into forgetting she ever saw Lydia at the carwash, or telling the cops about her. Todd tenderly insists it to be best, leaving a shaken Skyler and Holly behind.
Dressed in his finest, Todd meets with a nervous Lydia at the old café, as Lydia sits behind him to have the conversation incognito. Todd assures her everything went as planned, though Lydia had intended Todd and his men to silence Skyler permanently. Lydia believes they’ll need to lay low and take a break, though her tune changes when Todd reveals that Jesse boosted their purity to 92%. Lydia bristles at the thought, as Todd insists the two of them work mutually well together, brushing a hair off her jacket.
Robert Forster brings Walt to his new home in New Hampshire, an isolated cabin with most amenities already provided for him, though very little in the way of entertainment, and no phone or internet access. The man points out that Walter has been his hottest client so far, the only one requiring they continue their relationship with future supply runs, though Walt’s future business intents are his own. The man assures Walt the cabin will provide plenty of safety and time to reflect before driving off. Walt immediately disobeys the suggestions, grabbing wads of cash and the Heisenberg hat to make his way into town, though he ultimately relents and decides he’ll try the next day.
Inside his cell, Jesse frees himself but can’t reach the cage bars above, stopping his attempts when Todd brings him ice cream for his good work that day. Once Todd departs, Jesse uses everything available for height and manages to reach the bars, finally freeing himself from the cage and making a run for the compound’s fences. A security camera quickly brings Jack’s men, though Jesse begs to be killed and refuses to work any longer. A short while later, Todd knocks on Andrea’s door and lures her to the front porch to see Jesse, putting a bullet in the back of her head as a bound Jesse screams from a distance. Ominously, Jack reminds Jesse that they still have Brock for incentive.
A bearded Walter eagerly waves Robert Forster into the gate, welcoming his shipment of newspapers and new glasses for Walt's worsening prescription. Robert Forster reveals that Skyler has not yet been brought to trial, making ends meet as a cab dispatcher, while the White house has been fenced off, given its status as a tourist attraction and the repeated vandalism. The man even sets Walter up for his latest round of chemotherapy, accepting an additional $10,000 to stay and play cards with a lonely Walter for an hour. Walter reasons that he might have died by the next visit and asks the man if he could be trusted to deliver the money to his family, but the man fires back that Walter wouldn’t believe him either way.
Walter wakes up in the middle of the night, his wedding ring having fallen off from all the weight loss, ultimately fashioning it into a necklace. He places as much cash as he can muster into an empty Ensure box, and finally resolves to make the long trek into town. Elsewhere, Flynn White is called out of class to answer a call from Marie, picking up to find Walter on the other line instead. Walter stammers to his son that he did everything for his family, and intends to send $100,000 in a box to Flynn’s friend Louis, though Flynn quickly shakes off the shock and screams at his father for killing Uncle Hank and ruining their lives, ultimately wishing him death.
Defeated, Walter calls the DEA next and leaves the phone off the hook to be traced, settling at the bar to await his capture. Something on the TV catches Walter’s eye, as he has the channel changed to an interview between Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz and Charlie Rose. Elliot and Gretchen promote their latest charitable grant, though when Charlie Rose brings up accusations they’re only trying to distance themselves from the legacy of co-founder Walter White, Elliot and Gretchen insist Walter’s only real contribution to the firm was its name. Walter seethes, as Gretchen reveals that she believes whatever was left of the Walter they knew to be long gone.
Policemen arrive to the bar and storm the location, though Walter has since disappeared, only leaving behind his half-empty glass.
Obviously, tonight has wrought with it an insanity of TV coverage between the 'Dexter' series finale and our ongoing Emmy coverage, but we'll do our best to muster up some 'Breaking Bad' thoughts going into the series finale next week. Series creator Vince Gilligan had previously stated that he believed "Ozymandias" to be among the best episodes of the series, one which well prepared us in advance that nothing of "Granite State" would quite match the intensity of last week's hour.
To that end, much of "Granite State" owes to piece-moving, setting Walter White up in his new cabin long enough to make a dramatic return in the flash-forwards we've already seen, thought we can imagine recalling Cranston's performance here tonight during next year's Emmys. Cranston manages to shift effortlessly between the Heisenberg persona, and that of a broken, desolate man finally reaping all that he's sown, refusing to believe that either his family or former co-workers won't get what's coming to them, both good and bad. It still remains to be seen where the fire in Walter's belly (neatly represented by the nearly empty glass) will take him next week, apart from presumable vengeance on Jack's men, but for now the pieces have been set.
Aaron Paul, too, gets his brief moments to shine as Jesse, managing to make it as far as the outer fence from sheer determination, defiantly refusing to cook any more before Jack and his men make clear that they have further tools to torture him. Andrea's death could never prove quite as gripping as the ones last week, though the raw emotion written all over Jesse makes the moment every bit as gripping. We wonder how much more punishment the character could possibly endure, as Jesse remains one of our few homes for a slightly less tragic end.
And finally, let's not forget the increasingly disturbing Todd, from his eerie pride over killing Drew Sharp, to his gentle grooming of Lydia, and the pithy attempts at humanity in delivering ice cream to his captive. Jack may have the face of evil, though few deserve as bitter an end as Todd and his eerily apologetic crimes.
Well, what say you? Did you get your fix of ‘Breaking Bad’ badassery? What did you think about tonight’s quieter “Granite State”? Stay tuned for more from the cast and creators, and join us next week for another all-new ‘Breaking Bad’ episode recap of series finale “Felina” on AMC!