Man. Breaking Bad likes to play tricks on me. This season has set up a pattern of slow but deliberate pacing for what I felt like would be an incredibly explosive ending. Last night’s episode was acting even slower and deliberate than normal (with some exceptions) until things just spiraled out of control at the end and reminded me that we’re nearing the end of the best season of the show so far. While I have nagging suspicions about certain aspects of the series and where everything else is headed, Breaking Bad has succeeded in keeping me from gaining a clear picture on where everything is going and what the big picture of the series is ultimately going to look like. This show has been a wild ride, and the slowly but surely building tension from all of the pieces of the puzzle of this (and now previous seasons) is starting to slide into place, and I think things are about to get really heated.

The episode begins with a mysterious figure dripping blood over suede shoes. We soon learn these shoes belong to Walter, although that realization occurs chronologically before the bloodshed will begin. After learning that Jesse has been in contact with Gus, Walt grills him for informatin but Jesse is still lying and hasn’t killed Gus yet. Hank wants to investigate the Pollos Hermanos distribution center but Walt delays him and gives Mike and Jesse time to hide any incriminating evidence. The Cartels send a sniper who kills one of Gus’s men but Gus stops the violence by stepping right into the fire and then calling the Cartel and agreeing to their terms. Skylar learns that her old boss, Ted Beneke, is being audited by the IRS, and she puts on a big show to try and throw them off the trail but he may not have the money to pay his back taxes which could put Walt and Skylar in jeopardy. Gus invites Jesse to dinner where he tells Jesse he is sending him to Mexico to teach the Cartel’s chemists to cook the blue meth. Jesse tells Walt about this and Walt finally calls Jesse out on his lies. Then, they get into an epic beat the holy hell out of each other fight and Jesse and Walt’s friendship may finally be over.

Maybe I’m the only person to feel this way, but after four years of having his life consistently ruined by the greed and machinations of Walter White, it was immensely satisfying to watch Jesse beat the high hell out of Walt. At the end of the day, I honestly felt like Jesse still wanted to please Walt, or maybe to be more accurate, he just wanted someone to please. He had originally gotten that from Walt, but now he is getting this affection and attention from Gus and Mike, who are probably just using him. Although to be fair, that’s all Walt was ever doing either. Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston have always had fantastic chemistry together, and while this season has done a deliberate job of keeping them apart, when they were finally brought back together, it was one of the most explosive moments of the season since Gus killed Viktor. Each actor played all of the years of resentment, anger, and distrust the two had not only towards each other but to the world that had put them in this mess perfectly while they proceeded to knock the shit out of each other.

Had it not been for that final moment of the episode, I probably would have given this episode a lower score. Up until that point, everything about the episode had seemed too practical and plot-driven compared to what I had grown to expect from the rest of the season. People were doing things, but no one was making any growth (or decline) as a character. It wasn’t until those last moments when it all finally came to a head did we get a chance to see the sort of psychology that has made me love this series so much. We got four episodes I left I believe of the season. If the events of tonight’s episode are any indication, then we are probably going to be in for a hell of a ride as the season draws to a close. Hank is hot on the trail of Gus, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Gus’s acquiescence to the Cartel is part of some ploy to draw them out in the open and finish them off once and for all. Also, I’m now around 80% sure that Walter’s cancer is back, so it’s all leading up to something big .

Episode Score: A-