Did I call it last week or what? I said that following Jesse and Walt’s slug-fest, this season had reached its critical boiling point and we were going to be seeing some explosions as we raced to the finish line. Well, they’ve arrived and then some. In what I can only call the most explosive episode of the season, so many different story lines are finally coming to a head that I am salivating at the thought of where the final three episodes are going to take us. This has easily been the best season of the entire series, and I am reminded week in and week out of how great Breaking Bad can be when it fires on all cylinders like this. Last night was the Emmy’s (hurray for Peter Dinklage!), and every single person and show that won in the drama category should count their lucky stars that Breaking Bad wasn’t eligible to be nominated because it’s simply entered a league of its own. It is honestly as good these days as Game of Thrones which is about as high a compliment as I can give the show.

Where to begin with this episode? Walt plays an ancillary role in the overall story of the episode but I feel this will be a defining moment for his character. After getting his ass handed to him by Jesse in their brawl, Walt has taken a large amount of painkillers and washed them down with some booze cause that’s the smart thing a trained chemist does. Worried for his father’s well-being, Walter Jr. shows up at Walt’s apartment and cares for him. Seeing his son’s concern and loopy on drugs, Walt goes on his Emmy tape submission for the season where he talks about the mistakes he made and cries openly in front of his son. After he’s sobered up the next day, we get another monologue from Walt talking about his last memory of his father as one of a weakened shell of a man and how he he doesn’t want Walter Jr. to see him that way. Of course, Walter Jr. prefers a human version of his father to the Heisenberg he’s had the last year. In Skylar’s world, she concocts a plan to give Ted Beneke some drug money to pay the IRS so they don’t end up investigating her. However, she is forced to tell Ted the source of the money so that he’ll actually pay his bills.

The real meat of the episode however occurs in Mexico where Gus, Mike, and Jesse have headed to deliver their part of the bargain with the Cartel. Jesse is to teach the Cartel how to cook the blue meth which he succeeds in doing. However, the Cartel informs him that he will be staying in Mexico permanently. Despite Mike reassuring him that either they all go home or no one goes home, it appears that Jesse will be stuck in Mexico. Well, it appears that way until Gus (who has just eaten some mysterious pills) finally has Don Eladio (the head of the Cartel and the man responsible for the murder of Gus’s friend 20 years ago) open the gift that Gus has brought. It’s a very rare tequila. It is poisoned and Gus drinks it anyways to convince the others that it’s safe (although he pukes it out in the bathroom). Gus single-handedly wipes out the entire Cartel in one fell swoop although he is potentially still poisoned slightly and Mike takes a bullet during the escape. Jesse guns down the Cartel heavy in the episode’s closing moments as Jesse has to drive a wounded Mike and poisoned Gus to safety. I guess we know whose side he’s finally on.

Those scenes in Mexico are some of the strongest scenes the show has ever done. I am willing to put those moments up there with the Gus murders Viktor scene in the season premiere, the shoot-out with Hank and the cousins, Walt running over the gang-bangers, and Jane’s death. It was just the perfect culmination of every single thing that this season had been leading to and it didn’t seem remotely out of place. This show has taken such a slow and deliberate pace for much of that season that I was concerned explosions like this would seem awkward and forced but that couldn’t have been further from the truth. It just added even more weight to every gun shot and to each death. Plus, we had the scenes with Bryan Cranston and Walter Jr. to add the episode its more personal depth that every episode of Breaking Bad has to deliver. I’ll get to the Bryan Cranston moments in the next paragraph. Back to Mexico though, I’ve officially determined that Gus Fring is what would have happened if Stringer Bell weren’t too dumb to be a legitimate businessman and too weak to be a gangster. Gus is everything Stringer wanted to be. I understand that Stringer’s flaws are what make Stringer the better character but damn, is it awesome to see Gus be such a freaking bad ass.

Damn Bryan Cranston. Every time that I think I’ve seen every emotion or subtle nuance of performance that you’re capable of achieving, you come back and remind me why you’re going to win the best actor in a dramatic role Emmy for as long as this show is on the air. For the first time since “Fly” last season, we got a glimpse of a Walter White that we can actually sympathize with. A lot of it was the painkillers talking, but I honestly felt like Walt is now feeling some regret for his actions. Heisenberg has become way too much for him to handle, and he knows he’s losing his family and everything else he cares about. Bryan Cranston got two big monologues to deliver and they couldn’t be more different and more exemplary of how Cranston effectively has to play two different characters. The raw and brutal honesty of his drug-induced confession to his son contrasts spectacularly with the very revealing monologue about his relationship with his father which just speaks volumes about his pride issues. Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are both winning Emmy’s for this show again. I can pretty much guarantee that.

This season has simply been phenomenal. Breaking Bad limped into its stride at the beginning of Season 3 but it finished the season on a continual series of high notes. Season 4 started out strong, stayed strong, and is now preparing to blow us away for its final moments. After this season ends, we have a 16 episode Season 5 and then the series is over. I have absolutely no clue how things are going to end on this show, and that’s for the best. That’s honestly how I felt about Lost even going into its series finale, and it turned out to have one of my favorite finales ever so I don’t think Breaking Bad is on track to disappoint me. Seriously, if you somehow haven’t started watching this series yet, you need to get your head out of your ass and start watching Breaking Bad immediately. It is a phenomenal show and this is an exceptionally phenomenal season. I can’t wait to see who falls first, Heisenberg or Gus. Right now, I can’t see anyone taking Gus down.

Episode Score: A

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