With only one episode remaining in the phenomenal show Breaking Bad, viewers are left to contemplate how it will all come to an end. Being the penultimate episode to an outstanding series is no simple task, and the most recent episode did fall a bit short in some areas. Still, “Granite State” provided an excellent build up to what is sure to be a very grand finale.
“Granite State,” written and directed by Peter Gould, picks up right where the previous episode ended and provides the perfect backdrop to finish the series off. Jack’s gang has broken into the Schrader house to find Jesse’s confession tape and left enough destruction behind to kill any doubt of their desperation. Later, the same gang breaks into the White residence, surprising Skyler in the process and ensuring that she will never speak of them. Jesse, now a prisoner in a small cage, escapes but is quickly caught, and his punishment is every bit as severe as promised. Walt is now living an isolated life in the woods above a small town in New Hampshire, with his only human contact being Ed, who brings him supplies and fills him in with the latest news once a month. Walt finally makes the decision to break from his cover to visit the local bar. He devises a plot to contact Walt Jr., only to find that his son has turned completely against him. With seemingly nothing left to lose, Walt calls the DEA office and provides them with plenty of time to trace the call. Audiences are left to wonder if Walt has finally given up; a theory that quickly crumbles during the final few seconds of the episode.
Compared to the previous episode, this week’s episode feels slightly weaker, but maybe that’s a good thing. Last week was very intense in full retrospect and last night’s episode gave viewers time to calm down a bit from the trauma of the previous events in preparation to go full throttle for the finale. The scenery and landscape shots in New Hampshire, especially when establishing the cabin’s location, add to the solitary, yet calming effect of the episode – not to mention they are relatively stunning shots. The acting, as always, was definitely at its best with Walt Jr.’s scene bringing even more realism to the episode, and the scene is sure to put future events into perspective. During the break in at the White’s house for Skyler’s only scene, audiences will feel the terror that Skyler is experiencing and although this is her only scene, she makes sure viewers know she is still there and that she’ll be going out fighting. There was an unusual absence of Jesse, but his main scene was arguably the strongest in the episode. Robert Forster, as Ed, steals the viewers’ attention in the short amount of screen time he has to make it clear that he is only in this operation for the money and nothing else, which the audiences believe. The introduction of Ed brings together events from the flash forward scenes at the beginning of this season. Viewers now have a little more insight into how Walt ended up at Denny’s in New Hampshire for his 52nd birthday, though this still leaves the final episode’s events completely up to speculation.
This penultimate episode of one of the most critically acclaimed television shows limits the events of the final episode only to fans’ imaginations but still fully prepares for a near-epic conclusion, which is a great technique. It felt less grandeur, especially following episode fourteen, but it is still exciting to witness everything coming together. The episode should be viewed in order to experience ultimate closure for this fantastic series but more than that, it should be viewed for the solid performances and writing throughout. Pork pie hats off to Mr. Gilligan – It’s time to take the fans home.