Five Questions: Breaking Bad “Granite State” (SPOILERS)

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Last week’s episode of Breaking Bad, “Ozymandias”, was one of the most intense episodes of television that I have ever seen. How do you top that? For series creator Vince Gilligan, the answer is simple: start a new life for Walter White and bring him back one episode later for the series premiere. “Granite State” accomplished more in one 75-minute episode than a typical drama can cover in a season. Walter White was physically removed from his old life and transformed into a new identity, Mr. Lambert , a man who will remind viewers of the Walter White from the first few episodes of the series. Here are five questions for Breaking Bad “Granite State”:

Is Robert Forster the perfect actor to play Saul Goodman’s fixer?

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First of all, Robert Forster is awesome, and I was thrilled to see him walk out of the propane truck and introduce “Mr. Lambert” to New Hampshire. For some reason the name R. Lee Ermey came to mind, but I quickly realized that Saul’s fixer was not Gunnery Sergeant Hartman from Full Metal Jacket. In fact, about a year and half ago, I was at the Chinese 6 in Hollywood for the L.A. Italia Film Festival, and Robert Forster sat right behind me for a screening of Django (the original). His character in Breaking Bad has a quiet demeanor, much like Mike Ehrmantrout, and is a man who knows how to get things done. Forster has only one appearance in the series so far, but it feels like we already know him. I like the character and look forward to seeing him in the rest of the series. Oh, wait….

What is left for Skyler?

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Skyler has children and remaining family to look after and support. Through Saul’s fixer we learned that Sky has been working at a taxi dispatch service and starting over. An key fact to remember is that Skyler still believes that Walt killed Hank. Her appearance at the lawyer’s office expressed how devastated this character truly is. Skyler wants to understand her husband in totality, all the good and bad, however she is left sitting, waiting and wishing like a Jack Johnson song. Only this song isn’t being sung on the beach, it is somewhere in the vicinity of mental hell.

What is left for Marie Schraeder?

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We haven’t seen the last of Marie. She is grieving the death of her husband Hank, of course, but remember that she also believes Walter killed him. Marie is a major wildcard for the finale of Breaking Bad. There is a film in theaters this weekend called Prisoners, which examines how far one will go to protect family. Can anybody predict what Marie will do when and if she sees Hank? She might cry or it could be something worse. Regardless, Marie is family to Skyler and they will need to stick together to move on from the mess that Walter created.

 Has Jesse Pinkman completely checked out? Can you blame him?

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Here is another reason why “Granite State” was absolutely amazing: the arc of Jesse Pinkman. Was anyone expecting him to get caught? I should have known better with a show like Breaking Bad, but I honestly felt Jesse Pinkman would escape and there would be some type of hope for him. Walt has his family to think of but Jesse has nothing except Andrea and Brock, and for a split second it felt that he may have a future with them. How do you completely devastate and destroy this character? I don’t even want to talk about what happened. When Jesse’s girlfriend (Krysten Ritter) overdosed a couple seasons ago, I didn’t think it was possible for Aaron Paul to match the intensity of that performance, but he did it tonight. Jesse Pinkman will reunite with Walter in the finale, and I have a feeling the scene will be brief and close out the series.

Do I understand all the details about Walt’s new home and life?

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No, I don’t. You know that Vince Gilligan must have had several concepts for this episode, specifically Walt’s time in the woods. There are several angles that could be tied to literature…I mean, last week’s episode was named after a poem called “Ozymandias”. This episode was perfect in that it took Walter out of his comfort zone, and placed him alone in the woods to examine his life and relationships. When Saul’s fixer was going to leave, Walt whimpered “stay a little while?”. His hair grew out, several weeks passed and then his own son told him “Why don’t you just go and die?” What could possibly motivate Walter to return to Albuquerque and wreak more havoc. Ego. After calling the DEA, he saw his old business partners talking about him on television and became pissed off about his big chance that was ruined several years before. What are you going to do, Walt?

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