The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report just came out. The Earth's climate is continuing to break bad. The mild-mannered environment we used to know and love has gone wrong. You never know what's going to happen next but it probably won't be good. As a science blogger, I had intended to write about that. But something more important is happening this weekend: the Breaking Bad finale!
Season 5 Breaking Bad fans have something in common with scientists. We thrive on predictions. Like many current Br Ba fans, I ignored the show for the first four years. I tried to watch it once during it's first run. But it was a random episode, out of context, and I didn't get it. Then last winter my friends talked me into starting from the beginning, on Netflix. I was immediately hooked on the science talk, the showcasing of my home-town grit and beauty, and the drama. I binge-watched for several weeks.
This is the first season I've watched the live broadcast. I've been getting together with a few friends every Sunday night and it's been better than the NFL. After the second episode at one friend's house, a parlor game emerged. We each went on record with a hypothesis of what was going to happen next. It got so contentious and raucous that we were banned from watching there again. We have subsequently taken our watching parties to Albuquerque bars, including Hooligans--which also happens to be one of the show's locations (Saul's office).
As the show hurtles toward its end, Albuquerque fans have become obsessed. For one thing, it has put our city on the map. A couple weeks ago I was having dinner in Moscow, and the Russian sitting next to me asked me where I was from. When I told him, he lit up and wanted to talk about Breaking Bad. Local "Watching Bad" parties seem to double in size every week. We already have our tickets for the finale watch party. There are Hollywood-style tours of filming locations, like the John B. Robert dam--a couple miles from my house, which now looks disturbingly like the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. My daughter calls it Hoover dam, because that's where the vacuum sweeper comes.
And everybody has a prediction.
To be valid, a prediction has to be published before the observation. So here goes (I only have space for the high points):
A lot of time has passed. Jesse is still cooking. He has long hair and a beard and has been subjected to brutal treatment by his captors. He looks like Jim Caviezel in Passion of the Christ.
Lydia rebuffs Todd's amorous advances, and Todd kills her. This is in keeping with Vince Gilligan's escalating violence with a series of brutal, execution-style murders, giving us all the expectation that it will end in a blood bath.
Jesse uses the old poison gas trick to kill Todd and the Nazis. Remember the scene where Todd told Uncle Jack that Mr. White said they should wear their gas masks, but they just acted like Todd was a goody-two-shoes? Foreshadowing. Jesse not only escapes, but he proves that he was Mr. White's best chemistry student all along.
The machine gun is for Gretchen and Elliott, who are so despicable by now that the audience wants to see Walt to gun them down.
Jesse has lost everyone he has ever loved, arguably because of Walt. Jesse holds a gun to Junior's head in the final, climactic showdown with his former partner. The expectation has been built that he will pull the trigger and he does. But he cannot kill the innocent. He uses the bullet on himself. Jesse dies for Walt's sins, and becomes Jessus.
Walt stands down. He takes the lesson from Jesse to heart. He spares the Gray Matter tycoons. This disappoints the viewers but makes us realize we had broken as bad as Walt for having wanted to see it.
What about the ricin? In his final Jesse-inspired act of redemption, Walt poisons the Nazis' stash of pure blue meth, tainting his brand forever and ending the Heisenberg era. He burns the money, informs the DEA, and turns himself in.
If I'm right, you heard it here first.
Photo credit: Kobie Boslough
Thanks to Aidan, Andy, and Virginia for adding elements to this prediction and for tolerating me this season!