BREAKING BAD Season 4 Finale Predictions

     October 7, 2011

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AMC’s Breaking Bad has taken fans on one helluva journey over the past four seasons, and the series’ most recent season has been one of the best yet.  There is, in fact, an argument to be made for the show getting better with each passing episode, but we’ll save that for another day.  Instead, let’s talk about Breaking Bad’s Sunday-night season finale:  will Hank figure out why Gus has been three steps ahead of him all this time?  Will Skylar turn out to be pregnant again?  And—as the old Texas Chainsaw Massacre poster used to ask—who will survive, and what will be left of them?  Check out my predictions for the Breaking Bad fourth season finale after the jump, folks.

breaking-bad-end-times-bryan-cranston-tv-show-image-01If you’ve taken a look around lately, you might have noticed that Breaking Bad’s become quite the popular series this season.  Over the past few years, Vince Gilligan’s AMC-based masterpiece has always been one of the most critically-acclaimed shows on television, but this year the online-chatter surrounding the show (and, hell, the offline-chatter, as well:  I’ve had more people ask me if I watch Breaking Bad this year than any other) has reached new levels, and last week’s episode seems to have inspired more crackpot guesswork, conspiracy theories, and speculation than any other episode in the series’ run (yes, even moreso than last year’s “Did he or didn’t he?” season finale).

Quite frankly, it’s awesome to look around and see this many people talking about the show, mainly because it feels like Breaking Bad’s finally starting to get the amount of attention it so richly deserves.  But it’s also awesome for another reason:  the (sometimes hilariously convoluted) conspiracy theories that have sprung up in response to last week’s episode.  Over the past week, I’ve fielded some truly bizarre emails from Breaking Bad fans.  Some of them have been compelling, some of them have been flat-out nuts, and some of them have even been spelled properly—but all of them were worth reading, and some of them have even changed my predictions for the show’s fourth season finale.

breaking-bad-end-times-giancarlo-esposito-tv-show-image-01The finale—as you surely know—airs on Sunday evening, and after spending the week discussing Breaking Bad with some of you, I thought it might be a good idea to offer up a place for all of us to share our own predictions for the fourth season’s final episode.  I’m going to give you mine, but I’d encourage all of you to offer your own below (as per usual, let’s keep things civil:  if someone offers up a theory you find to be batsh-t insane, don’t call that person out for it.  Instead, offer up your own predictions and revel in your correctness when they turn out to be wrong on Sunday night).  Let’s start things off with a look at who might live to see season five.

WHO WILL SURVIVE (AND WHAT WILL BE LEFT OF THEM)

WALT: I think we’ll all agree that—as the star of the series—it’s incredibly unlikely that Walt (Bryan Cranston) will get offed on Sunday night.  The show could theoretically go on without him, but based solely on Gilligan’s stated mission to show us the transformation of Walter White from “chemistry teacher” to “supervillain”, I think it’s safe to say that the mission hasn’t been accomplished just yet (more on this in a later section).  And so:

ODDS of DYING: 100/1

JESSE: Jesse’s always been the Laurel to Walt’s Hardy, the Butch to his Sundance, the Han to his Chewie.  Breaking Bad without Jesse would be like Jurassic Park without the dinosaurs (sorry for the outdated example; I just glanced up at my Jurassic Park Mondo print).  While I’m certain that Jesse won’t live to see the end of this series, I think it’s a safe bet that he’ll definitely make it to season five.  Whether or not he’ll live to see the series finale, however, is another question entirely.

ODDS of DYING: 75/1

breaking-bad-end-times-aaron-paul-bryan-cranston-tv-show-image-01SKYLAR, WALTER JR., MARIE, SAUL GOODMAN: All of these supporting characters have roughly the same odds of being taken out.  The narrative hoops Gilligan and company would have to jump through change from character to character in order to pull that off are different, but—in the end—I think that most of these characters are safe.  Still, though, we shouldn’t be surprised to see one of them killed off in order to drive the plot in season five, and so…

ODDS of DYING: 50/1

HANK: Now Hank, on the other hand…I could imagine Hank getting taken out.  I don’t believe it’ll happen—if for no other reason than to stick around and finish out the “Who is Heisenberg?” subplot—but, again, it’s possible.  I’d guess that Steve, Hank’s partner, would be far likelier to be killed off than Hank (did anyone else think he might get shot while poking around in the laundry last week?), which would a) make Gus happy and b) push Hank into overdrive on the whole finding-out-who-Heisenberg-is thing for the show’s final season.  For Steve, I’d give 10/1 odds.  For Hank, though?

ODDS of DYING: 40/1

MIKE: It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Mike, Gus’ right-hand man and Jesse’s current mentor.  He’ll surely pop back up for the season finale, but with all that Cartel business having finally died down, the likelihood of him being killed has been greatly reduced.  Let’s say this:  if he does get taken out, he’ll be a collateral-damage death.  I think Mike’ll stick around to either butt heads or join forces with Walt after Gus is out of the picture.  And so..

ODDS of DYING:  30/1

GUS: Here’s the biggie.  On the one hand, Gus is now sitting in the cat-bird seat in terms of meth distribution in ABQ:  he’s wiped out the cartel, he’s got the world’s best recipe for meth, and he’s got unlimited resources.  Gilligan could keep him around for season five (especially considering the awesome work that Giancarlo Esposito’s been doing in that role).  On the other hand, this entire season has been about the cat-and-mouse game between Walt and Gus, and a showdown is inevitable.  The only question is:  will it happen Sunday night…or a few episodes into season five?

ODDS of DYING: 15/1

You’ll surely have your own opinion on these death-predictions, but again:  offer your own in the comments section.  Now, let’s talk about storyline predictions…

WHERE IS THIS ALL HEADED (AND WHAT’S THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE FINALE’S TITLE)?

The final episode of season four is titled “Face Off”, and apparently Vince Gilligan called this “a strangely appropriate title”.  We could take that a number of ways, but I can fold that statement into the theory I’ve already got in place for how season four’s going to wrap.  Be forewarned:  what follows is complete speculation, and in all likelihood will turn out to be entirely incorrect (after all, if we could accurately predict and write Breaking Bad storylines, we’d be doing that for a living instead).

breaking-bad-season-4-poster-I think that the majority of the fourth season finale will deal with Walt and Jesse having their showdown with Gus.  At some point, Mike will come back into the picture.  Walt will realize his glasses were bugged, Jesse will tear himself away from the hospital to help hunt Gus down (perhaps turning to Mike in the process), and—eventually—Gus will get his.  It’s entirely possible that Gus will live to see season five, but I personally think that he’s going to be taken out in the season finale.  Furthermore, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike joining up with Walt and Jesse to make this happen:  maybe Walt and Jesse will offer him more money to work for them (plus dental), or maybe Mike will be smarting over the fact that Jesse—not Gus—saved his ass in Mexico.  Whatever the case may be, I think that Mike will be involved in Walt and Jesse’s plan to topple Gus.

I think that this back-and-forth will take up most of the episode, and that after Gus is good and dead, we’ll have one more “holy shit” moment before the credits roll.

To describe that moment, though, I gotta fess up:  I like the theory that Walt poisoned Brock.  I do.  I know that it sounds insane at first, but once we start to analyze last week’s episode, the season finale’s title, what Gilligan said regarding that title, and—last but not least—a hint that Bryan Cranston tossed out during an interview earlier this week (which I’ll provide you with shortly), I’m confident that this is as good a theory as any.  In case you haven’t heard this one, here’s how it goes:

Walt poisoned Brock.  There’s a scene in last week’s episode where Walt is sitting in his backyard, spinning a gun on a table.  The gun lands on Walt twice, but on the gun’s third spin, it points toward a potted plant.  Walt seems to be struck by a sudden idea, and after leaping out of his chair, the scene ends.  The next time we see Walt (as far as I can recall), it’s when Jesse comes over to confront him about Brock’s poisoning.  An enormously tense scene follows, and ends with Walt finally convincing Jesse to come back to his side and kill Gus.  It takes some convincing, but Walt pulls it off eventually.

According to this theory, Walt saw the plant, thought of Ricin, and devised a plot to poison Brock with some sort of chemical compound/elixir/whatever that’d simulate the effects of Ricin…but not kill him.  Doing so would result in Jesse blaming Walt for the poisoning, which would then lead to Walt spinning a yarn about Gus being responsible.  Walt would have justified the poisoning of a child to himself by thinking, “Well, the kid won’t actually die…and it’ll get Jesse back on my side…and that’ll allow me to take Gus out, which saves me, Hank, and my family”.  One kid spends the night in a hospital bed, and Walt gets to stay alive (as does his family).  We’ve seen Walt make justifications in the name of his family’s safety before.

And so, if this theory is correct—and I believe it might be—we’ll spend the majority of Sunday’s season finale watching Walt and Jesse take care of the Gus situation, and then—in the episode’s final moments—we’ll learn that Walt was the one who poisoned Brock.  We’ll realize that Walt has made the transformation from “chemistry teacher” to “supervillain” (as Gilligan has warned us he would), and Jesse may or may not figure this out.  If he does, expect season five to be about the showdown between Walt and Jesse.  If not…well, expect Jesse to find out eventually, anyway.

I was going back and forth about all this, and then I noticed this quote from Cranston in an interview that took place earlier this week.  Here’s Cranston talking about the season finale (spoilers follow):

“And then almost insignificantly, almost forgettable, the last scene, there is no dialogue. There are no actors. It’s a familiar exterior scene if you’ve watched the show. You’ll recognize the place, exterior shot, and you don’t even know really what you’re looking at. You’re looking at something that’s like, yeah, so? And the camera slowly pushes in, pushes in, pushes in, and you don’t even know where it’s going, it’s innocous. And then all of the sudden it rests on an object. And once you recognize, and understand the meaning of that object, you hold your head, once more, and go: NO! HOLY SHIT! NO! Blackout. End of the season.”

Y’know what I think? I think we’re going to see some sort of evidence that Walt poisoned Brock:  maybe we’ll see the Lunchables that Walt switched out for the poisoned one in Brock’s lunch (that’s kind of a joke), or maybe we’ll see some of the non-poison that he actually used for this epic trick…who knows?  But after reading this, I decided that I’d go ahead and adopt the “Walt poisoned Brock” theory.  I especially like how this theory dovetails with Gilligan’s stated objective to make Walt a “supervillain”, and how shocking it would be for the audience.  Can you imagine?

Of course, you probably think I’m nuts (as is anyone else who’s adopted this pet theory).  But I thought the reader who sent me an email saying that Walt’s glasses were bugged was nuts…until I saw that little doohickey on the pad of his glasses.  Over the years, Breaking Bad has painted its characters into so many corners, and every time we think, “Uh-oh, that’s it for (character name here)”, the show’s writers hit us with a narrative sucker punch:  the character is saved, redeemed, killed, or does some other surprising thing, and we’re left marveling at just how brilliant Gilligan and company are.

We know two things going into this season finale:  Walt’s gotta be a “supervillain” somewhere between now and 13 episodes from now, and Gus and Walt have to have a showdown.  What are your predictions for how it’ll all turn out?  Leave ‘em below (and remember:  let’s respect our neighbors, kids), and be sure to come back on Sunday evening for my all-singing, all-dancing, fantastic-plastic recap-review of Breaking Bad’s fourth season finale.

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