Breaking Bad Season 4 Finale Review: Who Won?

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Following last week's episode of Breaking Bad, which included Walt's panicked plea to Skyler - "I've made choices. I alone should suffer the consequences of those choices." - I wrote that Heisenberg was dead.

And it's true. Walter White is no longer a man trying to look and act the part of a ruthless, well-reasoned, cold-hearted drug dealer. The fourth season finale of what is making its case to be the greatest show in television history made it clear: Heisenberg really is gone. Gus Fring 2.0 is in his place.

Walt truly is the Man Who Knocks now.

Partners Shake

Overall, "Face Off" told a very simple story. It was the story of Walt actually coming up with, and following through with, a careful, intelligent, winning plan.

Throughout four seasons, viewers had seen this chemistry teacher go from an average, no-confident Joe to a ego-maniacal loose canon. He wanted to be tough, he wanted to be the man in charge and he thought the world revolved around his every action. But a lot of that was a farce, as emphasized over these final few heart-pounding episodes, as Jesse rose up the drug operation ranks and Walt grew more and more ostracized.

But that all changed with one explosion. The key ingredient in Walt's evolution has now been added. Walt executed a plan as thought out and diabolical as any Gus could come up with.

It involved putting his neighbor's life at risk. It involved nearly killing an innocent child. And it led to a moment where Walt could finally exhale, look over his town and declare: I won.

Before Walt arrived in the winner's circle, of course, a death as gruesome as any in televised memory gave an entirely different meaning to the title of the finale. No, Gus and Walt didn't really face off here. The former simply lost half of his head.

Vince Gilligan and company didn't even attempt to make Gus' murder a surprise. The death march for this fascinating character began the moment he left his car outside the retirement home, as music played, we zeroed in on his face and it was clear what was about to go down. The goal here wasn't to shock, but first to honor such an engrossing, well-portrayed villain and also to emphasize the rise of Walt as his replacement.

Again, this was a straightforward episode (with one major exception: it skipped over a great deal of Walt's plan - having Saul's bodyguard life Jesse's Ricin cigarette, never revealing how Walt slipped the berries to Brock - something that could understandably bother many viewers who felt this was an example of manipulative, misleading storytelling). It took its time to arrive at that parking garage roof, literally spelling out multiple scenes with Hector to build tension like it often does so well, but the aim of this season was to finally anoint Walt as a winner. In a Charlie Sheen-like sense of the word, of course.

Walt doesn't care about the money, he doesn't care about his family (do you really think his next stop is Hank's house... or to wherever he'll construct a super lab of his own?) and he almost doesn't care that he was nearly a child killer. Walt did seem legitimately relieved Brock will survive, but the fact that he took the step with that deadly flower is all we need to know. (Bravo, meanwhile, to the readers who pointed out from last week's conclusion that Walt was behind Brock's poisoning, especially those who referred to the scene where his gun landed away from his on the terrace, aiming straight at a plant.)

Despite everything, meanwhile, Jesse is as much Walt's student as ever. He still refers to him as "Mr. White," he asked to make sure Gus had to go. I don't know what Walt has in mind next, exactly, but I don't doubt that Jesse will follow him into it.

Breaking Bad is undoubtedly the best show on television. Is it the best ever? Where will it go from here? Will Walt organize a New Mexico cartel of his own? We have awhile to wait and awhile to debate, but does any of that matter right now? I'd prefer to savor the incredible season that just passed - from the acting to the camera work to the storytelling - than begin to worry about the final 16 episodes. Just truly amazing stuff all around.

What did everyone else think?


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.8 / 5.0 (565 Votes)

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.


It wasn't for survival all Walt had to do was avoid Gus and everything would have been fine, except for his brother-in-law, but I say his fault for for being nosey. Gus was an awesome character and not really much of a bad guy, he really gave Jesse confidence and even honored Jesse's demand to let Walt live,


HiSorry if I just missed it ,but I can't see any dieffrence in the deluxe plan versus the premium or platinum other the the price. It looks like if you would like to eat a nice evening meal the deluxe is the way to go.We have never used them. They are the best way to go, right?Thank you


i have a love hate relationship with dinsey, i love it to death, but they seriously just over promote them selves way too much. we get it dinsey. you have theme parks, with parades etc. but get it through your head, 99% of the country is in debt, no one can afford your bajillion dollar vacation


and honestly, i dont see walt as a "cold blooded" killer. he is obviously not the most moral person, maybe he's not a good guy, but what he did in the last 2 episodes wasn't for some thrill or anything, it was to save hank and his family's life.


and to van- yes boomtown was one of the greatest tv shows ever! so amazing, didnt even get a cult following like some other one season internet wonders, like freakd and geeks or firefly


Ken M, he should have killed crazy 8. and to people saying walt is worse than gus... how so exactly? I get that walt did some effed up things but he kinda had to do them. gus was gonna leave walt and his family alone as long as he stayed away from jesse.... except hank. and jesse was annoying this season.. not seeing through Gus's VERY obvious plan to split them up. walt knowws SOOO much about chemistry.. he probably knew enought to make the kids sick.. but not die. yes, effed, but still, make a child sick for a few days, then he'll be fine so that way hank (and at that point his entire family) wouldn't die.


A big fan of the show and I just had to toss my two cents in. Whatever Walt was when he started, he's someone else now. As for poisoning Brock, easy, no problem, he's been morally bankrupt for a long time, ever since he first strangled Krazy-8 in Jesse's basement, and surely since he watched Jane choke on her own vomit. You could see it in his eyes, first the idea that he was going to help Jane, then the realization that a lot of his problems would be solved if she was dead. Gus was nothing compared to what Walt has become. Still becoming. Season 5 is going to be explosive!


Oh, and Walt did have a choice when he was warned by Gus not to see Jessie anymore and he responded defiantly something like, "What if I do?" THAT is when Gus brought Walt's family into it. Would Gus really have left Walt alone if he didn't contact Jessie? Maybe not in th long run, but his family probably wouldn't have been threatend.


Not having cable, I am a little late to the game on this. I watched the first 3 seasons on Netflix and HAD to buy the 4th season on Amazon to see what happened next. I have gone through periods where I wondered if I could watch the show, not because it wasn't extremely compelling, but it just brought some very disturbing things to mind at times. The shows quality and storytelling always drew me back. I do struggle with seeing Walt turn into who he's become. Even when it was very clear he poisoned Brock, I was trying to figure out a more complicated plot that would make Walt innocent of that act. But sending his neighbor into his house pretty much told you how he viewed his needs over others and it didn't take long for me to stop trying to deny Walt's true character. I'm such a sucker for redemption in a storyline! This show makes the point of how choices often lead one down a path of no return better than any I've seen before.


its definetly mike watching them...if u listen closely u will recognize the breathing to be him.

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