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+.


i'm not as sharp as some viewers, at the end when the plant is shown, i thought it was gus who had poisoned the child.. and i agree that the "fix my tie" thing was over the top!
i dont care for skyler, will she get any comeuppance? cannot wait for the next season..


i'm sure we havent seen the last of gus. all season they have been hinting that gus has this past that makes him some what special. so his assassination isn't going to just go over looked. and i;m sure we will be seeing a few flash backs next season into who he was in chile which will explain why walt and jesse are still in grave danger. amazing season. but hasn't every season been. and can't wait to see mike next season. glad they left him out of the last 2 episodes.


I don't know why everyone is saying Walt has no humanity left. He's changed a lot and has made some ruthless decisions, but he's been pushed into them. Sure, some of them aren't nice, but he's still got a conscience and still cares about Jesse, his family, etc. That's what makes him so interesting. Gus was far less interesting because he really did care about absolutely no one but himself.


Jim, I think you hit the nail on the head with your prediction reguarding Gus' past coming back into play, I've been thinking exactly the same thing.


Awesome show. I am thinking someone from Chile is going to show up to find out what happened to Gus. Remember in the flashback when Gus first went to Don Eladio to sell him his Meth and Hector shot his cook. Don Eladio told Gus that the only reason he didn't kill him was because he "knew who he was".
Maybe Walt will hire Mike for protection.


I have been watching Breaking Bad since the very first episode aired, but I have to say, it has finally JUMPED THE SHARK. I can kind of look the other way a bit concerning the FLIMSY plot lines lately, but last night's finale had one glaringly STUPID moment... Gus calmly walking out of the room, adjusting his tie....again, ADJUSTING HIS TIE!!! As we see full frontal Gus, we see that he looks more like half man/ half Terminator... and yet, he feels the need to ADJUST HIS FUCKING TIE!!! STOOOOOOPID!!! Now, don't get me wrong, that scene was shocking as hell, it made my jaw drop. But he should have just crawled and slithered out looking the same way and that scene would have been just as shocking. They didn't have to resort to such a cheesy move as having him walk out like it was 'business as usual' and yes, one more time... ADJUSTING HIS FUCKING TIE!!! Cheap & cheesy, I expect better from Breaking Bad. I still love the show and I will, of course, comeback for the final season... I mean I'm invested this much, right?
But I hope this kind of gimmicky writing doesn't ruin the last episodes. Very disapointing.


Anyone else think Jesse will eventually get a spinoff show after next season?


Walt very well could have posioned Brock. When he and jesse are fighting he pulls out the cigarette and asks jesse why he has not used it.. then throws it at jesse.. could have switched it out! and when we see saul's secretary shredding papaers... she shreds a school schedule.. Walt probably had one of sauls guy taint Brock's lunch, which is much more believable then walt or some stranger walking up to brock and giving him berries to eat!!! Breaking Bad is the ABSOLUTE best show on television ever, period end of story. As for the next and final season, i truly think it is going to be jesse (possibly with the help of mike) vs. walt after jesse finally puts things together not only about Brock but Jane as well. Jesse will figure out he is just another pawn in walts game to rise to the top.


The weakest? This is the wrong show for you to watch, go do something else cause this whole deal is obviously not your thing.


E, the thing you think was a vent was actually Gus Fring's car. The one he left behind when he felt there was a bomb in it. No one was watching Walt on the parking garage....well, that we saw or was alluded to, anyway. Walt, in an actorly moment(the only cheesy moment from the entire ep, I thought.) Was staring at the car and the Los Pollos Hermanos medallion of the empty car. The feeding the kid berres thing is an impossible contrivance that I'll have to get over, I guess. Walt just did't have the time, or means to pull it off without someone seeing him. It was a slick piece of writing, and the idea is brilliant. (I add my congratulations to those who called it. Impressive.) It just couldn't have been done Mike's still out there somewhere. I don't see him as a revenge guy, though. He's seen 'em come and go. I bet he'll appear next season, but I also bet he'll be a confederate of some kind. I add my incredulity to that statement about 24 being a far better show than BB. That's just beyond me. 24 was slick tv cotton candy. This is so much more. I don't truck with name calling, but I think that statement is ridiculous.

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