Breaking Bad: “Face Off” Season 4 Finale

10 Oct

SPOILER ALERT: It’s been a long summer for us, Hank (Bryan Cranston), Jesse (Aaron Paul), Skyler (Anna Gunn) and the rest of the characters in Breaking Bad. Sometimes things went very slow, but that’s because we had to descend into a bit of madness with Hank, Jesse and Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) at different times this season. Descending into madness, from what I can tell, is not something that happens fast, it is like slow-drip coffee. It takes a while but once you are there, you will remember the richness of the experience for quite some time to come.  If you have watched this episode, you will understand the double entendre, almost triple if you think about the film Face/Off and we discover Walt’s new, evolved persona.  He didn’t need an actual skin transplant, he just needed thicker skin.  A lesson for us all, really.  And Vince Gilligan makes sure we all learn just what it takes to grow a thicker skin and makes us question the price we tend to pay… our humanity.  The real question is, how important is humanity when you are trying to survive?

Walt is literally on a mission:  to kill Gus.  First he plants the car bomb that Gus ‘senses’ and avoids.  Then in one of the best scenes ever, Hank has to take back the bomb and bring it into the pediatric intensive care ward in a flowered baby bag.  Jesse can’t believe he brought a bomb into the hospital.  At this point, their life has become so surreal that it doesn’t phase Hank.  After all, that bomb is all he really has to kill Gus.  Hank implores Jesse to think of a place where there are no cameras where Hank can plant the bomb and kill Gus.  Jesse is so upset about Brock that he can’t come up with an answer then he is hauled off by the police because of his ricin comment to Andrea in the  last episode.  Saul (Bob Odenkirk) must rescue him and that’s when Jesse remembers the nursing home where Hector (Mark Margolis) lives.  He gives the information to Saul who passes it along to Hank.

Hank’s reunion with Hector might be filled with hate but their mutual hatred of Gus overcomes their feelings for each other.  Hector gets on board the plan and allows Gus to think he has talked to the DEA.  This draws Gus out and exposes him.  He wants to kill Hector personally, which is what Hank is betting on.  Tyrus (Ray Campbell) does a sweep of the room and it seems clear.  Later, Gus and Tyrus visit Hector.  He finally looks directly at Gus which alerts Gus something is terribly wrong since Hector starts ringing his bell which is now a trigger for the bomb.  It explodes killing all three men.  But not before one of the best scenes in television, as we see Gus walk out of the room, seemingly unscathed, fixing his tie, then the camera pans around to show us that half of his face and head have been blown away.  Gus is dead before he realizes what’s happening.  The moment he crumples to the floor, you know Hank has finally won, for now.  Hank and Jesse torch the superlab so there is no evidence of their presence.

Later, Jesse tells Hank that it wasn’t ricin that hurt Brock (who will recover).  It was a flower, Lily of the Valley.  For some reason, apparently, Brock ate one or some of the berries and it poisoned him.  Walt looks relieved and Jesse goes back in for his vigil.  Walt calls Skyler to let her know they’re safe and she looks a bit ill, realizing just what her husband is capable of since it’s all over the news.  Finally, as Walt contemplates his new power, the camera takes us on its own journey – to Walt’s backyard, to show us the Lily of the Valley potted plant.  And yes, I stand corrected, I didn’t think Walt was capable of harming a child but he had to think like Gus and he won as soon as he adopted his opponent’s tactics.  This particular gesture has made Walt even less human and a bit more like Gus.  I can’t wait to see what next season brings.

One Response to “Breaking Bad: “Face Off” Season 4 Finale”

  1. joeslife101 October 10, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    Quite possibly the best episode so far. Although that scene when Gus walk out of the room with half his face blown off reminded me of The Terminator.

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