Breaking Bad: “Face Off” Review

Season 4 comes to a close with a boom, and a sickeningly appropriate title

**Warning this review contains spoilers from the fourth season finale of Breaking Bad **

Photo Courtesy of AMC

Due to time constraints as of late, this review is a bit late. For this reason I will go into the episode as I normally would, as well as provide my opinions on the season as a whole in a second post. Also since there are not alot of decent pics for this episode I am going to add some of my personal favorites that I found. Cheers and enjoy!

Holy sh!t! Holy sh!t! Holy sh!t! Alright got that out of my system.  Breaking Bad has never been the type of show to end calmly, and “Face Off” was no exception. As per usual great character moments, along with a blend of action and a hint of mystery made this episode predictable, and yet still amasing, leading to one of the best finale’s this series, or any series has seen.

The episode begins rather frantically after the events of last week’s episode, as Walt grabs the bomb from Gus’ car and rushes, of all places, to the hospital where Jesse is. While Walt has done some courageous and extraordinary things in the past, this was probably his dumbest moment. This was made all the clearer when the Albuquerque police came to question Jesse about Brock’s , and all Walt could do was sit in the chair and pray that he didn’t piss his pants.

Photo Courtesy of AMC

As Jesse comes to be questioned by the police, Walt  books it to Saul’s, where after busting the door because the secretary would not open it, comes to be blackmailed by the woman for money to fix it (along with a little extra to get out of dodge). Leave it to Vince and his gang to make a comical situation out of such an intense one.

As Walt frantically runs back through the broken door (still oddly funny to me), he drives off to his house to grab the money. However, being the paranoid man that he is, Walt first choose to get his elderly neighbour to check out the house, saying that they are out of town and left the burner on. Really Walt? You would let your neighbour die for you? That’s low.  However, after ensuring the place was good Walt runs in and grabs the cash underneath the house, only to see the feet of some men walking past his house.  As Walt cleverly escapes through the ducts, Jesse is let go thanks to Saul who came back to save him.  Fortunately the agents let Jesse go saying that Brock was poisoned by a flower some flower. Never the less, as much as I have called Saul a scumbag, he really is there for those that have helped him in some way, even if his own head is on the line.

No, there plan does not involve using this stuff
Photo Courtesy of AMC

After all these minute issues, Walt and Jesse devise a plan with the help of good old Tio (guy in wheelchair), who as Jesse comes to tell Walt, hates Gus.  The plan involves essentially using Tio as bait, and so Tio once again meets up with the D.E.A, including Hank, claiming to have information. As Tio nothing but spells out curse words to the D.E.A., he comes to be followed by Gus’ right hand man (whom I just remembered is called Tyrus). As Tio makes it back to the nursing home, Tyrus kindly meets him there looking for Walt, amongst other things such as you know, a bomb.  This was quite an intense moment for minutes before viewers saw Walt hide in the washroom. Luckily enough he had the wits to climb through the window and make his escape.

As Gus gets a call from Tyrus, saying that it’s clear but it may be best if he did it, Gus refuses and casually unbuttons his shirt and puts on a new one.  This moment gave me the shivers as the last time viewers saw Gus do this was when he killed his old right hand man in the very first episode of this season.  It’s also kind of weird how something as mundane as shirt changing can be such an intense moment, but than again this is Vince and he has a knack for making a spectacle of the mundane.

As Gus drives to the old age home and boldly walks in, a close up of his face perfectly captures all his emotions. Not since the D.E.A. questioned him have I seen Gus look so angry and frightened at the same time, and it makes me wonder if he knew this was the end. As Gus walks into Tio’s, casually closes the door and pulls up a chair, Tio slowly turns his head away from him. “A cripple little ratta. What a reputation to leave behind,” Gus says as Tyrus grabs a needle and hands it to him. “Last chance to look at me Hector,” Gus says defiantly believing he has bested the man that killed his partner long ago.  However, as Gus draws closer with the needle, Tio comes to face Gus with a look of anger and pain and rings his bell furiously. The look of confusion, surprise and perhaps sympathy on Gus’s face is mesmerising as he comes to realise what Tio is doing. As a shot slowly pan’s down to Tio’s wheelchair, and the bomb that is attached there, Gus screams out in a final moment of rage. I snarkily smiled as Gus came to be bested by the one man whom he thought so little of. However, this smile quickly went to pure horror, as a shot of the explosion outside the room is shown, along with Gus walking out. However, as Gus slowly reaches to fix his tie, the camera slowly whirls around showing what’s left of him (Two-Face anyone). This was an absolutely brilliant and chilling moment. One of the greatest, most two-faced villains television has ever seen truly lived up to his description, as he slowly collapses to the floor dead. Although I was expecting, well not this, this defiantly was a fitting way to get rid of Gus and wrapped up the season in a nice little explosive bow.

Photo Courtesy of AMC

The episode ends with Walt coming to Jesses rescue in the lab proclaiming that Gus is dead, all before destroying the lab in one fantastic montage. As Walt and Jesse slowly walk out of the laundry mat and pull the fire alarm, Walt yelling “Vamanos”, I expected something to go utterly wrong. Would Mike, who has been M.I.A for a little while, step in? Would the D.E.A. bust the place as Walt and Jesse walk out? Nope none of this and for the first time things ended smoothly for Walt and Jesse- well somewhat smoothly. As Jesse later tells Walt that Brock will be alright and that he was poisoned by a common flower called lily of the valley, a look of concern and even doubt arises on both there faces, realising that it was not Gus after all. Gus had to go Walt tells Jesse, and in many ways is right. Gus was a great villain, but drawing him out until season 5 would have been boring and a retread of what occurred this season. Anyhow, as both shake hands and Jesse walks away, Walt calls Skyler saying that it’s over. Hearing about Gus’ death Skyler asks if he had anything to do with it. “What happened?” she asks Walt. “I won” he replies. This angered me greatly, for in the end Walt saw his confrontation with Gus as nothing but a game, one in which he would do anything to win. This point was driven home in the final shot as the camera leaves Walt and comes to show his backyard, where a little potted plant of lily of the valley lies with a few branches missing.  Wow just wow!

Although I criticised the show for having a rocky start, Breaking Bad certainly ended in grand fashion. However, it is interesting the way this season worked out, for the first half of this season felt like an extension of season 3, showing the repercussions of everything. I would have been alright with this, if Vince tried to progress the show in any manner with this first few episodes.  However, viewers only truly got to see the story for this season nearly halfway through and so many of the early episodes just felt like filler. However, overall this season found it’s momentum in the remaining half of the season, which I am grateful for, where Vince managed to find his footing once again and masterly blended plot and character development with action. Overall this season felt very half and half: half good, half amasing; but thankfully it ended on such a high note, leading to some of the best episodes this series (and television) has seen along with one hell of a finale. Breaking Bad now enters its fifth and final season, and although this saddens me, I really hope they make every episode count. With some of the dominoes already set up, I truly hope that every episode of season 5 is like the last half of this season: explosive and awesome. With that said this concludes my reviews for this season of Breaking Bad. Now if you will excuse me I need to go into hibernation for Breaking Bad withdrawal is already hitting me bad. Can it be July already?

Photo Courtesy of AMC

The Good:  A fitting conclusion to a great villain, and overall great season of one of televisions best

The Bad: Certain characters left out of the spotlight (I.e. Mike) yet this is tolerable. Also the fact that this season is over

The Ugly: So….cold….need more Breaking Bad now

Gus: For old time sake I added this. Thought he was a badass, was mistaken, got blown up. You win some, you lose some.

Overall: 10 out of 10