Matt Zoller Seitz is feverishly putting together his recap of "Granite State" (UPDATE: It's up!), tonight's splendid episode of Breaking Bad. But while we wait for his fuller dive into the many surprises lurking in the penultimate episode and celebrate the show's Emmy win for Best Drama, here are four thoughts for you to mull over.
1. Saul and Walter would make terrible roommates. The vacuum repairman, who apparently does actually work on vacuums when not creating new identities for people, tells Saul that he's heading to Nebraska. (Saul: "Nebraska? What's in Nebraska?" Vacuum repair guy, played wonderfully by Robert Forster: "You. From here on out.") But Walter has different plans for Saul — to help him exact revenge on Uncle Jack and pals for killing Hank and because "they stole my life's work." But Saul, who sensibly seems to prefer the idea of just fading away to Nebraska and becoming "just another douchebag" who manages a Cinnabon, almost cries when Walter begins to repeat his bullying mantra that "It's not over until he says it's over." But before Walt can get those words out, he starts coughing, and Saul finally tells him, "It's over." Long story short: Walter and Saul are not BFFs forever.
2. Todd is part ninja. Well, it seems like he might be, seeing as how he slipped past the Feds watching Skyler and appeared, in quasi-ninja garb, in Holly's bedroom. The warning he issues to Skyler not to expose Lydia under any circumstances is creepiness personified. "You really don't want us coming back here," says Todd to Skyler politely. Way, way creepier, of course, is his visit to Andrea's after Jesse's daring, post–Americone Dream escape, and his soft-spoken, preemptive apology as he pulls the trigger: "Just so you know, this isn't personal."
3. Walt has a particularly depressing New Hampshire vacation. And it was quite a journey getting there — transported 4,400 miles inside a propane tank by the gruff vacuum repairman. After a few months in the sad Unabomber cabin, Walt has grown so frail that he doesn't have the strength even to walk to the end of his driveway, let alone into town; and so, he's stuck in his own self-created prison, which is stocked with few diversions other than two DVD copies of Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, and he's grown so lonely that he resorts to paying $10K to the vacuum guy for an hour of hang time while he's receiving IV chemo. (Walt, by the way, has lost so much weight that the wedding ring that he is pointedly not wearing in the flash-forwards from earlier episodes simply fell off his finger when he was in bed.) But eventually he manages to haul himself into town to make a phone call to Walt Jr., who gives him a snootful and refuses to listen to his dad's pleas to deliver $100K to him secretly. Even now, Walt can't believe that his family has turned against him. "It can't all be for nothing," he simpers. And (Heisenberg's) hat's off to Walt Jr. for his amazing closing salvo: "Why are you still alive? ... Just die!"
4. There's that old Walter White pride. Ready to give himself up to the DEA, he sees a Charlie Rose interview with his former partners, Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz, who belittle Walter's contribution to Gray Matter Technologies and say that "the sweet, brilliant man we once knew, he's gone." This slight, not surprisingly, seems to incense him greatly, and springs him into action. With Walt heading back to New Mexico, pursued by all the cops in the United States, it begs the question: Between Elliott and Gretchen, which one gets the machine gun and which one gets the ricin?
Look for Matt Zoller Seitz's recap soon. Until then, have at it in the comments.