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burning questions

9 Questions Breaking Bad Still Needs to Answer

Only two episodes of Breaking Bad remain: "Granite State," airing this Sunday, and "Felina," which brings the journey to a close on September 29. While both episodes will be a super-sized 75 minutes long, it feels like there are still so many unanswered questions floating around! Here are the most pressing:

How long has Walt been gone? We know that Walt gets in the van with Saul's "vacuum repairman" pal. And we also know he goes away from ABQ long enough to grow back a decent head of hair and a full-on beard. What we don't know is exactly how much time has transpired between his departure in the van at the end of last week's "Ozymandias" and his arrival at the Denny's that occurs in the flash-forward in the fifth-season premiere, "Live Free or Die." He seems to be celebrating his 52nd birthday — but why would his fake ID have his real birthday on it?

How do people find out that Walt is Heisenberg? Hank and Gomez are dead, so they can't tell anyone. And Hank hadn't been forthcoming with his other DEA colleagues about his investigation, so they might not even know where to look. There's a tape of Jesse explaining the whole operation, and that tape is just chilling out at the Schraderhaus, but given Hank's history of assaulting Jesse, will any other law enforcement officials believe that Jesse freely gave up that information? Do Marie and Skyler fill the authorities in? Once Skyler involved the police in "Ozymandias," do the dominoes just fall from there? Let's suppose that the DEA does know that Walt is Heisenberg, thanks to Hank's thorough notes. When does that information become public — or at least, when does a spray-painting vandal find that out? For that matter, who is the spray-painting vandal?

What happened to Walt's cancer? Does Walt still have terminal cancer or what? On the one hand, it feels like the only way to end the show is with Walt's death. But having him die of cancer would seem like a karmic cop out; lots of perfectly wonderful people die of cancer, too. It's not a punishment, and it wouldn't feel like justice if that's how Walt goes out.

For whom is the ricin intended? We see Walt retrieve his precious ricin vial in "Blood Money." The ricin has been a major subject of conversation over the past few weeks, especially after Jesse started piecing together Walt's history of lying to him in general and about the ricin in particular. But we still do not know whom Walt is planning on poisoning. Walt has a gigantic gun in the trunk of his beater; he could, presumably, shoot whomever he wanted if it were just a matter of killing someone. But the elaborateness of having to dose someone with ricin makes that chess piece more intriguing. Who do you want to murder but not shoot, Mr. White?

What about Huell? Is he really still just sitting in that room, waiting for Hank to come back? Sorry, Huell.

Does something happen to Saul? Saul has been threatened and beaten and forced to kneel in the desert and beg for his life. Now that Walt has disappeared, is Skyler going to come to him looking for more answers? Or do the Nazis take him out for knowing too much? Maybe the recently announced spinoff Better Call Saul is a prequel instead of a sequel for a reason.

What will happen to the Nazis? Suppose other DEA agents put everything together about Heisenberg. Will they ever be able to connect Walt conclusively to Todd's uncle, the prison murders, and the deaths of Hank and Gomez? Or does Jesse escape and tell the police everything in exchange for immunity of some kind? Breaking Bad isn't a show that lets its characters ride off into the sunset. (I'm still wondering how that "franch" guy at Madrigal is holding up.) So, it's hard to think that the Nazis won't ever face any kind of consequences.

Is Jesse going to die? He is going to die, right?

Sklyer? Walt Jr.? Holly? Are they going to die? Unfortunately, we are all going to die. But as wrenching as "Ozymandias" was, it did introduce a way for the White family to survive without Walt; paint him as a lunatic villain and then move the hell out of there, presumably with a lot of therapy. For a while, it seemed like the biggest tragedy that could befall Walt would be the death of his family. Now, though, it seems like it might be even more torturous for him to know they are leading a happy, good life without him — or his drug money. All of this was for nothing, jerk!

Photo: Ursula Coyote/AMC