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Walter White (Bryan Cranston) - Breaking Bad _ Season 5b _ Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC Walter White (Bryan Cranston) - Breaking Bad _ Season 5b _ Gallery - Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

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Breaking Bad: After the Shooting Stops

Matt Zoller Seitz has pried his fingernails loose from his couch's armrest and is filing his always insightful recap as quickly as he can. (Ed. note: It's up!) Considering that it's unlikely that you will be able to think about much else other than this episode, "Ozymandias," until then, here are some points to dwell on while you wait.

RIP Gomez. Hard to believe and yet typically expectation-shattering that he never got a proper death scene. All week long, Breaking Bad fans have debated how bad everyone's aim seemed to be in the desert shootout that ended last week's episode. Turns out it wasn't that bad after all. Gomez probably went down the moment we saw Walt's agonized face pressed against the back seat, while Hank took a bullet in the thigh.

And RIP Hank. He never even got to finish the last syllable of the sentence, "Do what you're gonna do," before Jack shot him. Nobody is allowed to get out of this show alive with a fully heroic exit. And then he was dumped in the pit from where Walt's $80 million was just excavated. As Sarah Palin might say, "How's that druggy-family stuff workin' out for ya, Walt?" He always rationalized that this whole criminal career change was only in service of getting money for his wife and children. Now he has family in the ditch where the money used to be.

Speaking of oft-quoted campaign zingers, there are now zero Breaking Bad characters who are better off than they were two years ago. Not a single life emerged unshattered by the end of this hour. Jesse is beaten and chained onto a track — literally, like a dog — and forced by Todd to get back to cooking pure meth. Marie went from the security of knowing that she and Hank had triumphed over Walt and Skyler to realizing her husband is dead while Walt is free. In the space of about an hour (depending on Albuquerque traffic), Flynn learned that everything he thought about his beloved parents was wrong, and then proceeded to see them attack each other with knives, and his father subsequently abducted his baby sister as his mother howled. And Skyler emotionally loses her son, then physically loses her daughter. Oh, and Huell is probably starving to death in his safe house, futilely waiting for Hank* and Gomez to come back for him.

There are still dots left to connect in these final two episodes. We know why Walt has a different identity in the flash-forward (he got in the magical metamorphosis mobile that Jesse never did), but not who trashed his house and wrote "HEISENBERG" on the wall. (Though now we have an inkling how neighbor Carol knew to be scared shitless when he returned.) Has Walt returned to pursue vengeance against Jack and the Nazis? Could Jesse have gained Todd's trust and become their meth guru, further spiking Walt's fury and need for blood?

The biggest question is: Will Walt end the series with any redemption whatsoever? So hard to predict: He begged for Hank's life … but then ordered Jesse dead, tossing in an "I watched Jane die" for his former partner to take to the grave. He tore into Skyler on the phone, but his tears — and subsequent handing Holly over to the fire department — indicated that this was likely a misdirect, and he knew full well that the police were listening in. The episode began with a flashback to Walt's first lie, back in the more innocent days when he had to rehearse to tell Skyler that he was working late at the car wash when he was really cooking in the desert in his sad man panties. Now the lying is second nature, but the weeping indicated that perfection has taken its toll.

There is so much more here to discuss, and Matt Zoller Seitz will be here soon to dissect it. In the meantime, vent your thoughts below. Do what you gotta d ...

* This post has been corrected, swapping in Hank's rightful name for Walt's, duh.

Photo: Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC