Breaking Bad won’t be over-over for another fifteen episodes — eight of which won’t air until next summer anyway — but it’s impossible not to wonder how it’s all going to end. Its entire vibe is one of impending mortality, and looming death is BB’s brutal bread and butter. But how will the show shuffle off this mortal coil? Let’s run through some possibilities.
1. Walt Dies
There are a lot of different ways this could happen. Murder, suicide, disease, or accident all seem viable, but if the show has to end with Walt’s death (and it kind of does?), let’s hope it’s a murder. Accidents are for other people, people like Ted, people who don’t plan well. Disease hasn’t been a major factor on the series in a while, and Walt has become so fascinated by his new dangerous life that suicide seems unlikely. Murder it is! But at whose hand? Jesse’s? Sad but legitimate. Walt Jr.’s? A little too schmaltzy. Sklyer’s? Now we’re talking. Hank, Marie, and Mike are also contenders as would-be Walt killers.
2. Jesse Dies
If Walt’s death feels like an inevitability, Jesse’s would feel like more of a tragedy. He’s not some innocent tender flower or anything, but a lot of what’s wrong with his life is Walt’s doing, not his own.
3. Walt and His Family Call the Vacuum Repair Guy and Start a New, Crime-Free Life
Which would feel more satisfying as a viewer: To watch Walt suffer, or to watch him bask? Does Walt deserve victory, or does he deserve punishment? Do we want to see Walt “win” — and what would “winning” entail at this point? A new life is probably what Skyler is dreaming of, but does Walt really want out? We’re picturing a dejected Walt suddenly being a high school chemistry teacher again, this time in Iowa or something, with a new name but the same old ennui.
4. Walt Lives, But Everyone Close to Him Dies
Godfather III–style. And now he just has to sit on his ash heap in agony for the rest of his life and feel bad about what he’s done.
5. Walt Dies, and Skyler Takes Over As Drug Queenpin
She’s good with numbers and she can lie to the feds. How hard can the rest of it be?
6. Everybody Lives and Stays Put in Albuquerque
Walt’s biggest vice is his belief that he’s extremely special. Walt believes in his own extraordinariness above all else, which is why he takes so many risks. They don’t feel risky if you’re sure you won’t get hurt, when you think the rules don’t apply to you. Retiring Heisenberg (with a deal with the cartel, say) and going back to milquetoast Walter White, car-wash owner, least special person in the world, would be the ultimate gut-punch for the series. Think of the end of The Shield, where the evil, powerful Vic Mackey was reduced to a pathetic desk jockey, just like everyone else.