There are only four episodes of Breaking Bad left. That’s a bummer, certainly, but the show has always had a limited — though potent — trajectory. It’s about a man with a terminal disease, for goodness’ sake. (Not cancer, though. Pride.) So, what can we expect to happen as the AMC series hits the home stretch? BB creator Vince Gilligan is famously tight-lipped about spoilers, as is the network with its cryptic upcoming loglines, but at least we have the final four episode titles. And those titles tell quite the tale — well, possibly. What follows is complete speculation.
September 8: “To’hajiilee”
To’hajiilee is a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, and a bunch of scenes from BB have filmed there over the years. The word To’Hajiilee translates as “bringing up water from a natural well” — which is particularly interesting, since on Breaking Bad, To’hajiilee looks like a desert. The idea of “bringing water up from a natural well” is also reminiscent of Walt’s first piece of advice to Jesse: apply yourself. The water’s there for the taking, you just have to bring a bucket. The obvious guess is that a lot of the action of this episode is set in the To’hajiilee area; maybe that’s where Walt buried his cash, or maybe Gilligan & Co. are taking us on a greatest-hits tour of the many desert locales where meth has been cooked or people have been killed.
But the real reason I have insanely high hopes for this episode is because of The X-Files, the Fox series that gave Gilligan his start in television. From a mythology perspective, the three most significant episodes of The X-Files are the season two finale, “Anasazi,” and the first two episodes of season three, “The Blessing Way” and “Paper Clip.” The first two of those are set in Navajo reservations, and all three episodes include Navajo characters and reference Navajo traditions and use phrases of the Navajo language. (In “Anasazi,” the show’s opening-credits tagline “The truth is out there” is even translated into Navajo.) Those The X-Files episodes reveal how elaborate and pervasive government conspiracies could be. Given that Breaking Bad has had many X-Files-y moments over its run, perhaps “To’hajiilee” will reveal to Walt — or Hank — that Madrigal’s network is vaster than anyone realized.
September 15: “Ozymandias”
Well, there’s this promo:
Ominous! And Gilligan made a point of telling Vulture that the Shelley poem is crucial to Walt’s arc. But is Walter White the Ozymandias of Breaking Bad? The king whose works we should look upon? Given that stirring promo, there’s a way to read it that way; Walt is a prideful, self-styled king who demands recognition. Or maybe he’s the sculptor, able to understand (and to ridicule) the king. Maybe he’s the traveler, telling of what stands in the desert. Or maybe he’s the original narrator of the poem, the one furthest from the experience of the desecration time wreaks on greatness.
But there’s another way to read the poem in a Breaking Bad context: The destroyed statue is Gus. The sculpture has a broken face, after all. This is the description of the statue in the sonnet:
…Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
That’s Gus to a T, all shattered visages and cold sneers. And this would best position Walt as the sculptor. Gus demanded obedience, and when he slit Victor’s throat, that might as well have been a declaration to look upon his works and despair. But the poem makes it clear that the only works we’re actually looking on belong to the scultpor, whose statue has (mostly) survived, even as the desert has gobbled up Ozymandias’s mightiness. Everything in Gus’s empire is “boundless and bare” like the desert. This makes Hank the traveler from the antique land, who comes upon a wrecked visage (that’d be Gus’s murder) and finds the boasting attributed to the king but inscribed by the sculptor.
September 22: “Granite State”
Granite State is a nickname for New Hampshire. And we know Walt has some affiliation with the state, thanks to the season five premiere titled “Live Free or Die” — which of course happens to be New Hampshire’s official state motto (it’s on their license plates and everything!). In that episode, he claims to be from New Hampshire and is using a New Hampshire I.D. We know that certain events in “Live Free or Die” and the beginning scenes in “Blood Money” are set far enough in the future that Walt’s hair has grown back and his house has been abandoned long enough for it to be thoroughly vandalized. “Granite State,” presumably, will be when we find out what transpired between the present-day story line and Walt’s maybe-fake 52nd birthday. (Can you believe that this episode will be airing opposite the Emmys? And with Charlie Rose making his cameo, too? Boo!)
September 29: “Felina”
Despite repeated requests, AMC hasn’t confirmed that the title for the final episode is “Felina” — which makes me think it might not be. The only evidence we have that it is comes from a grainy shot of Betsy Brandt holding what appears to be a finale script, and given how secretive the BB production is, it would not be surprising for scripts to have working titles or dummy names. And BB has changed titles in the past; season five’s “Say My Name” was originally called “Everybody Wins,” for example. So “Felina” speculation may be premature. With those caveats, felina is, most simply, an anagram of finale. Felina also means feline in Spanish, which would tie in with both BB’s frequent use of episode titles en español (“Negro Y Azul,” “Caballo Sin Nombre,” etc.), as well as with the season one ailurophilic “Cat’s in the Bag.” Jesse’s been using a Hello Kitty phone, so there could be a kitty connection there, too. And between “cat’s got your tongue” and “curiosity killed the cat,” there are plenty of ominous proverbs to go around.