More than anything, this season of “Breaking Bad” has been about control. Who’s got the power? Who controls his own fate? It’s been subtle, incremental, but over the course of the season, Walter White has lost it. He may be a millionaire meth manufacturer with a history of murder, but in each successive episode, Walt has lost more and more control over his own life, over his own decisions. Gus brought him back into the fold, as a cog in the meth dealing gristle mill, just as he was once a chemistry teacher in education mill. Gus has controlled him from the day Walt signed up and, really, even before that. Jesse also took control away from Walt, essentially blackmailing him into bringing him back as an equal partner. An equal partner Walt never needed. Walt knew, too, that Jesse was skimming, but Walt was powerless to prevent it.
And then there’s Skylar, who re-inserted herself back into a control position in Walt’s life, both by taking Walt’s money and applying it to Hank’s medical bills and by trying to dictate the money-laundering arrangement with Saul. Last night, he fell further into the emasculation pit when he allowed Skylar to throw plausible deniability back in his face. Skylar won the business arrangement battle and Walt had to grovel to get something out of the deal, namely a few nights of dinner with his family and a key to his own house, an agreement I’m sure that Skylar secretly wanted but got while maintaining the power position in the relationship. Walt has slowly returned to his former place in his marriage, too. As the cowering husband.
To hammer home Walt’s loss of control, Jesse came to Walt with news of Combo’s death and their indirect role in the operation responsible for it, namely that Gus was allowing his dealers to use children as executioners. Jesse had a plan to murder the two dealers who hired Tomas and get his revenge for the murder of Combo. And what did Walt do? He squealed to the principal and then watched as Gus tried to put Jesse in his place. But Jesse has been fighting against the control, buying his parent’s house, manipulating himself back into the business, striking out on his own, and even standing up to Gus last night, insisting that children not be used to sling meth. Gus acquiesced, and Jesse at least got a compromise out of the deal, while Walt sat, like a little school boy, as Gus gave a harsh edge to his calm and collected demeanor.
Gus, Skylar, and Jesse held all the power in Walt’s life. Until someone made the mistake of killing a kid. That last scene was more than about Walt protecting Jesse. It was more than about killing two drug dealers who deserved it for murdering a child. It was about regaining control over his life, over the operation, and over his relationships. Ultimately, regaining that control may have been self-destructive, and surely, Jesse’s life is in extreme peril — even if Walt can sweet talk his way out of responsibility — but no matter. You saw it in that final scene, after Walt plowed in to two dealers in his shitty little emasculating Aztec and then shot one of them in the head. The camera wasn’t looking down on Walt in those final few seconds. The camera was looking up. At its fucking master. No more half measures.
It’s Walt’s world again, motherfuckers. And don’t you fucking forget it.
I should probably also mention that Hank finally left the hospital, after Marie gave him a boner. Look who’s got control of that relationship now?
And I don’t want to try and guess too much at how the season finale will wrap up, but as I warned last week, I still think that Walt, Jr. is going to get caught in a crossfire, something that was intimated at even harder last night when Walt, Jr. asked his father if he could use his car for the driving test. You know what happens when the wrong person is driving a car? “Sons of Anarchy” set a pretty clear precedent for that. Let’s just hope that Vince Gilligan is setting that up as a red herring. Otherwise, next week’s ep is going to be really bleak.