“Many deaths I’ll sing”: Breaking Bad, Final Episodes Preview.

“Many deaths I’ll sing”: Breaking Bad, Final Episodes Preview.

Walter White has been on quite a journey – as have we. Following the success of Mad Men’s debut in the previous year AMC premiered Breaking Bad in 2008, and since then Vince Gilligan’s gripping series about the former high school chemistry teacher turned crystal meth cook, played by Bryan Cranston, has gained a critical acclaim seldom achieved on the small screen. Now the crime-noir drama is nearing its end and Walter’s demise could also be imminent.

If the first part of season 5 documented the rise of Walt/’Heisenberg’ and his meth empire after the killing off of boss Gustavo Fring at the end of season 4, with only eight episodes left, the second part promises to explore Walt’s undoing. That aside we know little else, and there are umpteen questions to be answered. What will Hank’s reaction be now he knows Walt is the elusive Heisenberg, the monster that he has been chasing for so long? Will fragile Jesse, brilliantly portrayed by Aaron Paul, find out about Jane, Brock and Mike? What of the skittish yet savvy Lydia, and psychopathic child-killer Todd? Their involvement with Walt in the first half of the season set them up for significant roles in the remaining episodes. Will Walt ultimately go the way of Tony Montana? Gilligan has called White’s transformation as that of “Mr. Chips to Scarface”, and, as Walt tells his son when watching the film, “everyone dies in this one” – to wife Skyler’s horror. It served as a truly ominous portent for what lies ahead. All guns blazing?

Though it seems futile, albeit fun, to speculate as to how it will all play out given the writers’ proclivity for the unpredictable, we get our best clues as to the final outcome from two pieces of literature. That other ‘W.W.’, Walt Whitman’s poem ‘Gliding O’er All’ was alluded to in the mid-season finale, entitled ‘Gliding Over All’. Taken from Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, the collection Hank discovered at the White family house while taking a number two, it represents murdered Gale’s poetic justice from the other realm – or “time and space”, as the poem contends. “Death, many deaths I’ll sing”, it concludes. Many deaths have already been sung, but Gilligan has suggested in recent interviews that many more are to come.

“There is nothing ambiguous”, he also says, “about the ending”. With Walt ready and armed on his 52nd Birthday as shown in the cold opening of last year’s first episode, does an unambiguously deadly final showdown loom? That would certainly lend itself to the Scarface theory.

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem ‘Ozymandias’ also gives us a glimpse of what could be to come for Walter. The poem has been used as the final video teaser for the second half of the season, and as with ‘Gliding O’er All’, it too lends its name to an episode – an upcoming one, the sixth of eight. The sonnet’s theme is the inevitable decline of kings and their empires: “Look on my works”, the king commands, but “nothing beside remains.” In the first part of the season, Walt told new affiliate Duncan to “say my name”‘Heisenberg’, the egotistical meth king. But will anyone want to remember either the names of Heisenberg or Walter when it all ends? We’ve already seen the demise of king and empire before in Breaking Bad. From Tuco’s business to Fring’s massive network, both immediately dismantled in the wake of their deaths, to the fierce gang lord Hector Salamanca being reduced to dinging the bell of his wheelchair in order to communicate, the story of Ozymandias’ toppled great men is indeed a familiar one to the series. Their ‘works’? Vanished. Walt survived them all. He truly is the “king of kings” right now, as the sonnet goes – but it will surely make little difference. It seems as if a similar fate awaits Walter White, the fascinating focal point of this thrilling character study that delves into the American dream’s heart of darkness.

N.B. – This being a music zine and all, it is worth mentioning Breaking Bad’s terrific soundtrack – it will certainly be an added joy to hear the songs chosen to provide the soundtrack to these final, undoubtedly nerve wracking moments of the show. I can’t wait.

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.