Sunday night the words "Walter White is dead" were not uttered, but the words "Gus is dead" were. They could not have been said more matter of factly than the way Walter White delivered them. After a dramatic pause and look of astonishment on Jesse's face, Walt added "We've got work to do." That is not only true for Jesse and Walt, but for Vince Gilligan and his creative team, as well. Trying to figure out where the final 16 episodes goes after the spectacular execution of Gus Fringe is probably fruitless, because every time you think you know something about this show, Gilligan reminds you that you don't. Let's review the season finale, Face Off, with a few perspectives thanks to some of my followers on Twitter.
stevebraband Steve Braband
Agreed. I'm not one to pay attention to titles of TV show episodes. Other than LOST (because you had to pay attention to everything on that show) and Police Squad (because of the humor in it), episode titles always seemed insignificant. I was not aware of the title of this episode going into it. Had I been, I probably would have thought nothing of it (the Walt v Gus showdown was inevitable) or, perhaps, thought John Woo was guest director. Learning the name of the episode after the fact made it even more enjoyable.
As for THE SCENE, I thought it was spectacular. Beginning from the moment Gus says on his cell phone "I do this," the drama builds. Gus changes from his work clothes into his work clothes. Then he pulls into the parking lot at Casa Tranquilla and sends in his man to make sure it's safe. With western music fitting for a gun fight at high noon in the background, we get a :25 iso on Gus's stony visage sitting in the car. :25!! That's an eternity in a TV show and a brilliant decision by Gilligan as it pushes the drama of the moment further and further. Finally, jarringly, his cell phone rings. Gus begins his procession toward the retirement home, and again the camera, right behind Gus' head, sells the sense of a showdown at the not-so OK Corral.
As the scene unfolds in Hector's room, Gus is just about to inject Hector with a fatal dose of something and Hector looks like he is going to cry. Suddenly his face changes to anger and he begins to ring his now famous wheelchair bell. The facial transformation of Hector in a :06 span stuns Gus and astonished me. If there were an Emmy for best facial expressions, Mark Margolis would be a finalist, along with Nolan Ryan. We quickly get the camera pan down to the bomb, a scream from Gus and the explosion.
k_dash_rob Kyle Roberts
When Gus first leaves the room I thought "what the hell??" but when the camera pans around as Gus straightens his tie, we eventually see a Terminator looking shell of a face left on the right side of Gus' head before he falls dead. Some people thought that moment was a bit cartoonish, but I enjoyed it because it was so Gus. He had always been so meticulous, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Shortly thereafter we are treated to the second best line of season 4 (behind "I'm the guy who knocks") when Skyler asks Walt "what happened" and he stoically but defiantly proclaims "I won." It's at this point I felt a sense of finality and satisfaction, but that's when Gilligan dropped the bombshell. The closing shot of the Lily of the Valley plant sent a shiver down my spine (after the fact I connected the dots of this scene and the one in the prior episode of Walt spinning his gun a few times before it stops, pointing toward the plant). It was an epic twist that sets us up for what I always expected, that ultimately this show is coming down to Walt vs Jesse. Those two characters are almost complete opposites from where they started. Jesse is becoming a caring family man who has immediate regrets for any objectionable actions. Walt is now a cold blooded killer who justifies all his heinous acts, including poisoning a child, as acts of family preservation. In reality, Walt only wants to be what Gus was, The Man. As one Twitter follower said
tmckenna1 Tom McKenna
In the end, I completely agree with this assessment.
thek1ng55 Jim Henry
They could have called it quits right there and I would have been TOTALLY satisfied. But now we get 16 more episodes (probably split over two seasons) to see how it ends. One of my friends thinks Walt will end up getting nailed by Hank and lose everything, resulting in his entire purpose of this journey blowing up in his face. He always said he was doing everything for his family and he'll be left with none of them by his side. I think Hank never finds out that Walt was Heizenberg and Walt dies from his cancer. Walter is all about control and that's the one thing thing he has no control over. It's going to be a long wait until season 5, but you know it'll be worth it.
JJBuffone Jeremy Buffone
michaelweil Michael Weil