Because the trajectory of Breaking Bad has been pretty clear from early on – creator Vince Gilligan describes protagonist Walter White's journey as that of a transformation from Mr. Chips into Scarface – I've long thought about how it would all play out.
And now that we've reached the beginning of the end (the first half of Breaking Bad's final sixteen Season Five episodes premieres Sunday, July 15th at 10:00 on AMC) , it's as good a time as any to speculate and pontificate on how, to pull some parlance from The Wire, Walter White will get got.
That's assuming he will get got – murdered, maimed, imprisoned, cancer, or something we can't anticipate. It's possible that he won't. But while The Sopranos infamously left it to the imagination of the audience as to what becomes of Tony Soprano after the camera goes dark (my take after long consideration for what it's worth is that he never leaves Holsten's) and The Shield "imprisons" anti-hero Vic Mackey behind a desk gig bereft of his friends, family, and dignity, we can safely assume that at the very least Walter White will not have what anyone will consider to be a happy saunter off into the Albuquerque sunset.
Here then are 14 possibilities for how Walter White's (Bryan Cranston) break to the dark side will turn out.
Please tell us what your take is in the comments, and note that the listed odds are wildly speculative!
Dean Norris, who plays Walt's brother-in-law and DEA agent Hank Schrader, was quoted as saying that he believes Hank is not onto Walt as yet. Personally, I'm not so sure. There are a great many events now – Jesse Pinkman the "weed dealer," Walt's chemistry lab burglary, Tuco, Walt's "fugue state," Walt's mysterious gambling winnings, "W.W.," and Walt's mysterious turn into traffic in front of the super lab, er, industrial laundry for starters – that could propel Hank to start to put the pieces together.
Now that Hank has regained a good piece of his health, the pugnacious Fed is going to be wanting to hunt down the creator of Heisenberg's best selling blue ice once and for all. And let's not put it past Hank's partner Steve "Gomie" Gomez (Stephen Michael Quezada) to be in on the action as well. ODDS – 5:1
Walt's longtime partner-in-crime is an easy choice to take out Walt, and in fact he was close to pulling the trigger late in Season Four before Walt pulled yet another evil Jedi trick out of his porkpie hat. Therefore, I personally think that Jesse killing Walt or being a prime player in his downfall would be a bit too obvious. ODDS – 12:1
I'm sure I'm not the only one who noticed Walter coughing here and there during the Season Four finale. Sure, he had a lot going on, what with his race to reconcile with Jesse (with a little help from convallaria majalis, or Lily of the Valley to laymen) and knock off Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito), but it's possible that the illness that propelled Walt to break bad in the first place could come back to take him out for good. ODDS – 8:1
Last season, Skyler White (Anna Gunn) voluntarily if reluctantly decided to break bad herself. But there's much about Walt's actions that she still doesn't know about and with Walt's triumphant phone call to her in the season finale ("I won") she now can't pretend that Walt considers murder a better solution than going to the cops. Her conscience could be a factor in Walt's eventual undoing, and it's fascinating that that can mean jail or a bullet to the head, depending on how things play out. ODDS – 9:1
One of the darkest and juiciest moments to anticipate is the one in which total innocent Walt Jr. (RJ Mitte) discovers that the man he worships, his pops, is a meth cooker and career criminal. This discovery could obviously have all kinds of disastrous consequences. And wouldn't it be diabolical if Walt Jr. overhears his dad on the phone (those phone calls in the bathroom with the water running can't block out everything, right?) at just the right/wrong moment? ODDS – 12:1
I put Hank's wife, Marie Schrader (Betsy Brandt), in similar territory as Walt Jr. in that she's a relative innocent, penchant for petty theft aside, and would likely need to stumble into information she shouldn't know about in order to shift the narrative significantly. While it's possible, I'd put more of my money on Walt Jr. for such a scenario. ODDS – 20:1
Before Gus got his, he dished it out to the Mexican cartel. And by that I mean the whole cartel. While a new cartel could certainly come into play in this new season, I'd be a little surprised if a new-ish entity popped up as the factor that takes Walt to his fate. ODDS – 25:1
Los Pollos Hermanos: the aftermath
Likewise, with Gus, Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui), and Tyrus (Ray Campbell) out of the picture, I put the shambles of Fring's organization – with the notable exception of Mike – into the same category as The Cartel. ODDS – 50:1
Let's call this the Big Love ending: Walt gets into a car accident, lightning strikes, or some random dude walks up and shoots him. As I expect much more from Gilligan and crew, I'm very doubtful about this one. ODDS – 80:1
You have to put Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) high on the list of people that will factor into Breaking Bad's end run. He's now ostensibly unemployed in the wake of Gus Fring… blowing up and he knows full well that as goofy and amateurish as feels Walter is, he's also not someone to mess with or, more importantly, trust. ODDS – 6:1
Never forget that Walt and Jesse were thisclose to putting a bullet in the back of Saul's head the at the end of the first day that they met each other. And we equally shouldn't forget that Better Call Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) is a professional at avoiding the fallout in a very dirty and violent business. ODDS – 7:1
Another angle to ponder: if Walt can often be dismissive of Jesse, it's clear that he thinks of Jesse's sometimes posse/sometimes drug dealing employees Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) as nothing more than shiftless junkies. And consider that the formerly hard partying boys did make a serious go to get clean in Season Four. Perhaps a factor down the line? ODDS – 18:1
Walt doesn't get got at all
The last time that a creator of an already legendary series was under this much pressure to deliver a satisfying and original ending was in the form of David Chase, who of course took the, "Don't stop…." way out. Maybe Gilligan gives us the Scarface in Walter White that he has promised, and simply push the corruption and disruption of all in his orbit to the most extreme. It would be pretty extraordinary to see Walt self-righteously tell Skyler and Walt Jr. to piss off because they "don't understand" right before the final credits roll, wouldn't it? ODDS – 40:1
Let's call this the Darth Vader ending. As everyone knows, at the end of the (real) Star Wars trilogy, a dying Darth Vader reconciles with his son, Luke Skywalker, and laments his descent into evil. Maybe we'll see a dying Walt do something similar with Walt Jr. at the end? ODDS – 30:1