There are four episodes of Breaking Bad to go – and a lot of unanswered questions. We have our theories about what could happen, but how do you think it will end?
SPOILER ALERT: This blog is for viewers who have seen up to and including Breaking Bad season five, episode 12 – Rabid Dog.
With four down and four to go, we're halfway through the final run of Breaking Bad episodes. What better time to go through some of the main theories circulating around the finale, and see if we're any closer to predicting how Walter White will be spending his 52nd birthday?
Walt's family will be killed
Though he's made a lot more than the $737,000 he estimated he needed back in the RV days, it's worth remembering Walt's original goal: to leave Skyler and the kids enough to live off after he dies. But what if there was no one left to leave his fortune to? Now that Skyler seems to be fully committed to Walt's life of crime, Junior and Holly are the only characters left uncorrupted. Is there a scenario in which they could they die because of Walt's choices? There's a long-running thread of children being caught up in the wake of drug violence – from Brock being poisoned to Drew Sharp being shot in the desert during the train robbery. In terms of poetic justice, this could be the cruellest fate of all: for Walt to go through everything he's been through, to get away with it even, and be left with no one to pass anything on to, eating his birthday bacon alone.
Jesse will become Heisenberg
"Next time I'm going to get you where you really live." Jesse's threat to Walt suggests he's going to hit him where it hurts the most – so where does Walt "really live"? There's the money, of course; if he could figure out where it has been buried, then ABQ's very own Robin Hood wouldn't have a problem disposing of it. Would that be enough? Could Jesse possibly hate Mr White enough to kill his family? He knows about Brock being poisoned, and he's pretty sure Walt was responsible for killing Mike. But what about Jane? Walt's decision to let Jesse's girl die in her sleep is the only secret left in their relationship that could possibly tip him any further over the edge. However, given the way he has stuck up for children through the series, it's unlikely he'd turn into a child-killer at this late stage, or take their mother from them. Maybe he'll tell Junior what his dad is really like – he's the only character left to find out. Again, would that be enough to settle the score for Jesse?
More than anyone, Jesse has watched first-hand as Walt's personality warped into the Heisenberg role; he's heard his boasts and seen him refuse to leave the drug business several times. Would somehow claiming Heisenberg's legacy for himself be a fitting revenge? Jesse wasn't very impressed with Hank's plans to "burn Walt down" together (and that was without knowing that Hank thought it would be a win-win scenario if Jesse got killed in the process). What if Jesse turned himself in to the DEA and claimed he was Heisenberg, robbing Walt of the satisfaction of being behind it all? Of course, there's the videotape that Hank made of Jesse, but Jesse knows enough of the operation details to make a plausible case – and maybe he's smart enough to be able to turn it around, particularly given that Hank is working without the department's knowledge at this point.
Skyler will come out on top
Skyler's transformation from "stoic wife of cancer victim" to stone-cold meth empire accomplice seems complete, as she keeps up appearances at the car wash and orders Walt to take out Jesse after a few vodkas. But what's her endgame? Is she hoping that Walt's cancer will kick in before she is fully implicated in his crimes? Could she be left holding the baby, and the cash?
White will fade to black
Will Breaking Bad borrow from some of the other big TV finales? Lost's showrunner Damon Lindelof offered this cheeky suggestion on his Twitter feed: "Are you SURE Walt isn't in purgatory?". Surely a Sopranos-style fade-to-black, leaving Walt's fate hanging in limbo forever (Don't Stop Belize'in) would feel out of place? We've had so many intriguing set-ups in Breaking Bad's "cold open" moments answered over the years (the teddy bear's eyeball floating in the pool, the fly sequence, that first glimpse of bald, bad-ass Walt), that it's hard to imagine we'll be left with anything other than a decisive answer to the show's biggest question: will the cancer get him before the law does?
Jesse will team up with Lydia and Todd to take out Walt
Nervy Lydia and blank-faced Todd make an even less likely double act than Walt and Jesse. But after their desert coup, and the phone call Walt made to Todd at the end of Rabid Dog, it's clear we haven't seen the last of them. They don't know that Hank has found out about Walt (and we don't know if Jesse told Hank about them). All Lydia wants is a pure product. Walt turned down her request to help sort out her production problems – which leaves Jesse. He's a more experienced cook than Todd, so surely he's worth more to Lydia alive; could this be a way for Jesse to turn it around, convince them to let him live and then get Todd's Aryan Nation uncle to take out Walt? They're not the subtlest of operators, so that could explain the need for heavy artillery in Walt's car boot.
Grey Matter will be connected to Madrigal and Lydia
In terms of unfinished business, there is still the Grey Matter Technologies subplot. Looking back at the early episodes in which Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz feature, it certainly feels as if this was the seed for Walt's desire to be in the "empire business". We never found out exactly what prompted him to walk out on Gretchen, or why he left Grey Matter; perhaps it was just meant to be an early indication of Walt's stubborn pride, but it's clear how ripped off Walt feels by selling his shares in a company that is now worth billions. Jesse's "He's the devil!" outcry this week echoed the college flashback – a bearded Walt breaking down the components of the human body into their chemical components, Gretchen speculating that a tiny unaccounted percentage could be the soul. It might be a stretch for the series to make a callback to a detail we haven't seen for a while, but a storyline detailing a corporate link between Grey Matter and Madrigal, the international behemoth that Lydia works for, could give the series a dark symmetry – on one level, Walt ending up where he started, defeated by his own stubbornness, still losing out.
Walt will be defeated by science
If Breaking Bad is going to have any real winners at all, perhaps it's chemistry. One of the thrills of the show has been watching Walt use his Nobel-sized brain to engineer a superstring of science-based solutions to the criminal predicaments – thermite blowing up a lock, mercury fulminate exploding in Tuco's office, the home-brew ricin, an emergency battery. As Mythbusters and others have suggested, there might be an element of dramatic licence in some of these experiments, but still, has Walt got one last Dr Evil plan up his sleeve? Or has he gone so deep into the Heisenberg psyche that an M60 and a vial of ricin are all he needs? It's also worth noting that Jesse's science skills have flourished during his unorthodox post-high-school education ("magnets, bitch!") – could the pupil come up with one final, brilliant experiment to take down the teacher?
As ever, your thoughts and theories are welcome.
I think the last theory is my favourite. What say you, ONTD?
Also, nobody cares what you think, Damon Lindelof. Especially when it comes to series finales.