Breaking Bag: Paste's Breaking Bad Mailbag (9/29)

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Josh and Shane will be running a Breaking Bad Mailbag each week so we can all get our BB fix before the new episode airs. The finale is tonight, so this is it for the mailbags, but stay tuned for the email exchange recap on Monday.

Well, this is it. Our last Breaking Bad mailbag. It’s a day for tears and regret, especially considering the quality of this week’s emails. In our humble opinion, this is our best installment yet. Our readers are hitting their peak, just like the show itself, and dammit, it can’t end here! Do something, Vince Gilligan! If you really love us, keep it going! This all we have!

But all good things must end, so let’s get to your questions and theories and other forms of madness before I start blubbering like a child. Thanks as always to everyone who wrote in; this has been a blast.

We start in North Carolina, with a plea for laughter in the oppressive shadows of a bleak world. (I’m talking about the Breaking Bad world, not North Carolina.) (Okay, I’m talking about North Carolina too.)

Dear Shane and Josh,

I can’t believe the series is almost finished. Everyone is so caught up in wondering what will happen on Sunday night—who lives, who dies, who gets tortured by Landry. There are kind of a lot of loose ends to tie up in 75 television minutes, but one thing I haven’t heard a lot of discussion about is the following: What will become of Badger and Skinny Pete? Throughout the series, these two lovable drug dealers provided opportunities for laughs. Remember their Star Trek discussion at the beginning of the second half of this season? How about the time they started attending Narcotics Anonymous meetings with Jesse to meet potential customers, but actually ended up going through the steps?

Here’s what I hope: that Vince Gilligan, dark as he is, understands that we the audience needs something to keep us from drinking ourselves to death during the show, and that he will give us some fleeting humor through Badger and Skinny Pete. The reality is that there isn’t enough time left to address them. Or, even worse, Landry and Uncle Nazi somehow find out that they’re friends with Jesse and they end up in Belize with Andrea.

What do you guys think happens to Badger and Skinny Pete?
—Kinsey B., Raleigh, NC

I start with this email because I’m 100 percent on board with the idea of some comic relief in the series finale. And unless Walt slips on a banana peel as he’s attacking the Peckerwoods, the only agents of humor left in this universe are Badger and Skinny Pete. Kinsey doesn’t think there’s enough time to bring them into the story, but my problem is that there isn’t enough time for anything. How are all these story lines going to be resolved? In order to wrap everything up, the action has to be hot and furious, and I don’t see why we can’t throw Skinny Pete and Badger into the mix along with everyone else. My ideal conclusion is that everyone else dies, and they have to raise Brock and Holly by themselves. And that’s a spin-off I would absolutely watch.

I’m hoping the final showdown is intercut with Skinny Pete playing a beautiful piano concerto. Those of you who want to see more Badger can find him among a surprisingly good cast (Anna Faris, Allison Janney, Nate Corddry) in a sitcom that I’m sure will be every bit as good as Breaking Bad. (Spoiler: It’s not. He’s like Badger, but with a laughtrack!)


Couple of things. No one’s mentioned this, and traveling in the general pack, I pause to do so, but a couple of episodes ago when Walt tried to bait Jesse out to “get got” he went to Andrea’s and nothing came of it. She called Jesse’s phone and Hank intercepted the message. Breaking Bad is not a show to waste scenes and the one thing I got out of that was Brock’s stink eye…looking at Walt like he was the devil himself. Can anything come from that? I can’t imagine Brock holding a blood soaked machete at the top of a heap of bodies, but was that whole scene for naught?
-Alfred H.

Unlike Badger and Skinny Pete, I think it’s clear that Brock is squarely in play and will figure into the finale one way or another. There are a few realistic scenarios, but I don’t think Brock turning into Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” is one of them. Although now that you mention it, I would like to take a look at his notebooks and make sure there’s no disturbing imagery in the margins. With Walt White laying in pools of maroon below.


And gents, here’s you first verse of Inside the empty tank of a propane truck

The devil rides
Inside the empty tank of a propane truck
The devil hides and laughs
All the way to the bank with a bit of luck
The devil’s coming back
With an aim and some misplaced blame and a readied gun
So choose your side
And don’t die Jesse at the shootout beneath the southwest sun
—Alfred H.

Alfred, I like where you’re going with this, and I’m glad you picked up the idea of making those words into a country song, but I think I need to hear some music before I sign off on these lyrics. The rhythmic scheme is escaping me now. Lots of syllables on the B-lines, my friend. Too many syllables, maybe? We won’t know until you drop the mp3. Could be huge, though.

Shane, I think you’re trouble stems from trying to place it in a simple country song. Clearly this is dub step, and the drop comes right before “Don’t die Jesse.”


Here’s to hoping Walt finds a way to inject the ricin into the Stevia that Lydia seems to use as gasoline.

Also, would really love to see to see 1 of 2 outcomes for Todd:

1. Jesse somehow remembers Walt’s scheme from the pilot and creates a chemical explosion in the lab, killing both Todd and himself (although I have trouble seeing Jesse doing anything but escaping and raising Brock.)

2. Todd finds his way to East Dillon, Texas, and reassembles the post-middle school rock band Crucifictorious.

I’m excited.
—Andrew A.

What’s funny is that while I don’t hate Lydia, and I haven’t really heard of anyone who does, she seems like the character we’re most willing to see die. But I have to say, one thing I admire about Lydia is that she’s resilient. She’s had a couple moments where it looked like lights-out, and she begged/pleaded/connived her way to survival. I don’t think this clever femme fatale is going down quite as easy as everyone thinks. Also, I predict that Todd dies trying to save her, giving him some semblance of humanity at the final moment. And I further predict that we’ll all still hate him, and Crucifictorious.

I’m kind of hoping she dies in the meth-lab explosion and the camera slowly pans out to show us one, single high-heel shoe.


How does it end? I love the idea that Walt kills feckin’ all of us!
—Tony M.

—Shane, just wanting to on board with Tony’s enthusiasm

Suckers. I’m gearing up to take advantage of the power vacuums in both Albuquerque and the Czech Republic.


Much ado has been made about Holly White dressed as a pink teddy bear in “Ozymandias”—mostly that it foretells her death—but both you and Josh think Gilligan isn’t that cruel and she will live. So do you think there is any symbolic meaning to Holly’s outfit or was Vince just trying to throw us off?

This is the first I’ve heard of the pink teddy bear death theory, and for those who want more, check out this comprehensive post on Uproxx. It’s interesting, but my problem is that I don’t see any reason why pink has to symbolize death. The teddy bear might represent the innocence that Walt destroys when he becomes Heisenberg, or it might just be a metaphor for the things that survive through the horrible chaos and destruction. I personally see Holly as the goodness that perseveres even while everything around is corrupted. Sure, it becomes tattered and somewhat damaged, like the pink teddy bear, but it never vanishes completely. Holly even managed to soften Walt in “Ozymandias.” I say she lives on as a symbol of redemption.

According to (yes, that’s a real thing), “The color pink represents compassion, nurturing and love.” Do you feel the power that comes with that knowledge? Holly is going to save us all.

Seriously, if Holly dies, Vince Gilligan is kind of a bastard. I met him once, and he seemed like a pretty decent fellow who doesn’t kill off toddlers in series finales.


Am I the only one who thought Walt calling the cops was a trick from the get-go? I saw it as, “If Jr. won’t get her the money, I’ll do it myself” and the call was to draw the heat to NH so he could return to Albuquerque. Otherwise, why did he put the phone down, instead of giving the cops the address and everything?

What I saw as the change after watching Charlie Rose was from “I have to help my family” to “I’m gonna show them.” Walt was still in there, but Heisenberg took back over.
—Matt F.

Intriguing, but to me it seemed very much like Walt was giving up when he called the cops, and only the insult from Elliot and Gretchen stirred the Heisenberg in him. Plus, I don’t buy the whole “drawing the heat to NH” idea…it’s not like all the Albuquerque police will rush to the Northeast, right? We have enough cops to cover both places. At least I thought we did. If not, I need to start getting into crime.


Shane, he can’t go back to the cabin, he already has the feds/police on the way after calling them from the bar. Hopefully he did something with the rest of the money, I highly doubt he would risk losing his millions.
—Michele S.

This was a reference to my theory that the line where Saul’s “disappearer” (copyright Josh Jackson, 2013) mentioned the difficulty of operating the wood stove flue was foreshadowing a cabin fire at some point in the future. And lest we forget, the money is all there. I say it’s going to burn, and I say Walter can go back to the cabin before he flees, because nobody knows that’s where he’s staying yet.

I don’t know. We’ve seen in the flash forward that he’s driving a small, beat-up car with the gun and its trunk, but I think Walt only has the box of money he was going to mail on him. I don’t think he risked going back to the cabin. All he needs back in Albuquerque is that gun. The money isn’t worth much to a dying man with no family to leave it to.


Is it just me, or were the final five minutes of “Granite State” some combination of “Hi Carol” and a middle finger to anyone who came up with an endgame theory centered around “Hey, maybe (insert obscure character) will play a huge role in the finale!”? It’s been how long since we heard a single thing about Lewis or Grey Matter, yet, out of nowhere, one of them becomes an option for Walt to deliver money to his family, and the other (presumably) provides the driving force for the murderous rage left in his body. All that’s left is for Walt to use the ricin on Ted Beneke, and I think they’ll have covered all the bases.

In other news, what was up with that phone call from Walt to Flynn? I’ve never been great at figuring out how much time has passed in Vince Gilligan’s world, but it has been a minimum of two months since Walt arrived at the cabin with nothing to do but watch Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium and figure out what he would say if he was ever able to contact his family again…and he came up with that stammering mess? We’re talking about a man who, one episode prior, delivered one of the most memorable phone calls in TV history just a few hours after kidnapping his own child, and now he can’t figure out how to construct one sentence to his son?

Last question: Where would you set the odds on whether or not Jesse survives the finale? As much as it saddens me, I think Jesse dying has to be at least (-250).
—Kerrance M.

Solid stuff from Kerrance as always. My answers:

1. The “everyone’s included” pattern is just more evidence for the re-emergence of Badger and Skinny Pete in the finale. I’m also curious what’s going to happen with Marie. Again, doesn’t it feel like there’s an awful lot to wrap up in just one episode?

2. I guess maybe two months of total silence destroyed his communicative abilities? That’s a thing, right? Like, if you go into the wild Christopher McCandless style for a year, it’s gotta be tougher to carry a conversation your first day back. You would imagine, anyway. But I agree, it was truly a sorry performance from Walt.

3. Call me crazy, but I just don’t see Jesse dying. It might seem paradoxical, but it after he’s suffered so many fates like death, I think that actually makes it more likely that he lives. The only argument against that is that maybe he’s so spiritually defeated that he’ll give up his life for someone else more easily…but who? Is there anyone left Jesse really cares about? Maybe Brock?

A couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t imagine Jesse living. He was weighted down so much by his own guilt, I don’t think he could have even imagined living. But his suffering these last two weeks feels like his final penance. I really hope he makes it out okay, disappears from Albuquerque, finds a nice girl and starts over—pulls a reverse Walt, breaking good.


I see Walt using the ricin on the Peckerwoods. The compound must have a water source. Unless he’s recruited mercenaries, even a direct assault with the M60 won’t get them all. They’re too well-armed and Kevlar-proofed. Maybe Walt will want them to know it was him though. He’ll need to kill Lydia to find out where their compound is. So I see Lydia as the first to go.

I see the M60 being used at Gray Matter. Gretchen and Elliiot probably will be unarmed and their last moments shall be filled with utter terror.
—Elwyn C.

Man, I know Walt was mad at what he saw on TV, but if he actually kills Gretchen and Elliot for making a solid PR move to distance themselves from a known drug kingpin, that is super harsh even by his standards. Although, interestingly enough, we still don’t know quite what happened at Gray Matter, do we? Walt and Gretchen were an item, Walt and Elliot founded the company, Gretchen ended up with Elliot, and Walt was out. But was Walt out by choice, did they force him out, or was the truth somewhere in between? Did Gretchen cheat on him, or did her relationship with Elliot come later? It’s kind of a minor point, especially now, but I’ve always been curious exactly what went wrong. In a weird way, isn’t that kind of a crucial part of Walt’s identity? It’s a cornerstone of the quiet rage he feels, and possibly a major part of the Heisenberg origin story. (For a synopsis of what we do know, read here.)


I’ve got a gut feeling that something bad will go down at the high school where Walt once taught.
—Brad L.

Brief, to the point, and possibly spot-on. Why else would they show us Walt Jr. in that environment last week, and bring Carmen back into the picture? TV shows have to re-familiarize us with an environment before they stage a major action there, and while some of these theories and predictions must inevitably come up false, the idea that there’s a purpose to every shot might mean we get some high-school drama. Maybe Walt Jr. will get voted homecoming king and his dad will burst in bloody and desperate from killing Todd and the Peckerwoods, and it will totally ruin the moment.


Attention Shane & Josh,

You saw my tweet about our Walter Wit we brewed for the final season. Wanted to send you a few images. Attached is:

1. A shot of the can—what it would look like if we were to ever commercially can it:


2. An photo of me and my wife brewing like Walt and Jesse (photo by Dave Mead):


3. An image that captures basically what we’ve told anybody who tries the beer. It is now your other favorite W.W.>


All of the stuff was designed by a guy named Ryan McLaughlin. I’m Zach. My wife’s name is Joy. We broke bad.

I don’t know about you, Josh, but I am standing up and applauding right now. Best possible way to end the Breaking Bad mailbag. Bless you, Zach and Joy. And please let me know how I can have one of those beers.

Now there’s a spin-off I can get behind.

Follow Shane and Josh on Twitter and check back on Monday for the final review. And if you like The Walking Dead and/or Game of Thrones, the duo will once again be answering your letters.

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