Having finished watching Season 4 of Breaking Bad, and having no access to Season 5 till it emerges on DVD or streaming, I’m going to go ahead and speculate a bit about the show’s eventual direction and conclusion. Many of the issues raised and provoked by the first four seasons seem to require resolution if the show is to wrapped up, as indicated, by the end of the fifth season, and though I’m not one of the writers, I’m going to throw my tuppence in.
Clearly, the tidiest and most obvious way to bring the show to an end is Walter White‘s death i.e., the cancer picks up pace and moves on to its grim finale. And as it does so, and as Walter senses the white light approaching, he steps up the pace of his cooking and manipulating, going out in a blaze of meth-infused bloody glory, leaving the usual trail of death and deception in his wake. (He will, of course, leave behind a widow and two fatherless children.) This should be extremely entertaining even if wrenching to watch. Or, perhaps the writers will give Walter a glorious back-to-the-wall-defending-his-family-shootout kind of death, saving them from the depredations of a ruthless set of ganglords, thus redeeming himself in spectacular fashion even as he loses his life.
Be that as it may, the more important tasks for the show’s writers seem to be the resolutions of the conflicts in Walter’s personal relationships: Hank-Walter, Walter-Junior, Walter-Skyler, and Walter-Jesse. Both Hank and Junior have suffered from Walter’s deceptions, whereas Skyler and Jesse have suffered from their knowledge of, and involvement in, Walter’s activities.
For my money, the most crucial reconciliations are those between Hank and Walter and between Walter and Jesse. (Walter and Skyler have had a running conversation and plenty of time to air their angst about each other; this does not, of course, preclude their final takes on each other as Walter’s life comes to an end.) If I may hazard an educated guess, Hank will finally catch up with Walter, his Heisenbergean nemesis, a man who has nearly caused his death, and caused him plenty of misery. (It is Hank’s fault that he is such an enthusiastic, unthinking participant in the war on drugs, but still.) But when Hank catches up with Walter, it will be too late; Walter will be dying, and Hank will let him go, cognizant of the price to be paid by the family if Walter’s cover is blown. Most centrally, Hank will keep Walter’s identity secret so that Junior does not come to know his father was a demented meth cook.
As for Jesse, Walter will apologize for having induced such a catastrophic trajectory to Jesse’s life, but I do not know if he will ever spill the beans about his role in Jesse’s girlfriend’s death. (Seeing Jesse’s reaction to that would be something, but I suspect that that knowledge would be too painful to burden Jesse with.) It may be that the ultimate happy ending would be Jesse inheriting part of Walter’s fortunes, becoming, as it were, another son of his, one more heir. (I am going to skip lightly past the issue of the morality of getting rich on the back of a trade as violent as meth cooking and dealing.) Then, we would come to view Walter as having rescued Jesse from a possibly worse fate: that of the petty drug-dealer who was sooner or later going to either end up in jail, or be shot by a rival.
These redemptions add up to a happy ending of sorts: there will be a funeral and tears will be shed, but Walter will have provided for his (extended) family, eased the uncertain torments of Hank, and maintained his image in the eyes of his befuddled son.
This is mere guesswork, of course, and half of Season 5 is done and dusted, so those watching the show might be inclined to chuckle at my babbling above. No matter; all will be clear once I lay my hands on the full season.
Note: Please, do not leave any Season 5 spoilers in the comments.