The first of the show’s final eight episodes appears on Netflix tonight (Mon Aug 12), and speculation about the ending is rife. Will Heisenberg (Walt’s criminal alter ego) become the head of an untouchable cartel? Will sleuthing DEA brother-in-law Hank get the better of him? Or will angry Mexicans shoot the chemist down in a bloody gun battle? We weigh up the delicious options…
The Shakespearean ending
The five series of Breaking Bad have more than just a mathematical connection with the five acts of a Shakepeare play. In particular, Walter White’s over-reaching ambition smacks of Macbeth’s ascent to the throne of Scotland. Like the Thane of Glamis, Walt’s had to bump off a few major players to become top dog. The scene is set for Birnam Wood to come to Albuquerque, and for Heisenberg to be overthrown big Willy style. Likelihood: 5/1
The Sopranos ending
It’s conceivable that, like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad might only give us meagre food for thought at its conclusion, rather than the full buffet of carnage we’re all hoping for. The Sopranos closed on an ambiguous ‘what the hell happens next?’ note that only hinted at impending violence. Vince Gilligan, however, rarely misses an opportunity to show a man with half his face blown off. Likelihood: 10/1
The Godfather ending
If Walter White has a cinematic equal, it must be Michael Corleone. The central character in Francis Ford Coppola’s film trilogy gives everything for his family, only to finally realise that he’s alienated and endangered the ones he loves. Bryan Cranston has hinted that Walt’s fate could be similar: ‘What if he lived, and [his family] didn’t? Wouldn’t that be a worse hell to be in?’ Likelihood: 4/1
The ‘never saw it coming’ ending
‘Breaking Bad’ has redefined the ambit of the screen drama, and pulled off one of the most ambitious character progressions in history. The most likely outcome is, therefore, one that shakes things up yet again. Saul Goodman – the show’s morally vacant lawyer – could usurp Heisenberg’s throne, for example, thus setting the scene for a rumoured spin-off show. Or what about Walt’s cancer? Might the disease finally get the better of him at the point he seems most invincible? Wherever the bolt strikes from, you’ve got to bet on Vince Gilligan pulling something out of the blue. Likelihood: 2/1
Consider the evidence
Will Jesse turn on his former mentor? Will Walter continue to be The Danger? Will Saul and Marie finally get together? (OK, that’s just us.) And will there be dipping sticks?
These are the questions driving Breaking Bad fans mad. Here are the clues as to what lies ahead…
1) The ‘Ozymandias’ teaser trailer
In this trailer, Cranston reads from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem ‘Ozymandias’, which tells of a powerful ruler who mocked the gods, but whose empire has long since crumbled to dust. How could this possibly relate to the tale of an ego-driven drug kingpin? It’s beyond us.
2) The micro-teasers
We see Jesse looking into a mirror. A cockroach walks over it. THEORY: Jesse is eaten by meth-addled cockroaches? Sometime later: Hank Drives With Great Intensity. THEORY: closing-down sale at the mineral store? (more teasers)
3) The flash-forward: Walter’s hair
His hair is back. That’s good!
But he’s got a hacking cough. That’s bad!
But it’s his birthday. That’s good!
But Skyler and Walt Jr aren’t there to arrange his birthday bacon. That’s bad!
But he does treat himself to a nice self-indulgent purchase…
4) The flash-forward: Walter’s gun
…this might also be bad. A thorough examination of the scene confirms that it’s a really big gun, which, last time we Chekoved, almost guarantees excitement ahead. And those tracer bullets are ideal for shooting at things so they explode, while also looking magical at night.
After the flash-forwardy misdirection prior to Season 2’s mid-air collision, however, you might not want to take this one at face value. Walt could just need a truly substantial paperweight.
5) The early reviews
Some lucky critics have already partaken in the season premiere. Their reviews are naturally giving away very little indeed, but have fun reading between the lines of these:
“The biggest plot development won’t surprise viewers. Its speed and ferocity might.”
“There’s another flash-forward that also kicked off this final season… picks up immediately where the first half of the final season left off…”
“‘The past is the past. Nothing can change what we’ve done,’ Walter tells Jesse in the first of the final eight episodes. ‘But now that’s over.'”
“There are two scenes in Sunday’s episode that rank among the most powerful in the entire series.One spotlights a shattering moment in Norris’ portrayal of Hank, and another does the same with Paul’s portrayal of Jesse.”
6) The best ‘…bitch!’ ever
Amidst a flurry of pre-premiere press, certain details manage to leak out. Like the blessed fact that, according to Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad’s greatest “…bitch!” moment still lies ahead of us.
As he told New York Magazine, ‘there is one coming up in the final set of episodes that is just perfect. You haven’t seen it yet, but you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when you do. It’s amazing. When I read [the "Yeah, bitch! Magnets!" scene], I laughed out loud for a long time. It was a little while before I could stop, but this one coming up, I’m telling you, it’s another special bitch line.’
By Jonny Ensall and Guy Parsons