In the penultimate episode, we saw Walt crushed and defeated. He’d lost most of his money, his power, and his family. He was utterly alone and dying in a cold cabin in the woods, paying his sole visitor $10,000 just to play cards with him for an hour (all he could get, having asked for two). In time, he would have died alone, with money he could neither spend nor give to his family. His fall was complete, and in a way the series could have ended there.
But we have tonight to consider. There’s been speculation in the run-up to this final episode about Walt’s plans for the ricin and the machine gun. One radio show on The Ticket in Dallas proposed the gun was for Uncle Jack and company while the ricin was for Elliot and/or Gretchen Schwartz.
The machine gun does seem to have Uncle Jack’s name on it. Walt has several motivations there. He wants the money they took from him (not because he needs it, but because they took it), he wants his name to live on, and he wants to win (remember his comment when he took out Gus Fring).
The ricin, though, is a tougher call. As bad as Walt has become, it makes no sense for him to attack the Schwartzes in this way. For Walt, the victory would be in having them alive, knowing he won, and remembering his name. He’s going to go out with a bang, and he’s going to make sure the world knows about it.
The ricin is for himself.
The question is whether he will be killed during his assault on Uncle Jack. I say no. At least not by anyone in Uncle Jack’s camp.
We know that given time to plan, Walt will out-maneuver his enemy. Whatever he’s scheming, history predicts it will be a winner. It is probable that Walt will destroy Uncle Jack’s gang. His next step would be to get the rest of his money to his family, whether they want it from him or not. And by the time he’s done, the ricin he already took will be kicking in.
The variable that Walt will not have accounted for is Jesse, the one enemy he’s always underestimated, and whose escape from Uncle Jack failed. Jesse will be there when Walt comes, and Walt will be caught unprepared for this. And if Walt is most dangerous when he has time to plan, he tends to come off the rails when reacting to the unplanned (as he did when Jesse tricked him into revealing the location of the buried cash). Walt has yet to learn that Jesse is no longer the village idiot, and this may be his undoing.
In fact, a fitting end would be for Jesse to have a chance to save Walt, knowing he’s taken the ricin, and to choose not to. Just as Walt chose not to save Jane.
This relationship between Walt and Jesse is the only one left unresolved. At least until tonight. And that’s why the series could not have ended last week.