The season finale of AMC's Breaking Bad, "Face Off," finds Walt (Bryan Cranston) and Jesse (Aaron Paul) plotting to kill Gus (Giancarlo Esposito). They get a lucky break when they find Tio Hector (Mark Margolis) more than willing to cooperate, even volunteering as a suicide bomber. Tio manages to blow up Gus, and Walt rescues Jesse from Gus's men. Together, Walt and Jesse burn down the lab. What Jesse doesn't know, though, is that Walt is the one who poisons Brock (Ian Posada).
Is it truly necessary to see Gus post-explosion? His ruined face is an extremely memorable, gruesome moment that will not soon be forgotten. Breaking Bad frequently delivers on shock, but this one might just be a haunting nightmare not easily shaken away. His manner of death gives the episode's title a double meaning.
With "Face Off," Breaking Bad presents a whole new Walt. Slowly, over four seasons, Walt gets deeper and deeper into the criminal world. This year, it seems like Walt is trying very hard to be the bad ass kingpin. Sure, he's afraid for his life, and those of his family. But he's also pretty willing to embrace the tactics needed to survive as such a man. From sending a helpless neighbor woman into his house, which he correctly suspects is being watched, to poisoning an innocent little boy, Walt demonstrates a lack of basic human compassion. Plus, when it's all over, his response is "I won." Call me crazy, but what goes down doesn't seem like a win for anyone.
Is this change irreversible? That much is unclear. Walt is quick to sacrifice whoever needs sacrificed for the sake of his family, or possibly just out of self-preservation. Walt begins to look like Gus, who kills to make a point, and kidnaps Jesse to get him back to cooking meth. If Walt is rapidly turning into what Gus is, and Gus certainly never shows any signs of reverting back to a decent human being, than it might be too late for the former chemistry teacher. In fact, realizing what Walt is doing, his wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn), even looks scared of him as they speak on the phone.