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How will 'Breaking Bad' end? The evidence

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in the 5th season

Walter White (Bryan Cranston) in the 5th season of "Breaking Bad". Credit: AMC

How will "Breaking Bad" end?

You've seen the theories — and they are everywhere. You've heard the various scenarios — everywhere also. Clues have been strewn ("woodworking," "Felina") and their meanings have been parsed exhaustively.

But enough with theories. What about the evidence?

"Breaking Bad" has been remarkably generous with evidence so far — hard facts that may, if not necessarily will — have something to do with the final episode, "Felina" (which basically is just an anagram for "finale," so enough said about that.) Two episodes, "Live Free or Die" (July 15) and "Blood Money" (Aug. 11) began with flash forwards to presumably the day of reckoning. Again, presumably. We don't know that for certain. They were filled with detail.

Another assumption we're going to make here, which seems reasonable — that his moments in the bar in New Hampshire took place before those two flash forward scenes. (Seems reasonable, right?) OK, let's head over to the evidence locker, shall we?

1.) Evidence: Walter listens to Gretchen on the TV interview program saying that he is no longer alive — or at least the Walter she knew, the kind, gentle, wonderful Walter, or words to that effect.

Interpretation: Something in those words-to-that-effect sparks something in Walter — either fury, or a distant memory. Maybe of his still extant love for her? His feeling that she had betrayed him once, as did her husband, which led into this terrible predicament in the first place? Or maybe a sense that he had unfinished business — with her? With Uncle Jack? With Elliott? In any event, he disappears after that.

Conclusion: We can draw nothing from this piece of evidence. There is simply too much missing information.

2.) Evidence: It is Walter's 52nd birthday, two years since his misadventure began. (Walter was born Sept. 7, 1959.) The day after his 50th birthday, Sept. 8, 2008, he passed out at the car wash where he was working — and he later learned of his lung cancer. At that time he was given less than two years to live. It is now Sept. 8, 2010. He has outlived his initial diagnosis.

Interpretation: That this day, his birthday, will be significant, either from the standpoint of closure, or completion.

Conclusion: Certainly the birthday is significant, but the exact significance remains unknown. As for "52," "Bad" doesn't really play the Easter Egg Hunt game like "Lost" — a cigar here is usually just a cigar (unless it's a ricin-laced cigarette.) The number is probably just meaningless.

3.) Evidence: Walter buys something from his original gun dealer and says that "it" won't even leave town, when he was asked whether it would go across the state border.

Interpretation: "It" won't leave town, "it" of course being a gun?

Conclusion: If Walter is a truth teller, and admittedly Walter is not normally a truth teller, then the final whatever-it-is will take place somewhere within the confines of ABQ, which would appear to rule out an assault on Uncle Jack's desert compound. 'Course that would end one prominent idea — that Walter storms the compound, rescues Jesse, and both score their final revenge.

4.) Evidence: We get a glimpse of what "it" was that Walter just bought — a military issued M60, or to be more precise, 7.62MM 4 Ball M80/1 Tracer M62. Three boxes of ammunition, total of six hundred rounds.

Interpretation: Serious firepower to be sure, but the key word here is "tracer." Why would he need tracers? Possibly because whatever assault he's planning will take place at night, and he'll need to see the "trace" of the bullets for a clean hit on his target or targets. Or maybe because he's a bad shot, and will need the traces to zero in more precisely on the target(s).

Conclusion: Beats me? You got any idea?

5.) Evidence: Ricin. Finally, the last piece of relevant evidence. Walter gets his old ricin pill from the electrical socket.

Interpretation: Obviously, Walter intends to use the ricin — duh — but on whom, and why? All sorts of speculation on the Internet on this, but no one really has a clue. Ricin is basically useless if ingested — oh sure, it'll kill someone but will take a day or two to get down to business, if ever. (People can recover — thanks Internet for that bit of info.) Of course a couple of grains can kill someone pretty quickly, but I believe — and don't hold me to this — that it has to be inhaled. Again, speed of demise is complicated. This is simply not a surefire way to do someone in. Of course, there are other possibilities — Walter will take it to kill himself; his final act of self-sacrifice on the alter of his misdeeds. Maybe, but that has holes too. He might use it in other ways (the old umbrella tip theory) but they all seem to be a lot of trouble, and for what?

Conclusion: Sure it's significant, hugely so. But it is impossible to determine what that is at the moment.

Final conclusion: I haven't got a bloody clue what will happen Sunday night. Thanks for reading.

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