“Face Off” ends Breaking Bad’s excellent fourth season in an interesting way. It was nice to get some closure this year, as opposed to Season 3’s painful cliffhanger. Here’s an episode that shows us who Walter White is… or better yet, what he’s become over the course of the series.
There are a lot of great scenes in “Face Off” and tons that I can touch on. However, I think it’s important to focus on some of the broader aspects of this episode. Because for better or worse, “Face Off” changed things in a big way. The show has almost reset itself, and it’ll be interesting to see where that leads next season. So for the purposes of this review, I’m going to start with the changes.
First on the plate: Gus’ murder, and the dual meaning of the words “face off.” There are some big implications with Gus out of the picture, and I’m beginning to wonder where the show can go from here. In terms of Gus’ death, I did find the bomb under the wheelchair predictable but it was effective, nonetheless. On a side note, I’m starting to feel a Breaking Bad: Batman spin-off with Walt as the Joker (remember his laugh in “Crawl Space?”) and Gus as Harvey Dent. I’d watch that show.
Gus’ death was an important scene and the makeup was fantastic… but I wasn’t a fan of him calmly adjusting his tie with his face blown off. It added an unnecessary goofiness to the scene. Still, the man had to die, and that was pretty badass. The best part of Gus’ demise is that there’s finally some breathing room on Breaking Bad. Walt doesn’t have to constantly worry about being killed by Gus or his henchmen.
Another huge change involves Walt and Jesse setting fire to the super-lab. When Walt said “we’ve got work to do,” I thought they were going to start cooking again and take over the business… the reveal that they were actually destroying the lab was much more realistic, and played with our expectations a bit, too.
And then we get to the final image: Walt poisoned Brock with a plant from his own backyard. This, too, was a bit predictable given the conversation on the roof just moments before, but it definitely showed us a lot about Walt. At this point, the reason he “won” the chess game with Gus is because he’s more manipulative and cruel. On a side note, remember how Walt’s gun spun towards him twice last week, and then once at the flowers?
This final image tells us a lot about Walt, who last week explained that he’d never hurt a child (watch that scene again in “End Times” - it takes on a whole new meaning). His morality has shifted further, and “Face Off” has a resolution that is dark and disturbing. To Walt, everything is justifiable and he’s becoming the new Gus.
“Face Off” is a strong conclusion to another excellent season of Breaking Bad. We’re given some closure, which is nice, as next season will feel like a new chapter instead of a continuation. Still, it’s going to be a long wait.
If you’ve been following my reviews, thanks for reading! I appreciate it. If you want to read up, all my Breaking Bad reviews are available here. I’ll see you all next summer for the conclusion.
Note: This review is taken from Review Hub Central.