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'Breaking Bad': Jesse's fate may be worse than death ... and where's Walt?

Frank Ockenfels / Today
In the series' penultimate episode, Jesse (Aaron Paul) faces more heartache, while Walt (Bryan Cranston) makes a life-altering decision.

Jesse Pinkman is paying the ultimate price for Walter White's sins on "Breaking Bad."

Not death — that would be too easy. But Jesse's living hell has become so unbearable to watch, it would almost be a relief if someone put him out of his misery.

"The heart wants what the heart wants."
Gus Fring, Tuco and his cousins and are puppies and unicorns compared to Todd Alquist ("that Opie dead-eyed piece of s---") and his Uncle Jack.

First, Skyler found them in the nursery, wearing black masks (which made Todd less menacing, somehow) and threatening to kill her children if she told the police about Lydia. (Baby Holly would've been better off at the fire station.)

But is Todd really a softie inside? He argued not only to spare Skyler's life ("She seems like a nice lady watching out for her kids") but Jesse's as well — if only to keep him cooking and please his cougar crush, Lydia.

He was in such good spirits that he actually brought his prisoner some ice cream (the Stephen Colbert-inspired Ben & Jerry's flavor AmeriCone Dream)! For a moment, we were lulled into thinking Jesse would also taste freedom.  

He did escape from his dungeon — picking his cuffs with the paper clip from Andrea and Brock's picture — but the Aryans caught him before they left their compound. He was prepared to die, but his captors had something worse in mind.

As Jesse watched helplessly in the back of their car — like Walt before the shootout ending in Hank's death —Todd ("it's nothing personal") shot his ex-girlfriend Andrea in the head. If Jesse defies them again, the skinheads warned, her son will be next.

Walt's hands are drenched with the blood of nearly everyone Jesse has loved: Andrea, Jane, Mike and Brock (who survived his poisoning, only to be orphaned). Jesse has nothing left to live for — but Walt is still fighting to survive.

Better not call Saul
"I guess I figured vacuum cleaner repair was a term of art," Saul Goodman said when he discovered that his new-identity guy — whom we'll call Mr. Magorium — actually operated in a vacuum-cleaner repair store.

Unfortunately for Saul, he had a bunkmate on his stopover to a new life: Walt.  

Walt's state of denial was larger than New Mexico and New Hampshire combined. He tried to enlist his former lawyer to help him kill Jack and his crew and return the money to his family.

But Saul, embracing his future as "just another douchebag with a job and three pairs of Dockers," refused to comply. When Walt threatened him, he collapsed in a coughing fit, and Saul walked out. (Good luck at Cinnabon, buddy!)

Live free or die
Sick and powerless, Walt began his new life as Mr. Lambert in an isolated New Hampshire cabin (strangely reminiscent of the final scene in "Dexter's" series finale). With millions in cash that he can't spend and no connections to the outside world — no phone, Internet or any human contact beside Mr. Magorium — Walt is virtually a prisoner ... like Jesse.

Months later, Walt has become the man we've seen in the season opener's flash-forward, with a bushy beard and a full head of hair, even though Mr. Magorium is administering his chemo. ("I watched a couple YouTube videos; it's all about finding the vein.")

Learning that Skyler was struggling financially (and lost the house — another allusion to Walt's return to its ruins), Walt walked into town, sent a box stuffed with hidden cash and called Flynn at his school to explain.

Junior was not glad to hear his voice, however. After his father's long-winded explanation, Junior exhorted him to "just die already" while Walt pleaded, "It can't all be for nothing."

After Flynn hung up on him, Walt called the police, identified himself and then let the phone drop so they could trace his location. At the bar, he ordered one last drink and watched, on the TV above him, his former Gray Matter Technologies business partners defend themselves to Charlie Rose. As Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz insisted that he contributed "virtually nothing" to the company, and that the Walter White they knew was "gone," his despair turned to rage.

When the police, guns drawn, arrived at the bar, Walt was gone.

How do you think all bad things will come to end in next week's series finale?