Face Off (Breaking Bad)
|Breaking Bad episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Vince Gilligan|
|Written by||Vince Gilligan|
|Original air date||October 9, 2011|
|Running time||50 minutes|
"Face Off" is the thirteenth episode and season finale of the fourth season of the American television drama series Breaking Bad, and the 46th overall episode of the series. It originally aired on AMC in the United States on October 9, 2011. TV Guide named "Face Off" as one of the best episodes in all of television in 2011.
After failing to kill Gus (Giancarlo Esposito) via car bomb, Walter (Bryan Cranston) removes the bomb and asks Jesse (Aaron Paul) if he knows of a place that Gus frequents that does not have security cameras. Before Jesse can think, he is taken in for questioning by two detectives regarding his knowledge of Brock's ricin poisoning. Saul (Bob Odenkirk) has gone into hiding, so Walter breaks into his office for his help, where Saul's secretary Francesca (Tina Parker) demands $25,000 in exchange for Saul's contact information. Walter goes home to retrieve the cash, but suspects hitmen may be waiting for him. After asking his neighbor to check on the house, he spots two men fleeing from the backyard, confirming his suspicions. Walter retrieves the money before the hitmen can spot him.
Jesse is interrogated for a long time about the ricin, but he claims that it was a lucky guess. Having been contacted by Walter, Saul finally arrives. Jesse tells Saul that Gus often visits Hector (Mark Margolis) to taunt him, which Saul relays to Walter. Walter visits Hector and offers him a chance to kill Gus. Hector contacts the DEA, where he insists on talking directly to Hank (Dean Norris), but he just curses at Hank through his interpreter. Hector leaves the DEA building to be driven back to the nursing home. Tyrus (Ray Campbell) observes Hector's departure at the DEA, assumes he is turning informant and phones Gus to tell him what he saw. Gus decides he must kill Hector. Tyrus inspects Hector's room for anything suspicious and fails to spot Walt hiding outside the window. Jesse is released from police custody after doctors reveal that Brock was not poisoned by ricin. Jesse is immediately grabbed by Gus' men and taken to the lab to cook meth.
Gus and Tyrus corner Hector in his room. Gus asks Hector to look at him, which is something Hector refuses to do during Gus' taunting visits. As Gus prepares to inject Hector with poison, Hector finally looks at him, and begins ringing his bell numerous times. Gus realizes the bell is connected to Walter's car bomb under Hector's wheelchair and the bomb explodes, killing Tyrus and Hector instantly. Gus walks out of the room, calmly adjusting his tie appearing to be unharmed; but the camera then pans to reveal that half of his face and scalp were torn completely off in the explosion (thereby fulfilling the series custom of having the title of each episode refer to an event, item, or dialogue within that episode). He then collapses and dies as nursing home personnel come running to the site of the explosion. Walter hears the news of the explosion on the radio and is relieved that his plan to draw Gus out into the open and kill him apparently worked. He then heads to the lab and kills two of Gus' henchmen stationed there. Walter and Jesse then burn down the lab.
Later, Jesse tells Walter that Brock will live, and that he was poisoned by the berries of the Lily of the Valley plant, since children sometimes eat it because of its sweet taste. Although Jesse questions killing Gus because he never poisoned anyone after all, Walter assures Jesse that it had to be done. Walter calls Skyler (Anna Gunn), who is learning of the explosion from the news, along with the rest of the family; Walt tells her everything is safe. When she asks if he was responsible, he simply responds, 'I won'.
The episode ends with a shot of Walter's back yard showing a potted Lily of the Valley plant that Walter's gun pointed towards in the previous episode, hinting that Walter indeed poisoned Brock.
The plot wrapup was planned by the series' production team since the beginning of the season, partly because they were not certain at the time whether the series was going to renew for another season. Specifically, the visual effect of Gus Fring's massive facial wounds took months to prepare, with assistance from the special effects team from fellow AMC drama The Walking Dead. The effect was produced using elaborate makeup on Giancarlo Esposito's face, combined with CGI that took two separate shots and combined them seamlessly. Editor Skip MacDonald won an ACE Eddie award for Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television for this episode.
The episode was nominated for six Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for Vince Gilligan, Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series, Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One Hour), Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role, Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-camera Series, and Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series.
- "2011's Best Episodes: Flights and Tights and the Final Friday Night Lights Goodbye". TV Guide. Retrieved January 23, 2012.
- Itzkoff, David (2011-10-10). "Vince Gilligan of ‘Breaking Bad’ Talks About Ending the Season, and the Series". Artsbeat. The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- Giardian, Carolyn (2012-02-18). "ACE Eddie Awards: Editors Honor 'The Descendants,' 'The Artist'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2012-02-20.
- "Breaking Bad". Emmys.com. Retrieved April 9, 2013.
- "Face Off" at the official Breaking Bad site
- "Face Off" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Face Off" at TV.com