Absolute decay is both physical and moral. Taking us through each remaining character's rapid disintegration, “Granite State” emphasized this above all else. Almost every scene is intentionally reminiscent of the pilot, giving the impression that Vince Gilligan’s work truly has been crafted from beginning to end, despite claims otherwise.

“Granite State” seemingly picks up right where “Ozymandias” ended, though in reality several days have passed. As Saul arrives at the Vacuum Repair Man’s compound he delivers one of his final moments of welcome comic relief, shocked that vacuum cleaner repair isn’t actually a euphemism. From here, the tension quickly mounts, as Saul realizes his temporary bunkmate was none–other than Heisenberg himself. As Walt aggressively demands a list of potential travel agents from Saul in order to send Jack and his gang to Belize, the criminal–lawyer attempts to bring Walt out of his quagmire of revenge. Saul’s advice to Walt is surprisingly meta–referential, just as Gretchen’s speech is later in the episode; the two play off each other brilliantly. While Saul has counseled Walter for most of the show, he has also witnessed Heisenberg’s darkest deeds. Yet somehow, Saul recognizes that Walt’s primary goals lie with protecting his family (even admitting the phone call from “Ozymandias” was a nice tactic).

Still, Saul’s advice falls on deaf ears, as the egotistical Walter refuses to give himself up. For a moment, it really seemed as if Walt was about to kill Saul right on the spot, releasing the full brunt of Heisenberg right in his former consigliere’s face. However, before Walt could deliver any kind of blow, his cancer finally got the better of him, just as it did when he was delivering Crazy Eight his last meal. As Walter collapsed, he seemed slightly more emaciated, his moral corruption and cancer clearly mirroring each other. Then, Saul finally departs, leaving Walt alone, only to be driven to New Hampshire (the titular Granite State) by Ed the Vacuum Man.

Ed arrives every month or so with supplies, a beautiful tactic to indicate the passage of time during this period. After the initial drop off, Walt makes an effort to head into town despite his infamy, defiantly crowning himself with his Heisenberg pork pie hat. Intimidated by the distance to town, Walt relents, removing his hat and throwing it on the rack, symbolizing his transformation throughout the episode. From here on out things become bleaker for Walter, who is thinner and sicker every time Ed returns, finally growing his hair out to season one (and flashforward) length, and acquiring the new glasses he sported in the season five opener. Walt’s fall is absolutely tragic, as the former meth kingpin remains confined, alone, to a freezing shack, with but two copies of "Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium" to watch on DVD. Ed’s final visit brings chemo and a new all–time low for Walt, who pays Ed $10,000 to stay an extra hour, providing us with a scene that resembles a twisted role reversal between Walt and Crazy Eight from season one.

Of course, we can’t jump into Walt’s final moments on the reservation before we check in with everyone else. We first see Skyler speaking to the DEA with her lawyer, a deafening drone blocking out the sound coming from her prosecutors’ lips in another throwback to the pilot. Skyler is absolutely broken by this point, a testament to her transformation throughout the series and skills of Anna Gunn. When she returns home under surveillance, Todd and the gang break in to threaten her. Ever–polite, Todd reasonably requests that Skyler never reveal any details about Lydia’s involvement in the meth operation, an ironic request considering Skyler only met Lydia once and has no idea what role she played in Walt’s empire. Though Skyler may have formerly been the bitch of the show, I feel she finally deserves the sympathy that she needed from us as an audience earlier. Many critics have often praised “Breaking Bad’s” cast as acting consistently within their own interests and core values, and Skyler epitomizes this more than most. Unintentionally left high and dry by Walt, it’s hard not to admit her actions in earlier seasons were totally justified. Godspeed, Skyler.

Jesse’s situation both literally and figuratively resembles Crazy Eight’s (their clothes even look like palette swaps!), locked in a dungeon and fed occasionally by an apparently benign captor with a serious dark side. Todd remains as enigmatic as ever, straddling the line between total psychopath and a softer version of Heisenberg. As he meets with Lydia in the coffee shop (dressed to impress, no less), their conversation resembles that of a high school break–up, until Todd reveals his product’s 92% purity. Lydia, chamomile, soy and Stevia in hand, agrees to keep operating with Todd, cementing both her presumable final fate and her partnership with Todd as the most adorable criminal couple since Bonnie and Clyde. Some time later, Todd brings Jesse some Ben and Jerry’s as a reward for cooking up to 96% purity. As Todd’s trust for Jesse has grown, he agrees to take the tarp off for the night, allowing Jesse to “look at the stars.” Our heroic Captain Cook takes this opportunity to try and escape, uncuffing himself, opening the latch on his cage, and sprinting towards freedom, only to be caught by the Jack a few moments later.

Rather than euthanize him on the spot, Todd and company take Jesse to Andrea’s house. Unfortunately, she foolishly opens the door when Todd knocks. Looking for Jesse in the distance, Andrea suffers the same fate as so many before her, struck down in cold blood by psycho Todd/proto–Heisenberg. Unlike Walt’s silent scream following Hank’s death, Jesse’s wretched screams and sobs rock the truck, a final acknowledgment that all is lost for Jesse—especially as Jack instructs Todd to look for Brock within Andrea’s house.

Finally, we see Walt make his way down for a few drinks at the local bar, with a package of $10,000 in hand. Until the end of the episode, this is undoubtedly Walt, his Heisenberg personality clearly in remission even if his cancer is not. As Walt tries to convince Jr. to take his money over the phone, his tears and wavering voice imply change and regret within himself, yet Jr. throws it all back at him. Walt’s heart lies with his family, and when his family rejects that, Walt has nothing. After chillingly phoning the DEA and identifying himself, Walt sips a scotch and watches TV. The bartender switches the channel to a Charlie Rose interview with Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz, who had just invested in a new series of drug rehabilitation clinics in order to distance themselves from Walt.

Here, Gretchen offers her counterpoint to Saul’s analysis of Walt’s character. Believing the man she once knew to be dead and buried, consumed by the monstrous drug lord, she clearly asserts Walt’s division in two—the old, caring Walter and the new, vicious Heisenberg. This slam of Walter clearly causes a change in heart, his face turning from regretful to enraged; Heisenberg just needed coaxing from his hibernation in the wilderness. Walt vacates the premises and the opening theme begins to play in full for the first time ever, as troopers begin surrounding the bar, presumably informed by the New Mexico DEA office. The camera finally closes on Walt’s unfinished scotch, leaving us antsy for the final chapter in Gilligan's masterpiece.