Episode Review: Breaking Bad, "Granite State"

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  • Publish Date: September 23, 2013

Updated 9/23 at 10:00am

Breaking Bad, Episode 515: "Granite State"
Original airdate: September 22, 2013 on AMC

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Breaking Bad's final episodes:
509. Blood Money
510. Buried
511. Confessions
512. Rabid Dog
513. To'hajiilee
514. Ozymandias
> 515. Granite State
516. Felina airs September 29

Spoiler warning: This page contains spoilers about this episode (though not future episodes).

Breaking Bad's penultimate episode—extended at the last moment to 75 minutes—was written and directed by Peter Gould. (It's his fifth credited episode as writer, but his first directing gig since "Problem Dog" in season 4). The episode—a bit of a breather in between last week's stunner and the finale—aired on the same night that Breaking Bad won the Emmy for best drama series for the first time; Anna Gunn was also a winner in the supporting actress category.

What did critics think of "Granite State"? Below are quotes from reviews and recaps of this week's episode. If a publication provides a grade or score for the individual episode, it is included below (converted to our 0-100 scale). Next Sunday night, we'll be back with reviews for the series finale.

Great Extremely positive reviews

91 "Last week Walter White's illusions of salvaging his family life were violently stripped away. This week, the target of Breaking Bad's relentless assault on its main character is even more personal: the last vestige of his power."

— Donna Bowman / A.V. Club

100 "The character study and quietness of Walt's move to New Hampshire as life continues to be horrible in New Mexico was great in so many ways."

— Allison Keene / Collider

"As episodes of this particular series go, 'Granite State' seemed relatively uneventful. ... Unless you watched closely. It turns out 'Granite State' wasn't about plots being hatched or people getting shot. Instead it was about something subtler: a conflict of identity."

— Andrew Romano / The Daily Beast

"This episode was the strongest since the first three of the season, maybe the strongest yet."

— Alex Berenson / Esquire

"The patience of 'Granite State' is kind of amazing; it is commendable that, at this point in the show, its creators ... are willing to keep experimenting with structure and pace."

— Jason Bailey / Flavorwire

"If last week's 'Ozymandias' snapped and cracked like a hangman's noose, Sunday's 'Granite State' was the long, slow walk to hell."

— Andy Greenwald / Grantland

"This penultimate instalment delivered; its extended running time was packed with scenes that tugged the audience in one direction before dropping us off a cliff the next."

— Richard Vine / The Guardian

"An hour-plus in which everything we loved about 'Breaking Bad' was turned against us, until we were prisoners of the show in the same way that Walt, Jesse and Skyler all found themselves prisoners of their terrible new circumstances."

— Alan Sepinwall / HitFix

"What I loved most about 'Granite State,' in contrast, is that it was not epic. It was not a finale we'll talk about forever. It was a penultimate episode that spoke volumes about bad decisions and failed dreams and having everything you ever tried to do turn to shit."

— Tim Goodman / The Hollywood Reporter

90 "The dialogue in 'Granite State' was sharp and crisp as is characteristic of the show."

— Seth Amitin / IGN

"It reminded us in large and small ways why this show has been so good for so long."

— Sean T. Collins / Rolling Stone

"'Granite State' doesn't have the flamboyant water-cooler moments that seemed to arrive every few minutes in last week's 'Ozymandias.' The tone, this week, is hushed and contemplative, presumably affording creator Vince Gilligan the opportunity to have a pause before an ensuing storm. The episode allows us to take a moment to register just how profoundly damaged a man Walt is, and to see how far he's fallen as he grows literally and figuratively less substantial, to the point of threatening to vanish in the wind."

— Chuck Bowen / Slant

100 "A knock-out, 75-minute episode that demonstrated with masterful sangfroid exactly why [this] show will go down as one of the great television achievements of our time."

— Benjamin Secher / The Telegraph

"Gilligan and company have created an amazing run of seven episodes leading up to next week's finale; and yet they've still posed themselves a challenge in pulling off a satisfying ending."

— James Poniewozik / Time

96 "Breaking Bad can tear you apart with a gunshot ... and also with a phone call. It can air an episode full of one jaw-dropping action scene after another... and then it can turn around and make you gasp through the sheer quietness of a remote cabin."

— Matt Richenthal / TV Fanatic

"Sunday's episode somehow managed to find new places to wound and batter its characters."

— Rick Porter / Zap2it

Positive Positive reviews

"And as much I feel like defending this penultimate episode because I spent most of it enraptured at merely discovering what came next, I did question the pace at which the episode skipped over chances for deeper exploration."

— Kevin McFarland / Boing Boing

"A chance to catch our breath and stop fearing death and disaster in every single scene, 'Granite State' was slow-paced but necessary table-setting to get us to the series finale."

— Katey Rich / Cinema Blend

"A rather straightforward, even simplified episode."

— Joanne Ostrow / Denver Post

"'Granite State,' though it was as well-made and well-executed as any late-era 'Breaking Bad' hour, didn't quite have the drive and impact of 'Ozymandias' or 'To'hajiilee.'"

— Maureen Ryan / Huffington Post

"'Granite State' is a weird, weird episode, filled with odd structural choices and some leaps in character motivation that typify some of the problems the final season has had in making all of its character arcs count. ... Yet at the same time 'Granite State' is starkly brilliant. ... It's dark, uncompromising television, and if that occasionally results in story moments that feel placed there to punish the characters and audience, it also results in the brilliance of Walter slouching alone into a small-town bar and trying to win his son back to him over a long-distance telephone call."

— Todd VanDerWerff / Los Angeles Times

75 "There is no doubt 'Granite State' was thoroughly gripping, but ultimately, it served as a table setting effort for the last show. And in that regard, the structure is certainly open to questioning. The equal focus on Todd as much as Walter, particularly as things are ramping toward the end is interesting, especially given how much story there is to get to."

— Kevin Jagernauth / The Playlist

"'Breaking Bad' has always been guilty of a few creaky plot machinations. What has kept us coming back, and what won this show a much deserved Emmy for best drama series, are the characters."

— Brian Stitt / Star-Ledger

"It's unexpected and impressive, the degree to which Todd has dominated this final stretch of episodes."

— Matt Zoller Seitz / Vulture

Mixed Mixed/neutral reviews

(none)

Poor Negative reviews

(none)

What do you think?

What did you think of last night's episode of Breaking Bad? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (2)

  • LamontRaymond  

    Why would Todd kill Andrea? Without Andrea, Brock will be long gone and out of Jesse's life anyway deep into the foster system. The leverage over Jesse is gone. Todd should have simply stood behind her with the gun, simply demonstrating that he could kill her at any time. Then again, perhaps Vince and the writing staff simply wanted to further establish Todd's brutality and lack of conscience. Bottom line another great episode in an incredible series. Loved to see the trip to New Hampshire and the "pause" before Walt goes on his final rampage.

  • pescetarian  

    these NeoNazis were able to hit all 11 guys in prison within 2 minutes... they won't have a problem finding Brock in a foster home... and yeah, Jesse has a soft spot for kids.

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