September 8th, 2013. 9:00. It was the kind of night that when you look up at the sky, you see one or two stars getting fainter and fainter as dark clouds approach. I was inside my house in the family room, sitting on my soft red couch, surrounded by shelves of books and family photos, watching TV. You would think I was nice and comfortable.
Moving up to the edge of the couch, I leaned forward and stared at the scene unfolding before me. I saw trouble coming and it was coming fast.
Someone came into the kitchen. I held up my hand like a school crossing guard, dressed in yellow, stopping the cars from moving forward so that the children could safely cross the street.
My family knew better than to come into the kitchen when I’m on the watch. Whoever it was, they skulked away, no doubt with enough guilt to fill a congregation on Yom Kippur.
Suddenly I was overcome with hurt and fear. I was watching a betrayal and there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it. It was the kind of betrayal that, when you meet with white supremacist neo-Nazis, you ask them to kill your cousin. You tell them to be quick because he’s family and you don’t want him to suffer.
Then came the gunfight. The five, six neo-Nazis with ammo that could have been grabbed from the set of The Wire–against two FBI agents, one with a handgun, the other with a rifle. They were going down, and there was nothing I could do about it.
And Hank would be dead.
Right then and there, in front of the TV, the man I came to love was in for it and all I could do was watch it happen.
Suddenly, like a commercial interrupting the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, the show ended while the bullets were still flying. We would have to wait a week to see what happens.
I knew that next week would be Armageddon, but still I couldn’t accept it.
I grabbed my laptop and went to Moe’s, where I go when I need to get out of the house and think. Moe gave me his strongest drink, a new blend that came out of Brazil.
I told him to make it a double.
In no time I was holding a double latte. I sat at a small table in the back near the bathroom that I would need after finishing my drink. Scouring the web for any hints of what was to come. I wanted desperately to know that Hank would live; that there would be some sort of miracle that would save him.
Two hours later, I gave up. I had read through 24 summaries of that same episode, with no hint in sight.
The hissing of the latte machine woke me out of my stupor. It was 2 A.M. Moe came over, put down a decaffeinated latte–on the house–and stood before me shaking his head, looking as disappointed as a dog does when its master walks toward the front door only to pass it on the way to another room.
I held my head in shame. I knew what he was thinking. But I couldn’t help it.
I was desperately searching for spoilers.
“You fell over that cliff so fast that you didn’t even stop to think about what you were doing,” Moe said. “I can’t believe it. You broke your own code.”
Moe was right.
It was two o’clock in the morning, and Breaking Bad had broken me.
I had lost all self-control. I spent the rest of the week looking in the daily newspapers and weekly magazines, searching the web and listening to podcasts. But I knew I was defeated. Three days later, I accepted only one fact–that I had to wait with the rest of America to see the fallout. Tonight at 9:00 PM, peeking through the hands covering my eyes, one way or another, I will see Hank dead. It was only a matter of time. The only question left is how it plays out on the screen—when the show opens will he already be lying on the ground dead, or will we see him take the bullets–will his body jerk at least three times as those bullets pound into him or will it be one shot to the chest that instantly takes him down.
By the time I sit down, only the director, producers, cast, crew, extras, the East Coast, the Midwest and the West will know.
And I am not going to peek at the web before then.