PLEASE ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE THIS POST, WITH A RANT ON TWEETS AND TASTE
And here I am, like Walter White, creeping back into my old territory to say one final goodbye, in this case to a TV show. Since this regards the ending of Breaking Bad, I figured there's no better place to post than my blog dedicated to LOST, a series very famous/infamous for the way it bid adieu. Three and a half years ago, I refused to actually dissect the LOST finale, in a rather hysterical fit of "if you didn't like it then I don't wanna talk about it with you, anyway!" I stand by that response, still. It was not actually directed at people who disliked the last episode (I can confirm the younger version of myself absolutely would have been disappointed with it; thankfully the semi-grownup me had the time of his life), but more at the idea that the internet became a giant game of seeing who could take the biggest dump on the LOST finale, and those who refused to play were dismissed as apologists who couldn't accept that the end of their beloved series objectively sucked. It seemed any kind of reasoned response or constructive criticism took a back seat to rabid fanboy hatred, and to bitch-slapping the people who actually created this thing those fans originally professed to love.
Thanks, but not interested.
And while I'm on the topic (please feel free to skip this introduction if you want to get right to the Breaking Bad business; also, beware of LOST spoilers!) . . .
Internet, here is a plea from my heart to you: please leave Damon Lindelof alone. Sending him angry "eff u!!! just die already haHA @DamonLindelof #urworsethantheholocaust" tweets about how the Breaking Bad finale is better than LOST is pointless. These are two different shows, with nothing to do with each other. It's like throwing The Shining across the room because you think Crime and Punishment had a better ending. Also, to those who see the parallels between what happens to Jack Shepherd and what happens to Walter White, down to the final shots, as Vince Gilligan's middle finger to Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and his coup de grace in demonstrating how you're supposed to end a show, please take note that Mr. Gilligan has gone on record as saying he liked the LOST finale. (Same goes for insisting that Breaking Bad ended conclusively as a way to avoid the cut-to-black mistake of David Chase. Apparently Vince liked the end of The Sopranos too). So go compare your turds somewhere else.
This burning hatred towards Lindelof, and the need to publicly insult him in as many ways as possible, has gotten outright bizarre in how it's almost become a kind of online bloodsport. As I've theorized before, I suspect it's the result of an unholy alliance between the convenience of the internet (at its worst shallow, gossipy, narcissistic, anonymous, and destructively opinionated) and the currently enshrined fanboy culture (at its worst jaded, juvenile, misogynistic, perpetually unimpressed, and nitpicky to a degree which could qualify as paranoia), creating some kind of demonic entity hellbent on being thoroughly dissatisfied and expressing that disappointment by taking our nerd gods and shoving their faces into a puke-filled toilet while commanding "Eat it, bitch! Eat it!" to demonstrate that we are, in fact, real men after all and will not suffer disappointment. I'm not sure how discussion of a TV show can so easily devolve into the conversation equivalent of a scenario from Salo: 120 Days of Sodom, but life has apparently found a way. (I guess Ian Malcolm was right).
I hate to be combative at the start of a post that is otherwise not actually about Damon Lindelof, but we're talking about those who would visit a real person's Twitter feed and literally tell that person they deserve to die because of what amounts to a piece of entertainment. Now, I'm not a proponent of taking anything that anyone says on Twitface seriously; I think it's funny when Bret Easton Ellis or Paula Abdul or whoever tweets some ridiculous thing and it brings the planet to its knees, as if what someone says on social media is automatically important simply because they're a star. I'm also all for making fun of celebrities, just as I'm for making fun of the human race in general, because celebrities are just people with the same problems and shortcomings as the rest of us. We all have to laugh at ourselves. And regardless of whether or not it's appropriate, being well-known entails having to endure a certain amount of harsh criticism, even if it's undeserved. Yet I feel compelled to draw the line at using a medium like Tweethead to wish death or some form of spiritual or bodily harm upon actual human beings, and resting on the fact that this person is rich and famous, and that you'll never meet them in real life, as some kind of excuse. I can ruthlessly mock Jersey Shore with the best of them, but at no point will I ever hop on Snooki's feed and personally tell her she's a waste of life. There's a difference between making fun of someone's image or cultivated reputation, and actually insulting that person in a direct way meant to wound. Trey Parker and Matt Stone might skewer someone like George Clooney endlessly on South Park, but I doubt either of them would go up to him in person and say "I hate you. I hope your mom gets raped!" and then punch him in the balls.
Twatter is the closest we can get in many cases to interacting with celebrities, and using it as an opportunity to spew hatred at actual people (and over works of fiction, in Lindelof's case) just feels low to me. It's a cowardly, selfish way of dealing with the fact that you didn't like something. But why take time to sort through your feelings about LOST--six seasons of emotional investment and intellectual speculation--when you could just jump online and say that Damon Lindelof is a talentless hack who deserves to be decapitated in the town square for letting you down, for not giving you the story YOU deserved? "The smoke monster is just some guy? That's not the answer I wanted! The island is special because of a glowing cave? Where is the science? I am owed real science! I still think the characters were dead the whole time even though it's been explained to me repeatedly how they weren't? I demand Lindelof's kneecaps broken!" These are all terrific reasons to snarkily tell someone they should do the world a favor and commit suicide. I mean, you were let down. That's Damon Lindelof's fault, is it not? Damon knows what you wanted and he intentionally did not deliver because he's a greedy, lying prick. This is not just your opinion. This is fact. And don't forget, he ruined Star Trek, not once but twice (why didn't he take your script suggestions???), and he sabotaged Prometheus with his hatred of logic (Ridley Scott had no say in the matter!), because he despises you, All-Important Fan, and he wants science fiction to fail. Why don't we blame Damon Lindelof for 9/11 while we're at it?
Give me a fucking break.
(Update: Damon Lindelof has henceforth deleted his Twitter account. Probably a good idea, as I think everyone including him has better things to do. But I feel the trolls who make Lindelof the target of their wrath will interpret this as a victory, though if he'd stayed and continued to take their hail of spit, that would have likely been seen as a victory as well. I guess you just can't win in this universe. This explains why I've had to recently concede that low sodium turkey bacon is just as good as regular bacon. Damn you, The Island!).
PART 1: WALTER GOES TO HELL: THE FELINA CHAPTER
But I digress, as we're not here to talk LOST. We're here to talk Breaking Bad, which thankfully was nowhere near as divisive in its finale. And yet, there's been a curiously lukewarm response to it in some quarters. I was surprised to see that many of the critics whose opinions on Breaking Bad I usually enjoy were actually quite ambivalent about the finale, their reactions ranging from unenthusiastic to confused.In general, they found "Felina" to be a so-so episode that, while not tarnishing what came before, is essentially aloof and hollow . . . a toss-off fan service goodbye meant to wrap everything up perfectly, and to deliver on the action by turning Walter White back into a good guy who saves the day, because the show had to end, so, like, why not make it fun, dawg??? I have to say that, to me, this feels like a one-note oversimplification of what was a very emotionally complex hour of television. While I don't begrudge anyone for not liking the finale or feeling it was a letdown, I also haven't seen much dissection of "Felina" that captures how I felt about it. (I don't pepper my posts with links and quotes because it makes me feel like I'm sourcing a term paper, and while I'm not going to link back to the various reviews I read--Maureen Ryan, Andy Greenwald, Jeff Jensen, Darren Franich, Sean Collins, Emily Nussbaum, find that shit yourselves, yo--I will say my two favorite discussions of the finale are from James Poniewozik at TIME magazine and Matt Zoller Seitz over at Vulture. Those land closest to how I feel about the episode).
It seems as if some keep returning (understandably) to a rather dualistic view of the show, where Walter had to end as either a hero or a villain, and that this episode came down on the side of Walter as the former, neglecting the murky moral questions the series often raised by distracting us with big guns and tidy resolutions. But this wasn't the finale that I saw. I do not believe that by giving Walter the closest thing that could come to a happy ending on Breaking Bad (and this is far from a happy ending), Vince Gilligan and company backed away from their premise, flinching at the finish line. I suspect that because Walter had become such an awful human being in the last two seasons, the feeling was that the show needed to ultimately condemn him, solidifying that he was in fact a terrible person who needed his just desserts meted out in the appropriate fashion. He needed to finally have control wrested from him, and to suffer the consequences. Anything other than that might read as an endorsement of Walter White. But truthfully, that situation is what already played out in the prior two episodes. Those hours were Walter's crystal palace crashing down around him. (Which might explain why there have been critical comments that perhaps "Ozymandias" or "Granite State" should have been the finale). "Felina" is what happens when Walt looks at the wreckage and decides what to do about it, and his approach and the inevitable result, I think, is very much in keeping with what this series has been doing from the beginning. Because Breaking Bad has never been a binary show. It has never been a simple This Or That, as much as it does deal with the idea of there being a definable right and wrong, and to reduce both Walt and the show to that reading is to rob it of its complexity.
When Walt left the bar in New Hampshire at the end of the previous episode, the big question was whether he was going back to ABQ to settle old scores and have the last word, or to course correct the terrible trajectory of the events he set in motion, an attempt to break good before finally departing this mortal coil. The answer to that question winds up not being so simple, which is likely the source of why many are having trouble deciding how they feel about this finale, and about what this episode is ultimately saying. So much of the speculation about the ending of Breaking Bad was whether or not Walt gets what's coming to him, and what kind of statement that makes about the show and its worldview. It essentially boiled down to variations of four basic possible scenarios: redemption/Decent Walt Wins (Walt either redeems himself or at least makes some attempt to atone for the hell he's unleashed), tragedy/Decent Walt Loses (Walt realizes what he's done but it's too late to repair the damage), victory/Monster Walt Wins (Walt gets away with everything), or comeuppance/Monster Walt Loses (Walt gets exactly what he deserves, not what he wants, and is punished for his sins, karma finally exacting its heavy toll).
For so long, it seemed that "Breaking Bad" would have to settle on one of these endings, and that ending would retroactively explain the journey of the whole series. But, as is so often the case with this show, the answer doesn't wind up being A, B, C, or D, but "all of the above." Somehow, the finale managed to hit all of these notes at once. And not, I think, because the writers couldn't decide on an ending, so they just opted to play all of their cards and let the audience sort them out. Not at all. It's because this is a show that works on many different levels at the same time. It started as a complicated series, and it ended as one, slam!bang!kapow! climax aside. Walt was a monster and a villain, but he was never a completely evil person, just as he was never a completely good person (as very few people in this series ever seem to be). So the ending honors not just the extremes we sometimes saw, but the shades of gray we witnessed more frequently.
One of the best examples of how this show can work on multiple levels, and a very recent example at that, would be Walt's controversial phone call to Skyler in the series' antepenultimate episode. There was an overwhelming amount of debate about the intention of that scene. Was Walt calling to put on a special Heisenberg Theatre presentation for the police, in order to exonerate Skyler? Was he unleashing several years' worth of pent-up male resentment? Was this a selfless gesture of love from a husband trying to protect his wife and family? Was it a self-serving attempt to control history? Was Walt crying because he didn't mean what he was saying to Skyler, or because he himself was horrified at the venom flying out of his mouth? Was it Walt talking? Heisenberg talking? Walt pretending to be Heisenberg? Heisenberg talking while Walt listened? Was this bypassing the Heisenberg b.s. altogether and coming from some nuclear waste unit of Walt's brain where his angriest, most irrational and vile thoughts reside? Well, goddammit it if the scene isn't just a giant flaming car crash of all these things. While one element is really not open to interpretation--Walt is making himself the abusive husband to get Skyler off the hook with the authorities, and Skyler slowly realizes what he's doing and plays along with it, which is the dramatic purpose of the scene--everything else about it leaves room to debate. It actually waters the scene down to demand one strict interpretation, because what makes it so interesting (and in my mind, one of the best, most powerful moments from any American television show) is that it's firing on numerous cylinders at once. So is Walt staging an elaborate lie, or is he tapping into real resentment? Is this an attempt to save his family from being implicated in his crimes, or to let the world know what a dangerous, controlling badass he really was? All of the above.
Just to clarify, "all of the above" doesn't necessarily have to mean "everything in equal measure." For instance, my own interpretation regarding the phone call is that it is definitely one thing more than the other: Walt is trying to vindicate Skyler, and the rage he's spewing is not how he really feels about her at the end of the day. But, part of him means it, or at least means some of it . . . the same reptilian part of him that seethed "Fuck. You." at Gretchen's pity and concern, and is willing to take credit for whatever makes him seem more powerful and threatening in the moment. That part of him really felt these things, and strongly. And the fact that any of him meant any of it is what makes the scene so frightening and dramatically rich. (And yes, I am aware that the writer of that episode, Moira Walley-Beckett, supposedly "confirmed" that Walt's phone call was completely a ploy. Yet this seems to me a mistaken reduction of her point. In all of the interviews I've read with her on the subject, though she was trying to make very clear Walt was indeed attempting to shift all the blame to himself and take the spotlight off of Skyler, she also mentioned the fun of writing the scene was that there is a mix of truth and fiction in what Walt is saying).
As far as the ending of "Felina" and its many possibilities, all of the potential scenarios came to pass, in some fashion: Walter made an effort to right the wrongs he caused, inasmuch as that's even possible (he admitted his true selfish motivation for becoming a criminal, gave Skyler a potential way out, avenged Hank's death, freed Jesse, and finally dismantled the Frankenstein monster of a meth operation that Heisenberg created); he ultimately died unable to truly redeem himself for what he's done (every single character who survived is irreparably scarred, there is too much blood on Walt's hands for him to ever wash it away, so much has been destroyed and none of it needed to happen, and there is not a single thing that Walter White can really do about it); he got what he wanted (all Walt initially set out to accomplish was to leave his family a large sum of money, and he gets to do exactly that, plus he was able to go out on his own terms, cementing his own legend in the process, and rewrite history by psychologically terrorizing his old enemies Gretchen and Elliot); and he ultimately does get his due punishment (Walt dies alone, completely separated from the family he does care about, his life in ruins, the laboratory and final batch of blue meth his only friends to see him to the end, a pathetic mad scientist cradled in the arms of what turned out to be his true love and his addiction). Any of these endings, separately, would have been just fine. But doing them all at once transforms the finale into something dense and strange, much moreso than it appears on its seemingly conventional surface. In fact, by constructing the episode in such a simple, straightforward manner, it allows the hour room to breathe, so that all of these different emotions and themes can crisscross and weave through the finale while not causing the narrative to stumble.
(Quick aside: for what it's worth, my own fantasy ending for Breaking Bad involved Walt going to save his family from the neo-Nazis, only to be mugged to death by Wendy the meth-head on the way there. I wonder if that possibility came up in the writers' room).
Anyway, I disagree with the assessment that Walter somehow turned it around at the very end, putting right what once went wrong, hoping each time the next leap will be the leap home. Walter White did not become a so-called good guy in this last episode. He did NOT redeem himself. He is not sorry about becoming a criminal. He ends his life unapologetically in that regard. But he IS sorry for what he did to his family, as he never meant to destroy their lives. So this is his way to set things as right as they can be, while recognizing that the whole thing is fucked and about to end. He is no longer Mr. White and he is no longer Heisenberg: he just is what he is, and finally accepts the reality of that. Walt became a monster, but what we're seeing here is a monster trying to make amends to the few people he never intended to hurt. But he is still incredibly self-serving, in his attempt to write the final legend of Walter White, brilliant scientist and criminal mastermind. He wants the police to show up at the end to see his final achievement, for the world to know he made his mark, and he dies staring at his distorted mutant reflection on a cold metal tank producing poison. This is not someone actually going out on top with a clean conscience.
Sure, Walt may have some newfound clarity and honesty, but that doesn't mean he's eating humble pie all through this episode. In that final scene, for instance, Walter is not a "good guy" killing "bad guys," any more than Gus is a moral champion for vanquishing Don Eladio and his men. He's a terrible person killing people who may or may not be worse than he is. That's why he's so effective. However satisfying it may have been, it was not a hero or some such bullshit who put ricin in Lydia's Stevia, leaving her to slowly die in front of her little girl. It was the monster of Walter White putting himself to good use. I'd like to take a moment to mention how much I loved Walt playing up his patheticness during his meeting with Lydia and Todd, and Lydia's subsequent "Gross, we're not doing business with him. Ewwww" reaction. The show seemed to take wicked delight in Lydia's poisoning, whereas it would usually play a beat that captured the reality of what this means for Lydia's daughter. But this is the last episode, and also not the first time the series allowed the audience to enjoy the dispatching of a villain (Tuco, the Cousins, Don Eladio), so I felt Walt's very unapologetic "Yep, I poisoned you and you're going to die and you can't doing anything about it. Well, goodbye Lydia!" response was in keeping with the tone of the hour and, as a neurotic person myself, an extremely malicious sign off to someone with such an overanxious personality. But even if it was enjoyable seeing Lydia taken out (and seeing the ricin finally, finally used), it doesn't somehow make what Walt has done not totally awful. Walt is simply going to kill all of these people, and whether that's right or wrong is irrelevant to the fact that it will happen, that this house has caught fire and is burning to the ground with everyone in it.
Or let's take the scene with Gretchen and Elliott, our favorite cluelessly sanctimonious but well-meaning power couple. Just because Walter doesn't physically harm them, just because his death threat turns out to be a ruse, doesn't mean he isn't hurting them. On the contrary, he is going out of his way to punish and humiliate Gretchen and Elliot, and in his twisted, sadistic logic, forcing them to take it is his way of forgiving them, as miniscule as that gesture may be, because to him they deserve so much worse. We never do learn what exactly transpired between Walter, William Bell and Nina in the early days of Massive Dynamic--I mean, Walt, Elliot and Gretchen in the early days of Gray Matter, but as it turns out, we don't need to. We know enough. We know that Walt left Gretchen without ever giving her a reason why, and we know he voluntarily took the buyout of his share in the company. We also know that, despite being cockier and more ambitious when he was younger, Walt was held back by fear and insecurity for most of his life. This speaks to the fact that, regardless of whether Gretchen and Elliot played any kind of direct role in his departure, ultimately these were Walt's decisions. These were his choices. But he can't accept that it was Walter White who ran away from his future, that his missed opportunities were his own fault. So instead he blames Elliot and Gretchen, building up two decades' worth of venomous resentment, bile and jealousy, as his former friends bathe in the pool of wealth and success that Walt feels by all rights belongs to him.
His scene in their home, staged like Hannibal Lecter has just calmly walked into their living room, is one of the most fascinating in the entire episode. Walt inspects the mansion curiously, as if it's the palace that should have been his, quietly strolling through the place like he isn't a wanted criminal who just broke into someone's home and is about to threaten them. (The closest Walter White has come to his own fortress was when he and the family stayed in the luxury suite of the hotel during this season's "Rabid Dog," following the total failure of his ridiculous pump malfunction lie. The way those scenes were filmed--he and Skyler's spacious and quiet room, the exterior of the hotel resembling Adrian Veidt's Karnak, Walt sitting next to a giant glowing pool which has supplanted the smaller one in his backyard--positions the Whites as the only people in the hotel, as if they are alone in their empty castle, the forces of inevitability bearing down upon them. Also a quiet echo of Jack Torrance trapped with his family in the Overlook). Walt goes to great pains to frighten his former business partners and friends, letting them know their televised effort to minimize his existence will not be the final word on the (gray) matter. His reaction to Elliot's ridiculous and flaccid attempt at self-defense with a small knife only gives him more power in the situation, as the way he shrugs it off indicates to them that this is someone who's killed people, and who has no problem killing people (and his dismissal brings to mind Mike laughing off Walt's .38 snub back in season four). Thus, Gretchen and Elliot become Walt's latest reluctant cohorts. Walt is not only laying out an ingenious scheme to ensure that Junior will get all the money that remains from the Heisenberg empire, he's rubbing the Schwartzes' faces in it, gleefully forcing them to do his bidding while using his criminal infamy as a scare tactic, exuding cancerous delight and pride that this is HIS money that HE earned. It's a show put on for Gretchen and Elliot not only to make certain they comply with his demands, but so that Walt will have the last laugh. No blood is drawn, yet it's one of the most vicious things he's ever done, the comedic reveal of Badger and Skinny Pete with laser pointers notwithstanding.
No, Walt is not a hero or a good guy in the finale. He is a broken person corrupted beyond any point of being a recognizable decent human being. But he sets out to stop those various forces he summoned when dabbling in a dangerous world that was much bigger and more out of his control than he originally cared to admit, and--as stubbornly insistent on dying on his own terms as he is--he's at least attained a slightly more realistic notion of his place in the universe. (Walt's vague prayer to nothing in particular, at the start of his final journey back in New Hampshire, puts across the idea that he now has an inkling of understanding that Walter White might not be the blazing sun around which everything else revolves. The car keys almost literally falling from heaven raises the possibility that some force in the universe--maybe the same one that brought Jane's father and Walt together in a bar to talk about kids and Mars, and which wouldn't allow Skyler's coin to land in New Mexico, and which provided peace to Jesse when he built his wooden box--is giving Walt one final chance to do something that isn't completely terrible). But I don't believe the final episode is trying to sell that Walt is a reborn man who's seen the light, or some kind of martyr (Christ-like wound aside), even if he makes certain sacrifices. What it's doing is reminding us that Walt is still a human being, and is still capable of things like love, forgiveness, awareness and sadness--even if those emotions seemed as if they were shorn away over time, and even if they've grown dim--just as he's capable of poisoning people or shooting them in the head.
Walt became very detestable and deluded as the series went on, but the purpose of the finale is not so much to make you forgive him, but to feel for him again, to take you back to some semblance of the early days when it was easier to care about him. It asks you to empathize, to experience how wretched and hopeless Walter's life has become, and to appreciate the small gestures of reparation that he makes along the way to death, even if they're wrapped up in his relentless egomania. Walt broke bad, for sure, but by owning his inner villain at the end of his life, he also manages to break his badness, however slightly.
Now, to me, this was not a cop-out on behalf of Vince Gilligan, somehow going soft at the end. In fact, I found it to be a tremendous achievement, the fact that Gilligan actually made me feel something other than disgust/contempt/incredulousness for Walter White in the last hour. I don't forgive Walt, and I certainly don't excuse him, and I still find him to be a horrible person. But I did care about him again, and in a weird way I loved him again, and that was something I figured could not happen before all was said and done. So yes, the finale invites us to have a shred of compassion for this man, however confusing that impulse may be. Yet at no point does the show let Walt off the hook for everything he did. There's a reason the finale often frames Walter in a fashion bordering on demonic. It's not a coincidence that he spends most of the episode materializing out of nowhere like a ghost, or observing his former loved ones from afar like Michael Myers stalking Jamie Lee Curtis in a slasher movie. In many ways, Breaking Bad was a horror story, a tale of a man becoming a snarling creature, transformed permanently by his misguided experiment. Walter White is that monster nearing the end of his life, and he knows it. (In addition to being a sci-fi/horror mad scientist story a la Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the series also works as a suburban horror fable, along the lines of Blue Velvet, Fargo and the aforementioned Halloween, all of which seem to have been direct influences).
Perhaps the most significant moment in the episode is his final scene with Skyler. First of all, hats off to Anna Gunn in this scene. She only has several lines between her conversation with Marie and then with Walt, but her face alone conveys how Skyler has become a broken, empty shell of a woman. It's clear how much she has lost, and none of it needs to be forced into words. But the highlight of this scene, and perhaps the most important moment in the entire series, is Walt finally admitting what he is, coming clean that yes, this has all been about him. It could only be at the end of the show that Walt has this realization, this level of self-honesty, because his mechanism throughout the whole story has been self-deceit. The way Skyler looks at him once Walt confesses, while in no way approaching forgiveness, comes across as a potent mix of relief and gratitude. Walt has finally told her the truth, uncorrupted with his usual bullshit, and for that she is thankful. It's the most Walt could do at this point, which is unflattering to say the least. (And he does bend the facts to her about the money, making this a not entirely truthful truth session).
I found the scenes of Walt saying goodbye to baby Holly, and having to take his last glimpse of Junior while hiding behind a laundry room window, all the while unable to have the parting with Skyler that he truly needs, to be heartbreaking. Just absolutely, horrifically sad in its portrayal of a permanently burned connection between people. Walter wants to be with his family before he expires, but it's the one option which is absolutely not on the table, so he's reduced to providing meager offerings of faint hope to people who want nothing to do with him. Walt gave Skyler the gift of at least being honest for once, but he leaves her with not much else. She may be able to cut a deal with the DEA for the location of Hank and Gomez's bodies, but there is no telling if this tactic will work. And while her relationship with her sister has the potential to be rebuilt (Marie even opens her message by saying "truce"), it's a lingering question whether or not they will ever be close again. Marie's closure comes in getting to know the location of the hole in which her dead husband is rotting. Junior's closure will arrive in the form of over nine million dollars of drug money that will be his to keep whether he wants it or not.
This is the best Walter White could do. Make of that what you will.