[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of Breaking Bad. Read at your own risk.]
Breaking Bad certainly isn't treading lightly in its final episodes.
Just one week after the AMC drama wasted no time having DEA agent Hank (Dean Norris) confront his meth-cooking brother-in-law Walt (Bryan Cranston), the show was equally speedy in getting to the fallout. On Sunday's episode, Hank spills what he knows to both Walt's wife and co-conspirator Skyler (Anna Gunn), as well as Skyler's sister and Hank's wife Marie (Betsy Brandt).
Breaking Bad: Will Skyler stand by Walt's side?
Although Hank didn't instantly assume that Skyler could be involved in Walt's operation — she's kept his secrets and is presently helping launder his money through their car wash — Skyler is unable to keep the truth from Marie. As Marie questions a tearful Skyler and begs her to say it's all untrue, Marie eventually learns just how long Skyler has known about Walt's double life. When Marie finds out that Skyler knew before two cartel assassins sent for Walt nearly killed Hank, she loses it and slaps her sister before storming out of the house.
So, is this the end of the sisters' relationship or could Marie eventually find a way to forgive Skyler? TVGuide.com chatted with Brandt, who will next appear on The Michael J. Fox Show this fall, about filming that heartbreaking scene and what's to come.
What was it like shooting the scene where Marie slaps Skyler?
Betsy Brandt: I loved that it was really a gut reaction. I kept saying when we were shooting that day, "This is just so sad." It broke my heart because their relationship, the bond they had — that's done. Because that's definitely a line you just can't cross, to jeopardize her husband's life. That's unforgivable.
So that's the thing that pushed Marie over the edge — knowing that Walt's misdeeds almost cost Hank his life back in Season 3?
Brandt: That they in any way would be willing to jeopardize Hank's life and then lie to her about it — that's a lot to swallow. The big watershed moment was Marie finding out that Walt and Skyler were willing to do that. It would be hard enough [finding out] that only Walt knew. But the fact that Skyler knew and just watched Marie worry about Hank's safety and not tell her? That's just painful.
Do you think Marie went into that confrontation with Skyler expecting a different result?
Brandt: She says, "Tell me Hank's crazy. It just can't be true." I think she knows that it is, but she would love it if Skyler would say, "No it's just a misunderstanding." She doesn't want to know because she knows the answer isn't going to be good.
Although Hank never assumes Skyler might actually be a co-conspirator, Marie seems to come out her encounter with more intel.
Brandt: It just shows how well she knows Skyler. If Skyler knows... she's either [involved] in it or she's not. And she's not not in it because she's not going to the police. She's not doing anything about it. I think from that, Marie deduces that Skyler is really [involved].
Marie instantly tries to take baby Holly.
Brandt: She genuinely loves both of those kids so much. So, she's going to protect them because that's who she is, and it's wrong what Skyler and Walt are doing. She can't leave those kids there.
That's good to hear. Because Marie does have a past of stealing things.
Brandt: [Laughs] I don't think it's, "Hey I really wanted kids and couldn't have them, so here's an opportunity to get some!" I don't think she's stolen a kid before. But maybe if this Saul Goodman spin-off happens, we'll see.
When Hank and Marie leave the White house, she says, "You have to get him." Is she motivated by revenge?
Brandt: No, I don't think she's that person. But Hank and Marie are being up-front with each other and they're definitely on the same team. She's basically telling him, "If anybody can do this, you can, baby. And I'm going to back you up." Marie can be a little crazy, but she's tough.
She does push Hank to tell the DEA what he knows, even though Hank argues it will mean the end of his career. How will she balance supporting Hank with his dilemma and stopping Walt?
Brandt: She's always been concerned, with good reason, for Hank's safety. I think, to Marie, there's safety in numbers if Hank's not the only one trying to take [Walt] down. She knows how hard [this is] for him because his job is very important to him. So, I think she sees his side, but I think she also always pushes him.
Even though Marie is clearly siding with Hank now, could that change?
Brandt: It's tough. I honestly always wondered what would happen when Marie found out because she would do anything for Hank, but she's also always been there for her sister. They're a constant for one another.
A happy Breaking Bad Ending? "We hug it out," Bryan Cranston says
Could the strength of that bond eventually make Marie forgive Skyler?
Brandt: In the past, Skyler has [had scenes] where you feel like she's going to tell Marie. I could see moments where she needed to tell somebody and she wanted to tell. That said, she's working very hard to make sure that nobody, Marie included, finds out. You don't forgive and forget something like that. What Marie has learned — that's life-changing information and it's heartbreaking. Whatever happens, it will change their relationship forever. Whatever they had before, whether Marie can find it in her heart to forgive her or not, it will never be the same.
Walt told Hank to "tread lightly." Is Marie worried about the two of them going after Walt?
Brandt: Of course she's going to worry. She knows how dangerous he is. I think knowing about Gus Fring alone is scary. That was brutal and so calculated, what Walt did. She knows what she's dealing with. So, going after him is dangerous, but leaving him out there is dangerous too.
Each of these last two episodes have had major confrontations. Will that be true all the way to the end?
Brandt: Every step along the way, when we come to moments like these, the writers handle it. There are a lot of options, but I feel like what they do with everything, you just think, "Well, there was no other choice." It's really that amazing. They will not disappoint you. The last eight episodes just feel like the perfect ending for the show. From that moment in the garage, it just doesn't stop. I love the way in which it's going out.
What did you think of Marie and Skyler's showdown? Breaking Bad airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.