Spoiler alert: I wrote this after viewing episode 13 of series 5 of Breaking Bad. To be on the safe side, do not read on unless you've got that far. For those who haven't seen the show at all, there'll be very little here that is meaningful.
One of the best things about this show - and in particular about this final set of eight episodes - is that one cannot help but ask "How is it going to end?" Every time the credits pop up we are recalibrating our expectations: Hank on the toilet seat; Jesse with the petrol can; Neo-Nazi desert shoot-out. Each week we think we've got some idea about how this story is going to play out, and each week something happens that we never saw coming. Our plans are scuppered almost as badly as they are for the characters themselves.
Though my hit rate for guessing what's going to happen next is as low as it can be, it never stops me from plotting the rest of the series out in my head. I'm going to give myself a fighting chance here by making only broad strokes.
My latest (and perhaps final) outlandish prediction is that Vince Gilligan's show that is famously about turning Mr Chips into Scarface will attempt to change the audience's mind about Walter White again - he'll try to make us empathise with this ex-chemitry teacher once more.
By the time of the flash forward to Walt celebrating his 52nd birthday, he will have lost everything - Skyler, Walt Jr, Holly, his home, even the car wash. His potential allies (Saul, Jesse, Hank, Lydia, whoever) are either dead, dead against him, or otherwise totally ambivalent to Walt's fate.
He will have realised that whilst he was pursuing financial security for his family, he has lost what makes a good family in the first place - trust, integrity, safety from harm, love. He will still have his money, but no one to give it to. So what does he do? We already know what this man does when faced with the fear of losing his life and leaving his family destitute. What will he do when he's already lost everything, including that family?
He will be tracking down the Neo Nazis and offing them. And he'll not be stopping there. He'll be acting as a bounty hunter, killing drug dealers and manufacturers before the cancer takes him. With any luck, he'll be able to tell himself before he dies that he is a good man, and that the world (or at least new Mexico) was better off for having him in it for a little over 52 years.
In his vain attempt to put right what he had made wrong, he'll be like an ultra-tragic Sam Beckett from Quantum Leap. He'll be travelling around, using his massive brain for good by killing those in the industry he was once a part of. He'll convince himself that he's tying up loose ends, like he always has been.
He'll still be Walt, his own worst enemy. He'll still be a victim of his own hubris, thinking that he has the right answer for every situation. But along with the arrogance there will be at least some humility. He will carry on trying to make up for his past transgressions, but will know that, like Quantum Leap's Sam, he can never return home. All he can do with his little time left is try to make things a little less bad.
One mini-prediction: Walt doesn't die. How fitting it would be that a character so acutely aware of their own mortality, in a show so filled with death, should survive, only to have a thoroughly empty existence. A tragic end, to be sure. But we all knew at least that much from the very start, didn't we? This was not going to end well.