BREAKING BAD Series Finale Recap: “Felina”

     September 29, 2013


Well Breaking Bad, that was damned perfect.  Not that we should have expected any less.  I stuck around for a few minutes of Talking Bad just to see what Vince Gilligan had to say about his seminal series and that finale.  Essentially, that this wasn’t a show that deserved a question mark ending — it needed to be final, a story that was completely finished.  “Felina” couldn’t have been any better when it comes to that — “Ozymandias” was the beginning of the end, and these last two weeks were about closure.  We needed it, and Walt needed it.  Hit the jump for why, “if that’s your plan, you’re going to need a bigger knife.”

breaking-bad-felinaLet’s talk about the ways Breaking Bad gave us what we wanted, because it’s not just what happened, but how.  Walt didn’t go on a murderous rampage and kill Elliot and Gretchen — he used them.  His brilliance once again created a masterful plan in which he had them funnel money to his family in the form of a charitable donation.  It was humiliating and humbling for them, and that’s what they deserved.  Walt employing Badger and Skinny Pete though was icing on the cake.  Those two are still out there, still being doofuses, but ultimately giving Walt the information he needed to know that Jesse was still alive, and that he could still right one of his greatest wrongs.

Walt haunted many on his journey towards death, as both Scrooge and the ghosts of past, present and future rolled into one.  He skulked into the frame, hovered in darkness, or stood still as he watched, and waited.  He took people down in ways that represented their core — Elliot and Gretchen were used for their wealth, Lydia was brought low by her Stevia addiction and predictability, the White Supremacists by their greed.  And in the end, Walt laid down to die among the thing that made him the happiest, that made him feel alive.  But that also destroyed him and the lives of almost everyone he met.

And then there was Jesse.  Jesse!  To let him kill Todd, to throttle the life out of him, was great justice.  And for him to not let Walt control him again, but to say no to Mr. White, even if that meant he got to live … that was a murder Jesse didn’t need on him.  Killing Todd was one thing, that would have been something else.  But Walt allowed him to do it any way he needed — he knew he was dying, and if Jesse needed to kill him, that was ok.  But after Todd’s death (and Lydia’s), Jesse knew he was free.  Walt wanted to preserve his product and his legacy, make no mistake his motivations were largely selfish.  But he cut Jesse in on it.  That was good.

breaking-bad-felinaAs I said last week, Breaking Bad‘s power (especially in hindsight and on pending re-watches) is not about how Walt spelled out “52″ in bacon, alone on his birthday, or how we came to figure out why that creepy pink bear was floating in his pool.  It’s about watching this man change before our eyes, from, as Vince Gilligan originally pitched it, “Mr. Chips to Scarface.”  It’s about how it never let us totally lose our faith in Walt, or sight of his humanity no matter how much Heisenberg took over.  That is a masterful stroke that when we saw Walt, dead among his “baby blue,” it felt like justice in a way we could never have predicted.  Breaking Bad‘s puzzle pieces are fun and are part of why the series initially became so addicting.  But ultimately, it’s about how far a man can go, and what he is capable of doing — good or bad — for a cause.  It was about drugs and pride and genius and mistakes.  And damn.  What a ride that was.

Episode Rating: A+

Musings and Miscellanea:

– It was a great justice to Nazis not win, to see Walt finally shed his delusions and admit that he liked what he had been doing, to have Jesse kill Todd and have Walt ultimately kill himself in the service of someone else.  And just everything.

– I guess those are the kinds of plans you can make without TV, internet, phone or social interaction for so many months.

– Gretchen and Elliot should have known that $200,000 for two hitmen to follow them across the world was too good of a bargain to be real.

breaking-bad-season-5-part-2-poster– “The whole thing felt kind of shady, like, morality wise?” – Skinny Pete

– “That’s a nice head of hair. Other than that you look like shit” – Jack

– In my head canon, Saul comes back to free Huell from waiting for Hank and Gomez, and asks him to work at the Cinnabon he’s managing in Omaha.

– The memory of Hank was pretty piercing, but NOTHING like Jesse and his wood box.  Was that just a visual metaphor?  I always assumed that story (from his group therapy session in Season Three’s “Kafkaesque”) was a metaphor for him working with Walt, but I don’t know.  Either way, it was a beautiful and utterly devastating moment.

– Todd’s creepy Lydia ringtone, and him trying to compliment her blouse … I can’t.

– So Flynn is definitely never going to call himself Walt, Jr ever again.

– Skyler was completely devoid of color (were Marie’s pants purple?)  Though Walt’s story has come to an end, who knows what will happen to his family now (hopefully they’ll do well with that windfall, but the reality of his actions will haunt them forever).  As for Jesse?  We can only hope.

– Walt: “I want this.”  Jesse: “Then do it yourself.”

– “It’s over, and I needed a proper goodbye” – Walt

– “I did all of this for me. I liked it. I was good at it.  And I was really … I was alive.” – Walt.

– Thanks for reading, guys. Goodbye!


  • Ethan


  • krstphr

    So good. So many emotions right now. I will love this show for the rest of my life.

  • azeem

    Thank you Allison for these reviews. I read them every time and Iappreciate yyour insights and opinions. I actually tie BB with your reviews–there hand in hand so I will miss these as well.

    Also, I love the community here. Very insightful and faithful fans.

    • James

      The reviews were awful, she got so many things wrong.

      • Fitzchiv

        allison’s reviews weren’t awful at all, she got a few bits and bobs wrong but nothing major, allison’s reviews/recaps were enjoyable postscripts to the episodes and will be missed! now matt’s reviews on the other hand….. !

      • Sten

        Try and then go back to rewarding Allison, She did o.k. at best. But not as brilliant as they did it over there. I read Allison’s recaps because I like the site, but they were not that good, to be honest.

  • Keegan W.

    Now that these reviews are done, just wanted to say thanks Allison! Great job, I’ve been reading these recaps for all of season 5 (part 1 and 2) every Sunday night. The greatest show on television easily… So glad it ended this way. R.I.P. Walter White.

    I also just wanted to point out to anyone who’s reading, a friend of mine asked me ‘what about Jesse?!’ and I realized it honestly doesn’t matter. Walter White is Breaking Bad and with his death, the show dies too. It provided closure to Walt, not to anyone else. Jesse has a whole fucked up life ahead of him and it wouldn’t have been justified to give us a 2 minute prologue about where he goes and what he does, especially after Walt has already died.

    But I do like to think that Jesse abandoned his past life, adopted Brock, and moved to Alaska. As dumb as that sounds, it’s a genuinely peaceful thought to imagine some happiness for Jesse.

  • junierizzle

    I concur with everyone else, great job on these reviews. My Breaking Bad night wasn’t complete until I read your review.

    For me, this is the best show ever. It was proven all week when I re-watched most of the episodes during the marathon. They are even better the second and third time. One can really appreciate the time and talent it took to make this show.

    I loved how understated the finale was, it was in-line with how the show has always been. You kind of knew what would happen but it still felt fresh and creative the way they pulled it off. Bravo!

    And no I don’t give a crap that the Nazi’s didn’t check the trunk. Why would they?

  • Nick

    My god. I actually don’t know why they were so tight lipped about spoilers, because even if I knew everything that happened… Seeing it executed so perfectly is just something else. I hope this show, this finale and this level of acting becomes the new standard. The Heisenberg standard. I’m going to miss this show way too much.

    Anyway, it feels silly to disect it no what it’s over, but does anyone actually think Walt planned to save Jesse? I got the impression he was pissed that Jesse was still alive, until he saw him and realized it had gone too far. That subtle nod to each other was devastating and so satisfying!

    • junierizzle

      Na, he thought Jesse was a legitimate partner with the Nazis. I loved that he saved him. I watched a lot of episodes during the marathon on AMC and I was surprised to see that these two were always at each others throats but they always had each others back too. Walt forgave Jesse and Jesse forgave Walt. They were so toxic toward each other but they respected each other in the end.

      • Nick

        Yeah good point. A lot of people seem to think Walt didn’t die and are begging for a movie… Amazing how people can not get it to such a degree lol.

    • Melwing

      That nod between the two of them was one of my favorite moments of the entire series. That and the happiness on Jesse’s face as he sped away. Beautiful. I almost cried at that.

      • MumbleKing

        “…the happiness on Jesse’s face as he sped away.” He later is pulled over by a cop for speeding, goes to jail and while in jail he gets recruited by the head of a racing gang. He changes his name to Tobey Marshall, thus leading to the upcoming Need For Speed movie.

    • mattritchey

      “The Heisenberg Standard.” Awesome.

  • Alex Hajna

    How fucking poetic was Walt’s death? He died protecting Jesse from himself (himself, being Walt). So perfect.

  • peeker3000

    I suppose it would be bad form for me to point out that Walt might not be dead. He dropped to the floor just as the police were arriving, he could have passed out from blood loss. If the cops got him to medical aid in time he could have survived just as Hank did when the two Mexican assassin brothers shot him.

    • Daniel O’Reilly

      If everyone on Talking Bad (including Vince Gilligan) agrees he’s dead, he’s dead, and there was not a more perfect way for it to happen.

      Think of it this way: You can’t be Scarface if you’re still alive at the end.

    • celxx

      There’s no way walt could’ve survived based on on a couple of reasons:
      1. He had lung cancer, which is pretty much a death sentence for most people that get it.
      2. He got shot near his liver / kidneys, which could lead to a lot of blood loss and death by that cause. With his lungs totally screwed up, he was pretty much done for..

    • Nick

      Passed out with his eyes open? He dead. Don’t hold on to it, he’s definitely dead. He didn’t go to prison. He didn’t die from the cancer and he wasn’t murdered. It’s such an amazing end to his story.

    • Jason Herr König

      Ahh, wishful thinking. Walt’s definitely dead my friend; think of it as a morality tale. Even if your theory is correct, Walt will just refuse meds and let the cancer kill him.

    • Theodore Trout

      “Guess I got what I deserved”.

  • Mars

    It kind of ended exactly how I expected. Walt coming with the huge gun to take out Todd’s crew while saving Jesse at the expense of his own life. Saw it all coming. But for anyone who bet on Walt not dying, they’re pretty stupid.

    • Nick

      I think everyone sorta knew it was heading that way. It’s the how and why that made it so great to watch

    • junierizzle

      Well, it’s not like there was going to be a huge twist.

      • Theodore Trout

        I sure didn’t expect to forgive him.

    • Fitzchiv

      yeah but it all happened in such a well choreographed way, without a hint of cliche, and a couple of amazingly clever twist thrown in for measure, incredibly satisfying, a work of art from first episode to last!

    • Rjd123

      But he wasn’t initially trying to save Jesse. He came there to kill Jesse along with the Nazis (Gilligan even said so). It was only once he saw that Jesse wasn’t a partner, but a slave that he decided to save him.

  • TotesMcGotes

    I won’t deny that a lot of things I predicted happened,but that’s one of the beautiful things about Breaking Bad,even if you know what’s going to happen,you can’t take your eyes off the screen,my heart was pouding the entire time. It was fabulous.

    And,to be honest,this is the first show I watched until the ending. We don’t get these shows here in my country,and I just started watching them on cable a few years ago. It could not be a better first one. And thanks for the recaps.

  • Daniel O’Reilly

    The only complaint I have is there were way too many commercials. AMC running the episode commercial free would have been the classy way to go (instead of making us watch ads for such things as the Tablemate).

    Great work on the recaps, Allison, particularly given how many different shows you cover each Sunday.

    • sneezed

      The glory of watching it in the UK on netflix 12 hours after it aired in the US.. No ad’s allowing you to be completely engrossed in the story. (also without the ads the episode was only 53 minutes long).

  • Yurine

    Goodbye walt T.T

  • pinkincide

    Walt should have done some meth by the time it was over. Just sayin’. The whole Scarface thing and all…

  • mattritchey

    I really REALLY thought in that last scene that Walt was going to do one final cook alone, finally try his own product, and die from blood loss and meth overdose. It’s the ONLY thing that could have made this episode even slightly better.

    BUT that would have been out-of-character for him and would have been HUGELY divisive, so, there it is. God, I loved this show….

    Thanks for the weekly recaps!

    • junierizzle

      You said it yourself, that would have been out-of-character. I think we as an audience just expect something over the top because it’s a finale but Breaking Bad has never been that show. I think in time this finale will be viewed as perfect. Hell, some are already calling it that.

    • Fitzchiv

      i don’t think he really needed to make a cook for it to be anymore satisfying, he was obviously an artist amongst his tools when he died, like he said to skyler, it made him feel alive, a fitting end, cant get better than that! the entire finale was completely fitting with the show as a whole, tied up everything in an absolutely satisfying way, granted, some things you could see coming a mile off, but the manner in which the major plot points were resolved was awesome! the entire show is a masterpiece if you ask me anything!

  • LEM

    He dies and his family will get that money so he wins.

  • Fitzchiv

    hey thanks for the recaps allison, much appreciated, enjoyed the journey with you! by the way, thats a nice, uhmm, shirt you have, its a.. ehm… nice color, its kinda, uhm, corn flour color..! :D

  • It’s James Cain!

    Great write-up for a great episode.

  • Kevin


  • tarek

    Bryan Cranston is the funniest guy on earth when it comes to comedy, and still he can deliver a stellar dramatic play. The last episode was so moving… I saw a broken man, an executor of his own will, free of any anger or regret. He was seeking for the last redemption, and he found it when he burned his sins with the monster he created himself. Heisenberg is Dr Frankenstein.

  • TK

    I really need to know what happens to Jesse. He was the other side of the coin that made the show work and time and again he was trying to make something of his life until Walt snookered him back in. But like that bank interview back in season 2, how is he ever going to find work? How will he make a life for himself? What about Brock? I’m sure there will be some deal with the police as Jesse’s a star witness in this whole affair, but as Jesse had become just a beaten slave these past few episodes, him driving to freedom just wasn’t enough for me. It’s a lovely metaphor, but what kind of life can he ever have now? That’s the only thing for me that mars an almost perfect finale. Even if we just got some onscreen text at the end telling us what became of these people, ’80s movie-style, that would have done it.

    • Nick

      Man, if they did that “Jesse wine ton to blah blah blah” it would have ruined the entire finale. This is over for Jesse. Whether he goes to the cops and trades info for a smaller sentence, or goes back to abusing meth (doubtful). He made it. He survives hurricane Walt and he’s free. No one is left to kill him and he has about 4 permanent memories on his face to remind him that actions have consequences. I don’t think the wooden box was just a way to make us all devastatingly sad… But Jesus was that sad.. It was also , for me, and arrow to point me on the right direction. I think he has plenty of passions he could have went on to do but if it wasn’t for Walt he would have ended up a junkie for the rest of his life. He has a happy ending considering how much he lost

    • 97point6

      Though it was a flashback, the carpenter shop daydream would be a great future for Jesse. That would be my wish for him.

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  • Scott Baiowulfgang Amadeus

    A truly great finale that needs no further dissection. Thanks to Vince and crew for giving us a truly once in a lifetime television experience.

    I would like to pat myself on the back for calling the Marty Robbins “El Paso” theory last Monday. Not only did the song make an appearance before the title credits, imagery from the song was throughout the whole episode.

    • Roy Batty

      Good call, and don’t forget the shot of the Marty Robbins cassette tape that came out of the glove box. Priceless!

    • 97point6

      “felt the bullet go deep into my chest”

  • bombinUSA

    For people wondering about Jesse, as its been mentioned…he was saved in every was possible…emotionally, physically, psychologically etc. Its absurd to make the comparison to that shitty saw franchise, but what Walter actually did for Jesse was play the role of Jigsaw. Jesse was a drug addict and dealer that was going nowhere in life, Walt got Jesse right in the middle of the meth industry and revealed its ugliest side. If Walt never met Jesse, he could’ve ended up like combo or jane. Sure Jesse suffered a ton (like a Jigsaw victim) but in the end Jesse was saved figuratively and literally. A lot of people died and suffered for Jesse to be salvaged but in the end, he came out of it with a fresh and clean outlook on life…i see Jesse living a clean and proper life from here on out. With the dreaming about the box he made for his mother, that was symbolism of the happier times in his life…the times where he had his family, so i can see him rekindle his relationship with them. Don’t worry about Jesse, he’s going to be alright…he was scared shitless out of the drug trade. lol

  • bombinUSA

    how did walt get the stevia into lydia’s drink though??? did he pay off the server? like she asked for more stevia and the server brought it to did walt put that small sample of recin into the packet? this is the only part of the show that was confusing. i knew lydia was going to be the one getting the recin from episode one of season 5 part B, but just wondering the process he took. anyone have any ideas?

    • Kevin

      My brother pointed out to me that he probably did it during his coughing fit.

      • Bubba76

        No the drink hadn’t arrived at the table before he started coughing, he must have got it into the Stevia somehow. And he only left one packet at the table and he knew she would take it because she was a “creature of habit” :)

      • Theodore Trout

        Yeah , he had to have arrived early at the meet and planted a specially prepared Stevia packet at her usual table.

      • bombinUSA

        But she asked the server to bring the stevia to her, and then the camera saw her put the stevia (ricin) into her drink and she stirred it. i would love to ask gilligan what his thought process was here, for such a perfect to show this is my only question after 5 seasons. lol

        maybe when the server brought the stevia, walt did a quick switch-a-roo while todd and lydia were caught off guard by his presence?

      • Sten

        She always said, that she needed MORE Stevia. That included the one Walt prepared on her table. That’s it.

      • bombinUSA

        man you’re probably right, i have to re-watch. i was so into it i probably missed this.

  • Nick

    Now that it’s all over. No more story to tel or question. Can we get a god damn color chart? I want to know all of the symbolism behind the certain colors

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  • Theodore Trout

    The wood box scene shows us Jesse before he got into meth.
    Maybe now he’ll go back to woodworking.

  • Bubba76

    Loved the entire show…. just one random question; why did Walt leave his watch on top of the public phone near the beginning of the episode?

    • Goga Šuput

      Bubba76 – Walt left his watch to convince Skyler that he spent all his money, to be sure that Skyler will accept money from Gretchen and Elliot. If Skyler had seen his very expensive watch, he would’t belive that he spent all money.

  • gdhdhdhdhxhdhdjd

    To show that he was ready to die and time didn’t matter.

  • Chris Noeth

    Thank you for this wonderful show and all the great moments! I can’t put it into words… but one thing is for sure… I don’t believe I will watch anything else near the perfection this show has until I die. Can’t get better than this. Thank you!

  • LL

    Here’s a question the NYT asked: We saw the transformation of High school teacher to meth mastermind, but why did Walt abandon Gretchen all those years ago and leave them to continue on with his work and ideas. He could have had fame and fortune, but instead settled for a life he knew would never match his potential and intellect.

    • Sten

      And that, folks, is another story for another time… ;)

    • Sten

      And that, folks, is another story for another time… ;)

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  • matt murdock

    What an EXCELLENT show. I loved every minute and will truly miss it. The finale was perfect.