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!