There has been lots of virtual ink spilt over the masterpiece that Breaking Bad was including 21 articles on this blog. I know it sounds awfully repetitive but I have been saying since back in Season 2 that this show was simply incredible and as we moved through Season 4 and Season 5 Part 1, it just kept improving episode after episode. It was exhilarating to watch Walt transform into Heisenberg and all this with no shark jumping or pandering or sentimentalism or cheapening of the plot. It stayed complex and violent and intense and highly credible. Walt was definitely “smarter than [we] are, luckier than [we] are”. Despite his evil nature, I could never really root against him. Like Vince and his incredible writing crew, I wanted him to at least attempt to right some of the universal wrongs that he did for the sake of being “alive”. How cathartic was the confession to Skyler that he did it all for himself. The last time he held Holly, the last time he watched Flynn. It was not overdone or over-wrought, it was perfectly balanced. From the manic pace from Confessions to Ozymandias and the relative slow pace of Granite State, Felina crescendos into a swan song for Walter White over the words of Badfinger “I guess I deserved it”. Yes, he most certainly did, but we will not miss him any less. I personally want to see more directing from the amazing Michelle MacLaren, more editing from Kelley Dixon, more music from David Porter, and another serious, quirky masterpiece from Vince Gilligan. Some have criticised Aaron Paul for taking on the star role in Need for Speed. I am really happy for him. He struggled for work for so long and has come into his own thanks to Breaking Bad and his success is well-deserved. Anna Gunn was rightfully compensated by the Emmy’s this year. Bryan Cranston once again proved that he WAS Walter/Heisenberg with one of the most riveting and complex character portrayals ever attempted on the small screen. Even at the end of the show, he moved effortlessly between the two personas – so much so that we were not sure at many points which one we were looking at.
The parallels and throwbacks in the finale are almost too many to mention. In the final image of Walt dead in the lab, I am reminded of him lying down and laughing/crying hysterically in ‘Crawl Space’. In fact, Jesse’s cry/laugh as he busted down the gates of the nazi compound and sped away also reminded me of that same ambiguous reaction between sorrow and relief that he certainly felt at that moment. I think that he left the watch on the phone to say “Time’s Up: I have put into motion my last Master Plan and I will not survive it. Also, I don’t want the cops to get the watch that Jesse gave me. It feels better to leave it here in the middle of nowhere than to have it on my dead body 48 hours later. The look on Walt’s face resembles that when he goes into the MRI machine in S01E01 and later in S05E08. He came full circle from sleepwalking through his life post-Gretchen/post-Grey Matter and alive to living the adrenaline heights of the drug trade and dying from it. The last gest saving Jesse was necessary and critical for our acceptance (but not forgiveness) of him as an audience. The Talking Good podcast mentioned that there was some Christ imagery in here: wounded in the side, having his life taken in the place of Jesse’s, the pose with the arms wide apart…perhaps a bit of a stretch but it is curious how he said a prayer (to whom? above or below) in the car to get him home and he’d take care of the rest. Perhaps it was his Faustian deal (echoed by the airs of Faust that were playing in Gretchen and Elliot’s house when he sneaks up on them. In any case, I am sure that there will be a slew of Master’s Theses for the next few years in schools across the US analysing and re-analysing the rich treasure-trove of material for literature, culture, and cinematic students that Breaking Bad will ultimately leave as a legacy. As for me, I am proud to have watched this show from about episode 3 of season 1 to the end.
I felt that Felina really gave me closure for Walt, Jesse and the immediate family. The only possible open question is about whether someone will free Huell and why Don Eladio was scared of Gus. But I’d rather wonder about those than face an unsatisfying ending like that in The Sopranos or no ending at all like in Deadwood. I think the next best closing episode in terms of closure was that of Six Feet Under which was incredibly masterful and complete. Perhaps the weakest in recent memory is the end of Dexter where it is too rushed and jumps the shark with Dex somehow surviving a hurricane and swimming to some kind of logging camp? Yeah right. Walt’s death on the floor of his true love – a meth cooking lab – the ONE thing in his life that he earned unquestioned respect and power from – was appropriate and fulfilling and will live on as an eternal portrayal of the futility of human greed –
“He meets some fragment huge, and stops to guess
What powerful but unrecorded race
Once dwelt in that annihilated place.”
Goodbye Breaking Bad. We will miss you Walt. RIP.
- ‘Breaking Bad’ series finale review: ‘Felina,’ a fitting ending to a flawless show (voices.suntimes.com)
- Breaking Bad TV Roundtable: “Felina” (errornotfound.org)
- ‘Breaking Bad’ Finale Reviews: Just Perfect? Or Too Perfect? (thewrap.com)
- Breaking Bad: “Felina” Review (zeit-gest.com)
- Breaking Bad S5/E16 “Felina” Series Finale Review (screenmonkey.wordpress.com)
- Breaking Bad Watch: Say Hello to My Little Friend (entertainment.time.com)
- Breaking Bad Season 5, Episode 16 review – “Felina” (jrodgermoviereviews.wordpress.com)
- BREAKING BAD Series Finale Recap: “Felina” (collider.com)