“Just get me home. Just get me home. I’ll do the rest.”
So much to say that it’s hard to know where to start. I’m so full of different emotions. I loved the finale. It was so bittersweet and surprisingly hopeful, and full of sad goodbyes that were heartbreaking but understated and not sentimental. And then there are all the feelings I’m having as a fan. It was actually hard to watch the finale a second time in order to write this post because all the goodbyes hit harder the second time around. It wasn’t just Walt saying goodbye in different ways to the people in his life, but us saying goodbye to all these characters we’ve lived with since we started watching the show, characters who were written and acted so vividly that they seemed almost alive and breathing in the real world.
It’s a big loss. No more predicting what Walt or anyone else will do. No more suspense, or shocking surprises. No more crazy, off-the-wall scenarios tossed out during the weeks or years between episodes. No more time with these wonderful awful people who are all so flawed and human. But even this loss puts some sweetness in the bittersweet of it all. The show did go out on top. There are shows I love that have just gone on too long and shown a drop in quality, and it’s usually around the fifth of sixth season, sometimes sooner, so that by the end, no one really cares anymore, and just watches out of habit if at all. And there are shows that ended too soon (The Killing, anyone? Don’t get me started) with stories unfinished, left on cliffhangers that will never resolve because the writers didn’t know the last episode was the last episode.
Vince Gilligan and his brilliant team of writers did know, for a long time, and so they could craft an ending, build up to it. And craft they did.
“It Hurts to Set You Free”
I want to talk about this ending as opposed to the “I won” ending of “Face Off.” I wrote in Why Breaking Bad Needs Season 5, one of my first posts on this blog, about why I never found that a satisfying ending, and now that we have something to compare it to, I’m just so, so, so thankful we got to experience this season. I called “I won” a “sunset” ending because it had that simplistic quality you sometimes see in romance stories where the lovers ride off into the sunset, literally or figuratively, and it’s implied that they’ll live happily ever after or some other bullshit that doesn’t exist in the real world.
In the real world, there is always aftermath. This is a bit off topic, but for anyone who’s seen the moves Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, I think this is part of why I so fiercely love Before Sunset so much more. Before Sunrise is this sweet, kinda quirky story of two people who meet on a train and spend this amazing day and night together and have this cool connection and agree, in the end, to meet in six months. It’s not a super “sunset” ending but it has that potential, you could think that Celine and Jesse meet in six months and live happily ever after. But in Before Sunset, it’s nine years later and you find out that things didn’t happen as planned, for either of them, and when they meet again, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows; there’s still the connection, and some love, between them but there’s also resentment, hurt feelings, misunderstandings and pathos. It’s the fallout and the aftermath. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t seen it (and if you haven’t seen this series of movies, you should) but there are some amazing scenes and lines of dialogue and an ending that is so close to perfection that I’ve actually dreamt about posting about it, seriously. And even that ending to Before Sunset has some aftermath in Before Midnight. The point, as it relates to Breaking Bad, is that I will be forever grateful that we got some aftermath.
For “I won” to work as a series ending, you’d have to either believe that Walt, having killed Gus, doesn’t go back to cooking after that and things are fine with the family, even if most of his money is gone. And not to cook after that, not to try to take Gus’s place as the drug lord? Not in Walt’s nature; not having the money was just fuel for something I think he would’ve done anyway. And so much was developing with Skyler in that last scene and her realization that Walt does “do violence” and had just blown up some people in a nursing home that there was no way things were going back to normal in their marriage anytime soon. And we saw that–she was stressed and freaked out and scared of Walt even before she knew he was back it. So much was story was evolving and Walt was so far from stopping, that this scenario isn’t believable.
The other possibility would be that Walt would go back to cooking and all would be hunky-dory and he’d just be this happy-go-lucky meth cook who never gets caught and doesn’t run into trouble, the CEO of blue meth southwest. And that might be less realistic than Walt quitting after killing Gus. Ending there also would’ve put too much emphasis on Gus, which would’ve been appropriate if Gus had been the “bad guy” kingpin throughout the entire series, but he came along later, after Emilio and Krazy-8, after Tuco, after Walt and Jesse trying to run their own small-scale meth empire, toward the end of Season Two, so as great as Gus was, it just would’ve felt unbalanced in a way to have the whole ending focus on his demise.
So, for me anyway, “I won” was satisfying as a season closure, but not for a series one. It was too happy, and implied futures too implausible. It would’ve been like Walt’s cancer never coming back, which I always thought would’ve been too medically miraculous for a show that deals in some harsh and dark realities. Season Five was our harsh and dark reality, a fitting conclusion where the stories run their true course and the “sunset” ending gets its due fallout and aftermath.
Of course Walt starts cooking again. Of course he tries to be Gus, and his arrogance soars. Of course he has to push it as far as he possibly can, even when his mentor lawyer tells him that maybe he should quit while he’s ahead and not attempt to win the lottery twice, and his student has to be emotionally manipulated into coming back to cook again, and his wife says she’s holding on, waiting for his cancer to come back. Of course he keeps on keeping on, getting more desperate and sloppy as he goes. Of course like any empire, his too must fall. After all the talk about his drug business being a threat to the family, someone in the family dies. His family is torn apart and the chickens (like Wendell) come home to roost. Conclusions. Harsh, dark reality. Only small miracles allowed here, and even those can’t last. This ending that we get in “Felina” strikes the right chord–surprisingly hopeful in a lot of ways, while still sad and full of loss–and is much more fitting to the tone of the series.
For us, as Juliet once said, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” It is. It’s so sad to see this series go, but there is a sweetness to it too, that it was a well-crafted, satisfying ending, and that we got to see this story all the way through to its bittersweet, harsh dark reality hopeful conclusion. Still, I feel like I’m in mourning. There’s a wonderful, well-earned emptiness in my gut. Along with “Baby Blue,” the song that comes to mind this week is “The End” by the Doors. It fits the mood, and the lyrics are oddly perfect. There are even the lines, “Get here, and we’ll do the rest,” and “Doin’ a blue rock,” and others that fit this feeling of loss so much that I’m going to post a video with lyrics at the end of the post.
I’m Just trying to keep in mind what Walt says, what may be my favorite line of the entire episode (and there were a lot of good ones):
“Cheer up, beautiful people. This is where you get to make it right.”
The Bitter(sweet) End: Surprisingly Hopeful but Still Full of Sad
So, that line begs the question, did Walt make it right? I think that as much as he could, he did. He finds a way to get his money to his children. He gives Skyler the coordinates to Hank and Gomie’s grave and in doing so, offers her a way to make a deal and get back on her feet, and lets her know that he didn’t in fact kill Hank. And maybe what makes things right with Skyler, even more than all of that, is that he’s finally truthful with her, and with himself. He saves Jesse and sets him free. He kills off anyone who could ever make his product in the future or become a threat to his family’s safety, ensuring that all of this dies with him.
But still, everyone in the story would’ve been better off if Walt hadn’t broken bad in the first place. Something would’ve felt off if this hadn’t been the case. I have read and heard Vince Gilligan say many times that after writing the pilot, one of his first thoughts was, “This can’t end well for anyone.” Yes, Walt’s family will get the money on Jr’s eighteenth birthday, and it will be clean money, and it will help them, and it can stand to reason that they will be taken care of for the rest of their lives, that everything Walt wanted to provide money for after his death–college educations for Jr and Holly, health insurance for all of them, money for mortgage (on the new house they will buy), and anything else they may need–but these people? They won’t be the same. Skyler’s reputation has been ruined even if she does make a deal with the prosecutor. Like she said, she has decisions that she made and supported that she has to live with for the rest of her life. Jr knows the truth about his father, and Holly eventually will too, and it will hang over all of them. The emotional fallout this whole family has suffered and will deal with as long as they live? I’m not sure the money makes up for that. They will never be the same.
Same with Jesse. He gets away, and I like to think he will be okay. Aaron Paul says on the podcast that they had talked about doing a quick scene after the final credits, showing a bus pull up somewhere, and then seeing the quintessential Jesse Pinkman shoes as Jesse gets off the bus and arrives in Alaska. I’m reminded of that laser tag scene in “Full Measure,” when Jesse is urging Walt to go to the cops rather than kill Gale, and he says, “I’ll hit the road, yo, I’ll make it.” And I think he will. Jesse’s a survivor and Alaska’s a good place to hide out. And with time, he’ll start to heal, and I do think that he will never, ever touch meth again after what he’s been through. Still, he’ll never be the same after his stint in the Nazi dungeon, after being tortured and beaten and forced to cook and forced to watch Andrea die. His life, if Walt hadn’t seen him during that ride-along, might never have been fantastic; he probably would’ve ended up as a druggie punk, and possibly done some jail time, but he would’ve been like Badger and Skinny Pete, or even like Emilio, who got busted but got out after, like, a day. It probably would have been a wasted life in a lot of ways, but he wouldn’t have been haunted by the demons he has now.
In a way, Walt always felt he didn’t get to live the life he was meant to, because he bailed on Gray Matter, or whatever happened with that, and because of other circumstances, and as a result, he takes this turn at age fifty, into the drug world, to live a version of the life he wanted–as a master chemist, the best at what he does, known throughout the nation, even the world, for his prowess–and as a result, no one around him gets to live the lives they were meant to. The family has huge burdens. Jesse has scars and demons. Brock is motherless. Marie lost her husband, and the loss of Hank affects the rest of the family as well. They got out alive but far from unscathed.
I was actually surprised at how many people made it out alive. I was expecting more death. I’ve read others say that they felt Walt should’ve suffered more, should’ve suffered a more personal loss. And I can see that. It is kind of amazing that Skyler, Junior, Holly, Marie, Jesse, Elliot and Gretchen all survived. It seemed almost unlikely that all of them could make it, but Walt does have the devil’s luck. I wouldn’t have minded a more devastating loss for Walt, but honestly, after Andrea’s death, after Drew Sharp, after Hank, I don’t know if I could’ve taken another devastating death, especially of a character that was more innocent and definitely not of another child. The emotionally hammering of 514 and 515 were, in my mind, enough. And Walt has suffered. He lost his son, not to death but in life, which is sometimes worse. He lost his brother-in-law and he lost his millions trying to spare his brother-in-law. He lost the love of anyone who once cared about him. And he spent months in solitary confinement, had to pay a guy ten thousand dollars to spend an hour with him, to grab at a tiny shred of human company. A lot of people close to him lived through this ordeal, and Walt won by finding a way to get money to his family, his original intention, but all of that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t also lost. A lot.
So there are reasons to be hopeful–Skyler has a way out of her legal troubles, Skyler will probably tell Junior that his father didn’t actually kill his uncle, Marie will get some closure in the uncovering of Hank’s body, Jesse’s free, money’s coming to the kids–but it’s all tempered because they all still would’ve been better off if Walt hadn’t started this whole thing cooking.
And all of Walt’s goodbyes struck the right chord between heartbreaking and sweet but still understated and unsentimental, even though in all of them he does what he can to make it right. He gets to have a better goodbye with Skyler than that awful phone call, but it’s still not a happy or gushy goodbye. Just look at the distance between them in that scene. They don’t hug or kiss goodbye; Walt and Skyler don’t even touch. Walt touches Holly, but he doesn’t hold her. With Junior, there are no words at all, no sentimental resolution to their awful phone call goodbye. This was actually the saddest. Walt gets to see him one last time, but that’s as far as he gets with his son. Nothing more. With his surrogate son, Walt does a lot to make it right, but they too don’t exchange words at the very end, just a look.
Hello, Mr. Lambert
Skyler: You look terrible.
Walt: Yeah. But I feel good.
In an interview with Peter Gould (who wrote and directed 515) or Vince Gilligan about “Granite State” which I can’t find now (and have wasted too much time looking for), he says that the Walter White who emerges from the bar after seeing Gretchen and Elliot on Charlie Rose is neither Walt nor Heisenberg, but someone else. This did indeed bear out in “Felina.” This is a different Walter White than we’ve seen in any of the incarnations of his personas. It has something, I think, about his being on the verge of death, and about having gone through what he did in New Hampshire, so much loss. Mr. Lambert doesn’t have the timidness, emotionally or physically, of Walt even though he is in many ways the weakest we’ve ever seen him physically. And he doesn’t have the inflated ego or the intimidation or the “evil voice” of Heisenberg.
This Walt is so matter-of-fact. I love that this can be seen even in the flashforwards. A perfect example is when he says, “Hello, Carol” to his neighbor. He’s not worried that she’s seen him, he’s not trying to scare her into silence. There’s something so plain and simple about the way he speaks in this episode. He has the same matter-of-fact tone when he says, “Hello, Gretchen, Elliot.” and later, “If we’re going to go that way, you’re going to need a bigger knife.” And to Skyler, after she asks him if he killed anyone sneaking into her new apartment, “No, didn’t have to.” There’s something stoic about him–he’s not saying more than he needs to, which Walt actually did a lot of, especially when he was lying. But he’s not lying now. He’s the most honest that we’ve ever seen him (despite a few lies, like posing as a reporter, or saying he has a new cooking method that doesn’t require methylamine). He would’ve killed someone to get in, to Skyler’s or if Gretchen and Elliot crossed him. What’s different is that Walt is finally, truly, being honest with himself about who he is.
“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. I was really…I was alive.”
That moment was so important, one of the most powerful moments of the episode, of the season. It circles back to the pilot episode, when Walt told Jesse, “I am awake.” But it’s the first time he’s been this truthful, and it felt like sweet relief to hear that. A big unburdening. It was a small little gift to Skyler, a moment of truth that cut through all the times and lies he told her about doing it all for the family, but it was also a gift for us, the audience. It wouldn’t have felt as complete to me if Walt hadn’t gotten to this realization, if he hadn’t cut through all the layers and layers of rationalizations, and other true dimensions of his motivation, to get to this, to accept it and to say it. I kind of oddly loved Walter in that moment, for saying that. Walt goes out understanding the truth about himself, or a truth, that he could never cop to before. So powerful.
Gretchen, Elliot and the Two Best Hitmen West of the Mississippi
I’m glad that Walt didn’t kill or hurt them in any way. He just used them as a way to get the money he had left to his children, but not without some threats. I actually think Walt used three different tactics to try to convince the Schwartzes to do what he wanted. One was the vivid description of how hitmen would take them by surprise if they didn’t. Not super convincing, but after everything they know about him, that seed of fear could go a long way. Then he also played up that his children are blameless victims, which they must agree with and understand.
The last was the whole idea that they needed to “make it right,” and I think that may have worked too. We never discovered what happened, exactly, with Walt and Gray Matter, and it looks like Walt may have bailed out. It was probably mostly his doing. I don’t think the Schwartzes are to blame but still they are making a lot of money off of research Walt was a major part of, so even if they didn’t do anything wrong, there could still be the sense that some of what they’ve accomplished was at his expense, even if not intentionally.
And as for the hitmen, I actually had a feeling that it was going to be Badger and Skinny Pete. Great to see them again. Priceless to hear Skinny say, “The whole thing felt kinda shady, y’know, like, morality-wise?” and Badger reply, ” Totally.” And they served a second purpose for Walt and his journey to “do the rest” once he gets back home–they confirm that the meth on the streets is not just blue, but the same quality as the old Heisenberg days. In fact it’s so similar that they thought it was Walt cooking. Todd might’ve been able to dye it blue, or get his purity up with some practice, but there’s only one person who can cook as good as Walt and that’s Jesse. So now he knows Jesse’s alive but misconstrues what it means.
One of the most interesting turns was that Walt asks Gretchen and Elliot to give the money to his children as an act of charity. He won’t actually accept their charity–he makes it abundantly clear that all costs in setting up the trust for Junior come out of his own money–but even the fact that it’s going to appear as charity has to be humbling to Walter White. Remember how he freaked out at even the thought of his family thinking he was getting charity back when Saul was throwing out ideas for how to explain the money for his lung surgery? This time, it’s just the only way. Something felt satisfying and circular about that, that this man who loathed the idea of charity so much, and was so adamant that he earned this money, has to use charity, and anonymity as the only way to get the money to his children. They will never know it came from him.
Walt even says to Skyler, in a lie meant to help her, that his money is all gone, that he spent all of that, because it’ll support the story, the story that the money, when it comes, will be from Gretchen and Elliot. And it is a good fiction because they’ve publicly distanced themselves from Walt, and Skyler knows there was a falling out with Walt and them, so no one would suspect that they were (reluctantly and under threat or otherwise) working together. And giving it to Junior makes the most sense. He’s a good kid, and Walt knows that. Giving it to Skyler would seem a little more suspicious since she was, for a time, implicated. But the kids weren’t, and it could just make sense that the Schwartzes would help out Walt’s son, who is innocent in all this, who was probably born back when they were all more connected. It’s a believable story. I choose to think it works out.
Full Circles, Fruition and Closure
There are, again, callbacks, especially to the early episodes, and recurring characters. Gretchen and Elliot appearing again was a big surprise–some saw it coming but I didn’t expect that at all. We also got to see Badger and Skinny Pete for one last time. Jesse was being kept in an underground pit, much like Krazy-8 was kept in Jesse’s basement. Walt strangled Krazy-8 with a bike lock and Jesse strangled Todd with his chains. There was something so poetic in that circularity.
But than full circles, there were a lot of things that had almost happened a few times before, but finally did in this episode. One was the police coming for Walt. In the pilot, Walt hears the sirens and thinks they’re for him, but they’re for the fire that Krazy-8 started when he tossed out his cigarette. In the beginning of the episode, the cops are there, and they are coming for him, but he gets away. And then at the end, the cops are coming, they’re there for him, and they find him, but of course he’s already dead.
In 511, in the epic desert scene where Walt tries to convince Jesse to leave town, Jesse asks Walt to just ask him for a favor, to just tell him he needs this. But Walt doesn’t admit need. Here, at the end, Jesse makes Walt say, “I want this,” and ask Jesse for a favor. And then Jesse doesn’t do it.
Jack tries to trade Walt’s money for his life, just like Walt tried to trade his money for Hank’s life. Didn’t work for either of them. Hank and Jack were both shot before they could finish a sentence.
It was powerful to see Walt look back, for a moment, and remember his fiftieth birthday party, and Hank inviting him to come on a ride-along.
Loved seeing Jesse’s woodworking daydream. It was great to see that detail come back, after he gave such a powerful speech about it in rehab back in Season Three. And it was jarring and out of place, a bit confusing, until Jesse’s leash got caught and he was startled back to his reality. This scene also gave me some hope for Jesse’s mental well-being, because as horrible as his circumstances are, he’s finding a way to escape in his mind, to not just wallow in the awful but to spend his mental energy on something more positive.
This daydream sequence actually reminded me of what I used to do all the time at this shitty movie theater job I once had. Definitely nothing like being kept as a cook slave for psycho fucks but I’d work on story ideas, or go through lyrics to songs I loved, or daydream about boys, or anything to escape the doldrums of that job (I took tickets on the second floor, which was small and was often empty, so I spent hours just standing there or walking around, totally alone with no one to talk to and nothing to do, and they played the same fourteen horrible songs on a constant loop for months without changing it, which was, by far, the worst part) so I could relate to what he was doing. I think that daydreaming, and mentally going to another place can be a potent survival tool, a way to keep hope, and who you are, alive.
Walt making a remote controlled science-y contraption to kill was great (it would not have been believable to have Walt operate that M60 himself, especially given his inexperience and weakened physical condition) felt like fruition for the time that Walt made the remote-controlled bomb he put under Gus’s car and then removed in “End Times.” Yeah science!
Finally, finally, finally the Chekhov’s Ricin finally went off, after so many near misses and changes in plans. It was so similar to the scene in 508 “Gliding Over All” when Walt met Lydia at the same restaurant, The Grove, at the same table, and almost dosed her with ricin. When there was only one Stevia packet, and Lydia kept playing with it, you just knew what was really going into her chamomile tea with soymilk.
Walt tackling Jesse while Jesse was in chains seemed a continuation of what started in the desert in “To’hajiilee, when Jesse spit on Walt and Walt, in handcuffs, went after Jesse.
Lingering and Little Moments
Because it was the finale, and so much story was still up in the air, and the M60 had been planted, the natural thought would be that the episode would have a frenetic pace, but that wasn’t the case at all. Breaking Bad stayed true to itself. Almost every scene lingered, played out in full time, which is something I’ve always loved about the show, that so many other shows don’t do. It never felt rushed even though Walt had so much to do.
And as always, there were little moments and looks and instances of perfection:
-When Walt is sitting in the stolen car in New Hampshire, the first inkling of the cops approaching is the blue of the cop car lights glinting off the arm of Walt’s glasses. Then there is some amazing color as the red and blue light up the snow in the car windows. And the presence of the cop cars and their red and blue lights fade away with a red glow on the lens of Walt’s glasses, and his eye. Beautiful.-Even the beginning of that scene, with Walt clearing away a small circle of snow in the window reminded me of all the times that Walt and Jesse were breaking ice.
-That look between Walt and Gretchen after Walt says she once knew him well.
-Marie–wearing…white??–gets so many of the details about Walt’s return to ABQ wrong and blown out of proportion. Lovely detail there.
-The only time Walt ever says “sorry” to anyone for anything in the episode is after his coughing fit in his meeting with Todd and Lydia.
-The bloody handprint in the lab at the end.
-The single most visually beautiful shot of the episode might be the one right after Walt shoots Jack. A little morbid I know but gorgeous nonetheless.
-Walt leaving the watch Jesse gave him on the payphone.
-Gretchen and Elliot have moved up in the world. Just look at their new house. Amazing detail. But come on, Elliot, thai pizza is the shit, get with it!
There were two moments when it struck me that we were seeing Walt in a similar angle or position as we’d seen Jesse earlier this season. One is that payphone scene, when Walt is impersonating a reporter to get Gretchen and Elliot’s new address. It’s almost the same (if not an exact match) camera angle used when Jesse called Walt at the square and said he was going to get Walt where he really lived, in “Rabid Dog.” And then Walt picking up the pictures at Gretchen and Elliot’s and looking at them was just like Jesse picking up the pictures and books at Hank and Marie’s. These miniscule, almost insignificant callbacks underscore the connection that still exists between these two men, even as they are at odds. In the last episode, they were on parallel journeys, but this time the reminders are so much more subtle.
“Oh Jesse. Jesus, What is it With You Guys?”
It’s funny, I was actually distracted during this scene when it played live. My friend who lives across the street knocked on my door because she’d locked herself out of her apartment, and it was a torrential downpour outside (if it had been nice out, I probably would’ve told her to just come back afterward), so I went to get my copy of her key to give to her so she could get inside her place.
So on the first go-round, I totally missed Walt pushing Jesse to the ground, and wasn’t sure where he was. And later, while this same friend was giving me back the key to put away, I was too far from the TV to see what was going on and it was killing me not knowing if Jesse had lived through that machine gun massacre. But then I heard his chains rattle and I could breathe again.
I’ve since gone back and watched the episode again, and watched this part in particular over and over. I’ve always loved the loyalty between Walt and Jesse, it’s been one of my favorite things in the series, one of its strongest emotional underpinnings. And as fractured as that loyalty was, to both of them and by both of them, something was still there. What made it so much more powerful was how unlikely it was. Walt went in there wanting to kill Jesse but it all changed when he saw Jesse, his scarred face, his dirty appearance (though I think the longer hair looked good on Jesse, just gotta say), his chains. Jesse wasn’t Jack’s partner, his buddy, not by a damn sight. And he couldn’t look Walt in the eye.
And then Walt goes after him and pushes him to the ground and sets off the M60. The whole time, he stays on top of Jesse, his body shielding Jesse from the bullets. In doing so, Walt gets shot. Essentially, he dies (later on) protecting Jesse. It was all I wanted and more. It was so satisfying because there were so many times that Jesse jumped in front of guns for Walt. And he told Gus and Mike, separately, that if they killed Walt, they’d have to kill him too. He put his life on the line for Walt, so it felt right that in the end, Walt sacrificed himself for Jesse. Yeah, take a bullet for him, bitch!
Then he goes even further, slides the gun to Jesse, giving him the chance to kill him. “Do it,” he said. “You want this.” And then Jesse gets his only dialogue in the whole episode. “Say the words! Say you want this! Nothing happens till I hear you say it.” Walt admits that he does, and Jesse drops the gun. “Then do it yourself.” I was so psyched that he got to kill Todd, and I love the look on Walt’s face as he watches that unfold. And just as good as Jesse killing Todd was Jesse not killing Walt. I’m not sure if Jesse didn’t kill Walt because he realized Walt wanted him to and meant it when he said that he wasn’t doing what Walt wanted anymore, or if he didn’t want to keep killing, or if the part of him that once had that fierce loyalty, even love, for Walt was still in there and he couldn’t do it, or some combination of all of the above, but it was good that he didn’t. It showed he still had some humanity, too, that his life in his dungeon hadn’t snuffed that out of him.
And there is a final little gift Walt gives Jesse, a small one like the little thing he does for getting his kids the money by telling Skyler he has none to give so that no one will ever know it came from him. Walt walks outside while talking to Lydia on the phone, so that Jesse overhears the conversation. Now he knows that Lydia, the only person alive who could still want him to cook, is dying, and that the ricin has been used and isn’t still out there somewhere. And then they share a look, a silent moment. And that’s that. Walt’s last dramatic moment with another person was with Jesse.
So Jesse, thanks to Walt, is free. He gets to blast through the gate, the same gate where earlier he’d been caught in his attempt to escape. Another aspect of the story that comes to fruition in the finale. He drives away, and for the first time in, like, ever, he smiles. Just look at that face as he’s driving off, crying laughing screaming pounding the dashboard with a smile. Go, Jesse, go! I wanted to scream and cry and laugh and smile just to know that he lived, and that in the end, it was Walt who saved Jesse.
Walt got a perfect death scene. All his loose ends were taken care of. He made right what he could. He couldn’t know for sure what would happen after he was gone, but he died knowing there was hope for everyone he cared about. His family would get the money, Skyler would make a deal, Jesse would hit the road, yo, and make it, his son would find out that he hadn’t murdered Hank, hell maybe even Skyler and Marie would start to repair their relationship as sisters. Any threats to his family were dead. Anyone who could try to make his “baby blue” was dead.
And so Walt goes to be with his true love, chemistry, the lab, as he dies. He touches all the equipment that he and Jesse designed in the first half of Season Five. It actually made me think of Gale for a moment, how Gale used to talk about how he still felt the magic in the lab. I don’t think Walt felt that in the end of the first half of Season Five. Back then he seemed like he’d lost the joy, just going through the motions. But in this scene, the love is there. This is what he built, where he feels at home. And he’s been out of the lab all half-season. He has more physical contact with the lab equipment just before he dies than he has with any person during his other goodbyes.
We will all remember his name.
That’s it. The end of my last Breaking Bad episode analysis. Coming to the end of this post is renewing all the feelings of grief and mourning that the series is over. It’s hard to believe there’s nothing more to predict, no next episode to link to, no more story to watch unravel. I’m sure there will be lots more to say about the show–I don’t expect that to end anytime soon–but finishing this post carries a certain sadness, makes the end feel more final. It was a great ending that struck all the right chords to stay true to the tone and substance of the show, and it was one of the greatest, most intricate, detailed, visually stunning, emotionally honest, brutal, shocking, stark, funny, brilliantly crafted, dark dark dark, gorgeous, riveting, thought-provoking, mind-bending stories I’ve ever known. I’m so glad I came along for the ride.
What I really can’t wait for is when the box set comes out. I’d love to go back and watch it all unfold as one long story. I’m even thinking of doing that with either this summer’s episodes or the whole of Season Five. It’s not the same watching episode by episode with all that glorious torturous anticipation, and I look forward to the experience. But for now, I just want to wallow a little more in the sadness that it’s over, because it is a loss.
And so, here is the song I promised. The lyrics fit the circumstances in surprising ways, the the music fits the mood.
More About “Felina”
- Tucker’s Hole
- Sidekick Reviews
- Insider Podcast
- AMC Talk Forums Topic for “Felina”
- Weak Interactions – The Science of Breaking Bad
- Tim Goodman – Bastard Machine Deconstruction
- If “Felina” Took Place Entirely on Facebook
More Breaking Bad Topics
- Season 5 Part 2 Predictions and Detective Work – updated frequently
- Hank’s Dilemma in All its Dimensions
- Chekhov’s Ricin
- Walter White’s Moral Demise and the People Jesse Pinkman Loves
- How Walter White Poisoned Brock and What Happened to the Ricin Cigarette
- 515 “Granite State”
- 514 “Ozymandias”
- 513 “To’hajiilee”
- 512 “Rabid Dog”
- 511 “Confessions”
- 510 “Buried”
- 509 “Blood Money”
- 508 “Gliding Over All”
- 507 “Say My Name”
- 506 “Buyout”
- 505 “Dead Freight”
- 504 “Fifty-One”
- 503 “Hazard Pay”
- 502 “Madrigal”
- 501 “Live Free or Die”