I remember the first time I watched Breaking Bad—I wasn’t really into it. And I didn’t get into it until much, much later (i.e. I still could care less about the first two seasons). But thank goodness I learned to appreciate the genius that is this show—especially in its last few seasons, and even more so, particularly in these last few episodes. Other TV shows should really take note: this is how you close the final chapter on beloved characters, finish up storylines, and satisfy your loyal viewers. There were so many good things about this finale so let’s just get to it. SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!! Do not continue reading if you have not seen the series finale!!
First things first, wasn’t it frickin amazing seeing Todd, Lydia, Uncle Jack and those other horrid goons get what was coming to them? Putting the ricin in Ms. Uptight Lydia’s stevia was perfect. Especially after she so nonchalantly ordered Walt’s death while having tea with Todd. But Walt, being the smart man that he is, brilliantly sets up a remote-controlled machine gun to kill the entire crew before finally offing Uncle Jack mid-sentence—the very same way Jack killed Hank 2 episodes ago. And of course, one of my favorite moments of the show, was seeing Jesse choke the living sh*t out of Todd. You had it coming you little freak. This was for the kid in the desert. For Andrea. For your weird, creepy monotone voice. For that awful getup you call your grown up suit. For your creepy crush on Lydia. And most of all, for the torturous, indentured servitude you forced upon Jesse. Anyone else cheer when you heard Todd’s neck actually snap?
I love the fact they updated us on Jesse’s status with a daydream of him creating a wooden box. His joy in that fictional moment exemplifies Jesse’s naturally innocent spirit (and frankly, how its all gone to sh*t). Yes, he was a lowlife who sold drugs when we met him, but he never wanted to be a murderer or do half the things he was dragged into since teaming up with Heisenberg. Jesse always meant well. So to watch that pure version of him (a glimpse of what his life could have been had he not partnered with Mr. White) abruptly turn into the nightmarish reality that he was still chained as Todd’s cooking bitch was powerfully tragic. It’s hard to imagine that Jesse could live a normal life after everything he’s experienced, but perhaps his decision to walk away from killing Walt (even as Walt tells him that he wants to do this) was a step in the right direction. It’s in this moment that Jesse can finally cut off all ties with his chemistry teacher/abuser/father figure/twisted mentor and move on with his life. Many of you wanted some sort of reconciliation between Jesse and Walt, but sadly this is as good as it gets. It’s bittersweet, really. According to creator Vince Gilligan, Walt had every intention of killing Jesse along with the rest of Uncle Jack’s crew, but after seeing how broken Jesse was, Walt decided to save him. And Walt takes a bullet saving him too—which in a way, makes things right. Because Walt ends up dying in saving the one person he betrayed most. Yes, even after everything that’s happened and in spite of all the ways they’ve hurt each other, one can see that there’s still a bit of a soft spot there for one another in that last, wordless stare before Jesse drives off. (Oh Jesse, Mr. White really is kinda totally gay for you. LOL)
The best thing about this series (and I know there’s a lot of good things) is the transformation of Walter White’s character. We begin by seeing this broken man, someone who is clearly brilliant, but not very confident and you immediately want to root for him. Then slowly, he starts to find a backbone and at this point, you’re still rooting for him. Then BAM! Before you know it, he’s become a monster—a selfish, greedy, murderous, sneaky bastard and you feel dirty and ashamed for having rooted for him at all. That being said, the single greatest moment of this finale IMHO is when Walt finally admits that he liked being bad. He tells Skylar: “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really — I was alive.” Yes, you were good at it, Walt—a little too good. You may have started cooking meth so you could provide for the family but everything that came after that—becoming Heisenberg, outsmarting the DEA, taking down Gus Fring, yes you did all that because it made you alive. It made you feel worthy; it gave you a purpose and chance to take pride in something you were great at—no matter how awful it got for everyone else around you. And as much as I hate to admit it, this moment of self-realization and perverse humility made me root for you all over again. More importantly, it shows that we’ve come full circle. (The flashback to the pilot showing his 50th birthday was brilliant.) In a way, it makes perfect sense that Walt finally dies in a meth lab—that’s where he found his greatness.
- Walt coming up with the idea of using Elliot and Gretchen to get his money to his kids was inspired. Elliot trying to threaten Walt with a butter knife was hilarious. Walt then threatening the two with snipers and eventual death if they don’t carry out his wishes, is again, brilliant. Revealing that the two gunmen Walt supposedly hired are actually Skinny Pete and Badger with laser pointers, absolute genius.
- “It’s over… and I needed a proper goodbye.” (Walt to Skylar). This whole exchange was very sad, but necessary. In a lot of ways their marriage was very flawed and one could argue that a lot of Walt’s insecurities could stem from the fact that Skylar never did believe in him or give him the confidence he needed as the family’s provider. But maybe that’s why she hears him out. And in the same respect, he finally tells her the truth. He also reveals what really happened to Hank and gives Skylar the coordinates of Hank and Steve Gomez’ burial site.
- The final episode is titled, “Felina.” Fe, Li, Na. Iron, Lithium, Sodium—which can be found in Blood, Meth, and Tears respectively. That along with the creation of such great characters on this show is every writer’s wet dream. Vince Gilligan, you may very well be Heisenberg himself.