Breaking Bad, one of the greatest shows ever broadcast on television, ended it’s 5 season run last night with an epic, and satisfying, finale. Walter White’s transformation from timid chemistry teacher to ruthless drug kingpin came full circle as we proudly hear Walt proclaim that he did everything for himself…
Breaking Bad: “Felina” – Series Finale
When we left off last week, Walt had just seen Gretchen and Elliot on TV proclaiming that Walter contributed nothing but the company name to their billion dollar empire. We saw a look of disgust on Walt’s face as the camera cuts to show the police barreling down on the bar he was at. In a final slow panning shot, while the intro music is ominously playing overhead, we see an empty glass of whiskey, neat, sitting next to an empty chair. Walt wasn’t ready to turn himself in yet, there were still some lose ends he needed to deal with before letting go.
The Breaking Bad series finale, titled “Felina”, starts with Walt trying to steal a car outside the bar only to have the cops show up. Thankfully there’s enough snow on the window that they can’t see inside as Walt tries to pry apart the dash in order to expose the wires needed to hot wire it. Now this annoyed me at first. I know Walt is a smart guy and all, but would he really know how to hot wire a car? Thankfully he failed miserably at it and was only saved when he decided to check the visor for the keys, which were there. Which leads me to my next point… do people actually leave their keys in the visor?
The next time we see Walt he’s at a gas station in the desert somewhere, clearly he’s been driving for a while. He pretends to be the journalist who’s writing an article about Gretchen and Elliot and calls someone to figure out their new address. What happened next actually surprised me a little bit, but good on the writers for knowing exactly what most of us were expecting and then going the other way with it.
Gretchen and Elliot arrive at their home later that night and don’t even notice Walt sitting in their little courtyard. He slowly follows them into the house, closing the gate behind him in one of the moments that gave me goosebumps. Walt slinks through the house as if he’s a ghost. He doesn’t make a sound as he starts looking at photographs literally around the corner from Gretchen and Elliot. It’s not until Gretchen goes to turn on the fireplace does she notice that he’s standing there. After a brief conversation I thought for sure Walt was going to kill them. I thought he had his hand in his pocket the whole time, possible on a gun, but I was wrong.
Walt tells them that he has something in his trunk for them and he needs their help to move it. Again, I thought this was just a ploy to get them outside closer to the car so that when he killed them, they’d be easier to move, but apparently I’m the dumb one. What Walt had in mind was far smarter than anything I would ever think of. He gives Gretchen and Elliot all of the money he had with him, just shy of 10 million dollars, with instructions on how to get the money to Walter Jr. They are to take the money and put it into a trust, which they will then tell Walter Jr. about on his 18th birthday. Walt obviously can’t give him the money himself, he won’t take it and the government would take it, but if the money was coming from a couple of billionaires who just made a 28 million dollar donation to help people affected by meth, the money going to Walter Jr. wouldn’t look suspicious at all. He finally figured out a way to take care of his family after he was gone.
But why on earth would Gretchen and Elliot agree to do this for him after everything he’s done. Well, because if they don’t the 2 “professional hitmen” that he’s hired will hunt them down and kill them… cue the red lasers on their chests from outside the window. The message is sent, the money will get to Walter Jr., so Walt goes on his way. As he’s leaving he stops and picks up his 2 hitmen, Skinny Pete and Badger, armed to the teeth with 2 laser pointers. Genius.
The conversation that Badger and Skinny Pete then have in the backseat of the car sums up the show pretty nicely:
Badger: You know, I don’t exactly know how to feel about all this.
Skinny Pete: For real, yo. Whole thing felt kind of shady,you know, like morality-wise?
(Walt holds up the money)
Walt: How do you feel now?
(They take the money)
Skinny Pete: Better.
Badger: Yeah, definitely improving.
Now that the money is taken care of and Walter Jr. will be set, it’s time to see Skyler and Holly. Before that though, we see the same scenes we saw from the opening of season 5, where Walt is at the Denny’s arranging the bacon on his plate into the number “52”, indicating that it’s his birthday. He goes back to their original home and gets the ricin out of the electrical outlet and says hi to the neighbor as he leaves (we don’t actually see that part this time).
Marie calls Skyler to warn her that Walt has been sighted all over town and that the DEA are going to be keeping an eye on her as well as Walter Jr. at school, but in a brilliantly staged shot. The camera pans away from a beam in the apartment to reveal Walt standing in front of Skyler as she hangs up the phone. They converse for a few minutes about what’s happened, but the real reason for the visit is so that Walt can give Skyler the lottery ticket with the GPS coordinates of where Hank’s body is buried. He also vows to get revenge on the people that killed Hank and Gomez, and tells her to use the information he’s just given her to cut a deal with the DEA.
Before he leaves he has one last thing to tell Skyler, but before he can finish his sentence, she stops him. She doesn’t want to hear that he did it all for their family one more time, she’s sick of it. But to her surprise he finally admits that he did it all for him. I literally got goosebumps during this scene. Walt has finally come to realize that what he’s been doing made him feel alive, he enjoyed it, he was good at it. And with that, Walt says goodbye to Holly and goes on his way. He lingers outside a neighboring house so that he can see Walter Jr. one last time before he goes.
The last loose ends are the Lydia, Todd, Uncle Jack and the nazis. Knowing that Lydia is a creature of habit and scheduling, he knows that she’s going to meet Todd in the same place she met him. She’s going to sit at the same table and use the same sweetener she always does, it’s the perfect opportunity to use the ricin. Todd and Lydia are pretty shocked when Walt sits down at the table with him, but all he wants is a chance to talk with Uncle Jack about cooking again. He claims to have a new formula that will no longer require methylamine, which they are no doubt running low of. Todd is pretty dumb, but Lydia obviously has a plan to just have Uncle Jack kill Walt when he shows up at the compound later that night. But Walt’s not stupid…
That night, Walt goes up to the compound where he’s confronted by Uncle Jack, Todd and the rest of the nazis. After some arguing back and forth about Jesse and how he’s now parters with Jack, after Jack was supposed to kill him for Walt, Jack brings Jesse into the room to prove that they aren’t partners and that Jesse is just a slave. Walt tackles Jesse in what appears, to the nazis, to be out of aggression, but turns out to be out of sympathy. While they are on the ground Walt hits the panic button his car remote, opening the trunk and causing the machine gun to open fire on the club house killing all of the nazis except 2, Todd and Uncle Jack.
After realizing what has just happened, and that Todd is still alive, Jesse jumps on him and wraps his chains around his neck. In an emotionally charged scene, Jesse finally gets his revenge on Todd as he strangles him to death on the floor… and now it’s Walt’s turn.
Uncle Jack is still alive, crawling on the ground in similar fashion to Hank crawling in the desert. Walt picks up a gun and aims it at Uncle Jack as Jack lights up a cigarette. Proclaiming that Walt will never know where the rest of his money is if he pulls the trigger, Jack thinks he has the upper hand, but we know at this point that Walt doesn’t care about the money. Before Jack can finish his next sentence Walt pulls the trigger splatter blood all over the screen. Just as Jack didn’t let Hank finish his last sentence, Walt wasn’t going to let Jack.
With his work done, Walt slides the gun over to Jesse, who has managed to escape his shackles after killing Todd. Jesse picks up the gun and points it at Walt who tells Jesse to shoot him, cause he knows Jesse wants it. Jesse doesn’t want it, Walt does. Jesse makes Walt say that he wants him to shoot him, to which he replies “I want this”… All those times before when Walt has convinced Jesse that he needs to do thinks, or that he wants to do things, he finally admits that it’s him that wants something. After noticing that Walt has been shot in the side by the machine gun, Jesse drops the gun and tells Walt if he wants to do it he’ll have to do it himself. Jesse then gets in a car and drives away, smiling the whole time. He’s finally free
In a very fitting ending, Walt walks into the barn where they were cooking the meth. The reaction he has towards the equipment, the tenderness with which he touches the tanks, you know that cooking was his one true love in the last years of his life. As police cars swarm the compound, Walt is laying on the ground, dead, as we slowly pan towards the sky. He lived and died in his lab… the only way he would have wanted it. He went out on his own terms, he beat cancer and he left his family with enough money to get by without him.
Sorry to jump around, but I was just reading an article on Entertainment Weekly and while I knew the music the show had some significance, I didn’t know what the songs were. EW has a great breakdown of what the songs meant at the beginning and the end of the episode, which just goes to show how much thought went into each episode of this brilliant show.
When he’s finally able to start the car — after a tense scene where police lights flash outside — Robbins’ song “El Paso” begins to play, before the opening credits roll.
Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Night-time would find me in Rosa’s cantina;
Music would play and Felina would whirl.
The song speaks of a man obsessed with a girl named Felina. In Walt’s case, however, it’s his meth that represents his true love.
The hour ends with Walt lying dead on the floor of the Nazi’s meth lab, as Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” plays.
Guess I got what I deserve
Kept you waiting there, too long my love
All that time, without a word
Didn’t know you’d think, that I’d forget, or I’d regret
The special love I have for you
My baby blue
These two songs perfectly bookend a masterful finale. Meth is where it started. It seduced him, and changed him. And meth is where it ended; Walt got what he deserved.