'Breaking Bad' -- 'Felina': Did You Really Think I'd Do You Wrong?

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'Breaking Bad' — 'Felina': Did You Really Think I'd Do You Wrong?

By Daniel Carlson | TV Reviews | September 30, 2013 | Comments ()


We talk a lot about finales as separate entities, which is as much a byproduct of living in the overnight-review age as anything else. When it was more common for series, whether or drama or comedy, to rely on episodic structure for the long haul, then viewing the finale as a kind of special closing event made sense because that event could come at any time. Very few shows earn their lengths; many spin on longer than might be creatively healthy simply because everybody wants to keep working and the network wants to keep broadcasting a hit, so finales either feel like consolation prizes tossed to the viewers who’ve remained to stagger over the finish line or sudden walls thrown up to halt the narrative when a show’s canceled. Pretty much every major sitcom of the 1980s and 1990s operated like this, with sentimental event-shows used to end their eras, while dramas have always tended to peter out or leave too soon. Off the top of my head, the final episode of Freaks and Geeks is nicely rounded and was created as a series finale when the creative team knew they were doomed, but it works as an episode in its own right, too.

In the heavily serialized era we’re currently inhabiting, though, when even sitcoms as innocuous as Parks and Recreation become dependent on multi-year stories, a series finale isn’t just one last hour with the gang. I mean, it is that, on some level, and the creative forces involved know that it never hurts to do a little fan service and include minor characters or dusty plot lines as a way to let people have one last goodbye. But they’re really and truly the final chapters in the work that the writers and directors and producers and actors and musicians and countless crew people have been making for years. So the question isn’t so much “Was that a good finale?” but “Does the whole thing hang together?” The final pages of a novel can change how you feel about everything that came before; the last 10 minutes of a movie can sour the experience or take you to new heights. The recent dramatic series finales that have polarized fans and viewers haven’t been bad episodes, but indications that the people bringing us these stories could not quite hold onto everything. Instead of making the final hour the final hour, it’s as if they hoped they could keep delaying the inevitable and hope that everything would come out in the last wash. So, e.g., something like the Lost closer is well-made, but also eye-opening re: how much of the story that came before was just killing time. Wasn’t necessarily time badly spent, just hours that felt disconnected from the whole.

Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan — along with his fellow writers, directors, and staff — never gave any indication that he didn’t know how to tell a story or that he didn’t want his show to arc toward a definite end. That’s not to say the end was set before the show aired, or that things didn’t change along the way. TV series are unruly, hairy beasts that have to be constantly corralled; making one like Breaking Bad is like publishing a novel one chapter at a time, without the chance to go back and revise earlier drafts. It is the living definition of thinking on your feet. But at every turn, he and his company have worked to tell a story that always returned to a few core questions: How far would one man go to help his family? What is the limit of human evil? What do we tell ourselves we will not do, and why do we go beyond it? As the seasons of Breaking Bad have sped on, every increasingly shocking or horrifying or saddening plot twist has connected back to those ideas. Going into the final episode, I had no idea what would happen, but I was very confident that whatever did happen would feel of a piece with the 61 episodes that came before. In other words, that it would not have been some bloated or unbalanced attempt to be “epic,” but rather the honest, genuine, hard-fought conclusion to one of the best and most compelling TV series of the modern age. And it was. It was every bit that good.

“Felina” was, of course, named after the character in Marty Robbins’ “El Paso,” a song about a Texas gunfighter who falls in love with a Mexican girl, comes to her aid by killing the man who was getting handsy with her, flees to New Mexico in fear of his life, then ultimately returns to El Paso just to see her again, only to be gunned down by his victim’s compadres and die in her arms. (The song is from Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, which is some of the best cowboy music you’ll ever hear.) Some people online have pointed out that “Felina” also breaks down into “Fe Li Na,” the chemical symbols for iron, lithium, and sodium, or blood, meth, and tears. This isn’t untrue, I guess, but it also has a kind of “Mix it around, eventually you’ll get ‘Nebali’” vibe, and the suicide mission is a stronger parallel anyway. Gilligan, who directed this one, even put a button on it with Walt playing the Marty Robbins tape as he prayed to the god of meth dealers, murderers, and emotionally distant fathers to just give him the strength to get home. This was a man saddling up for one last ride. His visit to Gretchen and Elliott wasn’t to settle scores or announce his presence with authority, but to finally find a way to give his son the drug money Walt had died to earn. He knew he wouldn’t make it out of the showdown alive, and when the time came, he didn’t even care about finding the tens of millions Jack and the gang had taken. He wanted to leave a nest egg for junior, settle his debts as best he could, and die on his feet. And he did.

There were so many nice grace notes, too. Gilligan’s direction remained tight as ever, from visual cues like the beam separating the frame Walt and Skyler as they talked in the kitchen to simple but cannily executed suspense sequences, like Walt roaming into Gretchen and Elliott’s home or Walt eyeing his keyring on the thugs’ pool table. Todd even had a special ringtone for Lydia, a detail that didn’t need to be included but that was just further evidence that these storytellers wanted to take us through a real, grounded, messy world. And Gilligan even scored a twofer — fan service and plot momentum — by bringing in Badger and Skinny Pete for one last hoorah with Walt.

This was still Walt’s story, though, above and over all, and Gilligan took it to a perfect end. That Walt “succeeded” as much as he did — at least in finding a way to give money to his son — was a surprise, given how badly things started to go for Walt once he was in charge of his own little empire. There was no way he was getting out alive, and he knew it. He started so small and got so very far away from the man he used to be, and he made everyone else pay the price along with him. The deaths, the scheming, the corruption; the lies, the heartache, the abuse. The pride. The fighting. The emptiness. He did his best to atone at the end, and maybe he did. It turns out that the best thing he could do for his family was to disappear, and the pain of learning that was the beginning of the end. His stark honesty with Skyler about his attraction to the drug trade — “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really — I was alive.” — was the removal of the final mask. There was nothing left to but close accounts.

As Walter Hartwell White lay there on the floor, with the cops swarming his body, bathing him in green light, it was impossible not to hear some kind of assurance from Gilligan himself coming through in the lyrics of Badfinger’s “Baby Blue”: “Did you really think I’d do you wrong?” Given all this, how could we have? Breaking Bad started dark and got darker, but it was relentlessly honest and courageous in the way it explored the causes and effects of evil on the human heart and made us all wonder how far we’d be willing to go if we thought our time was running out. It was a domestic drama, a crime thriller, a pulp adventure, a pitch-black comedy, and never less than fully arresting. It stands as a complete and contained thing, a fantastic example of what this medium can do. It’s not the only type of good show, but it is — and will be remembered as — one of the best ever made thanks to the fierce commitment of all involved to do something daring.

This was a good ending, a true one, and a final chapter that felt totally in line with the way these characters live and behave. There could be no reconciliation between Walt and his family, and his son will never know that he’ll be receiving his father’s money. There was retribution meted out coldly, from Walt’s poisoning of Lydia to Jesse’s murder of the sociopath who kept him beaten and chained. And Walt and Jesse parted scarred, each one having lost so many things just by knowing the other. Jesse’s blast to freedom was sweet and triumphant because of how much he suffered, and how he’d wanted for so long to have a new life. It’s amazing how much of himself he was able to keep after having spent so much time with Walt, whose very presence proved to be toxic to everyone he knew. Jesse’s story functioned as an inverse of Walt’s, and his character’s journey was just as harrowing and heartbreaking. They both had different reactions to asking themselves “How far am I willing to go?” Walt seemed to the view the question as a challenge, always sure that he’d be able to justify his actions, albeit in increasingly tortured ways. Jesse, though, came at it with apprehension, always seeming to sense that each step he took with Walt made it that much harder to turn back. He started out a small-time dealer, a common punk, but he wasn’t vicious. His story was all about how far you can go and still come back, and he was shoved over the edge and into hell and still managed to crawl back with his soul. He wouldn’t even pull the trigger on the man who got him into all this. He fought hard and stood up, and it was good to see him soaring down the open road, heavy of heart but bound for better things. Maybe that’s the best place to leave it.

Daniel Carlson is the managing editor of Pajiba and a member of the Houston Film Critics Society and the Online Film Critics Society. You can also find him on Twitter.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Michieux

    I reckon you got it right. Brilliant show. Congrats to all involved.

  • Slobby79

    while i totally enjoyed her death. Just based on what Walt would have known, why did lydia deserve to die at his hands? Dont get me wrong i enjoyed it and she totally deserved her fate. However, Walt doesnt know about the massacre. He is retired at this point. He forced her into giving him Mike's guys and he wanted them dead too. She did ask him to come back but Skylar threatened her to leave and he turned her down. I dont think she ever tried again. Otherwise, all she did for him was provide methlymine, then access to the train, and build his business internationally.

    sure she wanted him to be killed at the end but he counted on that and used it to his advantage. In his eye she did never actually hurt anyone herself.

  • Is the part where Walt taps on the pressure gauge thats set at 87 a callback? I can't remember but it feels like an echo of something earlier.

  • Uriah_Creep

    I could be wrong, but it looks to me like NO ONE got all the answers right on the Breaking Bad death pool. It wasn't as hard to check as I feared it would be, because almost everyone got the very first 4 answers (Walt, Jesse, Skyler and Hank) wrong. That was a tough one, right?


  • chanohack

    I knew my dead pool was fucked when I saw Steve Gomez sitting in Hank and Marie's living room. Dammit, Gomey. You knew better.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    There's still a chance Hank and Gomey could be resurrected Lone Ranger Style and become masked crime fighters in a badly realized action movie. I feel like they would enjoy that.

  • itsadrian

    I will miss how terrible this show made me feel on a weekly basis. Haha.

    I think this show proves that it's better to have a set story, or a definite ending in mind. There is an objective to the story, and the characters can change and grow. They have goals. Another example of an excellent show with this sort of "definite ending" structure was the original Avatar: The Last Airbender, one of the most emotionally satisfying series on television, cartoon or otherwise.

    Contrast this with something like The Simpsons, or even other dramas where eventually they run out of story to tell and just settle for wheel-spinning.

    Sometimes it's good when things end, you guys.

  • Anebo

    The only quibble I had with the episode was Walt telling Lydia he used the ricin on her. I felt that it was strangely unsubtle after the whole thing several episodes ago when Jesse put two and two together about Huell switching out the cigarettes, and the audience was (mostly) able to do the math with him. I totally got that Lydia was poisoned the moment the camera zoomed in on her emptying the packet into her cup. Walt should've hung up on her after he said, "Feeling under the weather?" or something. It's a small thing, I know, but it irked me nonetheless.

    Otherwise! A masterful, satisfying, virtually flawless finale. That small issue aside, it confirmed everything I loved about the show. I held my tongue about wanting Walt's head on a pike, but I did want him to die regardless. I just wasn't confident that Gilligan and co. would be merciless about it. Cranston said the finale would be "unapologetic," and he was right. He didn't mean it would be unflinching and I'm glad they did it this way. The show was more about the poetry behind a man gone wrong and the consequences of it, and less about all the blood and viscera splattering everywhere. I hope to see more like it. Here's hoping Vince Gilligan's next show will be just as good!

  • supergwarr

    I am very excited
    about the upcoming Saul spin off but I am hoping they are messing with uswhen
    it comes to it being a Prequel as then it takes away the ending. we know were
    Saul will end up so I don't care how he got there I want to see where he is going.

  • Gistine

    I still kind of wish he would have killed Gretchen and Elliott, but then knowing they will be looking over their shoulders and tip-toeing like spooked children is truly satisfying. Bitch!

    I replayed the machine gun bloodbath at least 3 times. I cannot remember the last time I took such pleasure in a massacre. Take that, Inbreds! And when Jesse choked Todd, I am certain I was gritting my teeth (Grrrrr! Get him Jesse!) I love that Lydia (that cell phone ring!) will die a painful, slow death (yay, BITCH!) Skyler killed me, smoking away in aloneness and her home with the one remnant of her past life, the hutch all aglow in an otherwise dark hovel, so muthaeffing sad! Watching Walt watch Flynn come off the bus through the window was just SO HEARTWRENCHING! And the fade-away of Walt's face to blurriness through the chipped window? Brilliant and again, just SO SAD.

    "I guess I got what I deserved..." Brilliant Badfinger singing an ode to WW, just clenched it all for me. I cannot believe its over!

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I've seen this elsewhere too, but why did Gretchen and Elliot deserve to die? Because Walt was bought out of the company? Used the research (which would have been covered in a buyout)? Because they offered him a way to earn money/healthcare without cooking meth?

    They're jerks, but so is everyone on this show but Holly and maybe Brock. Did they really deserve to die because they had a life outside of Walt's control?

  • Gistine

    I only wanted them to die because they are just greedy, ignoble pigs, And then I realized that constantly living in fear of a sudden death is far better revenge than sudden death. The greedy pair deserves to live each day in fear until Flynn becomes of age. Perhaps this will give them time to reflect of their betrayal of W.W., but then again they clearly have no conscience.

  • chanohack

    They offered to help Walt even though it's clear they parted on bad terms, and, knowing he probably wouldn't just take the money, Elliot offered him a job so Walt could "earn" healthcare and more money. That's pretty awesome. And they're philanthropists, which is why they were on Charlie Rose. They're not greedy ignoble pigs. They're just rich people who moved to Santa Fe. And while I agree that rich people who move to Santa Fe are THE WORST (especially near the opera house, god, WE GET IT, you're SO CULTURED), I don't think they deserve to die for it.

    But I'd be more than thrilled if they all moved to Aspen or someplace.

  • DeltaJuliet

    Are they really that horrible? They offered Walt his job back and they offered to pay for his treatment. Gretchen didn't rat him out to Skylar like she could have. The gave however many millions of money to the drug fund. They certainly come across as two people with their heads up their asses, but they didn't deserve to die by any means.

  • Sarah Meigs

    Well said, Daniel! I wish I would have started reading these when I started watching the show. Loved the connection of the Marty Robbins. I was so busy thinking that I loved the song to notice the implication. So glad you talked about it. I need to go back and watch the show again..with no commercials. I feel it will be a different experience.

  • The Heretic

    I give this series finale an A minus for wrapping up all the loose ends, a bit too satisfactorily, but always with the dramatic tension dialed up to eleven. But I wouldn't put it on the level of the very best - The Sopranos' terse, climatic build up to that notorious cut to black conclusion.

  • emmalita

    I loved that the motivation for finding Gretchen and Eliot was not revenge (although he got a measure of that by scaring them and making them feel unsafe), but to complete his mission to get his family the money he had destroyed their lives making.

    I love that he used his time in the cabin to reflect and fully integrate his Walt and Heisenberg personas. Heisenberg is gone because he is no longer a mask that Walt wears, but a piece of Walt.

    I love that he died in a meth lab - having effectively shot himself - among the equipment that he loved. It was a happy ending for Walt.

    I love that there was no wrap-up for Skyler, Flynn, Holly, Marie and Jesse. We can guess what will happen in their futures, but Breaking Bad was always Walt's story.

    Thanks for your recaps, Dan. I hope at some point in the future you will write a review of BB as a complete piece of work.

  • Jezzer

    It waits, out there in the depths of the internet, biding its time until it can come swooping in to shit on everyone's good feelings about Breaking Bad.

    Ask not for whom the Goog trolls. It trolls for thee.

  • SchmidtUltra

    Jesse taking out Todd caused me to leap of the couch, scream, and fist pump all at the same time. Was so happy for him.

    Also, the "Huell Waits" video is amazing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

  • Dumily

    I'm still completely blown away with how deftly they handled Walt's transformation - both his descent into evil and his redemption. I hated Walter White yesterday. Absolutely hated him. I wanted to see Jesse murder the ever loving crap out of him. But at the end of the episode I was wrecked by how much sympathy I had for him, and heartbroken at the waste of all of it. I don't know how they did it, but the thing I kept thinking last night was "Oh, if I had just lived right up to that moment... and not one second more. That would have been perfect."
    Bravo, Mr. Gilligan.

  • DeltaJuliet

    "Oh, if I had just lived right up to that moment... and not one second more. That would have been perfect."
    That speech, in the original episode, was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever heard.

  • Dumily

    Oh, and as a side note: the scene with Jesse building that wooden box? Fuck you, Mr. Gilligan. Just go ahead and goddamn kill me already.

  • dizzylucy

    Really beautiful, can't think of a more satisfying finale.
    As Walt became worse and worse, I wanted Jesse or Skylar (or Hank, but that didn't happen) to take him out, in exchange for all the misery he brought into their lives. But in that moment when Jesse had his chance to do it, I was so glad he didn't. Walt's end was fitting, and perfect.
    What an experience this show was - genius storytelling, incredible acting, and some of the most beautiful visuals, throughout the series. I especially loved the reveal of Walt during the phone call, the post dividing him and Skyler, and the moments of him sitting in the car in NH with the red and blue police lights flashing around.

  • Maddy

    I think I had the same thoughts, but if Jesse or Skyler had done that, it would have made them nearly as despicable as Walt himself. I don't really care about Walt, the fact that this tragic end was his own doing regained some of my sympathy, but I'm just glad there's a glimmer of hope for everyone else. It doesn't cancel out all the damage Walt has caused and the continuing impact it will have on their lives, but it was something.

    I don't really understand the criticism that everything was too tidy - we don't know for sure that Skyler escapes jail, that Flynn will get the money, that Marie will recover from Hank's deaths, but that some of the damage was a tiny bit mediated gave me some hope to cling to.

    And mainly I'm just so glad Jesse didn't die, and I'm choosing to believe that he has a chance now he doesn't have cancerous Walt in his life.

  • Artemis

    That was just perfect. I don't have a lot of coherent thoughts on it right now, but one of my favorite parts was Walt caressing baby Holly's face, and then caressing the meth-lab equipment the very same way.

  • dr_zayaz

    Also...Felina - Finale. Obviously...

  • dr_zayaz

    I loved it completely but still had one question to myself...when did Walt, while being a brilliant chemist ever show the mechanical know how to come up with the remote controlled machine gun trunk thingy he made? Not even that I mind much, being that it killed Nazis and perhaps Walt himself.

  • chanohack

    ... and he rigged that remote detonation device to blow up Gus' car/Hecotr's wheelchair. I don't think it was a long shot.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I think all of the big kills have been long shots, but they always work out for Walt, so why not one more?

  • foolsage

    Walt was always very practical in finding applications for science; though he had a wealth of theoretical knowledge, he was more of an engineer than a research scientist. Very primitive robotics such as the moving machine gun mount were well within his scope. Think e.g. of Walt using the squeegee to blow up the obnoxious guy's car back in the fourth episode - that's practical mechanical knowledge unrelated to chemistry.

  • alwayssunnyinnj

    Beautiful finale. Beautiful review. I will miss both.

  • John W

    I think the best thing about the finale is that it fit with the rest of the series. It was a logical conclusion to the show.

  • Maddy

    I love Jesse but I actually laughed at the absurdity of that box flashback and had no idea what that even was, until the reference was pointed out to me afterwards. Now I feel like a terrible person. You got some good box making skills Jesse Pinkman

  • Tinkerville

    I had completely forgotten about that story about the woodworking class until this morning when I reread that monologue in a review. Then it made me cry just thinking about it.

    It was brilliant to include that since Jesse was passionate about crafting beautiful things and for the first time in his life he had found something he loved doing, but instead it cut directly to him being forced to use that same talent for something destructive and awful that he just wanted to get away from.

  • emmalita

    I think it was planted there so that we could imagine the happier future that Jesse may have now that he is free. No empire, just a simple life.

  • Wif

    I don't think it was as much of a true flashback as it was going in to a dream world to try to cope. The original box was made in shop class, and I don't a teenager would have cradled the box like it was a baby. It was his escape, because he had nothing left to dream about.

  • kirbyjay

    I'm hoping Jesse knows what Jack did with the money. If not, there is about $65 million out there in the desert. Anyone want to join a search party?

  • mclbolton

    Perfect ending ---- was anyone else touched by the scene in Walt's car with Skinny Pete and Badger? They questioned the ethics or morals of their part with the lasers-- those losers have a sense of right and wrong missing in most of the others.........

  • emmalita

    They questioned the ethics of it until Walt handed them a stack of cash. And then they felt just fine.

  • chanohack

    ... which is soooooo like him.

  • Bert_McGurt

    I actually cheered a little bit when I saw Walt with the guys in the ski masks. Of course it was Badger and Skinny Pete. They might be a couple of grade-A doofuses, but they're loyal guys. Maybe they can be Jesse's lab assistants when he decides to give up this crazy life and become a chemistry teacher.

    Only one loose end...

  • knockloud

    I LOVED the sniper tease and the reveal because the original threat was so well played by all parties, and then finding out who they really were was just like free money.

  • Fredo

    He's still waiting for someone to let him know it's okay to step out of that hotel room.

  • Mrs. Julien

    Mr. J. and I said this morning that we didn't even feel the need to
    discuss the ending at great length. It was so well finished up and satisfying.

    I stood up and curtsied in the middle of our living room seeking applause for my weeks of "there is not way they kept mentioning Lydia's stevia packets and the ricin isn't for her".

    This is only the second time Walt's plans have actually worked out as intended, isn't it? The first being Gus Fring's death.

  • Mrs. Julien

    They've added a gif of Jesse killing Todd to the entry for "viscerally satisfying" on the online dictionary I frequent.

  • The Kitastrophe

    Terrific ending. No fucking smoke monster/all a dream/God did it. Someone used the word 'elegant' and that's fitting.

  • kasper

    I'm still not sure how I feel about the ending. We have been traveling down a dark road for so long that it seems jolting to me that it ends with the best possible outcome in every single aspect.

    Walt not only gets the money to his children (the most important thing to him), but he gets closure with his wife, gives her information she can use to help her situation, gets to see his kids again, takes out all of his enemies, and even gets to die knowing that he freed Jesse, a redeeming act before it all ends. And, he doesn't get caught and doesn't die a slow, painful, lonely death from the cancer. If you had sat down after Ozymandis, and thought about the best case scenario, this was it. Jesse is free (although wtf is he going to do now?).

    This isn't to say it was a bad episode. There was a lot that I liked. I really liked the symmetry with how Todd was killed...remember, the first kill in the show was Walt choking Crazy 8 with the bicycle chain, the last kill was Jesse choking Todd with his chains.

    The scene between him and Skyler was great as was the scene with Gretchen and Elliot. In fact, most of the scenes were great.

    I just find it jarring how well it worked out for him after the way the show was heading and I still haven't wrapped my head around it.

  • crispin

    It obviously didn't work out so well for him. He made it so that it worked out for those around him.

  • Uriah_Creep

    This is exactly what Gilligan tried to emphasize in his post-finale interviews: Walt didn't so much redeem himself as he redeemed HIS FAMILY. I think it's an important distinction.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Did he? They'll always be the Heisenberg family, unless they change their names. Skylar will always be the person holding the camera when Walt made a confession tape that torpedoed Hank. I'm still amazed that Marie was as supportive as she seemed.

    Also, no one in the DEA traced the money in the car wash and realized that money launderer Skyler was implicated in an IRS investigation? Because I was waiting for that hammer to fall.

    There are so many thousands of wounds he caused, and I'm not sure his final mea culpa healed them in the long run.

    And don't think someone won't notice Flynn winning the "luckiest boy in the world" scholarship fund - nothing fishy about that at all.
    That said, I didn't hate the ending, but it felt like they glossed over a multitude of sins, just to give Walt his redemption.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Technically Krazy 8 was the second kill. Emilio died from the gas in the first episode. But an interesting parallel for sure.

  • vic

    And also, the last kill was technically Walt finishing off Jack and not Jesse killing Todd. I guess others will say Walt was the last kill in some ways. Eh. Still, I like kasper's symmetry idea.

  • I thought the episode was fine. Too familiar and fan friendly to be transcendent. Solid B episode.

    In hindsight, I wonder if Gilligan will regret using flash forward. Added nothing to story while at the same time stripping much of the surprise from both Granite State and Felina.

    Oh, and the "Gilligan is trying to tell you rubes that Walt is a horrible person and you shouldn't root for him" gun is all out of bullets. The finale was designed to make Walt relatable again. Bit of a shame, too. BB spent so much time tearing down an originally likeable character that to pull back right at the end felt like a half measure.

  • knockloud

    I still think Walt got everything he deserved for the harm he brought to the people he loved, but he showed just enough humanity and, shockingly, humility, that it led to a satisfying conclusion. That's why we all watch the show, right? Because we know the main character is a very bad man but we still give a shit about him?

  • Wigamer

    Gilligan definitely wanted fans to stop rooting for Walt when Walt was destroying everyone around him. Rooting for him is not the same as being sympathetic. To root for Walt at various points meant that you were rooting for the destruction of many of the other characters, which was pretty impossible to do. I like that he gave Walt a realistic redemptive arc--and the real reason he was redeemed was that he finally told the truth about himself and made an attempt to atone, however slightly, for what he'd done. He didn't become a good guy.

  • APOCooter

    This. I thoroughly enjoyed the first 73 minutes of the episode. I didn't hate the last two minutes, but they don't sit that well with me. Don't get me wrong, I love a good redemption story (which is why I'm looking forward to season 5 of GoT), and the writers spent much of this time redeeming Walter as best as they could; finding a way to get Junior the money, finally admitting that he did everything for himself and not his family, rescuing Jesse. But Walt still died on his own terms and, it could be argued, as a hero. He didn't earn that.

  • chanohack

    You've exactly articulated why I didn't like Walt's death. YES. He did not deserve it. And he wasn't really even alone, because he was with his beloved lab equipment.

  • crispin

    He didn't die on his own terms. Jessie didn't kill him like he wanted him to. Also, Walt died due to his own actions (the machine gun).

  • chanohack

    If he hadn't decided to save Jesse at the last minute, Walt wouldn't even have ducked. He didn't want to come out of there alive. It was absolutely on his own terms.

  • Artemis

    I understand the complaint, but I don't entirely agree. Yes, in many ways he got to go out on his own terms. But his own terms were pretty shitty. He didn't die as might have been expected at the beginning of the series, in his bed surrounded by a loving family. He died alone, despised by his family and by the general public, forever blamed for Hank and Gomez's death and with no credit for the money his son would receive, surrounded by meth-lab equipment that he had loved more than any person in his life. I think the fact that that's the ending he chose is both his tragedy and his just desserts.

  • APOCooter

    That his terms are so shitty is probably why I'm mostly okay with it. For what it's worth, I do feel like I'm nitpicking a little bit. I'm glad that the finale was so understated; a bombastic, twist filled finale would've been terrible. I'm generally satisfied with the show, but I saw a tweet last night: "Well, they certainly ended it the safest way possible." I think that's a pretty accurate description, and also a little bit of a shame given the history of the show.

  • Morgan_LaFai

    Walt's confession allowed me to breathe again. I hadn't realized I was holding my breath, but once he was honest I realized that I haven't breathed easy while watching this show in a long time. But that one simple moment released all the tightness in me and I was able to breathe deeply and truly enjoy watching everything play out.

    Unfortunately, I tots lost the death pool. I figured Walt's family would be okay (except for Hank which I called, and I think in the right episode) but I thought EVERYONE else was going to die. I even figured Badger and Skinny Pete would die, and when they showed up I was convinced I was correct. So while I am very satisfied with how the show ended, I do kind of wish Saul, Badger, Skinny Pete, and even Jesse had all died. Then I might have won the death pool. Oh well.

  • Maddy

    I loved this for the most part, but I did think it was a bit ridiculous how easy it was for Walt to get into Skyler's house, but then I thought the same thing about Todd getting in to threaten Holly. Aren't there DEA agents watching the house? Asleep on the job?

  • Wif

    I think this is one of those "suspension of disbelief" moments. Walt has established he's brilliant enough to do the impossible, so if we don't see how he did it, we just have to trust that he found a way. It was necessary for the story; we needed to see him say goodbye.

  • Maddy

    I agree and I thought the scene itself was amazing, but that did take me out of it a little bit. Minor nitpick really

  • the dude

    I cried when Jesse half-smiled at Walt, he escaped and Walt died to Baby Blue

  • Iman Alterego

    I never felt that I'd wasted all of that time, robbed by a crappy finale. Gilligan and company created a masterpiece here, from start to finish. How the hell will I sit through The Mentalist now, while my husband watches?

  • kirbyjay

    hmmmmm.....Lost, much? I am actually angry that I sat through 5 years of that show.

  • jenik

    Ultimate satisfaction, for sure. But did anyone else wonder why Walt left instructions for all of the money to go to Junior? Why not give half to Holly?

  • Sue

    I think it was because Junior would be turning 18 in 10 months whereas Holly would have to wait about 16-17 years before she could have the money in her own name. Best to get the money to his family as soon as possible (and we all observed how good Junior was with his little sister so no worries on that front -- he'll do the right thing).

  • Maddy

    I wondered this as well actually

  • kirbyjay

    He kept saying his "children" but Holly won't be an adult for years and we know Walt Jr. would take care of her.

  • Bert_McGurt

    I think he just knows that Flynn will do what's right with it.

  • Gill R

    It's 10.30am in the UK; I'm stuck at home waiting for a delivery and - thank you, Netflix - I've just watched this final episode.

    Damn you, Gilligan, for making me feel for Walt one last time; damn you for making me feel like I've just been put through an emotional wringer; damn you for making me cry in a darkened room on a lovely sunny morning.

    But mostly thank you for bringing this astounding series to the perfect conclusion. Thank you for the slow pace and palpable sense of dread and for making this episode a hugely satisfying conclusion to an enthralling series.

  • GDI

    I loved how poetic Walt's end came to be; destroyed by his own machination. Literally, in the immediate, and metaphorically, over the long haul. That was so damn brilliant.
    Jesse's penance was beautiful. I sit here without words to further describe it.

    Just cliches about blinding radiance and bounding optimism.

    Walt's honesty did set him free. It is awful that so many people had to suffer for him to get to that conclusion, but c'est la vie.

    I had thought that Walt had died a while back and Heisenberg was all that was left. But no, Heisenberg was never really alive. That id was no more than a shield, a mechanism, a tool. And yes, it gave Walt unknown strength and courage, but it was a cancerous device.
    I'm glad he still had some semblance of humanity.

    I was a slave to this show.

    Now, I feel as free as our dynamic duo.

  • Tinkerville

    "...but it was a cancerous device."

    I see what you did there.

  • Arco


    I was scared. I loved the new Battlestar Galactica, and the ending had a few too many dropped stitches. It ruined it a bit for me.

    But this was perfect.

    Walter White. The kindly, milquetoast man who became a monster. The monster who still had a soul and in the end, managed to tear down some of the evil he created and to some extent, do right by his people. A masterpiece of a tv show. This will be a new bar by which to measure crime stories and tv series in general and we were all lucky to have experienced such a piece of art.

  • Sue

    ...and I think the show made the point so well that nothing is black or white (I'm really trying to avoid using "shades of gray"!!!).

  • Ofir Fishkin

    Thanks Vince, it was just like I wanted it to be.

    "I did it for me,I liked it,I was good at it and I was alive."

  • ZizoAH

    It was perfect... I couldn't stop crying since Skyler started to cry.

  • Maddy

    It was amazing - I never understood all the people who wanted some massive 'twist' ending, it felt like the perfect bittersweet end. I was glad Walt could be honest to Skyler (and himself) about why he was doing what he was doing, that there was some level of acknowledgement and atonement. I'm glad Jesse got out of there and has a chance at a normal life, and I have hope that Marie and Skyler can reconcile and that they can somehow pick up the fragments of their lives.

    There was a point where I hated Walt so much that I wanted him to suffer in jail forever, and that dying would be the easy way out, but I think I'm happy with how this ended because the only way that he would be able to somewhat repair the destruction he caused was for him to no longer be there at all.

    Was definitely worth marathoning all those episodes last year to be able to get to this point.

  • Uriah_Creep

    I have hope that Marie and Skyler can reconcile and that they can somehow pick up the fragments of their lives.

    ^^^^^ THIS ^^^^^

  • Maddy

    If anything, the best thing that phone call in Ozymandias did was allow Marie to realise what a monster Walt is and reach out to her sister - not that Skyler is perfect by any means, and obviously that family will be forever affected by Heisenberg, but I at least have some hope that they will have a somewhat brighter future without Walt and without drawn out court proceedings.

  • junierizzle

    I agree. I never rooted for Walt but I still sympathized with him. I did come around to hating him last year when he refused to take that deal with Declan. I thought he was extremely selfish. I wanted him to go down, and he did. He lost his family, his empire and now his life. But he did redeem himself when he saved Jesse and I sympathized with him for the loss of his family. It was really sad when all he could do was look at the back of Walter jr.

  • chanohack

    I don't know. I watched all of season five this week, and I'd forgotten what an ASSHOLE he was. He shot Mike for no good reason, among other things. I'm the tiniest bit pissed off that he died all cozy in the lab after his plan went off without a hitch. And don't tell me getting shot wasn't his plan.

    I'll probably come around after I ponder things for a day or so.

  • junierizzle

    I guess it was cozy but he pretty much had given up. No master plan was going to give him back his empire and his family. He may have redeemed himself by saving Jesse but to me he still lost. He may have left money to his kid but his family will never be the same and he died knowing his son hated him.

  • emmalita

    One of the things my viewing partner pointed out about bringing Gretchen back, was that Gretchen was the first person to provide evidence that Walter White was always an asshole. And he remained an asshole.

    Yes he died happy, but look at the awful stuff that made him happy - meth making equipment. He may have been happy, but I wouldn't call it an objectively happy ending.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I guess I just wanted him to die a few feet short of the lab - just short of his happiness. But then again, I'm German English, punishment is a thing for my people...

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    My only complaint with the show, and it's a relatively minor one, is that Walt's plans always work out for him. Maybe not exactly the way he plans, but he always gets his way (Tuco, Skyler moving to his side, Gus, Jesse, and his own death). I just feel like the guy must have swallowed a horseshoe at some point.

    Especially with insulting Jack, which got Jack to bring out Jesse, allowing Walt to save Jesse and kill the nazis. Realistically, Jack would have probably shot him before the insult escaped Walt's lips.

  • chanohack

    ... and the unlocked car in New Hampshire with the keys inside that wasn't even remotely impeded by snow. Jesse's right, Walt's luckier than all of us. He even got a friendly stray bullet to eventually kill him in case Jesse didn't want to.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    It's amazing what a failure Walter White: Chemistry Teacher was, considering his insane luck.

  • Skyler Durden

    I've already spoken my peace, but one more shout-out to the director (Gilligan, was it?), when we see Skyler on the phone with Marie, and afterwords, the camera zooms in to see that OMG WALT WAS STANDING THERE THE WHOLE TIME, that was some stunning direction. My porkpie hat off to you, maestro.

  • TheReinaG

    I dunno, I might be too close removed off of Coulson's "I'm sorry, but that corner was really dark and I couldn't help myself" to not see that shot the same way. Albeit for much less comedic value.

  • Lauren_Lauren

    That was my favourite moment.

  • Alwyn

    I was expecting it to be darker, so I was pleasantly surprised that it ended so tidily, but still honestly. I think it would have been a less satisfying story if Walt had just gone full chaotic evil and watched his family be killed, etc, etc. Because he was sympathetic once. And he does love his family, but he FINALLY understood what to really love them meant.

    That being said, this review is perfect if only for the Waiting for Guffman reference.

  • kbenton

    Tidy is the word that came to my mind too. Neat. Clean. Like a scientist, to the end.

    Not as justification, but principle. "Too tidy" could be read as negative too... I'll struggle a little with that. But it won't stop me from being satisfied.

  • Skyler Durden

    I called it:

    1) Felina was a reference to the Marty Robbins song. I was a kid from the 70s, raised on country music story song. I KNEW IT HAD TO BE THAT SONG. I had a handicap, what can I say?
    2) Walt redeems himself before dying.
    3) Jessie escapes and goes to Alaska.

    Um. Okay, two outta three ain't bad.

    But that's it. The use he made on behalf of Gretchen and Elliot, I didn't see coming. That was absolutely beautiful.

    And from the moment he said "I did it for ME. I liked it. I WAS GOOD AT IT", I couldn't stop crying. For the entire rest of it all, I just cried.

  • BLZ Bubb

    #3 = Jesse goes to Alaska and meets a guy formerly known as Dexter...

  • emmalita

    Shut your mouth! Jesse deserve better than that!

  • stella

    Jesse is fine and now lives surrounded by puppies and unicorns?

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