Breaking Bad – “Felina” (season 5, episode 16)
Whenever westerns end, the rough cowboy who has nothing left to lose ends up getting exactly what he wanted in his last fight. The cowboy uses the very last of his resources, outsmarts his enemies, defeats them – maybe even kills them – but in the haze of his meticulous plan, he’s left wounded. Staggering across the desert he knows all too well, the place he’s made a name for himself, he falls to the ground and awaits for the inevitable.
There was no other way for Breaking Bad to end when you think about it. Following Walt as he sets future funds up for his family and says goodbye to Skyler just before he takes revenge on Jack and the Nazis makes sense. As an audience, we all knew this was somewhat going to happen; save for him making Gretchen and Elliot donate his left over money to Walter Jr. From the two flashforwards we were given, the finale had to retrace a lot of territory we’ve already seen, hit a lot of notes that needed to be hit, and in the end, finish the entire series with a satisfying finale. A lot of ground needed to be covered and “Felina” did it, although a little bit too much with a nicely wrapped bow to present itself to fans wanting just about everything wrapped up without question. A definitive and finite end for Breaking Bad. ”Felina” does tend to dip its feet into the fan service pool, though.
Then again, the series was never one to play with ambiguity or open endedness so an ending that leaves absolutely nothing unanswered makes sense in terms of how the series has always been treated; that sort of ending just isn’t fundamentally there. And there’s definitely something respectable about Vince Gilligan and his team of writers not changing that course at the end game. But did the finale make for a solid payoff after all the emotional turmoil, stress, and built up consequences we’ve seen over the past few weeks? The direction “Felina” went for wasn’t daring like the episodes that followed it. In fact, “Finale” plays it too safe for its own good.
However, that’s not to say that the finale was completely unsatisfying or entirely unearned. Truth be told, just about every scene had the notion of tying up a loose end that began episodes or seasons ago. “Felina”‘s best scene featured Skyler and Walt speaking about how they had gotten into what they got into. Skyler makes sure to not hear one more lie from her husband’s mouth but is stopped when he himself finally admits it was all for him. That everything he had done in the name of his family was completely for his pride and his pleasure. “I liked it. I was good at it” he tells her. In a scene, we’re finally witnessing Walt admitting to the only lie he told that he even believed.
“Felina,” at its core, provided closure in every way for every character. Watching Jesse drive away from the hell he’s lived in for almost a year comes off as extremely great, but the scene with him saying “no” to Walt’s idea of him ending the man’s misery is better. And not to mention Walt’s own death, surrounded by the meth equipment him and Jesse put together seasons ago and his greatest creation: baby blue meth. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with an ending that’s tightly knitted if the character resolutions feel somewhat honest and, more importantly, right. We all knew Walter was going to die somehow be it cancer or another option, and having Jesse turn away the opportunity and letting the man rot out after another victory, that undoes all the immediate danger he’s caused to his family, seems just right. Watching a villain address all of his wrongs while also paying the price feels not only right along with thoroughly satisfying. Walter White was never the cowboy he wanted to be but he went out like one.
When thinking about the end of a television series, or a book series, or a movie franchise, one has to recollect where things began; just what roped us in and where our beloved, well-rounded, characters were. There’s a certain novel aspect to an entirely entertaining story closing on a scene that reflects just how things started. In the show’s pilot, we’re shown Walt standing in the desert in his now iconic tighty-whiteys with a gun to his head about to kill himself before the police arrive. Scared out of his mind, he can’t pull the trigger and backs out. In “Felina,” Walt’s shot by his own gun and awaits death graciously on the ground as the police arrive, no longer scared. Goodbye, Breaking Bad.
- Walt going to the Schwartz’s house, along with even talking about them, was one of the episode’s few surprises for me. It was a route I didn’t expect Breaking Bad to go down, though I’m glad it did. Knowing that somewhere down the line Walter Jr. will get millions of dollars is nice to think about. Walt setting aside his pride towards them was fantastic.
- As we all predicted or at least heard about, Lydia got ricin’d. Unfortunately for her, she joins Gale in the same category of “Not Entirely a Bad Person But Hanging Out With Bad People and Doing Bad Things.” I’m not entirely okay with her last scene towards the end as it felt like a scene only written so there wouldn’t be any question as to where the ricin ended up.
- Throughout all of the payoffs and closing doors, Jesse strangling Todd to death was probably my favorite violent payoff the finale had. Hell yeah!
- Seeing Badger and Skinny Pete one more time was great. Missed those guys and I’m glad they were brought back in an organic sense that didn’t feel forced.
- Even if for some reason the entire finale sucked and didn’t provide anything, that Skyler scene would have saved it. Perfect in every way possible.
- One question the show didn’t answer: Huell waiting in that damn room. Poor guy.
- Well, that’s it! Breaking Bad was the first show I decided to review back during last year’s season five premiere. Bittersweet is the best way to describe this entire situation for me. Thanks for sticking around, everyone. It’s been great.