The Breaking Bad “Felina”
Finale Is A Wow Moment
Image courtesy of AMC.
The Six-Year Run Of The Vince Gilligan Series Concludes With Closure For Nearly All Of The Characters, Providing A Fitting Wrap-up For The Legions Of Fans That Made The Show A Hit
Note: This whole thing is a spoiler alert. If you haven’t watched the Sept. 29 episode of Breaking Bad, you need someone to explain how spoiler alerts work before pressing on.
By Serene Dominic
Special for Modern Times Magazine
Sept. 30, 2013 — At the conclusion of last night’s final Breaking Bad, the credits thanked the city of Albuquerque for six wonderful years, after which AMC thanked all the people who watched and loved Breaking Bad.
I can’t help feel somewhere Vince Gilligan should have also thanked the makers of Dexter for airing what was surely the worst series wrap-up ever the very same week Breaking Bad, took its final bow. This season Dexter took its viewers to new heights of belief suspension, introducing and discarding characters like used Kleenex, none of them remaining true to their origins.
By stark contrast, Breaking Bad, was able to methodically maintain the same high standards of writing, acting and direction throughout its entire run. If this isn’t the best-ever series finale, it is damn near alone at the top. Even if Gilligan had Walter White starting his new life in New Hampshire as a lumberjack, he would’ve made the damn thing work.
Despite listing Bob Odenkirk in the opening credits, Saul doesn’t make a final appearance so we never find out if he got that managerial position at Cinnabon. Or if Huell ever leaves his apartment again and becomes an acrophobic. But every other living character is given some closure.
But first Walt goes down his list of revenge “gets.” First stop, the lovely furnished home of Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz, the co-founders of Grey Matters who discredited Walt on national television (all right, maybe not that many people watch The Charlie Rose Show and if it was Tavis Smiley, Walter might’ve just let it go.) Spurned Walt devises a way to make them seem small by making them fetch and pile Walt’s last remaining $9 million. Walt instructs them to set up a trust fund for Walt’s children that they will accept since they don’t know it’s from Walt. Plus, he manages to throw a scare into them, convincing the stuffy pair that he has hired hit men — initially portrayed by red laser lights on the Schwartz’ chests — to kill them if they don’t follow through with his plan. The big joke we later find out is that the hired hit men are Skinny Pete and Badger, Jesse’s old meth dealing friends, the dudes who spent almost six minutes of an episode last season talking about the transporters on the starship Enterprise.
Next stop, the diner where creature of habit Lydia goes every Tuesday at 10 a.m., where she used to meet Walter. It is now the spot where she meets Todd. Walter offers them a way to make his blue meth cheaper. Lydia gives him the cold shoulder but Todd arranges for Walt to meet Nazi Uncle Jack at the compound for an almost certain double-cross. Naturally, Walt comes prepared with a car fully loaded with an automated automatic weapon.
First, though, Walter works in a quick visit to Skyler to say goodbye, give her the GPS coordinates where the police can find Hank and Steve’s bodies and make some kind of deal with the authorities. In a brilliant moment of last-minute character development, instead of giving his wife his rote rationale for doing what he did for the family, says ”I did it for me. I was good at it. It made me feel alive.” Although not for long.
At this point in the show, we’re caught up with every flash forward we have seen of Walt returning to Jesse’s abandoned house to get the guns and ricin, turning up at his old house and being spotted by his neighbors and eating breakfast alone on his birthday. So we know that this finale has been long thought out, which is why it’s so satisfying and light years away from Dexter’s abrupt wrap-up.
Meticulous to the end, Walt parks at the perfect angle for his car weaponry to open fire by car remote lock. And we see how good Walt has become at manipulating people. Here he manages hurting Nazi Jack’s ego with an insinuation that he is a business partner with Jesse, the guy who he keeps on a leash in the meth lab. Incensed, Jack brings his human Fido out to parade before Walt before killing him. This pity party provides the distraction Walt needs to pounce on Jesse, as he hurls him to the ground before the gun begins to fire.
Jack, riddled with bullets but still alive enough to take a last few drags from his cigarette, tells Walt if he kills him now, he’ll never find out where the money is. Frankly my dear, Walt has stopped giving a shit about the Benjamins and shoots Jack dead mid-sentence. Jesse, still in handcuffs, gets to strangle Todd and wipe that Matt Damon look off his face once and for all. Then, Walt kicks Jack’s gun over to Jesse and invites him to finish off his former chemistry teacher. Jesse, whose dialogue the last few episodes has consisted of Frankenstein grunts, tells him to do it himself. And thankfully, not. “Do it yourself, bitch.” Frankly, Aaron Paul has been everywhere this week making that catch phrase stick so I'm glad it wasn't the last line uttered here. He drives off hysterically in the night to fates unknown.
Now about that ricin — it’s no surprise that Walt put it in the packet of Stevia for predictable Lydia to put in her coffee. But it is a surprise that Todd has “Lydia the Tattooed Lady” as her ringtone on his phone. Todd’s a Groucho fan. Who knew?
Like the gunman in Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” which started off the episode, a bullet has already found Walt and he goes to die off in the meth lab with the same satisfaction that Robbins’ gunman had, risking his life to see “Felina” one more time. Two weeks ago, you would’ve thought Felina was his family, but now as he dies to the strains of Badfinger’s “Baby Blue,“ his life’s work seems to be the only thing left in his heart.
The greatest show on television has just ended, leaving me happier than any other downbeat series closer I‘ve ever witnessed.
Did I say wow? Wow.
Serene Dominic is a freelance writer.
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