Breaking Bad is over. With the sour taste of the Dexter series finale still sour in mouths of fans, some were apprehensive about how Breaking Bad would finish. Did Vince Gilligan and company leave us feeling satisfied or make us want to wander into a grocery store naked telling ourselves we have no idea how we got here? Let’s wade through the blood, meth, and tears to talk about in Major Spoiler’s final SPOILER review of Breaking Bad.
Ending fit for the story
No loose ends
Anna Gunn/Bryan Cranston scene
Previously on Breaking Bad: A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with lung cancer needs a solution to pay for chemotherapy while saving enough money to care for his family if he were to pass. He decided to cook meth. And he loved it.
THE SPECIAL LOVE I HAVE FOR YOU…
When we last left Walter White he had abandoned his dimple pinch clean and started his trip back home. Our opening images from “Falina” show Walter stealing a snow covered car so that we may make that trip back home. As he is in the process of hot wiring the car, however, those infamous red and blue flashing lights appear behind him with a spotlight sweeping the area. Due to the snow covering every window no police officer can see clearly in, but that doesn’t stop Walt from audibly saying, “Just get me home, and I’ll do the rest.” An interesting moment for Walt as it would seem that he was praying to some high power than himself; an action that would have been inconceivable for most of Breaking Bad. If anything is for certain in these last two episodes it is that Walt has had time to reflect upon all of the decisions that he has made while being secluded in that cabin for three months.
Needless to say, Walt does not get arrested there and begins his journey back to Albuquerque, where he has one final grand scheme to accomplish all that he set out to do since his first pant-less meth cook in Episode 1.
First stop: The residence of Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz. After the nationally televised interview of the two, in which they spoke down against all that Walt was and his contributions to Gray Matter, I’ll admit that I thought Walt had bloodlust and that they would be his first of many victims. The way we see him calmly enter their residence and look around while the Schwartzes carry on unknowingly made it seem like that Walt was here to kill, but he had another, more thought out plan. Walt, after having the two cart in over 9 million dollars from his car, made them promise that upon Walt Jr’s 18th birthday they would give all of the money to him in the form of a trust; because, as he explains why would anyone think twice about the wealthy couple, who just wrote a 28 million dollar check right out of pocket, giving money to help the son of their former partner turned criminal mastermind? Walt, never completely satisfied by a person’s word, threatened to have them murdered if they were to not follow through. That scare tactic was thanks to Badger and Skinny Pete up in the mountains shinning laser pointers through the window right at Elliott and Gretchen’s chests as if two trained hit-men were watching from the dark.
With that move Walt has almost completely accomplished his original goal of providing for his family once he is dead by making sure that Walt Jr. and the rest of his family are financially covered. But, due to his actions Skyler is still the target of an investigation into Walt’s actions and he will make sure that is over before finishing his plan.
In a scene that was perfectly played from everyone involved with the production, Marie and Skyler have a phone conversation in which Marie explains to Skyler that there are reports coming in from all over town that Walt has returned. Of course, Skyler already knows this because, after a beautiful push in shot, it is revealed that Walt was standing in the kitchen listening to the whole conversation. Remember how Anna Gunn and Bryan Cranston have both won Emmys for their performances on this show? Well they show why they deserved all the awards in this scene which played out with such honesty and emotion. Walt has come to say his final words to his wife and they both know this and what has to say is what Skyler has been waiting over two years to hear: the truth. Walt finally admits that all of the criminal activity that he has been apart was not for his family but for himself. For everyone who has watched the show this is no real shock as it has been evident for seasons that he was doing it all for himself, but to actually hear Walt admit it was quite surprising. Walt also gives Skyler the GPS coordinates to what use to be his fortune but is now the grave of Hank and Gomez. Walt wants Skyler to use that information as leverage to escape any prosecution that might fall onto her during the investigation. Walt leaves his family knowing that they should be taken care of, which was his initial plan all along, even though it became corrupted fast.
And then there was the killing. We all knew that it was coming and it starts with Lydia and the ricin. As Walt begins his final plan we intrudes on Todd and Lydia’s weekly meeting at the coffee shop where we gives his completely fake plea to let him show the two a new method to cook meth that will result in a higher profit margin. Walt leaves without seemingly accomplishing much, except for slipping the ricin into the Stevia that Lydia always puts into her tea. A lesson to be learned if you are running a drug empire: vary up your schedule or the little acts will kill you.
MY BABY BLUE
When Walt arrived at the Nazi compound to confront Jack I believe that Walt had every intention of killing Jesse as well. When Walt was with Badger and Skinny Pete and upon asking who was still cooking the signature blue Heisenberg meth it became clear that the only person that could be was Jesse. The former partners were already at odds due to Jesse’s dealings with Hank, but for him to continue cooking Walt’s formula is simply more than Walt’s pride can take. But, upon seeing Jesse as the chained and beaten captive of Jack’s, forced to cook against his will, Walt shows the care he has always had deep inside him for Jesse and throws himself on top of his former student to shield him from the spray of automatic fire that kills all but Jack and Todd. Jesse is able to get the revenge that he has wanted since Todd first killed after their train heist and even more so after killing Andrea by strangling him the cuffs and chains Todd, most likely, placed on him. Meanwhile, Jack is trying to convince Walt to spare his life so that Walt can have all his money back. Walt has no care for money now, he knows his time is short, especially with the wound in his side, and proceeds to shoot him through the head.
Finally, the standoff that had to happen to help close off Breaking Bad: Walt and Jesse. Few words were said but not a single word more was needed. Jesse pointed the gun at Walt’s head as Jesse made Walt say the words that he wanted to hear; that Walt wanted Jesse to pull the trigger. But, Jesse said on the pay phone just a few episodes ago that he would no longer do what Walt wanted him to do, so Jesse didn’t shoot him but left him with the words, “If you want it, do it yourself.” And for those of you keeping track that is now the third person to tell Walt he should kill himself, the two previous being Walt Jr and Marie.
With Jesse now completely free from Walt and the world he was drug into, Walt is completely alone. As his last breath life is fast approaching, Walt decides to spend his final moments surrounded by what he loves: chemistry. He wanders into the meth cook setup, checks gauges of the cook in process, grabs a ventilation mask, places his hand upon one of the instruments that he found both life and death in, falls back on to the ground and dies.
Walter White was a man that sought control over his life in the same manner that he was able to control the elements of chemistry that he worked with. When he was forced to leave Grey Matter, Walt had no purpose or control. Teaching unmotivated and uninterested high school students about the subject that he loved while having to work two jobs was not fulfilling for Walter. Walt was looking for anything to give his life a direction in which he could find the purpose he wanted and the cancer was the catalyst he needed to seek it out. With the excuse of needing to provide for his family, he believed himself free to take any of course of action that he saw fit. So, did Walter White succeed in the end? I believe he did. Walt found a course, an illegal one but a course, that gave him the purpose and satisfaction that he wanted out of life. Death was of little concern by the end because he knew that he would be remembered for what he had done, and isn’t that an idea we all strive for?
BOTTOM LINE: AN ENDING BREAKING BAD DESERVED
Breaking Bad was never a show that left plot lines in an ambiguous state to leave the viewers debating on what it all means. Breaking Bad is much more interested in presenting morally ambiguous situations and leaving the audience to debate the merits of each character’s motivations and thought line. “Felina” kept true to the show and presented the closing of character arcs in a manner of absolutes in actions but leave us wondering if they were all “a little shady, morally speaking,” as Skinny Pete would say. On Talking Bad following the series finale, Vince Gilligan spoke about how he hopes that Breaking Bad will join the ranks of shows that will stand the test of time and will continued to be viewed and discussed for years to come. Only time will tell if his hopes will come to fruition but one thing is certain: those who have watched Breaking Bad completely have been affected and will continue to talk and debate for years to come.