I hate that we have to say goodbye, but as series climaxes go, this was one of the best. It was a beautiful, appropriate and earned ending, full of small, quiet, touching moments and one mad McGyver moment.
Spoilers for all Breaking Bad.
We start with a very cold-looking Walt climbing into a car and celebrating the release of Grand Theft Auto V by committing one of the few crimes that hadn’t graced his rap sheet yet. Out pops a (for some reason) hilarious cassette tape of Marty Robbins’ Greatest Hits, which kicks in when the car starts. The song, “El Paso” is about a girl named Felina (gasp!) and the man desperately in love with cooking meth… I mean, Felina… who chases her, despite knowing the dangers, and eventually dies as a result of pursuing her.
After praying to God to get home, it’s clear that the Almighty wants to see what Walter has planned as much as we do and Walt’s back in deserty Albuequerque before the opening credits have barely finished. A manipulative phone call later and we find Walt stalking Elliot and Gretchen in a brilliantly shot and creepy scene. The way he casually strolled around their house admiring it was cold and sinister. It was Walt looking through a window at what could have been, and being too far from even caring any more. His plan for getting the money to his children was completely unexpected and a stroke of genius. For a minute, it seemed like Walt had no backup plan, except good faith that his demands would be met. This was surprising to me, considering that Elliot clearly had zero intention of doing any of it and was doing his best impression of Mark Wahlberg in The Happening:
And then this brilliant power-shift happened….
… and reminded us what Walter White/Heisenberg is capable of when his back is up against the wall. Devious, calculating genius, this was one of Walt’s best lies. It was a nice touch that we got a little farewell with Badger and Skinny Pete and it was a clever way of letting Walt know Jessie was still alive.
Speaking of Jessie, he has now become a carpenter….
Or so I was genuinely fooled into believing. I honestly could not figure out where or what the hell was going on here, until the tragic curtain is pulled back to reveal the beardy horror beneath this apt fantasy of a master craftsman at work.
Back to bacon and eggs time as we finally catch up with our mysterious flash forwards, with a bonus flashback to the White House, circa “before any of this shit went down.” It was nice to see Hank one last time and a Heisenberg-free Walter.
Then we get our final scene in Lydia’s favourite tea hangout. There was a lot of speculation about who the ricin was going to be for and a popular theory was the Lydia/stevia solution. I personally would have preferred it if we hadn’t had the phone call to Lydia later and were just allowed to fill in the blanks ourselves. The copious close ups of the Stevia packet and Lydia’s trademark tea being stirred was more than enough for us to fill in the gaps. That said, it was a nice final “fuck you” for Walt to get to inform her of her imminent doom over the phone.
… and then it’s Marie and Skyler time, as the sisters chat unpleasantly on the phone about wild-walt-waging-war rumours. The reveal of Walt behind the pillar here was one of the most pointless, yet amazing shots of the series. This was the second time in this episode that Walt’s presence had been revealed to us and both times it was deeply unsettling and awesome. Walt and Skyler’s final scene together was the most heartbreaking of the whole episode, as he finally admits the truth to his wife and to himself – “I did it for me. I liked it.” This was the true Walter White confession and the first time he’s been honest in two years.
There were several other key moments in these scenes and I choked up for each of them:
And this one:
And this one:
Walt couldn’t say goodbye to his son and that just…. gets me… right here.
So… to the batshit crazy climax. I’m not quite sure how I feel about what happened here. To recap it all in one sentence: Walt kills absolutely everyone with a custom-built-rotating-automated turret mounted in his car-boot, saves Jessie and walks away, to his death. The whole thing was ridiculous, implausible, amazing and triumphant all in one go. I guess it was in keeping with the show’s previous big moments, which had all been crazy science-related stunts (the magnets, the train, the wheelchair bomb.) But it was still silly enough for me to emit one of these:
This is a minor quibble in an otherwise outstanding piece of television though. I am so incredibly grateful to Vince Gilligan for giving me the only thing I really wanted out of this final episode:
Not only that, he left Walt and Jessie’s silent goodbye on the exact right note and ticked off every single box for Walt’s “redemption-of-sorts”, finishing on a nostalgic and lovely moment, as he is reunited with his “Felina” one last time and dies slowly in her arms, to the sound of “Baby Blue.”