Mr. Chips to Scarface. That there was the ultimate selling point for the Walter White character in Vince Gilligan’s pitch for the series “Breaking Bad.” After a rollercoaster of a ride for five seasons and 62 episodes, it has finally come to a close. “Breaking Sad” will now commence for all of an eternity.
It’s sometimes hard to even put in words how important this show has been to me for the past several years. Yes “The Wire” still serves as an important facet in my all-time favorite TV shows, but “Breaking Bad” feels just as special for how I’ve watched almost all of it play out live as it aired. In the build-up of five seasons that has featured profoundly developed characters, beautiful Sergio Leone-esque contemporary western elements, exceptional writing that was completely unpredictable, in addition to many, many more excellent technical and acting aspects, the series finale, “Felina,” finally aired on Sunday night. After its final scene cut to black, I was left speechless, but all for the best reasons.
Though Walter White was clearly in his weakest physical state, it certainly didn’t mean that his smart Heisenberg mentality wasn’t dead yet. Through his use of poisoning Lydia with the ricin, to the massacring of Jack and his fellow White Supremacists with an M60 assault rifle, Gilligan once again exercised his consistency of reminding his audience that Walt’s smarts had never died once in the show.
However, my favorite moments of the finale have to go to the final few minutes of the episode. I made a major fist pump when Jesse finally had the rewarding opportunity to kill Todd, and was then deeply taken away by the emotional farewell between him and Walt. Though they didn’t say much to each other, it still gave off the implication that their tumultuous relationship ended exquisitely well for both of them.
The long walk alone for Walt touring the lab at the end served as an earnest farewell for the path he had taken in his life as a drug kingpin. Through the blurred reflection of his face staring at the lab equipment, he knew his end was inevitable, but it closed on a powerfully effective note. Furthermore, it cemented the status of how the finale didn’t end on a shock or thrill, but instead a moment of emotionally satisfying peace.
Five years ago, not many people could’ve imagined “Breaking Bad” as the show it has both become and ended today. In the end, all I can say is thank you to everyone. Thanks to creator Vince Gilligan, the extraordinary cast, extremely talented crew, and most of all, the millions of fans that have been assembled over the long journey. We’re forever in your debt for providing one of, if not the greatest television show of all-time, and are already patiently waiting what great work you’ll end up bringing us in the future. — T.C.
Just when you think, after six years, five seasons and 61 episodes, that you can maybe predict what will happen in the very last episode of the show, creator Vince Gilligan takes all your expectations and flings them out the window in favor for something so much better; it’s that something that makes “Breaking Bad” one of the best television shows ever made.
Throughout the seasons we’ve watched Walter White turn from a timid high school chemistry teacher into a desperate criminal mastermind, so you’d expect Heisenberg to win over what was left of the dying Walter with bitterness and vengeance. Wrong. In the one hour, fifteen minute finale, Walter sets out to Albuquerque one last time to right his wrongs.
“I did it for me,” he admits, amending over a year of lies. “I liked it. I was good at it. And, I was really…I was alive.”
But the final moments of the show are less about Walter succumbing to his wounds and more about the end of Heisenberg’s reign. Surveying the lab where he felt the most alive and powerful, Walter leaves smudges of blood on a metal cylinder, just like how Heisenberg left his permanent mark on Albuquerque. — T. W.
When it finally ended, we stood in stunned silence. We watched the credits roll, heard the twangy guitar one last time, and remained silent, felled, until after AMC’s special “Thank You” message ran. Even then, we couldn’t say much more than, “Wow.”
AMC’s “Breaking Bad” started out as a primetime drama — albeit an excellent one — and quickly became something more, a generational obsession. As it built and wove characters with true depth, plots with genuine intrigue, and some of the most masterful cinematographic work in history (view any of the meth-making-montages), “Breaking Bad” set itself up for a sublime crescendo.
The final episode was titled, “Felina.” “Fe” being the the chemical symbol for Iron, necessary for the oxygenation of human blood, “Li” as the notation for Lithium, the alkali metal necessary for the chemical reactions that turn the raw materials necessary into methamphetamine, and “Na” — simple Sodium, a necessary component of human tears. Blood, tears, and meth: the essentials. The raw materials that made up “Breaking Bad.”
Clearly, the creators respected the chemistry.
But words don’t really do it justice, as pretentious as that sounds. Words don’t articulate fully the archetypal final struggle between Jesse and Todd, a sudden and emotional attack by a man reduced to his bare pathos against a meek sociopath who may have never felt a thing in his life. Words could never convey the beauty of the last thirty seconds of the program, of a finality in what was, for Walter White, the only place he ever truly felt alive.
The most accomplished literary works operate on the closing of circles. A saga begins, say, with a high school chemistry teacher learning he has contracted terminal cancer. It closes with a meth kingpin. But the beauty of not merely the final season of “Breaking Bad,” but the final episode, was that every circle was completed. Everything was wrapped up in a nice, neat package filled with Blue Crystal; not forced, not cheap, but satisfying wholly to the sublime.
It was rhetorically pure — the plot all cycled back, all connected, all purposeful — there was no excess. Every character, from Badger and Skinny Pete to Lydia and Skyler, all of them were utterly redeemed in their own ways.
Quite frankly, it was a perfect hour and fifteen minutes of television. — R.C.
Would we recommend “Breaking Bad,” in its entirety?
You’re goddamn right.