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Breaking Bad S05E16: Series Finale

By Kelly Conaboy / September 30, 2013 - 1:30 pm

After five seasons, however many episodes, lots of deaths, a good amount of meth, more than enough teethface, and hundreds of love letters to Jesse c/o Breaking Bad returned to sender, we’ve made it here together: the end. While I think the reactions to the finale have been largely positive, there have also been more than a few who think that the way the series ended — so neatly and on Walt’s own terms — left them wanting. While I see where these viewers and reviewers are coming from, I am not of that mind. Walt got off easily, yes, but in a way that gave a fitting and satisfying end to the story we were being told. Breaking Bad has never been one to incorporate ambiguity that doesn’t ultimately lead the audience to a specific end. (Except for how Huell is still in that motel.) (Bye, Huell!) If any of the decisions in the finale had been made differently (say, if Jesse or Marie had killed Walt, or if Skyler had been murdered, or if Walt had killed Gretchen and Elliot) I don’t believe the surprise would have been worth the eyebrow-raise. Things ended satisfyingly, and the way they should have. (In my opinion.) (The CORRECT opinion, jk.) I love this TV show. It was truly great. Let’s read a 40,000,000-word recap of it, one last time.

Winter White climbs into his car and, with shaking hands, fumbles around with a screwdriver before police lights illuminate the snow-covered windows. “Just get me home,” he says, “Just get me home and I’ll do the rest,” as if Vince Gilligan knew how much we hated when blog television reviewers talked about how Heisenberg and Walt are two different entities in one man, and just wanted to mess with us one last time. (Or was he talking to God?) (Just kidding, let’s please not talk about it, we have other things to talk about!!) God does allow him a pass, ’cause even God wants to see how this all ends LOL, and the cops move on, leaving Walt alone with his Marty Robbins song about an outlaw dying the death he deserves. Few people give Zach Braff the credit he deserves for his music supervisor job on Breaking Bad! (I’M KIDDING THE MUSIC IS ALWAYS GOOD, I’M LOVIN’ IT.) (Very on-the-nose, though, you have to admit.)

He gets the keys from the thingy and gets outta there. Phew. On his way out of there, he stops at a gas station, takes some medicine, and pretends to be a writer from the New York Times in order to get Gretchen and Elliott’s address. Like, just totally asking for a friend, a hypothetical friend, but do you think the New York Times would ever do a story about Aaron Paul and do reporters normally ask for subjects’ beautiful wives not to be around when they come by to interview somebody? Would that be normal, or…? Just curious. Anyway Walt gets the address and leaves his watch on the pump, which I thought must mean something, but then on Talking Bad Vince Gilligan said they just had to do that for continuity, because they forgot to put a watch on him in the flashback scene. Hahah. Vince! Stop being honest! IT MEANS SOMETHING JESSE SOMETHING SOMETHING TIME SOMETHING!

Walt sulks around Gretchen and Elliott’s rich people house like a goddamn ghost while we’re reminded that we should be happy that he’s scaring Gretchen and Elliott, because they are the type of people who argue over Thomas Keller restaurants and have classical music start playing from the moment they enter their stupid beautiful rich people house. Jerks. It takes Gretchen a long time before she notices Specter White sneaking around behind her. As I mentioned last week, a bunch of people were under the impression — after the Charlie Rose interview — that the ricin had to be for these two, but that didn’t make much sense. Screw them, for sure, I hope Per Se loses their reservation, but their deaths would have been fairly meaningless within the current storyline. What is not meaningless within the current storyline is that Walt still believes that he knows what’s best for his family (better than his family does), and believes that they should have his drug money even if they don’t want it. He gets Gretchen and Elliott to agree to put it in a trust and give it to Walt Jr. on his 18th birthday, as if it is from them alone, and shows them what will happen if they don’t:

THEY’LL LOOK LIKE NERDS ON TV! Hahaha. Dorks! No, I kid — they’ll be murdered. Haha. No, I lie — it was just Badger and Skinny Pete holding little red lights on them. The boys start to say they don’t know how good they felt about lying and manipulating people, but then Walt hands them money and they’re like, oh, okay. The show should’ve just been that scene? One and done, save us all a little time JUST KIDDING I LOVED THIS SERIES SO MUCH I WISH IT WOULD NEVER HAVE ENDED JUST KIDDING THE ENDING WAS APPROPRIATE AND APPROPRIATELY TIMED BUT I WILL MISS IT!

The next scene, finally, shows our sweet baby Jesse with a perfectly restored face.

Aw, my love. My sweet little woodworking love. He daydreams in golden light about building a tiny box, and, like always, you just want to reach out and give him a hug and tell him to be careful around all of those dangerous tools. But it doesn’t last for long — his dream is broken when his chain gets caught, and we’re brought back to methworking reality. Poor baby.

We’re then reminded of the scenes that started the season and the season’s speculation off — Walt gathering his gun and his ricin. Elsewhere, Lyida and Todd are having a sweet date business meeting awkward cringefest while Mr. Cool Disguise sneaks up behind them:

Hahah. I get that he has basically disappeared as a person, and that’s what’s happening here, and I like that very much, but also it looks very funny. Sneaky Dirt-Walt! He pitches them some bologna plan, but only to slip Lydia the ricin in her Stevia packet. It was honestly kind of surprising that that was the use for the ricin, only because that is what absolutely everyone assumed the use for the ricin would be. Then again, Hank did die after placing a death call to Marie, so maybe we’re expecting more fake-outs than we should be. But I really did think that would be a fake-out! All the close-ups on the Stevia? All the close-ups on the tea? All the repeating the word Stevia over and over? Anyway. In the desert, Walt constructs what is sure to be a winning Robot Wars entry:

And that’s a wrap on The Desert. [applauding] [crying] Back at Marie’s house, she calls Skyler to warn her that Walt has been seen around town and a few different people have been calling the police, claiming to be him. He even said hi to Carol! The disparity between Marie’s scene and Skyler’s scene is pretty striking. Marie stands up straight in a nice, brightly-lit home with cute little clothes, while Skyler slumps over in her dimly-lit home, smoking, drowning in tan. (On Talking Bad [it was a pretty good episode of Talking Bad, I have to say!] Anna Gunn said they purposely put her in larger clothes, so it would seem like she was fading away — just like they did with Walt.) (This is a good show!) (I MEAN WAS, OH MY GOD.) After she hangs up, the camera is pushed in to reveal Walt:

God, this scene. She asks why he’s there, and he says he needed a proper goodbye — not their last phone call. Although she’s cold to him, and although he doesn’t deserve it, you can tell that a bit of Skyler still loves Walt. “You look terrible,” she says. “I know. But I feel good.” After telling her that she won’t have a problem with the nazis after tonight, and after giving her the coordinates of Hank and Gomie’s bodies to use as leverage with the police, and explaining that it wasn’t he who killed them, he tells her what she and the rest of us have been waiting to hear. “You have to understand, everything that I did..” YESSSS, YESSSS?? “I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it, and I was really — I was alive.” God, it is so fucking good. This show. I’m going to miss this show so much!

Before leaving, Walt asks to say goodbye to Holly. He does, as both he and Skyler, and also the rest of us, have tears in their and our eyes. Boy oh boy. He watches Walt Jr. come home from school, but doesn’t interact with him. Ahhh. Ahhhhhhh. Goodbye, family. Enjoy the drug millions you’re getting even though you don’t want it. I will miss you very much. I’m glad you’re all alive. Holly, you’re so cute. Ahhh. It’s hard to say goodbyeeeeeeeeee.

Unless we’re saying goodbye to the nazis! In that case, the goodbye is easy! Walt enters the nazi den, his robot gun key placed within sneak-reach distance on the pool table behind him, to pitch them the same bologna meth plan that he pitched Lydia. The nazis say no thanks and, just as they are taking him away to kill him, he stops them in their tracks by accusing Jack of partnering up with Jesse. If I were in the business of criticizing a television show that I love and whose ending I thought was generally very good, I would say that it might be too much of a stretch to believe that Jack would feel the need to bring Jesse up in order to show Walt, whom he was about to murder anyway, that he wasn’t partnered with a rat. Who cares, Jack? Just kill him! But he does care, and he brings Jesse up.

Jesse drags his broken body through the parking lot and is brought inside, where he and Walt stare at each other for a bit. Jesse looks nice with his long hair. You don’t know up until this point whether or not Walt’s intention was to murder Jesse along with the nazis — I am of the mind that it was, as he had no reason other than to be under the impression that Jesse was cooking with them freely. (Unless he had time understand that Jesse had no other choice but to do what he did, and when he heard that blue meth was still circulating he assumed that Jesse was being forced.) (Who knows!) (WE’LL NEVER KNOW.) But after seeing that Jesse has been tortured and forced to cook against his will, he tackles him and DING DING DING DING DINGs the trigger.

All the bad guys are murdered except Todd, whom Jesse is allowed to murder. Thank god. Obviously murder is bad and I would never want anyone to murder anyone, plz don’t take me 2 jail, except I WOULD want Jesse to murder Todd, because Todd is a monster and this is a television show. MURDER HIM! After he is murdered, as Jesse unlocks his chains, Jack tries to get Walt to allow him to plea for his life. He’s the only one who knows where the rest of Walt’s money is, he says. And if he were one of the main characters on this show, this kind of tactic might have worked! (Only lightly criticizing.) But he is not, and we all want to see him die, so Walt shoots him mid-plea. It is very satisfying.

Also satisfying: Walt attempts to get Jesse to shoot him by saying, “Do it. You want this.” Ah, still up to his old Walt tricks, even when he is bleeding from a gunshot wound in his stomach. Just like he did after Walt tried to convince him to flee, Jesse tells Walt that this isn’t what he wants — this is what Walt wants. Walt is asking him to do him a favor, and he won’t do it until he hears Walt admit it. Walt does, and for a moment it seems like Jesse would give him what he wanted.

But he doesn’t. “Then do it yourself,” he says, and drops the gun. One of the many talked-about possible outcomes of the show had Jesse murdering Walt, and it wouldn’t have been a particularly bad goodbye — but to have Jesse refuse to take part in anymore of Walt’s manipulative soul-crushing is a much better end to his story. He heads to his car a free man, and Walt gives him a nod. Then he speeds away, crying and laughing. Oh, Aaron. Please drive carefully! What if the police pull you over for speeding? You might not make it all the way to Brooklyn! BE CAREFUL!

Before Walt leaves the nazi den, Todd’s corpse gets a phone call from Lydia. Walt informs her that everyone is dead, and soon she will be, too. Goodbye, Lydia!

All that’s left is for Walt to walk quietly around the meth lab that he and Jesse brought to life together, as Badfinger’s upbeat “Baby Blue” swirls around him. (On Talking Bad, Vince said that this was Walt’s moment with his Precious. [Nerd.]) He collapses to the ground as the camera pulls up and police swarm his lifeless body.

Goodbye, my friend. You were one horrible guy.