Monday, 30 September 2013
When I thought about Breaking Bad coming to an end last night with ''Felina'', the final episode of season 5, I was filled with a number of emotions- excitement, curiosity, dread and even a little fear. Mainly I suppose these feelings stemmed from the fact that as the closing credits rolled on the greatest television product of the last decade, I expected myself to be left heartbroken at the prospect of losing one of my favourite TV series' ever, hollow with thoughts of how to fill the newly exposed void in my life and possibly (absurdly) disappointed on the off chance of an underwhelming finish. What I didn't expect to feel is the way I do right now- purely and completely satisfied.
''Felina'' ends Breaking Bad in the most triumphant, glorious manner possible by completing a full circle and executing a perfect character arc in a skilful finale that ranks alongside the very best episodes of the show's history. As we begin, Walt prepares himself for battle by entrusting his money to former friends and business associates Eliot and Gretchen Schwartz, who agree to hand the 9 million cash over to Walt Jnr. on the day of his 18th birthday under the pretence of a donation/gift, following Walt's threat to unleash the finest two hitmen in the West upon them, namely Skinny Pete and Badger in a delightful farewell cameo.
Walt continues his business by arranging a meet with Jesse and his Uncle Jack's gang of Neo Nazi's while at lunch with Lydia, before paying a visit to Skyler in an emotional scene whereupon Walt finally digs up the courage and sense to admit that the meth business had been for him all along: ''I liked it. I was good at it. And I felt... alive.'' It's a stunning, unexpected omission that I for one never figured I'd hear come from Heisenberg himself. In addition to this, Walt provides details of the burial sites of Hank and Steve Gomez, which he believes will be enough information for Skyler to trade in exchange for jail time.
As the final moments approach, the breakout that everyone had been waiting to see was put into action as audiences waited to baited breath for Walt to (ever so slightly) redeem himself by rescuing Jesse from slavery. Manipulating Uncle Jack into showing him his long lost partner, Walt dives on Jesse before executing a remote controlled machine gun attack on the gang which results in the casualties of all but Jack and the sadistic Todd, whom Jesse finishes off with a broken neck. Jack tries to bargain with Walt for more money but he doesn't want to know and simply blows the ring leader's brains out mid sentence, bringing the similarly brutal execution of Hank to mind.
It's here that things get really interesting with Walt providing Jesse the chance to end things as surely everyone wanted them to- with the ruthless Mr. White dying at the hands of the young man whose life had been destroyed so carelessly in his grip. But Jesse can't, instructing his old teacher to do it himself and retaining that sense of compassion, however flawed, which has kept him so intimately connected to fans throughout the series' run. After Walt informs Lydia that he had poisoned her at lunch earlier with the remaining Ricin, Jesse escapes in a joyful, ecstatic moment before Walt goes back to the lab to examine the equipment he used to create the man dying before our very eyes by a stray bullet wound to the torso. Amidst all the confusion, the cause of Walt's death goes almost unnoticed until a wonderful closing shot of the meth kingpin's blood on a kettle drum as he lies dying on the floor with the arriving squad of police encircling round him to the poetic sound of Badfinger's ''Baby Blue''.
And so the journey of Walter White comes to an end in the most complete manner it could, executing Walt's story to perfection without ever overstating it and bidding an incredible farewell that confirms it's status as one of the greatest television shows, entertainment products and works of fiction in history. That might sound like an overstatement the day after it's end, but in 10, 20 or even 50 years time, critics and fans alike will look back at this extraordinary visual, storytelling masterpiece that Vince Gilligan has created and still find themselves amazed, enthralled and hopelessly lost in the characters of Walter White, Jesse Pinkman, Hank Schrader, Gus Fring, Saul Goodman and many more, because Breaking Bad has surpassed the level (alongside others such as The Sopranos and The Wire before it) of being simply just a television program and attained the status of something much more- it is a story that will be rewatched, retold and remarked upon for generations to come, and for that we shouldn't mourn our loss, but be ever so grateful for it's existence. Yeah, bitch.