Breaking Bad – Felina

“I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And, I was really… I was alive.”Walter White

Harbinger: The new teaser for Breaking Bad's last eight episodes leaves plenty of questions with its abstract imagery

It ended just the way it was supposed to end.  The people who needed to be brought to justice, any kind of justice, were punished, and the people who needed to hear the truth finally did.   Walter White wrapped it all up for us in the most satisfying way.

You watched it, like I did, glued to the screen as if our viewing lives depended on  it.   Walt dropped  $9 million into the hands of the Elliot and Gretchen Schwartz, insisting that they make good on their promise to deliver the money to his family on Walt Jr.’s 18th birthday.   It was an exercise of power over them, a reminder of who he’d become – the man they’d discussed on Charlie Rose.  He also managed to make his point without killing them, which, for Heisenberg, showed incredible restraint. The threat of hired assassins as a way of ensuring their cooperation was both brilliant and funny given that those “hitmen” were actually Badger and Skinny Pete waving lasers around.   The vial of Ricin went into Lydia’s cup of tea along with her artificial sweetener, right after she dismissed Walt’s offer to help her cook again.   Uncle Jack and his Aryan Brothers went down in a hail of bullets via a modified M-60 in the trunk of a car and a remote control.

The killings, good as they were, weren’t half as effective or fulfilling as the scenes between Walter and Skyler, then Walter and Jesse.   Walt saved Jesse’s life and watched as he killed Todd – the worst of all the rabid dogs.  Don’t tell me that you didn’t think Jesse deserved that moment and that you weren’t hoping he’d get the opportunity.  You had to cheer, along with him, as Jesse drove away from the neo-Nazi compound and cried out in joy as he found freedom.  He’d been a slave, not only to Uncle Jack and Todd but to Walter as well.

Walt finally told his wife the truth, that it was never really about his family.  That was something  he’d said all this time for their sake – and maybe for his.  He admitted that he built his empire because it made him feel good and alive.  Walter White may have been the meek chemistry teacher – the one who the world considered an underachiever – brilliant, but never quite reaching his full potential, but Heisenberg had to be in there all along for him to make that confession to Skyler.  The rage, the ambition and the hubris existed long before Walter ever put that pork pie hat on his head.  In those last hours, though, Walter White reemerged.   He found that piece of himself that was still kind and loving and so unselfish.  He handed Skyler the lottery ticket with the GPS coordinates, which would lead the police to Hank’s and Gomey’s grave.  It might be her chance for a deal, and, at the very least, it could give Marie some peace of mind.   In return for the truth, Skyler allowed him to say goodbye to baby Holly and get one last glimpse of Walter, Jr.

There’s probably no happily ever after for Skyler and Jesse, and I’m not so sure that they even deserve that best case scenario, but they have a shot at something better in the wake of Walter.  He died alone in a lab, still smiling, surrounded by his creation – amid the ruin of his empire.

Damn, I’m going to miss this show.


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17 Responses to Breaking Bad – Felina

  1. Kaereste says:

    We aren’t caught up with the current episodes but we watched the finale anyway. In fact we are still in a prior season. “I did it for me. I liked it.” was apparent from the moment Walt’s cancer went into remission.
    I had a hard time getting into this show because Walter was so pathetic and emasculated. He couldn’t even find a moment’s peace in the restroom without Skylar demanding to know what he was doing. Walt had no privacy or control over his life. So I was actually happy for Heisenberg to step forward.

    Vince Gilligan (creator) said he wanted to take the show from Mr Chips to Scarface.
    I also loved all the Lord of the Rings references along the way. Mr Gilligan referred to the final scene with Walt caressing the lab equipment as Walt’s “precious”. LOL. Walt even wore his ring on a string around his neck. Jesse wanted to run away to New Zealand … etc.

    • Skyler was one of the most frustrating characters on the show. People either loved her and felt sorry for her, or really hated her. Some folks who obviously couldn’t figure out that this was a scripted drama actually sent Anna Gunn death threats. She responded to the idiots in a NYT op-ed piece:
      One blogger wrote a post explaining how she was a victim of spousal abuse. I didn’t see her that way at all. In fact, it appeared that she could give as well as she got, and she wasn’t above exacting revenge when she was hurt and angry or just cranky.
      I thought that she was incredibly passive aggressive towards Walt, so much so that he looked even more sympathetic. It took me a long while to start hating Walt, but I finally got to that point, and you’ll see why when you start watching Season 4.

      • Kaereste says:

        What an interesting column by Anna Gunn. The internet certainly brings audience feedback a little too close to the performers!
        She didn’t address the origin of my distaste for Skylar which was her condescending, snoopy, boundary-breaking treatment of Walt prior to his cooking days.
        The writers made Skylar Walter’s prison matron so naturally the audience despised her. Anna Gunn’s performance was maybe … too brilliant.

      • melthehound says:

        You can count me among those hating Skyler.. Almost from the start. Let’s not forget her affair with her old lover, who ever he was, when she went back to work for him. For all Walt ever did on the show, I don’t remember ever seeing him cheat on his wife.

        • mth, Skyler was a real piece of work. In the very first episode in Season 1 when she wanted to know why he’d spent the money on copy paper at Staples, you could see that she had zero respect for him. Her affair with Ted was one example of her revenge tactics. There was no other reason other than she wanted to get back at Walt and throw it in his face. Maybe cooking crystal meth “for the sake of the family” was a pathetic excuse for his behavior but Skyler’s affair was only meant to hurt her husband.

  2. Brilliant show, loved how Vince tied it all up. So so glad Jesse survived, he deserved to live. Watching the after show was great.

    I hated Skylar too, but Anna Gunn is a gifted actress. Her performance in the last couple of episodes redeemed her. The last scene with Walt was perfection, she forgave him. Watch her face….very fine acting.

    Thanks for the recaps Empress, I’ll miss the show too. We do have the future show with the lawyer to look forward too, but I’ll always wonder just how he makes out in Nebraska, lol!

    • Hey bsf, The farewell scene between Walt and Skyler was perfection. They talked about it on “Talking Bad” last night – Gilligan directed it and made her skin pale, and had her wear oversized clothes so that she’d look as shrunken as her husband.
      Yep, “Better Call Saul”! 😀

  3. melthehound says:

    I finally watched the show a couple nights ago.. I know I’m supposed to hate violence and all that but that M60 modification in the back of the classic Cadillac was absolutely beautiful. I wondered what he was going to do with it at the beginning of the season when he bought the gun. Somehow I couldn’t see him going Rambo on anyone with it and he didn’t disappoint. Poisoning Lydia and then calling her to explain her ‘flu-like’ symptoms was also pure genius.

  4. docslr says:

    I am reprinting a letter I just read online from Anthony Hopkins regarding this show…it says it all. Cheers!
    Dear Mister Cranston. I wanted to write you this email – so I am contacting you through Jeremy Barber – I take it we are both represented by UTA . Great agency.

    I’ve just finished a marathon of watching “BREAKING BAD” – from episode one of the First Season – to the last eight episodes of the Sixth Season. (I downloaded the last season on AMAZON) A total of two weeks (addictive) viewing.

    I have never watched anything like it. Brilliant!

    Your performance as Walter White was the best acting I have seen – ever.

    I know there is so much smoke blowing and sickening bullshit in this business, and I’ve sort of lost belief in anything really.

    But this work of yours is spectacular – absolutely stunning. What is extraordinary, is the sheer power of everyone in the entire production. What was it? Five or six years in the making? How the producers (yourself being one of them), the writers, directors, cinematographers…. every department – casting etc. managed to keep the discipline and control from beginning to the end is (that over used word) awesome.

    From what started as a black comedy, descended into a labyrinth of blood, destruction and hell. It was like a great Jacobean, Shakespearean or Greek Tragedy.

    If you ever get a chance to – would you pass on my admiration to everyone – Anna Gunn, Dean Norris, Aaron Paul, Betsy Brandt, R.J. Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Steven Michael Quezada – everyone – everyone gave master classes of performance … The list is endless.

    Thank you. That kind of work/artistry is rare, and when, once in a while, it occurs, as in this epic work, it restores confidence.

    You and all the cast are the best actors I’ve ever seen. That may sound like a good lung full of smoke blowing. But it is not. It’s almost midnight out here in Malibu, and I felt compelled to write this email.

    Congratulations and my deepest respect. You are truly a great, great actor.

    Best regards

    Tony Hopkins.

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