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