Breaking Bad S05EP16 “Felina”: A love letter

TV

Felina

As ever, SPOILERS. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the episode. If you do, it’s your own fault and everything will be RUINED. FOREVER.

It’s over. No more Breaking Bad. I am left with mixed emotions. I am both saddened that I won’t have any new insight into the lives of the characters anymore, and thrilled by the series end. It was perfect. We were left with all the loose ends tied up, and given the show-down between Jesse and Walt that has been building since the season began. The whole story had built towards this natural, inevitable end. And it was an end, a full stop, not a nebulous dream-sequence or coma-dream.  An actual, complete story arc. Walt is dead. Hank is dead. Jesse is free, but will be eternally scarred, both physically and emotionally.

The whole five seasons have been a glorious rollercoaster ride. We knew where it was going all along, as Vince Gilligan had always made it clear it was “Mr Chips to Scarface”, and it did indeed end with a hail of bullets. However, rather than Tony Montana being invaded by a horde of killers, it was Walt who invaded Jack’s clubhouse and introduced them to his “little friend”.

“Felina” gave us some nice little flashbacks to enable us reflect on Walt’s journey, both in the form of footage from previous seasons (nice to see Dean Norris getting on screen for the final episode) and also in the form of characters from his past, like the wonderful Badger and Skinny Pete. Yet again Badger unleashed some words of wisdom, summing up how we’d all felt about Walt’s deeds all along:

“I don’t know how to feel about all this. I mean… it all felt pretty shady… morality wise” Badger

Walt got to say goodbye to Skyler and family, albeit from a distance, proving that the many theories about baby Holly’s death were all, thankfully, wrong. He got to hand over his money to Walt Jr via Gretchen and Elliot, meaning his time with Gray Matter hadn’t all been for nothing, and perhaps saving a last piece of goodwill for him in his son’s heart as he might remember his father hadn’t always been bad.

Most importantly for the audience, there was the goodbye to Jesse. In one last act of contrition, Walt threw himself on Jesse, saving him from the bullets and sealing his own fate. It was an act of pure love, and seals one of the oddest and most complex on-screen relationships of all time. It also helped redeem Walt. He knew he was going to die, and had fully accepted his fate, and was FINALLY honest with himself. His confession to Skyler was like a weight being lifted:

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

He realised that while he was a man who found himself facing the death sentence of cancer, in trying to feel alive again he had hurt many of those he loved, and so his gift to them was to set them free. For Skyler it was a bargaining tool in her case, for Walt Jr and Holly a potentially secure financial future, and for Jesse it was quite literally freeing him from his captivity.

Aside from the love, there was also the wrath. Walt was not content with leaving his OTHER legacy in the hands of people he didn’t trust, so on finding out from Badger that the blue meth was not only back on the street but BETTER, his vanity kicked in. This gave us the very satisfying deaths of Jack (who completely misjudged Walt’s motives in coming to the clubhouse), Lydia (yep, that darned Stevia got her in the end) and Todd. Did anyone NOT punch the air as Jesse throttled him?

Having gone in expecting to kill Jesse (whose watch he had symbolically finally ditched at the start of the episode), seeing him in chains flicked a switch in Walt’s mind. He had been just another of his victims, and when it came down to it neither could kill the other. Jesse had been enslaved and spent his days thinking of his meth-making in the same way as the wooden box from his monologue in “Kafkaesque”, which showed us both his pride in his work and his regret.  What if he had gone back to that woodwork class and NOT swapped that box for some weed? When Jesse snapped “Do it yourself” at Walt when asked to shoot him, we all know he had seen he was going to die anyway. So was it a final act of spite, or love? Either way it meant Jesse could FINALLY say no to Walt, but also do the right thing.

Most potent though was the final scene, with Walt back in his meth lab, the place where he was happiest, reunited with his true love. The image of the bloody handprint on the shiny chrome that he had so lovingly cleaned  being his final mark he left in the world.

It was a beautiful, poetic end to the greatest love story on TV. Not just science, but love, bitch.

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