As the Breaking Bad finale opened, there were millions of fans glued to their seat, anxious to see how the story would end. Even the title of the episode, “Felina” was analyzed on message boards across the globe to try to come up with some sort of hint as to what the episode would deliver (the most complex theory was the use of the letters “Fe Li Na” as elements, equaling blood, meth, and tears). Everyone had their own predictions, their own ideas, their own expectations as to how the series should end and while some of those predictions hit home, chances are that no one could have predicted everything that transpired during the final episode of one of the best television series’ of all time. In other words, as always, Breaking Bad hit a solid home run.
The closing episode of Breaking Bad begins with Walt trying desperately to steal a car so that he can make his way back home after being in hiding for months. The audience is quickly reminded that Walt is not a lifelong criminal and it is a strange revelation. After five seasons of watching Walt’s transformation into Heisenberg, it is easy to forget that he isn’t a criminal by nature but, rather, a man who felt jaded by what life dished him out and wanted his piece of the pie. Viewers are then treated to the sounds of Marty Robbins’ “El Paso”, which does lend itself to the title (the song is the story of a man’s love of a woman named Felina) and, if they were paying attention, viewers may have even grabbed some more clues as to Heisenberg’s fate straight from the lyrics of the song.
The series finally catches up to its season opener and the audience nodded with recognition as Walt’s actions from the beginning of the season’s flash forward finally come to fruition. The end is getting closer with every scene but that doesn’t mean that the actors or showrunners have decided to relax. In fact, there will be some who argue that each actor in the episode was at the top of their form and gave their best performances of the series. The episode was all about closure and that is exactly what Walt was in search of, much like the audience who has followed his story for the past 6 years. The writers handled this closure perfectly in a way that didn’t seem forced. Walt’s good-bye to Skyler, for instance, seemed completely natural and almost as if the audience was eavesdropping on an intimate conversation. Walter’s solution as to how to get his money to his family was a brilliant move that gave fans the chance to say good-bye to a couple of characters that they haven’t seen for awhile. The master stroke, however, is how Walt finally dealt with those who had harmed him.
The interesting and truly ingenious move on the writers’ part was limiting the screen time for most of the side characters from this episode and the inclusion of Walt in almost every single scene. It is easy to forget that this isn’t the Walt and Jesse Show, and that the only thing that connects all of these characters is Walt, and by making the decision to limit even Jesse’s appearance in the episode, fans were reminded that this is truly Walt’s story, from beginning to end. Audiences were reminded that, once upon a time, Walt was a mild mannered chemistry teacher whose DEA brother in law wanted to put some excitement in his life by taking him on a meth bust. Walt was made human in the final episode; the monster that he had become resigned himself to his fate, no matter what that fate may be; his fight was over.
The last scene of the episode was wonderful and truly wrapped things up nicely. Really, there was no other way for the series to end. Well, that’s not actually a true statement. There were many ways that the series could have ended but there was no other way it could have provided the type of closure that was needed with a series of this magnitude. It would be easy to imagine Walt and Jesse fleeing together Thelma and Louise style, possibly having adventures across the country while staying one step ahead of the law. However, the reality of life prevented the writers from taking the easy way out, and instead of the series ending with Walt as a hero, the conclusion was exactly as it should be for a man who chose to be a kingpin over being a father or a husband.
The episode will no doubt be nominated for awards and will receive plenty of its well deserved accolades. What really matters, though, even more than those awards, is that Breaking Bad gave its audience a finale that will go down in history as one of the best in television, or at least in our lifetime.