Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My thoughts on the Breaking Bad finale

Spoilers for Breaking Bad's final episode, "Felina", coming. 

Boy, I'm not sure about this one. It was good, no mistake, but somehow Walter White's redemption seemed too perfect for me to be true. Not that dying on the floor of a filthy neo-nazi methlab was that positive an ending, but, look, we're talking about Walter White's here. I get it: if you're a fan of Heisenberg, you just got cream all over you. It's the first time ever a Heisenberg plan went exactly as planned from start to finish. Of course it was cool to see the MG60 blast through Jack's whole fucking gang. Heartbreaking how Walt said goodbyes. Somehow satisfying that Lydia died in the end. But on the other hand, I would have wished for another finale.
Not that one, granted.
I would have wished for Lydia walking away from it. I didn't want Walt to rescue Jesse. And I certainly didn't want him to make a perfect peace like that with his family, even getting them full access to what's left of his drug money. It somehow feels too good, and in some way, it's relativizing what Walt is. Only two episodes ago, he wanted Jesse killed. He abducted his own girl. He brought death and destruction about. One episode ago, he was old and dying out in New Hampshire, exiled and without any hope, a pitiful creature. And then, a complete rebirth of Heisenwalt, combining the best of both personalities in his last selfless act?

Somehow I was put off by one of the strongest scenes in the episode, when Walt finally admits his egomany to Skyler. We as viewers already know that, or should know, if we think at least a littlebit while watching. But here he stands, admitting it, and the universe grants him universal victory for it? I don't know. 

Again, it's okay. Not a bad end, by any means. There have been worse ones by far (Lost comes to mind), and some series don't even have an ending. But it somehow seemed not...right...for Breaking Bad. He was Breaking Good in the end, totally. And at some points, there had to be a whole lot suspension of disbelief. 

Especially the treatment of Lydia is questionable. First, Walter didn't know whether she would take his offer or not. She didn't exactly do him any wrong before. Of course, she works with the Neonazis, but so did Walt himself. And she wasn't involved in Hank's killing, nor in Jesse's abduction, although of course she profitted from it. But Walt taking revenge on her left a bad taste in my mouth somehow. And the poisoning also was too perfect. While she comes to this restaurant all the time and might also sit down at that table, there's no guarantee that someone else doesn't sit down and die from the Ricin. Walt must have put it there before she came, or else he would have been spotted. Stuff like that. Too smooth. 

I have no problem with the MG60. The fumbling with the keys felt like old times, and the device itself was Walt-ish enough. I'm glad they refrained from going after a recreation of Scarface. 

And Jesse, poor boy. He had the single best scene of the episode, calling home his box. It was heartbreaking. And he got as much redemption as possible out of it as well. Strangling Todd, not shooting Walt, escaping the police. The only thing missing was riding in the sunset with Brock. 

But enough already. The episode concluded the season well enough. There's no ambiguity left. Walter White is dead, brought down by the demons he summoned at last, and in his final rampage, he dismantled as much of the meth empire he built and lost as possible. There will be no further blue meth in the world, and the whole organisation is gone. There's a new life ahead of everyone left standing.


  1. There is an unconfirmable bit of subtext I latched onto: Walt needed Gretchen and Eliot's help. He didn't present them a visage of humility, regret, or any indication of a kinder/nicer Walt plotting out a last bit of redemption for self-less purposes, but it is Walt, so we can't be expecting too much, and of course keeping the possibilities alive for the scenes don't allow us to get too much inside Walt's head...

    Walt's problems began because of a refusal of Gretchen and Eliot's help for his cancer. For his problem's to end starting with their help is a nice event to start his shift into this redemptive turn. It isn't a full go now Walt's a nice man again turn, but for Walt, this was *huge*.

    Yes, he played it as just manipulating them to get what he needs, but that's also what would be needed to secure that help in the time that Walt had.

    It can never be solidifed though since this isn't a voice-over show (THANK GOD, talking to you Dexter), and Walt has no one to confide in or talk through these points. He can't tell Skyler because she'd lessen the chances of Junior accepting the money. And in some sense Walt has accepted that what was left is "enough".

  2. It's true that the ending wasn't perfect but it left me satisfied.
    If I were to nitpick I would also complain about the Ricin in the tea, it was foreshadowed a lot but it left too much to chance. What I don't agree is that Lydia should have been allowed to live, she wasn't that bad compared with the other antagonists (and I also had a thing for her) but she did try to get Skyler killed and Walt couldn't take any chances, Lydia was always quick to resort to murder to keep herself out of the spotlight.
    I was also disappointed that we never found out the story behind Walt leaving Grey Matter, it was probably left to the imagination but it could have been many things: Gretchen cheating on Walt with Eliot; Eliot or Gretchen's parents getting involved somehow (he left after spending a weekend with one of them if I remember correctly) and telling Walt that he wasn't good enough or something; Walt needed the money and or he could's keep investing in the company since his family wasn't rich like Eliot's and Gretchen's and their parents didn't want to lend him the money. Honestly, it could have been anything.
    I disagree with Walt saving Jesse being illogical. Walt spent a few months in reflection and letting the nazis take him was a decision born of his pain of losing Hank, he blamed Jesse for getting him involved. At the end of his life he probably realized the pain he had caused his friend and decided to save him as an act of redemption, he probably made up his mind when he saw Jesse all broken 'n sh*t.
    My favorite parts were when Walt scared the sh*t out of Eliot and Gretchen, the return of Badger and Skinny, Jesse taking revenge on Todd and screaming into the night, and "My Baby Blue" playing as Walt dies.

    1. You misunderstand me: Lydia is a piece of shit, and she's the worst of the bunch, Gus-level. But I didn't like the complete revenge Walt got, because he didn't deserve it. That's my problem with it. The scenes you mention are cool and all, but somehow, I felt he came away too well.

  3. Ich fand das Ende auch nicht das Überragendste, es wird auch nicht so in der kollektiven Erinnerung bleiben wie z.B. das der Sopranos, aber doch ziemlich gut. Endlich mal wieder eine Erfindung! (Dabei finde ich allerdings unwahrscheinlicher, dass alle Nazis getroffen werden, als die Lydia-Vergiftung, die ja doch recht straight ist.)

    Ich finde aber nicht, dass Walter zu gut weggekommen ist. Seine Familie hasst ihn und will sein Geld nicht, von dem er 70 Millionen verloren hat, und vor allem: er ist tot.

    Zu "relativizing what Walt is (...)" Eben das finde ich ja das Interessante an der Serie: Walter ist ja kein grundböser Psychopath, der das Böse um seines selbst willen tut. Er wollte Jesse erst dann töten lassen, als er seine Familie bedroht sah etc. etc. Vielleicht hätte man noch etwas reinbringen können, dass deutlich macht, dass dies seine Taten und das Leid, das er gebracht hat, nicht "entschuldigt", aber das wäre auch etwas gegen den Stil der Serie.

    "there had to be a whole lot suspension of disbelief. " , "calling home his box " Versteh ich leider nicht ...

    Eher etwas enttäuschend fand ich in der Vergangenheit die Folgen nach dem Tod von Fringe. Ich hätte mir mehr von den Folgen mit einem "Boss" Heisenberg erwartet und das eiskalte Anordnen von Morden kam mir doch etwas zu unglaubwürdig, der Bruch in der Figur zu stark.

    1. Suspension of disbelief = Plotlöcher ignorieren
      Calling home his box = Die Szene mit Jesses Box wird in Erinnerung gerufen

      Ansonsten...ich fand die Entwicklung eigentlich kohärent und gut und finde immer noch, er kommt zu gut weg.