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Recap: 'Breaking Bad' Bids A Wobbly Farewell In Finale Season 5, Episode 16 'Felina'

by Kevin Jagernauth
September 30, 2013 9:02 AM
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And so "Breaking Bad" ends roughly where the season five began, with Walt celebrating his 52nd birthday and seemingly having all of his wishes come true. To say that excitement has been feverish coming into "Felina" would be an understatement, and expectations have been sky high for creator Vince Gilligan—who wrote and directed the finale—to the give the show a fitting sendoff. But the result is an effort that feels compromised to some degree, leaning a bit too hard toward fan service and winding up feeling thematically empty by time the credits roll. For all the hardship Walter White (Bryan Cranston) has faced in reaching his destiny, he ultimately gets it pretty easy here, with almost every part of his plan coming off perfectly, and the show nearly forgiving the monstrousness he's shown over the last two seasons.

Right from the start, Walt is lucky, managing to dodge the cops who come looking for him at the bar where he watched that crucial episode of "Charlie Rose," and he finds his way into an unlocked car. "Just let me get home, I'll do the rest," he prays and after a failed attempt to try and hotwire the vehicle, like a miracle from heaven, a set of car keys are found behind a sun visor and a Marty Robbins cassette in the tape deck. And as "El Paso" rocks out of the speakers, it's the first in what becomes a handful of overplayed moments. The song tells the story of a Mexican outlaw who guns down a man coming after his beloved "Feleena" ("Felina" is an anagram of "finale") and declares, "My love is stronger than my fear of death," which is certainly a sentiment that can be applied to Walt. But placing it so firmly in the show almost takes away from its power; it's the kind of detail best relished as a trivial aside, but feels forced when pains are taken to point it out.

Hitting the road and heading back to Albuquerque, Walt's first stop is at the rather magnificent home of Elliott and Gretchen Schwartz (Adam Godley, Jessica Hecht), whom we last saw promising to fund meth rehab centers. And their sudden reappearance perhaps provides the episode's sole moment of real narrative inspiration. While many thought that Walt had something more sinister in mind for the duo who took his work and got rich off it, his plans for them were far more practical and meaningful: he dumps roughly $9 million in their living room, and asks/demands that they set it up in trust for Walt Jr. and the rest of his family. Why? The feds may raise an eyebrow, but won't be able question them too closely, if the funds come from the millionaire Schwartzes. They agree and reluctantly shake on it, but just to oversell the moment, Walt signals outside their east facing windows and two red laser targets land on their chests. He warns them that if they don't give Walt Jr. the cash, sometime, somewhere, somehow, an assassin is going to take them out. But when Walt leaves and gets back in his stolen Volvo, it's revealed that Badger (Matthew L. Jones) and "Skinny" Pete (Charles Baker) were those "assassins." But really, they weren't needed at all. There would be no reason for Elliot and Gretchen to deceive Walt at this point, and bringing these two street hustlers back in at the last moment is the first in what becomes a series of contrived, strained and hard to believe moments over the next hour.

Walt's next stop is the coffeeshop, where he interrupts the weekly meeting between Lydia (Laura Fraser) and Todd (Jesse Plemons). He begs them to hear him out, he's got a plan: he needs money, so he's willing to sell him his new meth formulation, one that doesn't require any methylamine, that hard to find chemical that required a train heist to obtain in "Dead Freight." Whether they buy the idea that he's concocted some miraculous new chemistry while on the run or not is beside the point, as Lydia agrees (with a sinister motive in mind) and a meet is set up for later that night. Walt leaves, and Lydia pours her always required Stevia into her tea, with Gilligan's camera looming steady overhead, watching that white powder pour into the cup ... if you haven't figured it out, it's the ricin (with Gilligan flashing back earlier in the episode to Walt grabbing it out of his now derelict house). But wait, how did Walt pick the right table? How did he know no one else would sit there? Or that someone out of Stevia at another table wouldn't grab a packet? Did the staff not notice some disheveled man fooling around with the sugar at one table? It strains credulity but it's one of a few instances in the finale where Gilligan is hoping the story will trump the reaches he makes to get where he wants to take us.

After putting that chess piece in play, Walt makes his way to Skyler (Anna Gunn). Just before he arrives, Marie (Betsy Brandt) gives her a call warning that she's heard Walt is back in town and the cops are doubling down on watching any places he might show up. But apparently law enforcement officials are keeping it so loose around Skyler that Walt manages to walk right in undetected to see her, and if his angry phone call in "Ozymandias" wasn't enough to exonerate her from charges, his last gesture just might be. He gives Skyler the battered lottery ticket containing the GPS coordinates in the desert, telling her that she can let the DEA know they'll find the bodies of Hank and Gomez out there, and perhaps trade that information for leniency. But perhaps his greatest gift to Skyler is the truth. Trying to explain one last time why he did everything and what he put himself and his family through, he says, "I did it for me. I liked it, I was good at it ... I was alive." It's a moment of thorny honesty and complicated truth "Felina" could've used more of. And after a touching his daughter for the last time, and sticking around outside—again, with the DEA failing to notice him—to catch one last glimpse of Walt Jr., Walt goes to meet his fate.

We fast-forward to the evening, and Walt goes to the Nazi Jack's compound under the pretense of a meeting. Gilligan gives us multiple shots of the red car keys in case we miss the fact that they will be very important to the events that are about to transpire, which already takes some of the wind out of sails of this showdown. So too does an earlier scene in the desert, with Walt going full on MacGyver and setting up some crude mechanical device for the M60. While Uncle Jackboots' crew pat down Walt and even have him raise his shirt to make sure he's not wearing a wire, they don't bother checking the trunk of his car, because why would they? However, they do hang on to his wallet and keys for the time being, and bring him in to meet Jack (Michael Bowen). And the Nazi wastes no time in turning down Walt's offer of a new recipe and gets ready to send him out back to get killed, when Walt desperately accuses Jack of reneging on their deal and partnering with Jesse. For some reason, Jack thinks it's a big deal to be called a liar by a man he's about to kill and so Walt is kept conveniently alive so that Jesse (Aaron Paul) can be brought up from the meth lab and shown off as the slave laborer that he is.

Using this brief pause in their meeting, Walt edges toward the pool table where his keys have been tossed manages to get them back ... just in time to see Jesse hauled in, shackled at the wrists and ankles. Walt seizes his opportunity and wrestles Jesse to the ground. He hits the trunk button on the car keys and the hood flips up, the M60 roaring to life and killing everyone in the room except Todd, who managed to hit the deck fast enough, and Walt and Jesse, who are already there. When the bullets run out, Jesse doesn't waste a moment, and chokes Todd with his shackles from behind, killing him, grabbing the key from his pocket and setting himself free. Meanwhile, Walt puts a final bullet into Jack, with no concern anymore about where his tens of millions of dollars are. And then... it's time for the last meeting between the two men who started it all ...

It's Walt holding a gun ready to finish his former partner, but looking at Jesse, worn out and battered, he can't bring himself to kill him. He drops the weapon to the floor and kicks it over to his partner, saying, "You want this," with his eyes already calling for death. Tired of his manipulations, Jesse yells at him to tell the truth. "I want it," Walt says, but Jesse, who has been through hell and too many manipulations, finally realizes that the ultimate response is to put the ball back in Walt's court. "Then you do it," he says, dropping the gun to the floor and walking out. But it would have simply been speeding up the inevitable. Walt has been wounded by his own plan—a bullet from the M60 piercing his torso—and he's bleeding out. But there's one more piece of business to take care of.

Todd's phone starts ringing (the ringtone? "Lydia The Tattooed Lady") and Walt answers, but it seems Lydia doesn't recognize his voice, as she asks, "Is it done? Is he gone?" Walt replies, "Yeah, it's done" when Lydia finally realizes who she's talking to, Walt informs her that Todd and everyone else is dead, and by the way, the reason she's feeling so shitty? He admits to swapping her Stevia with ricin. Some have questioned his motivation in killing Lydia, and there are a few reasons why he'd want her gone, with pride being up there, as Lydia continues to sell product under the Heisenberg brand. And killing her off essentially closes the loop on everything Walt started since the day he first got into an RV to start cooking. With that last thread knotted off, Walt is ready to die, and he takes one last walk through Jack's meth facilities before passing out as the cops roll in ...

But over top that moment is Badfinger's "Baby Blue," which plays out the show, and simply, it's wildly inappropriate. Yes, it starts off with the line, "Guess I got what I deserved," which is kinda winky, ha-ha funny but like much of "Felina," it seems tonally ajar from what the (mostly) deadly serious season five—and the series as a whole—had been setting up. "Breaking Bad" is the saga of one man completely losing his moral compass, and being overtaken by power and hubris to the extent that his sins leave deep and lasting ramifications on his family, friends and even on his own life. While Walt did rise the top of the game, much of the last sixteen episodes have been about his descent to the bottom, where it looked like even for all his methodical planning and crafty evasions, he would get what was coming to him.

And in a sense he does, clearly, by losing his life, but of all the characters on "Breaking Bad" who deserve closure, Walt isn't one of them. The key to his suffering, and something that was nearly Shakespearean at times, was his struggle for his family to recognize what he perceived to be a sacrifice to provide for them. He was blinded to his own ego and thirst for power, to the point where he was continually perplexed why Skyler couldn't see the merit of his actions. But "Felina" lets Walt have his way. Nearly every part of his plan goes off the way he wants, and he even gets his death ushered in more quickly than expected. But more importantly, he's given a chance to reconcile and see his family, and waste everyone who double crossed him. Walt gets a fantastic blaze of glory to go out on, but this character, and the show, have never been about that. All of his victories until now have been hard won, with collateral damage that always weighed in some part on his conscience. That was what made Walt the kind of character we tuned into week after week, year after year. But "Felina" spends too much time tying up the story of "Breaking Bad," to the point where the multi-faceted character of Walt is rendered one-dimensional. There is such a thing as too much closure, and there is an argument to be made that a slightly more ambiguous ending, where Walt's plan half-worked, and he didn't get what he wanted, the fate of his family—and even his own life—was left in serious question, would've been far more fitting.

But instead, we get Jesse driving a muscle car and woo-hooing his way into freedom, which is sort of indicative of "Felina" as a whole. It seems like an episode written for the fans instead of for the show, and it falters because of it.  For five seasons "Breaking Bad" cooked up some the best drama on television, hands down, but unfortunately, for its final hurrah, we got an unsatisfying batch. [C+]

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  • Andrew jones | March 27, 2014 10:49 AMReply

    What a sophomoric analysis. You'd have to have about zero social skills to not realize that Gretchen was going to need coercion. Did you watch her facial facial expressions right before the threat? And the show has always been about Walt coming out on top at the end, even if it's just a murderous cherry on a a shit sundae. Your expectations were never borne out, you just made them up.

  • Alex | April 30, 2014 9:43 AM

    Andrew I couldn't agree more. This is a poorly written article that tries to point out flaws/plot holes in the finale (and the writer does a poor job at that). For example, the writer asks 'how did Walt know she would sit at that exact table? How did he know someone else wouldn't sit there?'

    The show answered this during that episode and the way Lydia's character is set up: Lydia is an extremely schedule-oriented person, Walt even mentions 'Every Tuesday at 11am, right?' This is a DEAD giveaway (and the show sets her up like this) that she would be there, and Walt knows she ALWAYS puts stevia in her tea, to the point where she asks for extra packet.

    Poorly written article.

    - Alex

  • Andrew jones | March 27, 2014 10:51 AM

    Plus, you don't realize why Lydia Lydia was hit? Crap, rewatch the episode.

  • Bob Smith | November 25, 2013 10:00 AMReply

    A few points of disagreement on this:

    1. Skinny Pete and Badger were essential to the plot. Gretchen and Elliott said outright, and predictably, that they had no intention of touching Walt's drug money or following through with his plan. And Walt would be long dead by then, hence he needed this clever coercion technique.

    2. Walt was already present when Marie was on the phone to Skyler, not "just about to arrive". This is significant because it represents Skyler sticking by Walt even at the end.

    I do kind of agree with you on the oddness of Jack not killing Walt immediately, and insisting on not being called a liar, but I suppose this is always a necessary trait of TV and movie productions, because otherwise the bad guy would always win! There are plenty of examples earlier of Gus Fring inexplicably letting Walt off the hook.

    And you're right about everything going too smoothly and to plan, but being the last episode, they didn't really have any choice about that - there was simply no time to put any spanners in the works, because there would be no more episodes to prise them out. And it was essential for it to end on a cheerful note. Ultimately, Walt is a tragic hero, and the audience should be on his side. If things had ended badly, with Walt's family destitute or Jack winning, that would leave a sour taste in the mouth for the whole series.

  • Ryan | November 24, 2013 12:25 AMReply

    I think it ended quite nicely. It would have been easy for everyone to die and for Walt to kill Jesse or vica versa but it was more thought out than that.

    They needed to point out the connection with Marty Robbins because it wouldn't have been obvious had they not panned to the cassette.

    In small towns a lot of people aren't paranoid about security because there's no need to be, that's why the driver of the car left his keys on top of the sun visor.

    Getting the Schwartz's to set up a fund for Jnr made a perfect sense because they had a prior relationship with Walt and knew Skyler.

    Due to Walts phone call Skyler was seen as the innocent wife who knew nothing about her terrible husband so it would make sense that the multi-millionaire friends of the family would help them out in a time of need.

    They also needed to be scared into agreeing because they could have quite easily phoned the Police and had the money confiscated meaning Walt's family wouldn't see a penny. Pretty obvious that one!

    When Walt met Lydia she asked him how he knew they'd be there (her & Todd) and he does say something like "You're a very scheduled person".

    When she used to meet Walt it was the same time, same place, same table and she ordered the same drink every time.

    He knew she would have put the Ricin in her drink and he was sitting close enough that IF someone else sat there he could intervene in some way. Walt basically explains all this in the episode.

    There's been plenty of films and tv programmes where people meet for a drug deal and the vehicles aren't searched.

    If they're taking Walt inside they're not going to assume he has weapons in his boot (trunk) that he can use whilst away from the car.

    It would have been weird if they had searched his entire car, weapons and wires on the person tend to be the standard search policy in crime related dramas.

    In the end, getting caught, making sure Hank wasn't murdered and getting ALL of his money to his grateful family were what kept Walt going for the 5 series (seasons).

    With all that gone tying up the loose ends was all he had left and that's what he focused on, it wasn't a perfect ending because if it was he'd have been with his loving family, no one would have died, Hank would still be alive and he and Jesse would have a great life, but everyone's life is kind of shitty in the end, depressing.

    Oh and Jesse wasn't "Woo-hooing" at the end he was breaking down because he had just escaped the meth slavery compound, the man he despised could have killed him but didn't, the two woman they he loved are both dead and he has no money or no where to go.

  • Yoyoyo1483tothe3tothe6tothe9representingtheABQ, | November 19, 2013 12:23 PMReply

    Wow, what a terrible interpretation. So many inconsistencies.

  • Brenlee | November 19, 2013 11:27 AMReply

    If I perceived things the way you did, I may have agreed with your review. But I think some of your ideas of the hows and whys of the way things played out are off. First off, if the Marty Robbins song was left out as an aside, as you put it, a lot of people might have missed the connection. The lyrics are very fitting and not everyone understood the title Felina to be a connection to the song.
    You claim that Badger and Skinny Pete were not needed because Elliot and Gretchen would have no reason to deceive Walt. Really? Sure they have no use for his piddly amount of money, but don't you think there's a good chance they'd call the cops the minute Walt leaves their house. The threat insures that the cops are not called, the money's not confiscated, and Walt doesn't get caught.
    You have a big concern as to how Walt got the Stevia into the packet and how he could guarantee no one else would use it. WHO CARES! Wow, it's no wonder you don't enjoy the show when you keep your mind on such trivial details. Did you ever think he brought the packet in with him? and that maybe he sat at that table until he saw them coming in order to reserve their seats? Why the need to fill in he blanks?
    Although not in anyway critical to the outcome of the show, you claim that Marie calls Skylar before Walt gets there. In my mind, he was already there during the phone conversion. The camera pans to the left and he's now in view. Just a small example of how things are perceived differently.
    At the compound when Walt calls out Jack on his broken promise, this was not part of his plan so that things would fall perfectly into place for him. He couldn't know how things would play out, but they are about to take him outside to kill him. I saw this as a desperate attempt to buy more time. Jack is not upset about being called a liar. He is enraged about being accused of having dealings with a rat. One of the most unacceptable and forbidden acts within that lifestyle.
    In your view, Walt can't bring himself to kill Jesse. In my view, Walt was selfish. He wanted to die so he passes the gun to Jesse. For once Jesse will not be manipulated by him and tells him to do it himself.
    I don't feel it ended neat and tidy for Walt and that he got all that he wanted. His family will end up with about 1/10th of the money he was hoping to give them, his son despises him, and most importantly to him, with Jesse still alive he has not necessarily kyboshed the blue meth legacy.

  • bob art blog | October 15, 2013 12:01 PMReply

    I pretty much agree with this review, its thoughtful and thorough. I particularly agree with criticism of the playing of baby blue, I find it difficult to believe that Vince Gilligan chose it, but then find he directed and wrote the finale. I'd assumed it had been imposed on the show by a network chief to give a more upbeat ending.
    This was a tragedy of epic proportions and should have ended darkly as Shakespeare would with a stage full of dead bodies, with Jessie, the only character who could possibly find absolution escaping, and in fictional terms the one who lives to tell the tale. All in all though with its many references to theatre and film the series is a fine piece of work. One thing I'd like to pick up on from this review and others is the description of Jack and Todd's gang as Nazis or white supremacists. We're not given much to go on, I've always thought they were based on that cowboy film staple ..outlaws.

  • Asac Shrader | October 5, 2013 8:21 PMReply

    Thatnks for the crappy review, dick wipe. Where did you practice journalism, Cocksuck U?

  • Random Reader | January 13, 2014 9:23 PM

    I didn't like the review. But this comment made me laugh so hard.

  • Max | October 4, 2013 10:06 AMReply

    way to spoil it right in the first line of the review. Most movie reviews I read are neutral and don't give anything away. Why couldn't you do the same?

  • Barry Gordon | October 3, 2013 8:16 PMReply

    Kevin Jagernauth - it is hard to believe that you actually get paid for this suck balls review of the Breaking Bad finale. Since you can't write - a screenplay, a novel or anything for that matter I guess some schmuck will pay you a pittance for your lame lousy recap here.
    A 1980's circa El Camino IS NOT a muscle car, jackass! And BABY BLUE is perfect.
    Wow, KJ you really suck at what you do do do...doo doo.

  • Burnout | October 2, 2013 3:45 AMReply

    While most of the article's objection can be explained away (eg he knew the table Lydia would use - she is a creature of habit), the failure of the Nazis to search the trunk is a bit hard to believe. WW's a vengeful chemist with terminal cancer definitely someone to keep two eyes on. The Nazis had plenty of evidence of Walt's ruthlessness and history (I would guess by now they know WW killed Fring with a cleverly placed bomb). The Nazis may not have been rocket scientists, but previous episodes established that when it came to clockwork efficiency killing - they were geniuses. Why didn't they search the trunk? I would love it for someone to explain this to me so that the near perfection of BB can return to its former state of perfection.

  • Kyle | October 2, 2013 2:00 PM

    The reason Kenny (the second-in-command Nazi) didn't have the trunk searched is the same reason why he didn't have the car fully searched: he was tweaking. When Walt first pulls up and Kenny approaches the window, he is fully bug-eyed. Then, as they drive together through the gate together, you can clearly here him sniffing. And let's not forget his constant use of the reclining chair which is classic tweaking behavior.

    It really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that the some members of the nazis would be sampling their endless supply of 96% pure meth.

    And from a discussion with a friend of mine over Jack's behavior:

    why do you think jack was so outraged by walt saying he was partnered with jesse
    i mean he says walt insulted all of them
    but would this scumbag even care about that?

    Because Jack is from prison, and in prison, the only thing lower than child molesters are rats. I was pissed when Jesse ratted to Hank. It is the absolute worst thing you can do in that position. Jesse knew the risks of getting involved in the drug trade and because it didn't work out the way he wanted it to, he turned to the DEA.

    As Walt would say: "Never the DEA."

  • Skizzy | October 2, 2013 1:34 AMReply

    Am I the only one that wanted Walt Jr. smacked like a little bitch by his dad, and told to stop being a bitch just because your on crutches.

  • michelle | October 2, 2013 7:25 PM

    sadly. no. If I coulda I woulda kicked the crutches myself.

  • Phyllis | October 1, 2013 8:13 PMReply

    I never got the fascination with this dark, psuedo Shakespearean tale-- which proved in the end toa series of contrived, strained and hard to believe moments over the entire season!

  • Ed D | October 2, 2013 7:59 PM

    This is kinda the way i feel.

  • Vincent | October 1, 2013 6:17 PMReply

    Also, the author misspelled "MacGyvr."

    Way to go.

  • Vincent | October 1, 2013 6:15 PMReply

    The person that wrote this article is unbelievably ignorant, and I hope others don't actually agree with the utter hogwash that's being stated here.

    The Breaking Bad finale was nothing short of brilliant. Perfect conclusion to the series in every possible way.

    If you didn't understand how spot-on the finale was, you didn't understand the show.

  • Alex | October 15, 2013 12:23 AM

    It was very short of brilliant, the whole show was. You don't know brilliance. An idiot can think a normal person is brilliant by comparison

  • Greg | October 1, 2013 5:07 PMReply

    So let me get this straight: in the end the bitchy wife and the retarded son get 10 million dollars, tha rat drives into the proverbial sunset, again the bitchy wife has a chance to face minimal legal consequences after Walt gives her the ticket, Marie remains as pointless as ever, Uncle Jack & co. - the most incompetent and illogical group of criminals in the history of TV and Walt dies on his own terms with a smile on his face? And people praise this crap? Where were the truly horrific consequences of Walt's doings to his imediate family -and don't give me that Hank crap? Why all those innocent people died and Walt's family gets 10 million dollars? Where is the bleak ending the show hinted at from day one? Simply put: Gilligan is a pussy. I hope he enjoys this short-lived fame and he never creates another succesful show.

  • Alex | April 30, 2014 10:13 AM

    Greg you're an idiot, this is probably the most amazing series from beginning to end... Ever. Shut up and enjoy it.

  • coffeemann | October 10, 2013 11:32 PM

    tell me this, Greg: where is your successful, Emmy award winning series? I didn't think so, you jealous punk

  • LS71 | October 8, 2013 1:23 AM

    Wow. You sound like such a fun guy! So... is everyone with any sort of disability just lumped into the "retarded" category for you? Come on, man.

  • - | October 2, 2013 5:04 PM

    @Frank: Metacritic is a shitty metric.
    1) Those reviews are mainly for season 5 part 1, they don't even reflect the newer episodes, let alone the show as a whole;
    2) Metacritic scores take into account reviews of the first few episodes, at most. Hence why Homeland season 2 has a 96 to season 1's 91, even though it's universally regarded as far worse on the whole;
    3) I like how you're pointing to other people's opinions as if it proves anything.

  • Frank | October 2, 2013 12:53 AM

    Still, it's going down as the GREATEST TV show in history. Don't you cry. 99/100 in Metacritic. This was the lowest review and the guy who wrote this doesn't know of TV.

  • dmso | October 1, 2013 4:54 PMReply

    "But wait, how did Walt pick the right table? How did he know no one else would sit there?"

    Walt picked the right table because Lydia is a creature of habit (read: obsessive-compulsive). Remember what he told her? They always met at the same place at the same time - this table:

    The booth is in the diner Mike used, which doesn't have Stevia.

    "Or that someone out of Stevia at another table would grab a packet?"

    As the place likely has quite a few tables, the odds of someone who uses Stevia running out and taking it from that particular table are not great.

    "Did the staff not notice some disheveled man fooling around with the sugar at one table?"

    Not if Walt was careful enough.

    "There would be no reason for Elliot and Gretchen to deceive Walt at this point..."

    You're kidding, right?

  • theomer | October 1, 2013 4:52 PMReply

    Ultimately a disappointing finale to a masterpiece of a show. I got a feeling since last season's descent into ridiculousness (the train caper, the magnets caper, the toilet revelation) that Gilligan will pussy out on the finale and choose the safe path aka satisfying the lowest common denominator group of watchers and going by the mASSES reactions on the Internet, he highly succeeded, although I'm sure in the coming years the show will suffer from this piss poor finale. It's sad when a creator chooses to cather to it's public and doesn't do what he think it's right for the show. God forbid the ending is bleak or controversial. I wonder now why did he kept babbling about evil, unredemptive Walter when in the end the character achieved almost everything he wanted. Maybe instead of being afraid to be compared to the 'ambigous' and 'unsatisfactory' ending of The Sopranos he should've aspired to reach the level of The Shield's finale.

  • NOTRETARDED | January 5, 2014 3:37 PM

    What nobody seems to realize about this show, is that it had a spiritual undertone, and it was hinted at many times in the show. The "astronomical odds" of meeting jane's dad in that bar being just one reference to a divine plan. You are supposed to understand that whether you agree with walt's choices in the end, each person got exactly what was in their hearts for every deed they did. In this respect, the show was right on the money. A shame more people haven't picked up on this.

  • sicofuasshats | October 29, 2013 12:52 AM

    You didn't like the show but you watched it in all it's glory and ridiculousness.I think you and the naysayers here are the the pathetic ones.I don't like "The walking dead" but I don't jump on the forums and tell them,or better yet watch it for pure pop culture.I think maybe Coronation street would be good for all of you that wanted a more "down to earth" ending.Now go watch the grass grow.

  • MistaTMason | October 6, 2013 10:56 PM

    Just because Walt seemed content at the end, doesn't mean it was necessarily a happy ending. He had to face his demons and admit to himself and his wife that everything he did was for himself. He realizes his family will have to live with the awful brand he has left on them long after he was gone. No, there wasn't some biblical judgment passed upon Walt at the end, where he would have to die wholly unhappy, nor did he have some 180 degree redemption. He died being a a basically bad person. His last words were rubbing in the fact that he had murdered Lydia to her, over the phone. Then he went and felt content in his meth lab- the root of all his evil deeds. Just because he seemed happy, doesn't mean it was a happy ending.

  • BeJebus | October 1, 2013 4:39 PMReply

    lol so NOW you want strict believability? dude, irl walt would have been killed long ago, by declan or any number of others. hell, mike would have shot his ass after gus.

    you are an insane, degenerate piece of filth and you deserve to die.

    j/k tuco! (would have killed him after that explosion, not given him 50 gs!)

  • BeJebus | October 1, 2013 4:37 PMReply

    lol so NOW you want strict believability? dude, irl walt would have been killed long ago, by declan or any number of others. hell, mike would have shot his ass after gus.

    you are an insane, degenerate piece of filth and you deserve to die.

    j/k tuco! (would have killed him after that explosion, not given him 50 gs!)

  • Manuel Clemmings | October 1, 2013 1:01 PMReply

    This review is lawls

  • ard2d2 | October 1, 2013 11:04 AMReply

    This is a terribly written article. Get it together Indiewire. If you're going to be one of the only articles that takes a negative stance on this brilliant last episode, do it with a bit more integrity and learn how to put a friggin sentence together.

  • Lookitdouche | October 12, 2013 6:19 AM

    You're the kind of dumbass this finale catered to.

  • maciej | October 2, 2013 1:27 AM

    So true! Besides being a terrible interpretation, it's so poorly written! What a joke

  • Shankly | October 1, 2013 8:06 AMReply

    I am struggling to understand how, apparently, in allowing Walt to tie up loose ends, he gets off too lightly and is not rightly punished. This couldn't be further from the truth, for it is through tying up these loose ends that he is punished. Walt's greatest aspirations became wealth and power in lieu of his family's safety and thus his gravest flaws were greed and pride. However, here he puts an end to both; the former by letting the stolen money go and the latter by telling Skylar the truth ("I did it for me"), and by allowing the Schwartz - the very couple who have already publicly discredited Walt as a scientist - to be the ones that give his family the money; his original purpose for embarking on this criminal activity in the first place. Walt stops caring about reputation and money and pride and does what is right for his family not for himself. He admits to his ego, his negligence of his family, his persistent hubris as Heinsberg; and he loses every single thing he cared for. In doing so, he chooses Walt over Heinsberg; he sacrifices everything knowing full well he will be viewed as the bad guy by everyone either way, except of course the viewer - who must observe that morality can be a stubborn flame in the darkness.

  • OH214 | October 13, 2013 5:15 PM

    That was a well-worded summary of what I think the finale was actually going for. I read the comments to see how much hate this reviewer would get and I wasn't disappointed. With all the stupid that inevitably shows up in comments of unfavorable reviews there is usually at least one sparkling gem standing above it all-that was your post. Thank you, sir.

    Thank you, Kevin Jagernauth, for posting an honest review in spite of knowing that 1/2 the internet would probably show up to the party to flame you just because you didn't like the 'spoonfeed the fans the exact ending they wanted' approach of Felina. I had been unsettled by it too, and upon further reflection I realized it WAS because of how perfect everything worked out (particularly the timing with him somehow being missed by all the police in ABQ while under their noses.) One idea that made more sense to me was that the penultimate episode Granite State was the ending that should have been, the one Walt deserved; Felina was the ending that the show/fans/??? wanted/needed. It may be a bit of a copout to embed two endings in a show but for me, Granite State was the hell Walt made for himself and Felina was the fantasy he created as he lay dying.

    Good thoughts, everyone who's being thoughtful!

  • NY13 | October 2, 2013 9:30 AM

    Couldn't agree more bro! Well put.

  • lky2k23 | October 1, 2013 7:32 AMReply

    One of my favourite shows, but can someone explain how the police and everyone know about Welt being Heisenberg?
    The way I saw it, everyone who know about him and his empire were either dead, Jessie or the Nazi family.

  • Silrone Lima | October 1, 2013 5:52 AMReply

    Kevin Jagernauth, sorry but you don't even know what you're talking about.

  • DG | October 1, 2013 12:50 AMReply

    Yeah this review is awful just... Absolutely awful. I'm a diehard to this site and can usually stomach the pretentiousness of Kevin's writing but this is too much. Really wish you guys could have gotten someone else to do these last few episodes

  • Ugh | October 1, 2013 12:23 AMReply

    I've never wanted to call the writers on ThePlaylist a bunch of idiots but yeah, you're a bunch of idiots.

  • Kyle | September 30, 2013 6:05 PMReply

    Maybe you guys should rewatch an episode before reviewing it (and with how poor your grammar is, you might want to reread your review too):

    1. Jesse didn't tackle Walt, WALT TACKLED JESSE.

    2. "except Todd who managed to hit the deck fast enough" -- Todd was clearly ordered to pick Walt and Jesse up from the floor, hence why he wasn't shot.

    I can go through your review and pick out more inconsistencies if you like, but seriously, do yourselves a favor and HIRE AN EDITOR.

  • Kyle | October 1, 2013 12:44 AM

    I also love this line: "There would be no reason for Elliot and Gretchen to deceive Walt at this point, and bringing these two street hustlers back in at the last moment, is the first in what becomes a series of contrived, strained and hard to believe moments over the next hour."

    Yeah, because Gretchen was just THRILLED to shake Walt's hand! Clearly if the assassin threat didn't happen, Elliot and Gretchen would have NEVER called the cops, reported Walt being there, and given them the DEA the money!


  • Mike | September 30, 2013 10:38 PM

    I dreaded the finale, not only because it was ending, but because I was fearful it wouldn't be very good, I was wrong, thought the end was awesome, and song was perfect at end, also, Lydia doesn't put stevia into her COFFEE!!!! Chamomile man

  • Amber | September 30, 2013 6:34 PM

    Not to mention the fact that Walt's plan was for Jesse to shoot him and end it that way. How did the author of this not realize that?

  • Egghead | September 30, 2013 6:00 PMReply

    I think everyone wanted some sort of closure for Walt. To chose a more ambiguous ending would of failed completely. And the choice of song I thought was perfect. It was sad and uplifting much like Walt's final moments. Overall, a beautiful ending.

  • Joe | September 30, 2013 5:58 PMReply

    Think of how amazing, how bold, how original this show is: the protagonist lies dead in a meth lab in its final scene, and everyone regards it as a "happy ending".

  • egghead | September 30, 2013 6:02 PM


  • Andrew V | September 30, 2013 5:43 PMReply

    The "finale" started two episodes ago in "Ozymandias" to say that this final was too happy hasn't been paying attention.

  • nolan | September 30, 2013 5:32 PMReply

    agree with a lot of this review. Clearly Gilligan & co we're just too in love with Walt to get the ending right. Also, given what we know about Jesse, how could this really be a happy ending for him? He's obviously shown a huge inability to cope with the things he's done, and why would this time be any different? He seemed like a man destined to die, yet they let him live. I honestly expected him to shoot himself when Walt hands over the gun, and that would have been a better ending.

  • michelle | October 2, 2013 7:38 PM didn't understand the relationship between Walt and Jesse at all.

  • rationalizer | October 1, 2013 10:41 AM

    Yeah, that's a stupid idea. You don't really understand what Breaking Bad is about....

  • armchairwriter | September 30, 2013 6:45 PM

    great idea, nolan. no... really... can't believe you aren't being paid to make television.

  • egghead | September 30, 2013 6:04 PM

    Oh god no. That would of been absolutely terrible.

  • dryer | September 30, 2013 5:03 PMReply

    I'm glad someone finally took a step back from the hype to provide a an actual review. The season started off strong with its first three episodes, but like the earlier three it quickly fell prey to its own repetitive problem of painting itself into a corner during the final stretch. Where Gilligan screwed up was by committing to only 8 episodes rather than 10. AMC didn't help matters either by claiming the final two shows were extended 15 min yet that time really only applied to the doubling of commercials, not actual show content.

  • Lars | September 30, 2013 9:26 PM

    You lost ALL credibility when you said the first three episodes are strong. What about "Ozymandias"?

  • jjasper | September 30, 2013 4:58 PMReply

    Get much joy out of life? Being a nitpicker is not good criticism.

  • d.a.garabedian | September 30, 2013 4:31 PMReply

    Review is right on the money. I think you're being a little bit nitpicky with some of the smaller elements of the episode, and it's going to hurt your credibility with people who just don't want to hear your side of things, but you nailed the big picture.

    The biggest issue with the finale is that it tries so hard to give the fans what they want, to tie off every loose end and to redeem a once-morally-ambiguous character. A show which was once about meticulously exploring consequences threw them all out the window in order to let Walt receive a shred of forgiveness from the people he's wronged - without earning it whatsoever.

    Still one of the best shows of all time, and this episode does nothing to change that.

  • Alex | April 30, 2014 10:35 AM

    Dude are you serious? So you'd rather their be loose ends that aren't tied up? That makes no sense at all.

  • Terrence Mann | September 30, 2013 3:24 PMReply

    Kevin you're biggest flaw as a critic is that you try to be too politically correct in all your reviews. It makes you boring and predictable.

  • sati | September 30, 2013 3:06 PMReply

    Fantastic review! The finale was average and those who call it 'the greatest ever' need to see some real quality finales like Six Feet Under or the Wire.

    And all of you coming here calling reviewer an idiot just because he is not screaming about finale being awesome - this is why Breaking Bad fanbase is considered to be one of the most childish and idiotic ever.

  • LS71 | October 8, 2013 1:36 AM who is it, exactly, that considers the Breaking Bad fan base to be...what was it again? The "most childish and idiotic ever"? I'm curious where that comes from, since no one here seems to have ever heard anything to that effect. Fess up...did a BB fan beat up your dad or steal your lunch money or something? Because you sound just like a butthurt middle-schooler.

  • sati | October 1, 2013 7:30 AM

    Ahr Mon, you just proved my point.

  • bobdobbs | September 30, 2013 6:48 PM

    i've never heard the BB fanbase referred to as childish... however, fans of the Wire can be absolutely obnoxious (and for the record, i love that show)

  • Ahr Mon | September 30, 2013 4:21 PM

    "And all of you coming here calling reviewer an idiot just because he is not screaming about finale being awesome - this is why Breaking Bad fanbase is considered to be one of the most childish and idiotic ever."

    And yet, that comment makes *you* seem childish. Funny.

  • beth | September 30, 2013 3:01 PMReply

    I personally liked the finale, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. One correction though - it was Walt who tackled Jesse, not the other way around. Walt tackled Jesse so that they would be on the floor during the hail of bullets. I agree about the stevia though - for someone known for following routine, it appeared that Lydia was not in her usual seat! I think Walt has proven many times that he could've rolled with the punches if someone else grabbed the packet etc though.

  • Jack | September 30, 2013 2:51 PMReply

    You know nothing, Kevin Jagernauth.

  • Heisenberg | September 30, 2013 2:46 PMReply

    You are an idiot.

  • Mondo | September 30, 2013 2:21 PMReply

    To criticize the events in this finale would be akin to criticizing the reason why Walt was able to safely walk away with money out from Tuco's second story lair after causing an explosion without a beat down or a bullet in the head, or get out from the RV situation by conviently calling in a fake accident for Schrader involving Marie. This show was illicitred at the edge of your seat thrills that were addictive because it was not a open ended show. This review hated the songs used of which I vehemently disagree with, The Badfinger song "Baby Blue" captured that moment pitch perfect as Walt dies open-eyed in a meth lab where despite having cancer, he "felt alive"and stares right at the camera, at us, as the song crescendos with the the fitting "My Baby Blue" and we see a scene that recalls the unseen closing to Reservoir Dogs. Since I was a fan of that song and was in the company of family, I happily sang along to it as it played out for this huge Breaking Bad fan in the last scene because for me, and I am learning for most others, it was a perfect song choice and was executed on par for a tv show with the iconic films of Scorsese, Tarantino and Wes Anderson, it compliments the drama. This last episode was like the whole series, Walt finds ways out from tough and impossible situations. Storytelling demands sometimes disbelief, yes, how did Walt cross borders without being caught, yes how did he seal up perfectly the Stavia sugar and have Lydia sit at that table and not a stranger and yes, he was fortunate that he parked the Cadillac in a perfect position and that the Nazis didn't search the trunk or notice him getting the car keys or simply just put a bullet in his head. Storytelling is worth telling for its sheer incredible inventiveness that events in this life went a certain way and this is something to preserve and worth passing on. And as Vince Gilligan has stated, this was a show that was meant to have closure, and what great closure it had. It feels to me that had the finale had a rhizomatic open-ended denouement ala The Sopranos, the true blue Breaking Bad fans would have not that satisfying emotion that most experienced last night as we watched our King Lear stare at the rising camera before fading to black.

  • Correct | September 30, 2013 2:15 PMReply

    the fact that your review elicits such intense reactions from people who liked the finale only suggests how right you are. this was a betrayal of the spirit of the show i loved. a reversal of everything breaking bad had done right over 5 years. shame on vince for not following through at the last second.

  • bobdobbs | September 30, 2013 6:52 PM

    because critique is directly measured in how upset it makes others... moron.

    what the reviewer above did was nitpick, and nitpicking does not equal criticism. he obviously had an ending in mind, and when that didn't happen, he got upset and wanted to take the show down a peg- prove how right his version would've been. it's hackery, nothing more.

  • Xian | September 30, 2013 1:51 PMReply

    The Shield still has the best ending of any cable show. The comeuppance for Vic Mackey was was perfect, but the last shot still left open the question of Vic's future as a loose cannon (only now, without the backing of the Farm or his Strike Team buddies).

    That said... Breaking Bad's "Ozymandias" episode was so powerful (and mostly conclusive) in and of itself, that everything that came after was anti-climatic (and, as another commenter pointed out, more of an epilogue to Walt's final descent into the hell of his own making).

  • John | September 30, 2013 3:23 PM

    Gilligan did follow through to the last second. What he did took even more precision as a writer and producer than it did to make a show like Ozymandias be the actual series finale. He was able to make the perfect series finale, let you ingest it, and then give you a two hour epilogue as well. Most series cannot even produce one episode as good as Ozymandias, let alone keep the narrative structure alive after the fallout and provide actual closure of those stories as well. It is possible to attempt to bring peices together and fail. Several shows did it so badly that other shows (Lost) just decided to bail on their premise altogether just to get the damn thing ended. Many television writers and producers have become so lazy that the new "vogue" way to end a series is with complete ambiguity and unwillingness to commit to any vision of the character. Such an ending it not clever, it is not "staying true" to a show, it is a complete bailout, with writers deciding that it is better to not try at all than it is to try and fail.

    To say that "Felina" was the reversal of what Breaking Bad has been for five years is to reveal a fundamental misunderstanding of what the show was about.

  • cattt | September 30, 2013 2:46 PM

    I agree that Shield has probably the best finale of cable dramas, the ending is the high point of that show.
    The Sopranos, The Wire and Breaking Bad are IMO much better shows overall, but you can't really say that their finales are the best episodes of the series'. The final seasons of Sopranos and Wire weren't even the best seasons, IMO.

  • yup | September 30, 2013 1:44 PMReply

    that ending was once upon a time in america as hell. which scorsese help restore last year so i guess you could make an it was leone.

  • Doodle God | September 30, 2013 12:40 PMReply

    I finally read a review that feels the way I do...C+ is average guys, and this ending resolved everything and I would say was an average ending when you consider how great the first few seasons of this show was.
    The two big moments of this show (poisoning of Lydia, death by trunk gun) are firmly Hitchcock refrigerator know, the idea plot points should make sense until you leave the theater, go to bed, wake up for a mid-night snack and say 'hey, wait a did he know ____' or whatever. The problem is that the show generally never has these type of moments, where reflection on it makes it all the more brilliant instead of seeing all the holes.
    Gilligan on another ending they were thinking about:
    "There was a version we kicked around where Walt is the only one who survives, and he’s standing among the wreckage and his whole family is destroyed. That would be a very powerful ending but very much a kick-in-the-teeth kind of ending for the viewers."
    So the result is an ending that is for fan service and I commend this reviewer for having the balls to write this honest review, all the while knowing that the fan boys will probably come on here and attack him today as their moms are waking them up to go to work.
    Overall, good review kevin.

  • cattt | September 30, 2013 12:14 PMReply

    IMO the last three episodes were the finale. Ozymandias works well as a finale, sh*t hit the fan and Walt lost everything and had to leave. The next two episodes were almot like an epilogue. Granite state showed the worst possible ending to Walt's adventures and Felina, on the other hand, was the best ending Walt could hope for.

    The last episode was satisfying, It was a bittersweet victory for Walt and for the first time he was honest. "I did it for me" has to be one of the best lines in the show's history.
    The finale was also ambiguous in a good way. We don't need to see What happens to Jesse after he drives away. He's free in more than one way.

  • Sean | September 30, 2013 11:59 AMReply

    It's funny to finally see a review for a en episode that gives a grade lower than A.

    I'll admit, after mulling it over last night, it's not a terrible ending. The song is kind of black comedy, which how the show started.
    But yeah, it was too perfectly planned in Walt's case. And the writers (the choice that Walt just happens to catch a stray bullet).

    It was an alright finale.

  • Travis | September 30, 2013 11:22 AMReply

    While I personally interpreted things differently, and feel that some of the choices that Kevin disliked were quite brilliant, I respect his opinion, and allow him to believe so. Keep it up, Kev

  • Ryan Sartor | September 30, 2013 11:27 AM


  • yer | September 30, 2013 11:11 AMReply

    The finale was such a cop-out. They ended everything way too neatly. Also that last shot was Scorsese as hell.

  • More | September 30, 2013 12:28 PM

    The last show was Scorsese as hell and total f*cking movie ending cliche. Ugh.

  • No one's saying it was perfect | September 30, 2013 10:55 AMReply

    No body is saying it was perfect. Does it need to be perfect? What would had been perfect?

    Most of the points mentioned by Kevin are obvious.

    However, they didn't need to explain everything in that one hour. The fact that Walt is a genius devil and luckier than everyone else when it comes to seeing a plan through is well established throughout the earlier seasons and episode.

    When you say that everything was resolved- except Walter and his meth empire, what else is resolved?

  • Mary | September 30, 2013 2:37 PM

    I'll say it. It was perfect.

  • Everyone At The Playlist | September 30, 2013 10:39 AMReply

    Did you guys see where we weren't enthusiastic about a thing that other people liked? Wasn't that awesome? Are we cool? Please tell us we're cool.

  • cory everett | September 30, 2013 12:21 PM

    I love this show so much, I wanted nothing more than to love this episode (see: every fawning recap I wrote last season + my interview with writer/producer George Mastras). But I too have some major issues with it.

  • Everyone at the Playlist | September 30, 2013 11:45 AM

    Or the difference between disagreement and smug, naked contrarianism, apparently.

  • Christopher Bell | September 30, 2013 11:38 AM

    I'll never get the "Why Don't They Agree With Me And My Friends" hissy fits.

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