“Felina” was a lot of fun. We got to see Walt win and be badass non-stop for seventy-five minutes. We got Badger and Skinny Pete popping up. We got a mild reconciliation of sorts with Skyler and closure for Marie, money for the kids, a freed Jesse in a rad El Camino, and Walt got to go out like a western hero. We even got a nice “yeah science!” moment with the machine gun in the trunk. It was all a helluva lotta fun.
But didn’t it kinda feel like fan service? After the harrowing lows and dark places that the last few episodes of this show has taken us to, doesn’t Walt’s insane luck in “Felina” feel almost like a fantasy? Like maybe the reality is that from the moment the key falls from the visor into his hand in the snowed-in New Hampshire car (the spare key in the visor is, after all, one of the hoariest bullshit cliches of movies- something that has never happened in real life) that the rest of the episode was Walt imagining what he would do if he returned to Albuquerque? That most likely he was picked up by the trooper who pulled up behind his car?
I think I’m going to think of the episode in those terms, personally. This was too neat and tidy an episode for us to go out on after the moral ambiguity and punishment that was handed out in the last few episodes. Can you imagine how awesome it would’ve been had the series ended with either “Ozymandias” or “Granite State?” But then again I’m a fan of messier, more open-ended series finales like those of The Sopranos and The Shield. It doesn’t take anything away from the half decade of massive enjoyment I’ve gotten from this show, but Breaking Bad‘s finale not being anywhere near a list of my favorite episodes of this show is mildly disappointing. Then again, you have to remember that The Wire, another all-time great show, had not only a finale that was relatively weak but the final season as a whole was less than stellar – and we all still love the shit out of some Wire. Breaking Bad at least did some of their all-time best work in the final stretch.
Besides, there was nothing actually “wrong” about the finale. I thought it was well-acted and shot with strong performances. I was very excited through the whole she-bang, enjoyed seeing Walt do as much good as he could and be insanely clever (and also, you know, lucky as hell), it all made me feel good. But I don’t know if an ending to this show, that’s taken me on this journey, shouldn’t have had a more fucked up, twisted, or just plain bleak ending.
Then there’s the fact that many of us had predicte that the machine gun from the season premiere of season five part A was for Uncle Jack and the ricin from the season premiere of season five part B was Lydia. What do you know, that’s exactly what happened. Maybe if you’re going to set that up so blatantly there should be *something* of a twist on our expectations. I mean, for a second there I got excited that maybe Walt was going to mow down Elliot and Gretchen in their nicely appointed home, but that passed rather quickly. (I loved that whole sequence, by the way, from the way it was shot to the pay off – best part of the episode. Really clever fix for Walt to get his money to the kids.) And then for those two assassination attempts to go off without a hitch, leaving Jesse alive and well and Jack and Todd alive enough for Walt to kill one and Jesse the other – the best outcome all around.
“Felina” was about giving both Walt and the viewers exactly the outcome they wanted from a Breaking Bad finale. While there’s no denying that the show has often been about gee-whiz. frickin’-shweet shit going down, there was usually a dark capper on the cool shit. Gus Fring’s epic demise was followed by the knowledge that in order to set up such scenario Walt had to endanger a small boy’s life. The great train heist going off without a hitch lead to Todd plugging a little kid in the aftermath. I’m not saying that a stray bullet should have struck Jack’s grandson that was visiting the compound or some shit like that, but such a pat final showdown didn’t feel like the BB way. Maybe the one *possible* tragedy is the knowledge that Jesse, who is without any money or contacts and undoubtedly wanted by the police (it’s doubtful Uncle Jack got rid of Jesse’s confession DVD based on how much he dug it), will most likely get picked up before he can make it out of the country in a stolen El Camino, but we’re left on a pretty joyous moment with him.
But though I can’t whole-heartedly get behind this questionably redemptive, every-loose-end-tied final episode, it doesn’t color my view that we just finished the run of one of the best television series in history. I’m gonna miss wondering what will become of Walt and Jesse, of the long conversations I’ve had over the years theorizing and marveling at the excellence of this show. I’m glad to have been able to write about the show for this site for three years now and have been happy to hear all your feedback and comments. Let me know what you guys felt about the finale and the show as whole and we’ll hopefully see you back when I cover more of Justified next year. Peace out, Broke Badasses, and don’t be a stranger now.