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Breaking Bad has come to an end and the series finale cemented it as my favorite TV show of all time.
"I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. I was alive."
Walter White is dead and I wouldn’t change one thing about it. Vince Gilligan did an amazing thing, he had it both ways. He took Walt to the brink of villainy and then redeemed him about as much as you can for a guy that caused so much death and destruction through the years. My heart never stopped racing for the entire length of this episode and it was largely Walt having a redemption tour on the last day of his life. Every beat was filled with tension and excitement simply because Walt was back on his A game and the unpredictability of where he was going to take us next was euphoric.
Speaking of unpredictability, the finale actually kind of wasn’t by the time it was all said and done. I floated almost every idea for all the big hits of this final episode (Jesse kills Todd, ricin for Lydia, Jesse chooses not to kill Walt), but none of that mattered. Even if you saw what’s coming it was insanely tense all the same. I was fist pumping, laughing in anticipation, sitting on the edge of my seat, I even shed a tear or two; that is all you can hope for from your entertainment.
The late entries were the Gray Matter folks, which turned out not to be one last piece for Walt’s revenge, but one last light bulb going off in Walt’s head to finally get that money he earned to his son/family. The scene was darkly humorous as Walt, supremely confident and in control, calmly intimidate Gretchen and Elliot. It is a stroke of genius by Walt to get his money to his family and one last chance to show how prideful Walt is as he gives instructions for them not to spend a dime of their money on this charitable “gift”. The hitman bit was a great little “oh shit” moment that threw me for a loop as I was just starting to enjoy how rational Walt was sounding again, only to get flipped back around again at the reveal that it was Badger and Skinny Pete. It was a final, and great, moment of comedy in the show that often had bigger laughs than the best comedies out there.
The next stop on the Walter White revival tour was Lydia and her tea shop where she gets a taste of the Ricin and Walt gets Todd to invite him on up to the Nazi compound. Sure it seems like Vince Gilligan and his team might have cheated to get that ricin in the Stevia, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? Cranston is great, as Walt, again, is in complete control of the situation, playing Todd and Lydia like a fiddle. Walt knows they will try and take him out, he’s the only threat left to the Nazi’s and their support staff, but they don’t know about Walt’s automated machine gun sitting in the trunk of his loaner car. It was another nice and lighter moment seeing Walt in the desert getting his gun ready, singing his little heart out and served as another great example at how at peace Walt is with everything. Seeing Cranston/Walt with such composure and confidence took us back to the days when we really could root for Walt getting the upper hand on his enemies and this episode played that way from nearly start to finish.
The most crushing scene of the night was Walt’s last visit to his family. Finally uttering that it was all about him to Skyler had to put her mind at some sort of ease and it was a fitting goodbye between the two. I really appreciated the light at the end of the tunnel nod that Skyler and Marie might be able to patch it up before Walt and Skyler got into it, as it was one of a few nods that Gilligan ultimately wanted to end the show on as positive a note as possible. They both know this is the last time Walt and Skyler will see each other and that is what makes his goodbye to Holly one of the saddest things the show has ever put on the screen. He never got to know his daughter and she will never know him, but almost just as sad is his non-goodbye with Flynn. It wasn’t as touching as the Holly goodbye, but just as devastating on reflection. I don’t know if Skyler will ever tell him the truth about Hank and the Nazi’s after they dig up the site at those lottery numbers, but I don’t even know if Flynn will listen or care; so sad.
And Jesse. Oh poor Jesse. We sadly didn’t get very much of Aaron Paul in these final eight episodes, but he has been sad and miserable; losing himself in woodwork fantasy by this last episode. Walt is still furious at Jesse until the moment Jack has Todd drag him out his meth making prison, only then does Walt see what Jesse has become and decides to save him from his machine gun of death. Again, this is how I figured it would play out, but that didn’t remotely matter. The scene was incredible. Each beat is executed (no pun intended) perfectly as Jesse killing Todd was one of the most satisfying moments in the show’s history. Walt putting a final “I don’t give a fuck” bullet into Uncle Jack’s head was nearly as fulfilling, but not for one moment did I want Jesse to pull that trigger on Walt. Jesse blazing to freedom made me so happy and Walt giving him some sort of choice in his life again is about as happy as an ending this show could have had after as far as it has come. A polite nod is the last thing moment Walt and Jesse get to have and I wouldn’t ever want to change that.
Seeing Walt pridefully walk through his old meth lab with a shard of glass in his side was bittersweet. We know death is near, but Walt couldn’t care. There is a sense of pride about everything and his failed chemistry student were able to accomplish with this equipment and he dies among the pieces of the one thing that ever made him feel alive. Badfinger’s “Baby Blue” is a perfect final music cue for the series and I couldn’t be happier we aren’t given a tidy little wrap up of everybody's lives afterwards. Part of me doesn’t want to know what Gilligan might have cooked up for these characters’ futures, even if the relatively hopeful ending of the finale showed that Gilligan isn’t all evil on the inside.
Breaking Bad is done and I couldn’t imagine it doing things much better. Outside one below standard episode in these final eight, the show was firing on all cylinders for these last few weeks. Most everyone managed to get out with their lives and Gilligan and his team made everyone who didn’t count. The show hit almost every check mark on my list for the final season and I was ecstatic that Gilligan didn’t have a darker heart about these characters than I did. An amazing show wrapped up on an amazing run of episodes and I can’t wait to relive it all again sometime in the future. We will be talking about Breaking Bad for ages.
Thanks to everyone who made it possible.